2011 Singing Squares Callers Course

Tentative Schedule

7:45-8:15 Hot Breakfast served cafeteria style
8:15-8:45 Cold Breakfast Coffee/Tea available
Singing Squares Callers Course
11:15-12:15 Swimming, Bookstore staffed, spaces available
12:15 Lunch
4:00-4:45 Tea, Swimming and Bookstore staffed
5:40-6:20 Bookstore staffed
6:30 Dinner
8:00 Couple Dances
8:15-11:00 Evening Dance Party
11:00 After-dance Activities

July 30 - August 6, 2011

Held concurrently with American Dance & Music Week at Pinewoods.

Is there still room?
For up-to-date info about availability and wait lists,
see our Program Weeks page.

Program Directors


Program Description

Ralph Sweet and Nils Fredland bring two distinct and valuable perspectives to the unique art of calling singing squares. Ralph, at 81, has honed his skills over the course of a sixty-year career, developing his remarkably smooth delivery, collecting a vast repertoire of dances and passing on his love of singing squares to generations of contra and square dancers. During American Week, class participants will learn, and take inspiration, from listening to Ralph teach and call these dances; equal focus will be placed on experiencing Ralph’s calling as a dancer, and listening and analyzing from the caller’s perspective.

Nils is the ideal co-leader for this class; in his early 30s, he fell in love with singing squares upon hearing a recording of Ralph calling some of his standards. Nils immediately began his own process of learning to call singing squares by listening and dancing to Ralph as often as possible. Over the course of the last six years, Nils has developed a thorough understanding of what makes a great singing square dance caller. He will help class participants develop that same understanding, with a focus on putting the essential skills to practical use right away, in a safe and supportive environment.

The daily class period will be broken up into three parts: a whole group exercise, led by Ralph and Nils, with a focus on singing, basic patter square calling skills and how to combine the two; dancing, listening and analyzing, during which class participants will rotate between dancing to Ralph and participating in a “listening lab” with Nils in order to recognize and define the subtle skills that make Ralph a master; and mic time for each participant to try out what they’ve learned, backed by a fantastic musical staff, with supportive feedback from Ralph, Nils and other class participants.

In the afternoon and evening, participants can choose from among the activities available at American Dance & Music Week.


All registrants will be expected to purchase a copy of On the Beat with Ralph Sweet (available from CDSS and at the camp bookstore), and be familiar with the basic concepts laid out in the essays in the book. Other helpful (but not required) resources include Ralph’s CD recording of singing squares, Shindig in the Barn, and the companion booklet (available soon) of the same title.


This course is limited to 12 callers to ensure plenty of opportunity for active participation. Previous experience calling patter and singing squares is helpful, but not necessary. The ability to match pitch is essential. If the class is oversubscribed, preference will be given to newer callers, and to callers from regions in which squares are under-represented. Recommendations may be required for acceptance.

Please clearly indicate if you would like to attend American Dance & Music Week if you do not get into this course. Scholarships are available.