Letter from Arlene Kaspik about the 2017 Chicago Caller School

I’m writing to thank MCASD for your generous support of the 2017 Chicago Caller School.

Last July a group of dedicated volunteers hosted a 1-day new caller seminar held in conjunction with the Illinois State Square and Round Dance Convention. After the seminar it was obvious that many of the students wanted to learn more. This past January Barry and Anita Johnson, Janice Cha and I met to talk about the possibility of organizing a 3-day caller school with a CALLERLAB accredited caller coach in April or May of 2017. We knew we were working under tight time constraints but we were convinced it was a possibility.

The 2017 Chicago Caller School met at the Oriole Aquatic Center in Downers Grove on March 31st, April 1st and April 2nd. Eleven students enrolled in the school but one had to cancel at the last minute due to illness. CALLERLAB accredited caller coach Tom Miller was the primary instructor. In addition Bob Asp introduced the students to modules used in square dance calling. Barry Johnson spoke about dancer relationships in squares (partner, opposite, corner, right-hand lady). And Arlene Kaspik spoke about the unique problems and concerns facing women callers. Tom Miller also arranged for music producer Elmer Sheffield, Jr. (ESP records) to do a phone presentation on the state of the square dance music business. The students also received over 100 pages of informational handouts and worksheets for continuing their education after the caller school.

Most of the students had little or no calling experience since last July. By the end of the weekend each student was able to call about 8 to 10 minutes worth of patter and tried their hands at singing calls as well. Originally we had planned for 18 hours of class time. Since Tom Miller’s flight didn’t leave until Sunday evening he generously offered to continue the school for an addition 3-4 hours on Sunday afternoon. Every single student re-arranged their schedules to take advantage of Tom’s generosity.

Several Music production companies provided students with a discounts on their next music purchase. Four different full-fledged caller schools (5-day schools) provided a scholarship voucher. Four different students won the scholarships through a raffle. In addition, caller coach Jack Pladys offered to do a 2-3 hour seminar when he is in town in 2 weeks. The students will have a chance to review what they’ve already learned as well as receive an introduction to sight calling and square resolution.

Attending a caller school is exhausting. It requires a lot of stamina and focused attention and energy. Dancers from several area clubs provided assistance by dancing throughout the weekend. Many of the dancers came from Glenview Squares, Southside Squares and Chi-Town Squares. Their generous support enabled the students to better observe their classmates choreography and see the flow of the dancers on the floor.

I know that MCASD’s generous support helped make the 2017 Chicago Caller School a financial possibility for some of the students. Thank you for your support of the Chicago Caller School and its students. After observing these new callers all weekend I am convinced that you will see a significant return on your investment.

Once again, thank you for your generosity.


Arlene M. Kaspik