Thanks so much for that detailed description of your process for
learning and maintaining your repertoire. I live in a household of
musicians and I know that I should be practicing as much as they are
but sometimes I find myself at a loss for HOW to practice without
getting totally bored, so now I'm going to try iPod walks! If I'm
understanding what you mean by straight ahead contra dance jigs and
reels, the other one I've been finding helpful for practicing to is
Great Meadow's New England Chestnuts set--they just seem very steady
and reliable for finding my way through and learning new dances.
The other thing I've been trying to do is to get the new band I'm
working with the most, the Floating Bridge Band, that just formed under
Jeremiah McLane's tutelage, to record their practice sessions so I can
practice to the tunes I'll actually be using. It's been hard to get
them to do this but I finally did get them to give me a recording and,
hey!, there YOU were, calling at a gig you did with them--what a
On Jul 4, 2006, at 5:36 AM, Peter Amidon wrote:
I have just come back from a wonderful caller's workshop and have
addicted to having other caller's to talk to. So I have two
you. First, how do you prepare for an upcoming evening of calling? I
wondering how you prepare AFTER you have selected the dances and
I work continuously on memorizing my repertoire of dances,
so, generally, the dances I choose for an evening are
already memorized. Any 'new' (that is, unmemorized')
dances I memorize after choosing them and before the
dance. If I have time I call and 'solo dance' the
whole program to music in an empty room. This is
both to help drill the dances in my head, and to make
sure the succession of dances works well. Sometimes I
call all the dances in the car to music while driving
to the gig.
At the dance itself I review the dance silently in my head
after dancers have lined up and before I start the walk through.
While the dance is going, once the dancers are on their
own, I practice calling (in my head or off mic) the next dance.
I memorize new dances by going for walks with an iPod of
dance tunes and a list of a few dances I am learning.
I drill dances already in my repertoire by periodically
going for an iPod walk and the list of dances in my
repertoire and calling each of them from memory
from just the title.
My goal is to see the title of a dance, say Mary Cay's
Reel, and to be able to immediately say: 'Becket:
circle left three quarters, pass through, allemande
left the one you meet . . . ' etc.
One of the ways of making this a more pleasant task is
to have a good collection of recordings of straight ahead
contra dance jigs and reels to practice to. Great Meadow
) has put out some great
CD's of straight ahead contra dance music; I would
particularly recommend 'Green Mountain' and 'Full Swing'.
New England Dancing Masters (that's Andy Davis, Mary Cay
Brass, Mary Alice Amidon and me) have put out two great
CD's of straight ahead contra dance music: Assembly's
'Other Side of the Tracks' and Andy Davis/Keith Murphy/
Becky Tracy's 'Any Jig or Reel': www.dancingmasters.com
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