Each retreat is different and the songs taught in workshops vary in focus from retreat to retreat; from folk songs from across the British Isles to world songs, blues, gospel, original compositions and more. All the songs have folk tradition underpinning them and are arranged in a cappella harmony, usually in three or four parts. During the workshops participants are welcome to use scores and lyrics provided or can learn by ear (you do not need to be able to read music to take part).
Each workshop includes:
Full body and vocal warm up
Easy-to-digest information about the anatomy and how the voice works
Opportunities to put technique into practise and explore your voice
Fun, easy-to-learn rounds and loop songs
More challenging, unique a cappella arrangements
Each session builds from a full body warm up, incorporating breathing and singing technique allowing you to learn how to use your voice safely and to it's full potential. Together we look at resonance, pitching, constriction that might be holding the voice back, how to navigate your different registers, how to use your breath with singing, how to improve your harmony skills and much more.
From this foundation of good technique, we create multiple harmonies as a group, turning single melody folk tunes into rich, textured pieces.
Heg and Julu effortlessly bring the group together in song, quickly diminishing any nerves with harmony songs that are easily achievable for complete beginners. You'll be singing in harmony before you even know it! By the end of the weekend you will have improved your ability to sing with others in harmony and will be surprised at the sound you can create in a very short space of time.
Photo by Pete Axford
Song Shares and Instrument Sessions
The weekends are aimed at those interested in harmony singing as well as instrumental players. The evening sessions are informal and a chance to join in with other singers and musicians. The sessions are led by the team initially and usually take their own direction depending on the skills and desires of the group. The team is equipped with easy call and response and chorus driven tunes to get everyone joining in easily. We encourage everyone to have a go at sharing something; whether it's a song you've written, learnt from memory or a book, a round, call and response, solo, a cappella, instrumental or accompanied, anything goes. It doesn't have to be limited to folk.
There will be plenty of song books for you to look through and choose songs from as well and we invite you to bring any books you feel might be useful.
This element of the weekend is often very special and a chance to share music with new people in an intimate, informal setting.
"The weekend helped me move to a different level with my singing and playing. Thank you very much for all your skill and encouragement."
Yoga, breath-work and meditation
Our retreats include either yoga or breath-work first thing in the morning, led by one of our expert team members. The aim of these sessions is to set your body up for singing, opening up the breath and stretching out the body so that you can get the most out of your voice.
These sessions are designed for complete beginners so no prior experience is needed to take part. For these sessions you will need a yoga matt and loose fitting clothing.
We sometimes offer afternoon meditation sessions (depending on the retreat) which are a wonderful way to practise mindfulness and being present.
These sessions create a fantastic balance from the engaging and stimulating singing sessions and are a way to bring greater awareness of your body in preparation for singing.