Here you can find out about natural voice and
harmony singing workshops based in South Lakeland in the North of England
for groups and
work is led by David Burbidge (pictured left leading an outdoor
workshop) with guest teachers from around the world.
We use the term 'natural voice' here
to show that we express certain core beliefs in our way of working.
These include that:
a) Singing is our birthright and that it should be accessible to everyone,
whatever their musical training or experience.
b) The voice has its roots in the body and that through releasing
the breath and unnecessary tensions a more pleasurable experience of
singing can be had as well as a richer and more authentic sound.
c) Harmony singing is a celebration of difference where the empowerment
of the different parts creates a richer whole than when everyone is
expected to be the same.
d) That musical terminology should be expressed in user friendly terms
or explained sufficiently so as not to confuse or alienate those who
of these workshops use the beautiful landscape in our area especially
during our short, singing walks when we take
our songs out into the landscape,
singing by waterfalls and rivers, in caves, woods and fellside chapels and
round the open fires of country inns.
Some involve longer tours and will require more fitness such as 'The
Hills are Alive' long weekend with camping in the mountains of
the central Lake District and 'The Singing Cyclists Lands End to John O'Groats'
Our workshops are mostly based in Sedbergh and Dent,
small communities in an area overlapped by South Lakeland District and the
Yorkshire Dales National
The area includes the beautiful, rounded hills of the Howgill Fells with
the spectacular Cautley Spout waterfall, and the serenity of the wooded valleys
with their ancient churches and cobbled villages.
We use comfortable village halls for our workshops, as well as my old stone
cottage where the river Clough flows immediately outside the window providing
its unique accompaniment to our singing.
Where possible we sing round open fires and avoid neon light with informal
singing sessions in a remote (and relatively smoke free) country inn, and
singing fireside suppers under the old oak beams of Dent's Stone Close cafe.
Some of our workshops - on weekends or summer evenings - include singing
walks using local caves, waterfalls and magnificent mountain scenery for
a different acoustic and as a setting for our singing.
These have included Cathedral Cavern in Little Langdale, Rydal Caves near
Ambleside, Yordas cave near Ingleton, Tarn Hows, Martindale, Raisgill stone
circle and 'Long Meg and her Daughters', through the Elysian Shades
beech woods and the rapids of the Dee near Sedbergh, and singing cruises
across the lakes at Coniston and Ulswater.
Our workshops in other parts of the country include mansions overlooking
the sea on a Scottish island and a smugglers' cove in Cornwall.
Songs are mostly drawn from cultures where people
sing as naturally as they talk - especially Africa, Georgia and the Balkans.
Songs in English
are drawn from the American Shape note and British folk traditions
as some jazz and sacred music.
As we teach mostly by ear - though sometimes accompanied by written music
as an aide memoire - our songs tend to come from cultures where music is
passed on from one generation to the next by ear, as opposed to the complexities
of written music found in Western classical music. We include rounds
simple harmony arrangements as well as two, three
and four part harmonies.