Lakeland Voice - voice work and harmony singing
the Howgill Fells


Welcome - we hope your visit to the Lakeland Voice website is useful and inspiring.

Here you can find out about natural voice and harmony singing workshops based in South Lakeland in the North of England for groups and individuals.

an outdoor singing workshop  The work is led by David Burbidge (pictured left leading an outdoor workshop) with guest teachers from around the world.

What is the Natural Voice?

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 sing naturally.

Lakeland Songlines

Many 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' fundraising tour.

Workshop Venues

Our workshops are mostly based in Sedbergh and Dent, small communities in an area overlapped by South Lakeland District and the Yorkshire Dales National Park. 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.

singing in Cathedral Cavern, Little LangdaleSome 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.

What Do We Sing?

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 well 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 and simple harmony arrangements as well as two, three and four part harmonies.

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