Voice Works Schedule and Class Descriptions



Detailed class descriptions for the 2018 gathering will be posted by January 1, 2018. Here’s some of what we offered last year…


Here’s how the schedule works – each faculty person will be teaching two classes every day. One of them is described below (this is a partial list). Their second class will be developed on site in real time, in collaboration with other faculty or in response to participants’ requests.

Joy of Singing – Pharis Romero
Come build up your singing skills in tone, breathing, projection, and range, and find new freedom and confidence to explore and develop your own voice. We’ll do some exceptionally fun exercises and we’ll learn some beautiful old songs and maybe harmonies to practice our new found skills on. This is a class for all levels of singers, and the content will vary depending on what folks most desire to work on. You’ll get the most out of these classes by coming to the whole series, though you won’t feel excluded if you can only come to one.

Jazz & Swing Repertoire: Standards and Not-So-Standards – Becky Kilgore
There are thousands of songs in this repertoire.  We won’t learn them all this week but we will make a dent!  We’ll work on the process of adding them to your own repertoire in your personal style.  Feel free to bring with you any songs you’re dying to learn. We are fortunate to have instrumental accompaniment by the great guitarist, John Miller.

Vocal Music of Denmark – Maja Kjær Jacobsen
We will work on Danish traditional songs and ballads, which are rooted in the Scandinavian as well as English/Scottish ballad traditions. In particular we will work with songs from Maja’s home area, Central Jutland, in the local dialect, and songs that have crossed the oceans between Denmark and the rest of the world, making them a mix between Danish and the language used at sea – English. We will work on voices for the songs and their choruses so that everybody can take part, and you need not worry about how good or bad you are at Danish!

Québécois/French Canadian Songs – David Boulanger
In this class, you will learn the traditional singing from Québec and the French Canadian culture. Lullabies, ballads, call and response songs have always had a big part of the day to day life in Québec and they were often participative. In addition to this, some arrangements of songs will be taught as well as body rhythms patterns to accompany yourself or a group of singers. All the songs will be in French from Canada (slightly different than the French in France).

Bluegrass Harmony – Karla Mundy & Jenny Lester
One of the beauties of bluegrass harmony is that there is a solid approach and structure to rely upon that crosses genres and cultures. Together we will learn a repertoire of songs, first by identifying the melody and the chord progression; then we’ll learn how to create 2, 3, and 4 note chord structures by using feeling and theory.  We will repeat the process until it becomes something you trust for its consistency. We’ll also address vocal techniques, tone, phrasing and blend.  Through large groups you will have the opportunity to learn different harmony parts, and then try them out in a trio or quartet.  Be prepared to laugh as we bump around the process and shiver when it all comes together in harmonic beauty.

A Cappella World Music Choir – Karla Mundy
Come and join the Voice Works Choir! Our repertoire will draw on vocal folk traditions of North America, Latin America, Eastern Europe, South Africa and many more …   From Jubilee Gospel Quartets to Georgian lullabies to South African song and dance – we will stretch our voices in many directions, widen our knowledge of singing styles from around the world and deepen our understanding of where the music comes from. All are welcome – we will be learning the music mostly by ear and all that is required is enthusiasm and a love of singing!

Harmony Buzz – Joe Newberry and Val Mindel
This class is aimed at folks who want to create the buzzy, close-harmony sound that defines American traditional, early country and bluegrass duets and trios. Joe and Val will work with quintessential repertoire from the American South, Appalachia and the Ozarks, focusing on the basics of singing with another singer, looking at blend issues, arrangement choices, harmony options and more. This is a “hands on” workshop, so expect lots of singing and breaking up into small groups to work with other singers.

American Traditions – Val Mindel
This class will focus on the vocal nitty-gritty of traditional American music, getting down to the how-tos of singing old-time, early country and “mountain” music in particular, paying attention to details of style, ornaments, voice placement and more. We’ll work on songs, both solo and harmony-based, from singers who exemplify various styles, and we’ll work on how to incorporate what they do into what we do — how to pay homage to their music and at the same time make it our own. Expect to sing a lot and learn a number of great songs in the process.
Possible one time workshops, depending on participant requests:

How to Work Up a Song – multiple faculty collaboration
The journey from song “crush” to performance. Every singer has his or her own strategies for working up a song. For some it involves simply learning the version that inspired them and singing it a lot, seeing what happens, for others it might be playing around with the accompaniment or delving into the song’s history, still others might want to tinker with the words or melody, the better to communicate it to an audience. Faculty singers will share their various approaches, what they think about, what they do.

From the Appalachians to the Ozarks – Joe Newberry
This repertoire class will focus on songs that made the journey from the Appalachians to the Ozarks, plus some numbers that were home grown in both locations.  Selections include ballads, play-party songs, topical songs, and new songs that sound old.

Writing New Songs that Sound Old – Joe Newberry
This hands-on class will examine the great themes of classic traditional songs, and will help you in your journey to write the “great old songs” of the future.  After the songs are written, we will work to polish them and perform them in a traditional style.