Voice Works Schedule and Class Descriptions

We are working on the schedule for the 2015 gathering. Here is a look at how the workshop was scheduled in 2014:


  • Check in begins at 3:30 at the Centrum office.
  • An extensive welcome and orientation session begins at 8:00pm in the Wheeler Theater. We will introduce each of the singers who are on staff, and ask them to sing a little, and to talk about what they’ll be doing during the workshop. We’ll also talk about the workshop schedule, bring any fresh information, and try to get all of your questions answered.

MEAL TIMES – breakfast: 8:15am, lunch: 12:30pm, dinner: 6pm.

  • (exception to this – the last meal, Sunday breakfast, is at 8am).


  • 9:00: Vocal Warm-ups
  • 9:30 – 10:45: Choice of classes
  • 11:15 -12:30: Choice of classes
  • 1:45 – 3:00: Choice of classes
  • 3:30 – 4:45: Sacred Harp singing, instrumental sessions, wildcard slot.
  • 5:00 – 5:45: Open mike
  • Each of the faculty will be teaching twice a day, at varying times. All classes are open to all comers.


  • 8am – breakfast
  • 9am – shuttle leaves for airport from Centrum office.

CLASS DESCRIPTIONS – new ones just added!

Classes Running Every Day

Embodied Song- African-American Sibling/Family Singing Tradition in the Traditional Gospel Era – Rhiannon and Lalenga Giddens

Classes will include review of history of traditional gospel sound and family singing tradition, traditional gospel singing techniques, and instruction of songs from traditional family groups and/or duets from NC, as well as others.

Basis Musical Concepts – Alan Stahl

We’ll define sound, and then we’ll define music. We’ll discuss frequency, pitch and intervals, and then figure out what as melody is. From there we will move on to harmony, and we’ll find out what a chord is. We’ll talk about the difference between melody and harmony and how they work together. Then we’ll discuss rhythm and tempo. Just the basics –

Introduction to Music Theory for Singers – Joanna and Marian Macrae

A basic intro to music theory concepts for singers, no note reading required. The workshop will focus on subjects such as understanding chords, fitting your harmony into the chordal structure of a song, 2-part harmony vs. 3 and 4-part techniques, and basics of voice-leading. We will sing and harmonize various traditional songs, ranging from simple 2 and 3 chord songs in major keys to more complex, modal ballads, with a focus on techniques for healthy vocal projection and tone quality.

Basic Harmony – The Cactus Blossoms (Jack Torrey and Page Burkum)

• The difference between harmony and melody parts
• Finding harmonies within your singing range
• Simple songs to get started on that we will learn each session

Singing With Style -The Cactus Blossoms  (meets twice)

There are a million ways to sing a song, enunciate a word, or phrase a melody. The same way a baker can make a variety of desserts with almost the same ingredients, a singer can create a variety of sounds with their voice. We will also talk about the different ways to approach repertoire and song selection and some of the innate style that can seem to be inseparable from a piece of music. In this workshop we will take a different song to learn each day and experiment with the tempo. Showing how you can get inside a song and understand it better by slowing it down and speeding it up and finally settling into the groove.
• How to avoid “tempo tantrums”
• The effect of tempo and rhythm on phrasing performance style
• If you can’t play it slow, you can’t play it fast

Joy of Singing – Pharis Romero

We’ll work on singing skills such as breathing, projection, and range.

Sibling Country Harmony: Old Time Songs – Greg and Jere Canote

We’ll explore exactly what makes it sound old time – note choices, style points, twang and feel. Music from the Hoss Hair Pullers “Goin’ Down the River,” to the Carter Family’s “Lonesome Pine Special”.

Sibling Country Harmony: Novelty, Swing and Counterpoint – Greg and Jere Canote

We’ll step it up a bit and explode some well-worn devices like the simple back and forth “call and response” with a few stops along the way, and eventually fall into some full blown interlocking counterpoint parts. From Johnny Lee Wills “What Did I Do With That Thinga-Ma-Jig,”,to the Shelton Brothers “Gonna Let that Bumblebee Be”.

Leading a Band as a Singer – Kelli Jones-Savoy

You’ve got a gig with a band you’ve never played with – how do guide them? With or without an instrument, learn the easiest ways to map out a song and communicate what you want to a group of musicians.

Country Songs That Would Bring a Tear to a Glass Eye – Kelli Jones-Savoy

We’ll learn songs with the saddest most heart wrenching lyrics known to the human race. Bring a hanky.

Early American Shape-Note Singing (a.k.a. Sacred Harp singing) – Tim Eriksen

Learn to sing shape-note music from the Sacred Harp tunebook in a workshop taught by one of the most acclaimed singing instructors, whose students have ranged from inner-city kindergarteners to Nicole Kidman and Jude Law in the film “Cold Mountain.” The Sacred Harp tunebook, first published in 1844 in Georgia, is at the heart of one of America’s most vital homegrown musical practices. Within its pages, “Amazing Grace” meets the toe-tapping “fuging tunes” of early New England, all harmonized for four-part social singing and written in a unique and practical notation system. This workshop, addressed to absolute beginners and more experienced singers alike, begins with the basics of the human voice and group singing and includes an introduction to reading shape-note music, notes on important aspects of traditional practice and lots of full-on singing. No prior experience required.

Traditional American Ballad Singing – Tim Eriksen

The term “American ballad singing” describes a wide range of vocal practices centered in the unaccompanied singing of old narrative songs, particularly of British origin, but often embracing the solo singing of various sacred music forms and songs of more recent, more local and other points of origin. For some people the most important thing is the melodies, for some it’s about the stories and others more about the history and transmission of the music. Whatever your primary interest, learn some of this music’s story and musical subtleties from a master singer, including voice production, ornamentation, timbre, performance practice and effective storytelling. Special attention will be given to honing listening skills. No prior experience required.

Brother and Sister Duets – Laurel Bliss

Music from the old time, country, and bluegrass realms, mining the rich well of American tradition. We’ll learn songs of the Everly Brothers, the Blue Sky Boys, the Delmore Brother, the Girls of The Golden West, Jim and Jesse McReynolds, the Louvins, and especially the Cackle Sisters.

Three part singing (trios) – Tom Sauber, Patrick Sauber, Laurel Bliss

Learn the lead, add a harmony part and find the third note in the chord. That’s all there is to it, but there are oh, so many variations on this theme. Come sing with Tom and Patrick and Laurel, and learn some wonderful songs from the Old Time, Bluegrass and Country repertoires.

Swing and Jazz Singing – Sylvia Herold

Using Great American Songbook standards, we’ll study the components of delivering a song: phrasing, dynamics, rhythm, emotion, storytelling, as well as the mechanics of posture, relaxation, breathing and tone-production. Listen to and mimic famous jazz singers (for vocal insights) and learn some of the best popular songs ever written.

Twangin’ and bangin’ – Bill Kirchen

Bring your Telecaster and a tiny amp, and get some hands-on with the “Titan of the Telecaster.” Meets every day.

Honky Tonk and Dieselbilly: Songs of the Highway – Bill Kirchen

You’ll learn some hardcore roadhouse classics, some originals, some truck-drivin’ stomps, and some songs from that place where the country meets the boogie.

Intro to Harmony Singing – George Rezendes and Lindsay Hamilton

We will show you simple and intuitive ways to find harmony parts for 2 and 3 voices. We’ll start with a slow version of Blues Stay Away From Me by the Delmore Brothers that will make it easy to hear the chords we are singing. We will work on finding the best keys for our voice and how to blend our voices with the lead part.

Come join us and learn to comfortably and confidently find and sing in harmony.

One-time Workshops

Secrets of Brother Harmony – The Cactus Blossoms

We will reveal the real deal behind brother harmony and how it’s done.
• Tones – sometimes similar like everlys, sometimes not like Louvins
• Rhythm – watching each other to keep things tight but still allow improvisation
• Volume – one important way of blending besides tone is volume — swelling together
• Emotion – Maybe the most unique qualities found in sibling harmonies is the strong connection between the two singers and their way of expressing emotion.
• Holding out notes and matching the sounds of different vowels.

Bass Singing – Tom Sauber

It’s stranger and trickier than it seems at first. All the parts are taken – what should you do? Even though Tom is does not have a voice in that range, he knows what to do, and he’ll let you know in this class.

When Parallel Harmony Won’t Work – Tom and Patrick Sauber

At times you might find yourself singing harmony to a song with a wide melodic range – and you just aren’t able to stay above the melody. Or perhaps you’re singing beneath the melody, and there’s a section of the song where it’s too low for your range. This session will explore some problem solving alternatives to this very real singing issue.

When Chords Clash With the Melody – Tom and Patrick Sauber

When chords clash with the melody, well, some would call that bluegrass. Tom and Patrick will explore some vocal dissonances that work.

Master class – Pharis Romero

Limited to 12 students. Students sign up for instructor-led group feedback on one song.

It’s Not Just the Song – Pharis Romero

Adventures into setting the key, tempo, arrangements and accompanying yourself. If you’d like, bring a song you’re working on.

Sisters of Early Radio – Pharis Romero

We’ll learn a few songs from the likes of the Boaz, Hunter, Boswell, and Andrews’s sisters. Taught with a sister.

Jazz Singing with a Band – Sylvia Herold

Learn bandstand skills, tips and tricks for a performance that is polished and satisfying. Be assertive and give instrumentalists what they need so that you (and they!) can shine.

Make it Swing! – Sylvia Herold

The Swing Triplet: What is it? How do you incorporate it into your singing? We’ll use clapping exercises, recorded source material and singing drills to learn to understand and articulate this important component of jazz and swing styling.

The Songs of Peggy Lee – Sylvia Herold

Sing songs composed by Ms. Lee as well as gems culled from her six-decade career. Regarded as one of the most influential singers of all time, her catalog is a treasure trove of songs beloved by jazz singers.


The Giddens Sisters and the Cactus Blossoms will also be leading two sessions each day – their classes will be posted as information becomes available.