Voice Works Schedule and Class Descriptions



We’re currently assembling the 2017 gathering. Here’s what we presented in 2016.

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.

Class Descriptions are farther down this page. But here is a draft of Thursday’s schedule:


9:00 – 9:30
Warm up with Lucy Moore in the USO

9:45 – 10:45
Old-Time Country Duet Singing – Mac and Jenny, 204 #20 (up)
Epiphany with Polyphony – Carl and Kelli, 204 #23 (up)
The Songs of Jimmie Rodgers – Petunia, 204 #10
Singing with the Banjo – Hanna, 204 #15

11:15 – 12:15
Old Time Songs (Repertoire) – Mac, 204 #20 (up)
Vintage Country and Bluegrass – Tom, 204 #10
Brothers and Sisters – Carol Elizabeth and Vivian, 204 #23 (up)
Bluegrass According to Vern & Ray – Laurie and Kathy

2:00 – 3:00
Collaborative workshops – Check the Board!

3:30 – 4:30
The Voice Works Choir – Adam, the USO
Artistry, Arrangements and Repertoire – Mollie and Rich, 204 #20 (up)
Basic Back-up Guitar – Jenny, 204 #15

5:00 – 5:45
Open Mike in 204 #23 (up north)
Sign up on the Board.

The Winding Stream – Wheeler Theater

A Carter family documentary lovingly made by Beth Harrington. Beth will be here to introduce the film, and to answer questions after the screening. Live music beforehand. Open to the public.

After the movie – Carter family song swap in 204.


Class Descriptions

The Voice Works Choir – Adam Burdick

Just about any group of singers can form a choir, but knowing some basic choral techniques helps you sound much better and develop as an ensemble more effectively. Unfortunately, not a lot of choirs take the time to introduce these ideas to wanna-be choral singers! Here in our choir for novice choristers we’ll explore matching pitch, feeling rhythm together, and blending vowels. We’ll experience the unifying power of breathing together in preparation for each phrase we sing, and practice skills to help each singer hold onto his or her own part. Music reading helpful, but not necessary.

Old-Time Country Duet Singing – Mac and Jenny Traynham

Participants in this class will be shown the basics of harmony singing  that characterize the works of  classic singing groups of the Golden Era of  Country Music such as  the Carter Family, the Delmore Brothers, and the Blue Sky Boys.   Vocal pairs will be formed and coached to perform duets  effectively.  Back-up instruments are welcome.

Old Time Songs –  Repertoire – Mac Traynham

Mac will present various songs from the Golden Era of Country Music.  There  many types that work well with multiple voices in unison or with simple harmony including gospel, sentimental and sweetheart songs.  Everyone will be encouraged to sing along.   Participants are also encouraged to bring instruments to help Mac provide back-up.

Basic Back-up Guitar – Jenny Traynham

This class will focus on understanding basic chords forms and choices for certain  old-time tunes and songs.  The fundamentals of solid guitar playing will be reviewed  such as pace setting and keeping time and responding to other instruments and dancers.  Simple runs in anticipation of chord changes will be shown.  The optional use of capos will be discussed as well as the role of the guitar in the stringband sound.

Singing with the Banjo – Hanna Traynham

This session will focus on some old traditional songs like Cumberland Gap and Shady Grove, in alternative G tunings. We’ll also highlight some Old Belle Reed songs, simple ones that will allow us to focus on chord progression with vocals.

Artistry, Arrangements and Repertoire – Mollie O’Brien and Rich Moore

This class will cover how to make the song your very own, arranging, and how to perform the song for your audience. We’ll talk about finding the right key, dynamics, performance, and how to get rid of the old “I stink as a singer” mindset that can block you from having a blast while singing. Each day we’ll start with a few exercises to help increase your vocal and dynamic range and we’ll focus day by day on different areas that will help to build up your set list and your voice. Bring a song or two you want to work on – the class is designed to help you as much as possible.

Bluegrass According to Vern & Ray as interpreted by Laurie Lewis and Kathy Kallick

Vern Williams and Ray Park were California bluegrass heroes in the 1960s and ’70s, and their rich and varied repertoire helped to shape the sensibilities of bluegrass on the west coast. We’ll dive in, learn these great songs, and sing hair-raising harmonies!

Brothers and Sisters – Carol Elizabeth Jones and Vivian Leva

Join Carol Elizabeth and Vivian to learn songs from the repertoires of some of the great families in country music.  We’ll learn the songs and figure out how each group’s singing and harmonies make their styles distinct.  We’re likely to learn songs from The Coon Creek Girls, Delmore Brothers, Girls of the Golden West, Louvin Brothers, Carter Family (okay, they were cousins), and the Everly Brothers.  This class will be a little listening, a little talking, and lots of singing.

Epiphany with Polyphony – with Carl Jones and Kelli Jones-Savoy

In this class we’ll learn to sing duets gleaned from The Monroe Brothers, Blue Sky Boys, Jim and Jesse, the Carter Family and others in a counterpoint, or contrapuntal style. Two parts that mingle and interweave, enjoyable when sung separately, yet much more so when combined.

Hope you will join us as:

Count        1        &         2         &         3         &         4
Part 1:      We————will————-have———–Fun—!
Part 2:      We –will—–have—some–sing—-ing—–Fun—-!

The Songs of Jimmie Rodgers – Petunia

Jimmie Rodgers, 1920’s and 30’s major exponent/popularizer of the “blue yodel”, played only a short time, dying of TB at age 33, became known to us as the father of country music through his recordings of blues, country and jazz assimilations. We’ll look at and learn some of these compositions, including yodeling introspectives.