NEWS: Thursday September 11 2014

Our choirs start again today and we're all ready for Singing Settle Carlisle and the Dent Folk Carols festival - and Northern Harmony Sept. 26 - tickets available from Sebergh TIC or by sending a cheque made payable to me, David Burbidge, Smithy Cottage, Farfield, Sedbergh, Cumbria LA01 5LW . 

We had a fabulous time earlier in the summer singing in Gretna, Dumfries and Castle Douglas as the Commonwealth games baton came by - and then a concert in the evening with massed choirs in Gretna Primary School.

Now we've ended our summer evening singing walks programme with some fantastic evenings at Coniston, Mosedale, Tarn Howes, Little Langdale, Keswick cycle way, and Lowther Castle - as well as four days of singing walks through the Lake District with an HF Holidays group, and a day out with the singers from the Hebden Bridge Street Choirs Festival singing by the river, through the woods and around Heptonstall - all without a drop of rain! And then we joined several other choirs singing in Rydal caves and the Badger Bar, and ended with our Penrith choir concert in Mae's Tearooms in North West Cumbria.

You can see photos from these singing walks and events on my Facebook photos page - click here.

As well as our local community choirs which you are welcome to join, we've got some wonderful events lined up for the autumn - details below..

AUTUMN TERM WITH THE CHOIRS - If you would like to join our choirs - Lakeland Voices in Kendal on Tuesday and Penrith Community Choir in the Penrith Parish Centre on Thursday evenings you are most welcome to come to the first session for free in the autumn term starting from Thursday September 11 to see if you like what we do, with no obligation to join. There are no auditions and we learn all the songs by ear so there is no need to worry if you can't read music. We start with warm ups and easy rounds progressing to more challenging songs in three and four part harmony. 

There is a termly subscription of £49 (10-14 week term) and this allows you to sing in both or either choir as you wish. There are also some big discounts on weekend singing events for those who join for the term, and some extra free singing events too. You can come to our first session for free to see if you want to join us. 

Starting in the autumn on Mondays is our Discover your Voice class returning to Kendal - suitable for all those who believe they can't sing or would like to focus on voice issues such as pitching, timing, voice projection etc. 

I am also now leading a choir at Cancer Care in Kendal on Wednesday afternoons 5.30-7pm - you can come anytime. Their address is CancerCare, Blackhall Rd, Kendal, Cumbria LA9 4BT Phone:01539 735800

September 26 - Northern Harmony - Workshop 6-8pm Concert at 8.30pm - followed by a weekend of harmony singing workshops with other tutors in a stunning location. Come with your choir for the weekend (we can arrange a concert for you on the Sunday) - or come alone just for the Friday evening. Budget accommodation is available for Friday and Saturday nights with communal meals. 
Tickets cost £8 for workshop or concert - or £12 if both together - available from Sedbergh TIC, by posting a cheque and SAE to me, or if remaining at the door.
See a video of the choir at

October 3-5  Singing Settle Carlisle - based near Ribblehead we will sing on the trains, in the stations, on walks through the wild Pennine hills, and round the fires of country pubs. Also joining singarounds in the Ingleton Folk Festival. £119 includes train tickets, accommodation, meals, workshops etc.

December 5-7 Dent Folk Carols weekend - workshops, concerts, carols ceilidh, singing walk, nativity play with real donkey and pubs, music in advance, accommodation in cosy cottages in the village, fabulous meals made by Lucia, great venues for the singing, lift shares arranged....and more. Full weekend with accommodation and meals £145. 

December 13 - Carols and the Settle Carlisle Railway. 9am join a folk carol workshop in Langwathby village hall - and then just after noon we are off on the train singing to Ribblehead where we are meeting other choirs on the station and in the pub. Then off to Settle for more singing on the platform and in the pub. We'll get the last train back to Langwathby for a jacobs join supper in the village hall at 8pm - and a wee bit more singing and dancing! Bring a packed lunch and your wonderful voice. 

January 2-4 2015 Black Sail singing retreat high in the Lake District mountains near the summits of Great Gable, Haystacks and Pillar. Singers must have had some hill walking experience. £115

We also have a number of free pub singing events - including the George and Dragon (in Dent near Sedbergh) on Friday December 5 2014,  the Badger Bar on Tuesday evening December 9 , the Strickland Arms (At Sizergh near Kendal) on Tuesday evening December 16,  and  various pubs on our Carolling the Settle Carlisle day on Saturday December 13 (starting with a morning workshop in Langwathby village hall and then lunchtime singing in Ribblehead and a late afternoon in Settle.)

Regular evening choir practices all start again in the new year -   Lakeland Voices in Castle Street Community Centre in Kendal on Tuesdays (from Tuesday January 14), and the Penrith Community Choir (in the Penrith Parish Centre from January 9) on Thursdays - all 7.30-9.30pm. Subscriptions cost £49.50 for a term (10-14 weeks long) - or £7.50 if you just want to come to one session. If you sign up for the term you can also come to any of the other sessions with the other community choirs - and also get generous discounts on some of the other singing events. 

Here as well are some details about our regular weekly harmony singing groups - and also one day, weekend and week-long singing holidays throughout the year - first in brief and then with more details. Everyone is welcome - even if you haven't sung much - or even at all! All our songs are learnt by ear (so you don't need to worry if you can't read music - and if you can, you might appreciate using a different side of your musical ability.)

Our groups start with body and voice warm-ups and easy rounds - followed by longer songs in 2, 3 and 4 part harmony. Free recordings, and emails with the words and background to the songs, are also available.

For accommodation we aim to suit all needs - ranging from wild camps in the Lake District, to single, twin and double en suite rooms in luxury holiday cottages in the old cobbled village of Dent. Our meals are prepared by the popular Lucia Marquart - as well as vegetarian and meat dishes, she caters for those on special diets such as wheat and dairy free food. Even our five year old daughter Anika helps with the singing of some of the songs.

There are links below to photos on Facebook, and learning videos where I sing the individual harmonies for the songs we sing on Youtube.  

Singing events:

In brief - Weekly singing groups in Kendal, Keswick and Ambleside:

Tuesdays: 7.30-9.30pm. Kendal community choir Lakeland Voices at Castle Street Community Centre. 10-14 week term £49.50 from September 17 2013

Thursdays: 7.30-9.30pm. Penrith Community Choir, Mostyn Hall, Penrith. 10-14 week term from September 12 2013 £49.50

If you have to miss a week on your regular day you are welcome to attend one of the other choirs on a different day if you have signed up for the whole term. 

Individual sessions are also available at £7.50 per session for those who can only make one or two a term. 

Please book by email rather than just turn up.

In brief - Weeks, weekends and days:

And More details - our weekly community choirs:

Lakeland Voices' Spring term starts again on Tuesdays in the Castle Street Community Centre, Kendal from January 8 2013. We will be learning new songs, as well as singing ones we already know. Videos of the parts are available for free home study - as a well as a learning CD which can be purchased. Everyone is welcome - although it is expected that you can match a pitch (ie if I sing something, that you can sing the same thing back! Most people can do this.) The songs are taught by ear, we have a warm-up at the beginning, and we then sing rounds and songs in 2, 3 and 4 part harmony from the British Isles and around the world. There'll be opportunities to sing these on carol walks, at the Dent folk carol festival, and in our pub carol singing events.

Subscription for each term is £49.50 (a term is 10 weeks, though I usually add a few extra weeks)   And there is a one off payment of £7.50 for those who can only come occasionally. 

There are videos of me teaching the parts for many of the songs we sing at and photos of singers at:

The Penrith Community Choir is very similar and starts again on January 10 2013 in Mostyn Hall in Penrith (very near the large Co-op.) Similar to Lakeland Voices - this term 10 weeks long. All welcome.


DENT FOLK CAROLS FESTIVAL -  December 5-7 2014 - concerts, workshops, ceilidh and singing walk with carols from near and far and from all ages, including Sheffield pub carols, mediaeval English carols, west gallery, old folk carols, Slovenian, Polish, American and Russian...and more. All meals cooked by Lucia Marquart and accommodation in single, double and twin rooms, some en suite. £69 weekend without meals or accommodation. £95 including meals but not accommodation. Everything including a choice of luxury accommodation in cosy Dent village cottage - most with the option of 3 nights: £115 - £145

See videos of previous singing events on our video channel:

BLACK SAIL HARMONY SINGING RETREAT - January 2-4, 2015 - join us in the centre of the LAKE DISTRICT for a few days of SINGING round the fire and walking in the highest Lake District mountains - Haystacks and Great Gable. Starts at 4pm on January 2 and we will leave Black Sail at 12noon on Friday to sing in Buttermere in the afternoon. We can collect singers from Penrith railway station on Wednesday afternoon, January 2 and also arrange lift shares. Includes all cooked meals, two nights acccommodation, music sent in advance and workshops in the hostel. £115 Click here for photos.


For all details click on our "Events" section on the right of this page.

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.
The work is led by David Burbidge (pictured here leading an outdoor workshop in the Little Langdale valley) 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 should be accessible to everyone, whatever their musical training or experience.

b) The voice has its roots in the body and 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 community and difference where the empowerment of the different parts creates a richer whole than when everyone is the same

d) And 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.

Video of Lakeland Voice singers and Old Foster in a Dentdale wood

Some involve longer tours and will require more fitness such as 'Lakeland Songline' long Whitsun weekend with camping in the mountains of the central Lake District and 'The Singing Cyclists' tours.

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 outside the window providing its unique accompaniment to our singing. Where possible we sing round open fires with informal singing sessions in remote country inns, and singing fireside suppers under the old oak beams of Dent's Stone Close cafe.

For our residential weekends and week-long retreats we hire old country cottages, and self catering hostels and country mansions in spectacular settings. We are often able to provide single, double and twin rooms. These venues range from Dentdale, Sedbergh and the Lake District to as far away as the Scottish island of Jura and our twin town Zrece in the Slovenian mountains.

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.

What Do We Sing?
Songs are mostly drawn from cultures where people sing as naturally as they talk - folk songs from the UK,  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 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.