NEWS  Friday 17 October 2014

Our choirs have all started again in Penrith and Kendal - and a new one in Sedbergh starting on Monday October 20. We're all ready now for the Dent Folk Carols festival December 5-7 (with the option of an extra night's accommodation on Sunday), and our Lake District Black Sail new year singing retreat - there are still places on all these if you want to join  us (details below.)

The Penrith Community Choir  meets every Thursday evening at 7.30pm  in the Penrith Parish Centre. On Thursday 7.30pm December 11 we have the Christmas Truce of 1914 concert in Lowther Castle with folk carols and songs about the famous World War 1 truce, and at 2pm on Sunday December 14 a folk carols concert in the National Trust's Acorn Bank near Penrith.

Lakeland Voices continues through the term at the Castle Street Centre in Kendal at 7.30pm on Tuesdays - we have our Carols in a Candlelit Cave on Tuesday December 9, and are joining other choirs for our harmony bonanza in the Strickland Arms, at Sizergh near Kendal on Tuesday December 16. We also have a Christmas Truce 1914 concert in Sedbergh on Saturday December 27.

Howgills Harmony starts again in Sedbergh on Monday October 20 in the Rawthey Room upstairs at the Sedbergh Information Centre. We'll also be learning songs about the Christmas Truce of 1914, folk carols and other songs which we can sing with the other local choirs on their outings and round the open fire of a country pub and at the Dent Folk Carols festival. Next term we'll be preparing for a trip to mark the 10th anniversary of our twinning with Zrece in Slovenia.

All three choirs will join together at the Dent Folk Carols festival on Saturday December 6, on the Settle Carlisle railway on December 13 (singing from Langwathby to Settle and meeting other choirs along the way,) alongside Janet Swan's choirs in a recreation of the famous football match in Accrington on December 20, and  in Sedbergh for the Christmas Truce concert on December 27.

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

There's a termly subscription for the choirs of £49 - join one and you can sing in all of them if you wish as well as enjoy discounts on some of our weekend events.

More details of our choirs and events are below.

AUTUMN TERM WITH THE CHOIRS - If you would like to join our choirs - Howgills Harmony in Sedbergh's Information Centre on Mondays, 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 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. They all start at 7.30pm.

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 Sedbergh from October 20 on Mondays is our Howgills Harmony singing group - suitable for everyone. We will be learning songs for the Christmas Truce 1914 concert, and also preparing songs from Slovenia and the UK for next year's 10th anniversary of our twinning with the Slovenian town Zrece.We will be meeting upstairs above the Information Centre in Sedbergh, 72 Main Street, from 7.30pm. Cost for what remains of the term is £25. 

I am also now leading a choir at Cancer Care in Kendal on Wednesday afternoons 5.30-7pm open for all of those with cancer and their helpers - you can come anytime. Their address is CancerCare, Blackhall Rd, Kendal, Cumbria LA9 4BT Phone:01539 735800


December 5-7 2014 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 - without accommodation but with all meals £95 - without accommodation and no meals - £65 - or individual morning or afternoon workshops and ceilidh £12.50 each - Friday concert £7.50. The weekend officially ends at 4pm on Sunday - but if you wish to stay on Sunday night as well this option is available for an extra £15 for bed and breakfast. No evening meal is provided on Sunday, but these can be ordered in the local pubs. 

December 13 2014 - Carols and the Settle Carlisle Railway. 9am join a folk carol workshop in Langwathby village hall (near Penrith) - 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 ("bring and share") in the village hall at 8pm - and a wee bit more singing and dancing! Bring a packed lunch and your wonderful voice. Must be booked in advance - £20 for the day - plus £15 group discount day return rail ticket.

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.)

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.

There are links below to photos on Facebook, and learning videos where I sing the individual harmonies for the songs we sing on Youtube.  
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  in The Penrith Parish Centre in Penrith (very near the Penrith Parish Centre.) Similar to Lakeland Voices - this term 10-14 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:  £145 - or an extra £15 for the third night on Sunday night. 

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.


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.