NEWS  February 15 2015

Our choirs are now approaching the half term break - Lakeland Voices in the Castle Street Centre in Kendal on Tuesday evenings, the Cancer Care choir in Kendal on Wednesdays, and the Penrith Community Choir in Penrith Parish Centre on Thursday evenings. We'll have concerts and pub sings at the end of term - send me an email if you'd like to join one of the choirs. 

We're also getting ready for all our events throughout the rest of the year - our Spring Sing Thing March 21 in the Langdale Valley, Swedish harmony singing April 19 in Kendal, Slovenia May 21-28, the Singing Cyclists July 4-12 (Whitehaven to the Street Choirs festival in Whitby,) the Scottish island of Jura September 20-28 (and the Jura folk festival,) Settle Carlisle October 2-4 (and the Ingleton folk festival)- and all our folk carols in Dent, Rydal Caves (Dec.8) and the Settle Carlisle Railway (Dec.12) in December. I'll put full details here soon. 


Join us in the fabulous Langdale valley for a singing workshop at Skelwith Bridge community centre, followed by a walk with singing at Colwith waterfalls, inside the magnificent Cathedral cavern in Little Langdale, in the Brittania Inn at Elterwater and by the lake on a walk back via the Skelwith waterfalls.  Singers from Lakeland Voices and the Penrith Community Choir will be joining us for the workshops and giving a concert. Bring a packed lunch. £20 for the day. Meet at 10am at the Skelwith Bridge Community Centre - email me for directions. To hear our choirs singing in a local cave click HERE


Join the Swedish harmony singing quartet Kongero in Kendal to learn to sing Swedish folk songs in 2, 3 and 4 part harmony - and then sit back in the evening and enjoy their sweet harmonies. Fabulous sound - to hear them on Youtube singing at last year's Swedish harmony event in Kendal click HERE  
Castle Street Community Centre, Castle Street, Kendal - workshop 10.30-4.30pm £20  concert 7.30pm £7.50 - both together £25. Tickets available from me by sending an email - or if remaining at the door. 

SLOVENIA - MAY 21 -28 

Join a group of singers touring in Slovenia - learning songs from this fabulous country, singing them in small concerts and informal gatherings with other singers throughout the country. Some songs will be sent in advance for preparation at home (words, recordings and written music.) There will also be some short walks in places of scenic beauty, and trips to see the beautiful city of Ljubljana, the island of Bled, the fabulous lake Bohinj, Sedbergh's twin town Zrece with some of the most hospitable people you could ever meet, and much more. Half board accommodation in twin rooms included and transport in Slovenian. £395


We are leaving from Whitehaven Railway station on Saturday July 4 at 2pm - and then cycling through the Lake District visiting community choirs and singing groups along the way (including the three I lead: Lakeland Voices, Penrith Community Choir and the CancerCare choir.) Then on over the Pennines visiting other singers, and ending after the following weekend in Whitby where we will be joining the Street Choirs festival organised this year by the Whitby community choir - last year's festival had over 1,000 singers with choirs from all parts of the country. Finishing on Sunday 12 at Whitby railway station.  
Although the route will be different this year - our tour will be similar to the one we did before where we ended at Tynemouth and sang at the Sage Gateshead - a car and trailer will be carrying all our heavy bags and tents, food will be cooked in advance for us (with some meals in pubs and cafes,) some songs will be sent in advance (words, recordings and written music) so we have a common repertoire when we meet, we'll learn songs in some of our choir meets en route - and as the week progresses sing them in small village concerts as we cycle through - ending with singing them in the concerts on street corners in the wonderful old fishing town of Whitby (as famous for its folk festival as it is for its fishing.) 

The Street Choirs festival includes a massed singing workshop with all the visiting choirs, a massed sing in the centre of the town, performances by all the choirs in different venues around the town, concerts featuring local singing groups and a big concert where all the choirs perform two songs each. 

We'll be cycling a maximum of c. 40 miles a day - not going especially fast so walking up hills is not frowned on, vehicle support will help with cycle maintenance and puncture repair. Songs will be learnt by ear and will include songs which are common to many community choirs - mostly folk harmony from the UK and other countries. Most of the camping will be in quiet camp sites, singers gardens and beside pubs.

Cost is £350 - a £50 deposit secures your place and gets my full attention - with the rest payable by the end of May. There will be a place for a non-cycling singing partner or friend in the vehicle. Please make cheques payable to David Burbidge and send to my home address.

SPRING TERM WITH THE CHOIRS -  Howgills Harmony starts again in Sedbergh's Information Centre on Mondays, 7.30pm - 9.30pm on January 5 2015. Suitable for everyone. We will be learning carols arrangements of folk songs, and also preparing songs from Slovenia and the UK for next year's 10th anniversary of our twinning with the Slovenian town Zrece.We meet upstairs above the Information Centre in Sedbergh, 72 Main Street, from 7.30pm. Cost for what remains of this term is £25.

Also at 7.30pm, Lakeland Voices in Kendal on Tuesdays and Penrith Community Choir in the Penrith Parish Centre on Thursday evenings  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. We are currently learning folk carols and songs about the Christmas Truce of 1914 in preparation for concerts in December.

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

All the choirs will be singing together at the Dent Folk Carols festival on Saturday December 6, in a Lake District candlelit cave on Tuesday December 9, on the Settle Carlisle railway on Saturday December 13, in the Strickland Arms on Tuesday December 16, in Accrington Football ground (alongside other singers from Lancashire) on Saturday December 20, and in Brigflatts Quaker Meeting House in Sedbergh on Saturday December 27. The Penrith Community Choir also has concerts in Lowther Castle on December 11, and Acorn Bank near Penrith at 2pm on Saturday December 14.

We also have a number of free pub singing events - including the George and Dragon (in Dent near Sedbergh) 9.30pm on Friday December 5 2014,  the Badger Bar 9.3-pm on Tuesday evening December 9, the Strickland Arms (At Sizergh near Kendal) at 8pm on Tuesday evening December 16, and  various pubs and stations 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 the Station inn at Ribblehead and a late afternoon in Settle.)

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

For videos of me teaching the parts for many of the songs we sing click here
For more photos of singers click here
For photos of Dent click here
And for videos of previous singing events on our video channel click here


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.