Lakeland Voices - Settle Carlisle railway singing - December 15

 NEWS  November 28 2019 

Harmony singing workshop, Dent Folk Carols festival, December 6-8 2019

Our choirs in Kendal and Bentham have a terrific selection of seasonal songs and pub carols. Join us round the fire for the singing on December 1, at Smithy cottage here at Farfield Mill on the banks of the river Clough, near Sedbergh. There is some information about the choir and the songs we sing here. 

We are natural voice choirs - I try to make the learning of our songs as accessible as possible, and teach our songs by ear, (so there is no need to worry if you can't read music,) and include many optional outings such as singing in a candlelit cave, on a mountain railway, on singing walks through the Lake District, round the fires of country pubs, on a remote Scottish island and on a tour of beautiful Slovenia singing alongside many of their fabulous choirs.  

Coming soon are other annual events - the Dent Folk Carols festival (December 6-8,) and Folk carols in Kendal and on the Settle Carlisle railway (December 14-15.) 

Harmony singing workshop Langdale valley, Spring Sing Thing March 21 2020

Rydal Water - Badger Bar - folk carols - Dec.3 2019

Don't forget to see our Facebook photos of recent events here , and visit our free Youtube video learning site which has many of the songs we sing with the harmonies sung individually here  and also recordings on SoundCloud here

Pub singing at the Dent folk carols weekend - Dec.6-8 2020 

December 1 - Folk carols workshops - at Farfield, Sedbergh. 11:00-17:00 (bring food to share for lunch.) Learn the songs and harmonies round the fire here on the banks of the river Clough in Sedbergh. £20 - we will also visit and sing at Farfield Mill Arts and Heritage Centre Christmas Celebration. 

December 6-8 2019 - Dent Folk Carols weekend - cosy village cottages, fabulous workshops in these lively old carols, concert with acapella groups, delicious festive feasts, singing walk up the valley, and some cracking company. Join us for this celebration of camaraderie and harmony singing in this beautiful old Yorkshire Dales village. £175 including accommodation, all meals, workshops, concert, refreshments etc. (or just come for individual workshops, ceilidh, concert or singing walk.)

December 14 2019 - Kendal Caroling day (Saturday) - singing with Lakeland Voices in the market place, shared lunch, workshop singing folk carols round the open fire of the Unitarian school room in the afternoon, and caroling round cottages in Kendal where a warm welcome awaits us by the open fires of the kindly folk who live here. £20

December 15 2019 - Settle Carlisle folk carols (Sunday)  - we're off on the Settle Carlisle Railway for a day of singing in the stations, on the trains, in the pubs and alongside about 100 singers from local singing groups. Starts with a workshop learning some songs at Ribblehead ....then all aboard! £25

Singers being greeted with a song as they arrive by train at Ribblehead
January 17 10:00-12:30 - Buttermere village hall singing workshop , Cumbria - followed by a singing walk round the lake  - fabulous seasonal and mountain songs. £15 Bring a packed lunch. 

January 17-19 2020 - Black Sail singing weekend - staying high in the Lake District mountains near Great Gable, the hostel can only be reached by walking over the fells. We will start with a singing workshop in the Buttermere village hall, and then walk round the lake and over the Scarth Gap pass to Black Sail. We have a number of songs suitable for singing in the mountains - and a great time is guaranteed by all. Some hill walking experience in similar mountains (eg Wales and Scotland, not East Anglia!) is necessary, as is some fitness. £149 (includes meals, accommodation, Buttermere workshop, music in advance etc.) 

Black Sail hostel singing weekend - Ennerdale, the Lake District Jan. 2020

January 25/26 2020 - Scottish and Slovenian song weekend - Kendal. Celebrating the national poets from both countries with  other songs and food from both countries. Workshops, concerts, singing suppers etc. Haggis and Potica, whisky and borovnicevec, Cranachan and Kremsnite. Unitarian School Room, Market Place, Kendal £30 Saturday, £25 Sunday. 

March 6-8 2020  Lighthouse Singing Weekend - in St Mary's Lighthouse, Whitley Bay  in the North East of England. We will be learning salty songs of the sea (often featuring lighthouses)...and other relevant songs....and singing them inside the fabulous acoustic of this lighthouse. Meals and workshops in the warm and comfortable conference centre next door. Also meeting local singers. £105 includes meals (apart from Saturday night) but not accommodation (plentiful B&Bs in Whitley Bay.)

Lighthouse singing weekend - Whitley Bay - March 6-8 2020

March 21 2020  Spring Sing Thing - annual celebration of the return of Spring. Singing workshop in the morning in the Skelwith Bridge community centre, then taking out voices out into the beautiful Lake District for an afternoon of singing together. Bring a packed lunch and your beautiful voices. Songs can be sent in advance. £25. You are also welcome to join us on Sunday March 22 for a day singing Slovenian songs - very useful if joining us on our tour in May, but you are welcome to come even if you aren't joining us in Slovenia. £20 

Singing Cyclists - under the Greenwood tree

March 25-April 1 2020 Singing Cyclists - along the German cycle ways on the banks of the river Danube, through the forests of the Schwarbishe Alps, and in the beautiful medieval town of Rottweil. Lovely romantic town and country hotels. Singing songs from Germany, the UK and other European countries, and meeting local choirs. Cycling mostly on well surfaced off-road cycleways, c. 25 miles, circular routes or using trains for some linear rides. Hire bikes locally (includes electric bikes) or bring them by train. Price £450 for the week excluding air and rail transport.)

May 21-28 2020 - Slovenia - a return of this fabulous week in Slovenia which includes a few days and in our warm hearted twin town - Zrece. Concerts, meeting other choirs and singers, walks, sight seeing, fabulous Slovenian food. You are also welcome to join our singing train trip via London, Paris, and Rottweil (overnight stay) and Ljubljana. 

September 20-27 2020 - Jura - a return to this wonderful Scottish island in the inner Hebrides - with singing on walks in the mountains, by the sea, on a trip to a nearby island, in singer friendly pubs, and at the Jura music festival at the end of the week. Lovely accommodation near the island's only village, Craighouse, where the festival is based. Music can be sent in advance and lift shares arranged - or public transport via Glasgow, and the CityLink bus to Kennacraig, Calmac to Port Askaig and the Jura ferry to Jura. £465 including accommodation, meals, workshops, and some outings (not ferries.)

Jura - Scottish island singing week - September 22-29 2019

August 24-29 2020 - Triglav singing tour - staying in mountain lodges and tourist farms, and singing on the summit of Slovenia's highest mountain, 2864m. Songs in Slovenian and English. Please send me an email for full details. £95 plus expenses (mountain lodges, bus, cafe meals, tourist farm etc.c. 300 euros) 

December 14-21 2020 - Folk carols in Slovenia - join us singing carols and festive songs from Slovenia and the UK, based in Ljubljana. Outings, Christmas markets, singing sessions, meeting other choirs, optional homestays etc. £95 plus expenses (eg accommodation and meals.) Singers are also welcome to join our train ride (with Interrail passes) to Slovenia singing in London, on the left bank in Paris, in a Christmas markets on the banks of the Ljubljanica, and on the Blue Gentian train through Austria to Slovenia - or travel independently and join us in Slovenia. 


Everyone is welcome - there are no auditions. All the songs are taught by ear - but written music as well as recordings of the parts are available for home study. Lift shares can be arranged. We sing songs in 2, 3 and 4 part harmony from the UK and other countries, many of which reflect the seasons we are singing in. 

We also enjoy a number of outings each term, including singing in the pub, occasional optional concerts and a tour of Slovenia (my home town Sedbergh is twinned with a town in Slovenia, and we often join their choirs and learn their songs.) 

Spring Sing Thing - March 21 2020

Continuing through the summer term, 7.30pm-9.30pm,  Lakeland Voices are in the Castle Street Centre in Kendal on Tuesdays, and the Bentham community choir in the Looking Well Studios in Bentham (7.30pm every Wednesday until July 10.)  

We will have singing walks through the Lake District on Tuesday evenings with Lakeland Voices in June and July.  

There is a termly subscription of £54 (10-14 week term) and this allows you to sing in any of the other choirs 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. At the beginning of term, you can come to our first session for free to see if you want to join us. Sometimes we do concerts but these are optional - you are welcome to come just to enjoy the singing.

And the Sedbergh Songsters singing group for those with Alzheimers, their carers, and others who enjoy singing familiar old songs together - Monday 10:30-12 noon at Gladstone House on Maryfell in Sedbergh. Donations requested to Dignity in Dementia.

Lakeland Voices - Carols in a Candlelit Cave - at Rydal Caves near Ambleside
Our choirs often meet up to sing together as they do at the Badger Bar in Rydal in the middle of July and December, on our Settle Carlisle railway carolling day in December, at the October Apple Day at Acorn Bank, near Penrith, and in the Strickland Arms near Kendal in mid December. We welcome all visiting community choirs and can arrange accommodation and singing workshops and short walks for you should you wish to visit this beautiful area.

Penrith Community Choir

We also have a number of free pub singing events - including the George and Dragon (in Dent near Sedbergh) ,  the Badger Bar in Rydal midsummer and mid December, the Strickland Arms (at Sizergh near Kendal) in December, and  various pubs and stations on our Carolling the Settle Carlisle day in December (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's Royal Oak.)

Dent folk carols - pub singing with Mulldoon's picnic and Lakeland Voices

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 free 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

Lakeland Voice singers en route for Haystacks and Black Sail in the Lake District


Welcome - we hope your visit to the Lakeland Voice website is useful and inspiring.

Teaching a song in Little Langdale
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, our singing on the top of Slovenia's highest mountain Triglav (and the climb to get there!) and 'The Singing Cyclists' tours.

Workshop Venues

Our workshops are mostly based in the Lake District and Kendal, or 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 or in the Strickland Arms at Sizergh in the Lake District.

For our residential weekends and week-long retreats we hire old country cottages, and self catering hostels and country mansions in spectacular settings such as the Black Sail youth hostel in the Lake District, and Ardlussa house on the island of Jura. We are thus  able to provide single, double and twin rooms while maintaining the camaraderie of hostels with everyone mucking in together. These venues range from Cumbria and the Yorkshire Dales, to as far away as the Scottish island of Jura and our twin town Zrece and Bohinj in the Slovenian mountains.

Gladly Solemn Sound in Cathedral Cavern
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 UK include country houses overlooking the sea on a Scottish island and the old smugglers' village Robin Hoods Bay.

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 of the songs, as well as more challenging two, three and four part arrangements. 

We are inspired by Woody Guthrie's famous saying: "Any fool can be complicated, but it takes genius to achieve simplicity. 

Bohinj - Slovenia - May 21-28 2020

Slovenia - May 21-28 2020 (by David Podrajsek)

Lakeland Voices and me (David Burbidge) wish you all a very merry Christmas


Shirley alias Whirley said...

How absolutely fantastic......and so so so natural. I often sing as I am walking or [if I have breath] cycling - there's just one snag :-) It could, I reckon, become addictive!! Therefore could contribute massively to happiness levels....Whoops and where would that take us eh? More hills?

Anonymous said...

I love this song. What song is it? Is it English folk song?

David Burbidge said...

It is an English folk carol called Old Foster - after the man who wrote the arrangement John Foster from Sheffield. The carol is sometimes called one of the Sheffield pub carols because it is sung in the pubs in villages near Sheffield like the Royal at Dungworth, the Blue Ball at Worral, the Travellers at Oughtibridge and others. Our groups here in Cumbria sing it too - often on walks through the winter landscape.

Bianca King said...

The landscape is breath-taking; lush green patches amidst the majestic slopes where clouds gently roll by. I read about that place in hotels in luton where they offer additional country side info.

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