residential singing workshops

"Superb course and a brilliant tutor. Chris is an inspiration and brought the group together and taught harmonies that we were able to sing with great joy and 'expertise'. I will certainly be attending his courses again."

singing weekends

Welcome to my website where you can find information about all the singing workshops I run. Below is a list of all my residential workshops for 2016.

If you've never been on one of my singing weekends before, you might want to read the frequently asked questions.

You can also see what people are saying who've been on one of my workshops before and download my latest newsletter (winter 2016).

Singing Safari, Warwick Folk Festival 2010

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"Wonderful! You are a great teacher – authoritative and full of praise.
I leave full of endorphins and a love of humanity."

July 2016


Friday 22 July 2016 5pm to Sunday 24 July 2016 2pm
Brathay Hall
Ambleside LA22 0HP
Cumbria, Lake District

Cost: £205 (superior twin/ double)/ £215 (standard single) PER PERSON


Chris Rowbury email address

or phone 01394 610486.

Brathay Hall, Lake District

A fun-filled weekend of singing in the beautiful English Lake District. Learn songs from ancient Eastern European cultures: crunchy harmonies, songs of passion, haunting chants, joyous celebration — for anyone who loves to sing, no experience necessary.

Ambleside is in the very heart of the Lake District. Brathay Hall, a beautiful Georgian mansion, is set in 360 acres of mature woodland and rolling pasture at the head of Lake Windermere. The peace and tranquillity to be found on the estate, enjoyed by visitors such as Wordsworth, Coleridge and Constable, offers guests a unique sense of space. The weekend includes all meals, tuition and tea/ coffee breaks.

Scafell rooms, Brathay Hall

Most twin room accommodation is in lodges at the side of Brathay Hall. The lodges have a commanding view of the surrounding Lake District and all rooms can be either twins or doubles (no single occupancy). All rooms offer a unique blend of comfort and contemporary design, with solid oak furniture, flat screen plasma TVs and wireless internet access in addition to the usual standard features. Each room has an en-suite shower and King-sized bed.

Typical Brathay Hall bedroomStandard and single accomodation is in compact twin rooms mostly located on the second floor of Brathay Hall (please note there are no lifts!), with spectacular views of Windermere. Each room has a plasma screen TV, hot drinks facilities, hairdryer, desk, wardrobe, safe and radio alarms. Each room is en-suite.

The weekend will draw on songs from a wide range of sources from across Eastern Europe: Bulgaria, Russia, the Balkans, Georgia and many more. The workshop will consist of warm-ups, simple songs that bring instant rewards and also more complex songs in several parts that offer the rewarding challenges. There will also be opportunities to explore the local area and relax.

The folk songs of Eastern Europe are sung as part of everyday life by everyday people, not professional performers. The songs are characterised by unusual rhythms (which are usually danced), by delicious harmonies and by vocal styles and ornamentations which carry far across the mountains. All songs have been chosen carefully and arranged especially for voices only — not an instrument or backing track in sight.

Typical Brathay Hall viewYou will learn songs from a variety of different countries and singing traditions, most often in three-part harmony: mountain hollers, lullabies, love songs, songs of passion and joy. Although the lyrics will be in the language of the country of origin, they are easily broken down into simple and singable syllables. You are not expected to know the languages!

Everything will be taught by ear in a fun, friendly and informal way. No previous experience needed — just bring yourself and have a go. You'll be amazed at the wonderful sound we create together whether you sing regularly in a choir or just in the privacy of your own bathroom. A a recording of the workshop will be made available free afterwards to remind you of the weekend

Feedback from 2015's weekend at Brathay:

"Thank you for the weekend. I had a great sense of achievement, and met some friendly and interesting people. We worked hard, but you made it fun."

"Thank you for a truly excellent, thoroughly enjoyable weekend and absolutely magnificent venue. Just listened to the recording. Amazing! How on earth did you get a group of strangers to sound so good in a weekend! Wow."

"Just a quick note to say how much I enjoyed the weekend both singing and social. 36 voices in various harmonies makes for a great sound though keeping control of us cannot have been easy! I thought Brathay did us proud with comfortable rooms, magnificent views and excellent food."

Click here to hear recordings from previous Eastern European singing workshops.
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AUTUMN IN HARMONY — residential weekend

Friday 21 October 6pm to Sunday 23 October 2pm
Willersley Castle Hotel
Cromford DE4 5JH

Contact Chris to go on the waiting list for any cancellations.
2017 dates: 6 – 8 October

A weekend of glorious harmony singing in the midst of autumn splendour. Come and celebrate the change of season by learning uplifting songs from across the globe, all in a wonderful Derbyshire setting. Songs to stir the soul, warm the heart and revive the spirits.

Or contact Chris for more information:

Chris Rowbury email address

or phone 01394 610486.

Cromford, Autumn 2014

Willersley Castle was commissioned by Sir Richard Arkwright, the great industrialist, in the 1790s. Many of the original features can still be seen today. The Castle overlooks the Derwent Valley world Heritage site with plenty of excellent walks in the area. The main hotel has 30 bedrooms, extensive grounds and a heated indoor swimming pool. You can go on a virtual tour of the hotel, rooms and grounds on the Willersley Castle website.

bedroom, Willersley Castle

The superior rooms all have fantastic views over the Derwent Valley. All the bedrooms at Willersley Castle include tea and coffee making facilities and a hairdryer. There is also a lift in the castle serving both first and second floor bedrooms.

Willersley Castle oval stairwell The weekend will draw on songs from a wide range of sources from across the globe. Singing sessions will consist of warm-ups, simple songs that bring instant rewards and also more complex songs in several parts that offer the rewarding challenges. There will also be opportunities to explore the local area and soak up the autumn colours.

Cromford, autumn 2014 This weekend is open to all whether you just sing in the bath, or perform in public. All songs have been carefully chosen and arranged for voice only, and will be taught by ear. No previous experience needed, just bring your vocal cords and your enthusiasm! Whether you've only ever sung in the shower, or you're already in a choir, there will be something here for everyone – all in a fun, friendly and relaxed atmosphere.

You'll be amazed at the sound we create together and a recording of the workshop will be made available free afterwards to remind you of the weekend.
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November 2016


Friday 4 November 5pm to Sunday 6 November 2pm
The Claret Centre, Buckden Towers
High Street
St. Neots PE19 5TA

Cost: £140 (shared twin)/ £190 (single occupancy of twin)
if booked by 5 August 2016, £20 extra per person thereafter

The cost for the weekend includes full board, all tuition and teas/ coffees throughout.


Contact Chris to go on the waiting list in case of any cancellations.

Take your singing to the next level by working as a small ensemble over a whole weekend.

  • Claret Centre, Cambridgeshire improve your singing and harmonising skills
  • learn to get the best out of your voice
  • get feedback on your singing and harmony skills
  • relish a challenge and seize the chance to work in a small ensemble
  • be prepared to look and listen to yourself carefully
  • step up for a full-on weekend of hard, but rewarding work

This weekend course will be strictly limited to a maximum of 16 singers so I can give more attention to individuals. There will be some training on breath, voice production, vocal qualities, etc. but most of the work will be done using harmony songs drawn from a range of traditions across the globe.

This is your chance to explore your voice in a safe environment with a supportive bunch of like-minded singers, all of whom want to explore and stretch their harmony singing abilities. Serious work, but in a fun style! To get the most out of the weekend you will need experience of harmony singing and be prepared to work in detail on some fairly complex songs.

As a rough guide, you'll need to feel comfortable holding a harmony part entirely on your own. For example, in a three-part harmony song with just two other singers.

Claret Centre The Claret Centre at Buckden Towers is a Victorian house set in a fifteen acre estate offering seclusion and tranquillity. A beautiful collection of buildings from diverse historical periods is surrounded by a variety of gardens and natural features including a Tudor knot garden, a lake, woodland walk, pasture and lawns. Buckden itself is a pleasant village which used to be an old coaching stop on the Great North Road in Huntingdonshire.

Claret Centre Accommodation is in twin rooms all with shared bathrooms (no en suites). We will have the entire main house to ourselves during the weekend. The weekend includes all meals, tuition and tea/ coffee breaks. Click to download a booking form in PDF format.

Comments from 2015's weekend:

“I felt relaxed and safe to make mistakes. Good teaching style, very nice venue and food. Good balance between learning and relaxing. I enjoyed the weekend very much.”

“I loved the experience of small group singing after learning with the whole group. All the songs were fantastic. It was so good to learn voice strengthening exercises and great warm ups. I learned things about voice timbre that I had never considered. It was all great!”

“I thoroughly enjoyed it. The pace was perfect and the setting was fab. You were very patient and your focus was very clearly on us and our learning rather than your own ego which sometimes happens.”
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