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 my residential singing weekends for 2018.

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 2018).

Singing Safari, Warwick Folk Festival 2010

Click to go on my mailing list and I'll email you details of one-day singing workshops in your area as well as the residential courses that I run. You can unsubscribe at any time and I promise to never share your details with anybody else.

You can also check out my full website at any time to see if I'm running a course or one-day workshop that might interest you: chrisrowbury.com

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


timetable for the year

I run five general singing weekends each year, plus two specialist weekends for more experienced singers. They run from the end of March until early October roughly every two months. Here is an idea of the pattern each year:

  • late March/ early April Felden Lodge, near Hemel Hempstead 5–7 April 2019 THEME TO BE ANNOUNCED
  • late May Lindors Country House Hotel, Wye Valley) 3–5 May 2019 THEME TO BE ANNOUNCED
  • late July Brathay Hall, Ambleside, Lake District 20–22 July 2018 FOLK SONGS FROM THE BRITISH ISLES
  • late September Holiday Inn, Ferry Meadows, near Peterborough 20–21 September 2018 ALL ABOARD THE GOSPEL TRAIN
  • early October Willersley Castle, Cromford, Derbyshire 6–5 October 2018 SING AFRICA!

And in March and November each year I run a weekend for just 16 singers who want to hone their harmony singing skills in a small group: The Small Group Challenge which takes place at the Claret Centre, Buckden, Cambridgeshire.

I will cycle through the main themes that I offer (African, Eastern European, gospel, British folk, songs from around the world) so that I do a different theme at each venue each year.

My singing weekends get booked up very quickly, so make sure you sign up to my mailing list to be informed of the details and when booking opens.
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July 2018

SING FOLK SONGS OF THE BRITISH ISLES — residential weekend

Friday 20 July 2018 5pm to Sunday 22 July 2018 2pm
Brathay Hall
Ambleside LA22 0HP
Cumbria, Lake District

Cost: £190 (superior twin/ double)/ £175 (standard twin)/
£200 (single) PER PERSON
if booked and fully paid for by 20 April 2018, otherwise £20 per person more

SOLD OUT


Learn folk songs from England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland all arranged specially for voice only — 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.

Brathay Hall, Lake District

Superior 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.

Scafell rooms, Brathay Hall

Remaining single accommodation is in Loughrigg rooms located at the rear of the main house. Each room is en suite and has hot drinks facilities, hairdryer, desk and wardrobe.

Loughrigg bedroom

The weekend will draw on songs from across the British Isles. 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 relax.

Many well-known folk groups sing in unaccompanied harmony and draw on a repertoire of traditional songs from across the British Isles: Waterson:Carthy, The Copper Family, Coope Boyes and Simpson, The Poozies and The Voice Squad to name but a few. This is your chance to enjoy singing traditional British folk songs arranged especially for voices only. Not an instrument or backing track in sight!

We will learn and sing a variety of traditional folk songs from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales arranged in 3- and 4-part harmony: rousing drinking songs, yearning love songs, robust sea shanties, spooky ballads, songs of the countryside – something for everyone!

Typical Brathay Hall view 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 2017's weekend at Brathay:

"Chris has a wonderful way of making you feel included and able to participate. As absolute novices we were encouraged and welcomed by the whole group. We loved every minute of it!"

"The harmonies were amazing. It was wonderful to be part of something that created such beauty. The people were lovely and welcoming."

"The singing was great and the venue and location were gorgeous. Chris teaches so firmly, clearly and sensitively."
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September 2018

ALL ABOARD THE GOSPEL TRAIN! — residential weekend

Friday 21 September 2018 5pm to Sunday 23 September 2018 2pm
Holiday Inn, Peterborough West
Thorpe Wood
Peterborough PE3 6SG

Cost: £205 (shared twin/ double), £230 (single occupancy) PER PERSON
if booked and fully paid for by 22 June 2018, otherwise £20 per person more

SOLD OUT


A fabulous weekend of gospel singing for people of all faiths and none in this luxury venue in the Nene Valley.

Holiday Inn, Peterborough West A weekend of glorious harmony singing, fun and laughter. No experience needed – just a love of singing! Peterborough West Holiday Inn is set in pretty landscaped gardens, opposite Ferry Meadows Country Park, just 2.5 miles from the city centre and close to the A1.

Holiday Inn bedroom
All bedrooms are twin or double en suite and all furnished to a very high standard. The weekend includes all meals, tuition and tea/ coffee breaks. As well as the many facilities offered by the hotel, just across the road are plenty of scenic and pleasant walks by the Nene river and the lakes of Ferry Meadows Country Park.

Holiday Inn swimming pool Singing sessions will consist of warm-ups and simple songs leading songs in several parts that offer the rewarding challenges. There will also be opportunities to explore the local area and relax. Guests will also have free use of the hotel leisure facilities: swimming pool, sauna and steam room.

Ferry Meadows Country Park A fabulous weekend of gospel singing for people of all faiths and none. No modern R&B or evangelical sing-alongs, but back to the earthy basics of purely vocal gospel harmony singing. Immerse yourself in the roots of the blues: southern gospel, Jubilee quartets, and spirituals from the slave plantations.

You don't have to be religious to enjoy the uplifting, passionate, exciting sounds of gospel music. In this liberating workshop you will sing African-American gospel songs from the 1920s and 1930s; spirituals from the slave plantations; and gospel songs from South Africa – all in glorious unaccompanied harmony (not an instrument or backing track in sight).

Holiday Inn dining room Everything will be taught by ear (no need to read music!). No previous experience needed – just bring yourself and have a go. 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.

Feedback from 2017's weekend at Peterborough Holiday Inn:

"Thank you so much for a wonderful weekend of music and the opportunity to meet so many lovely people. I thought your arrangements were excellent and I loved the challenges and what we achieved. Feeling simultaneously exhausted and energised!"

"What a good weekend that was and so thrilling to hear the songs played back. Thanks again Chris for making these things possible. Three years ago I wouldn't have dreamed I could be part of something like that. I so love to sing, even though they're not always the right notes, and the way you work suits me perfectly. Already looking forward to another weekend."

"What a wonderful weekend. It was so lovely to learn new songs and hear the harmonies produced. Lovely people too. Will be looking out for more weekends Thank you so much for all the hard work you must have put in to prepare and the fun way you delivered it all."

Click to hear recordings from previous gospel singing workshops that Chris has run.
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October 2018

SING AFRICA! — residential weekend

Friday 5 October 2018 6pm to Sunday 7 October 2018 2pm
Willersley Castle Hotel
Cromford DE4 5JH
Matlock
Derbyshire

Cost: £210 (superior twin/double)/ £200 (standard twin/double/single) PER PERSON
if booked and fully paid for by 6 July 2018, otherwise £20 per person more

SOLD OUT


Learn harmony songs from across the African continent. No experience needed – just a love of singing! An opportunity to sing and move to infectious African rhythms.

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 This weekend is an opportunity to sing and move to infectious African rhythms in a safe and friendly environment. As the old proverb from Zimbabwe says: "If you can walk then you can dance; if you can talk then you can sing"

Learn full-bodied harmonies from South Africa; overlapping rhythms from West Africa; gentle lullabies from East Africa; exotic melodies from North Africa; haunting cries from Central Africa. The weekend is open to anyone – no experience is necessary and all songs will be taught by ear. There will also be opportunities to explore the local area and relax.

Cromford, autumn 2014 All songs have been chosen carefully and arranged especially for voices only. Everything will be taught by ear (no need to read music!). No previous experience needed – just bring yourself and have a go. 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.

Feedback from 2017's weekend at Willersley Castle:

"Absolutely brilliant to hear the songs again. It was a wonderful weekend of singing despite so many of us having colds/coughs. It's amazing how you build the songs up and how they all seem to magically come together in the end!"

"Thanks very much for a great weekend at Willersley Castle, up to your usual high standard of entertainment! I really enjoyed all the songs."

"Thank you for a great weekend, we really enjoyed ourselves, and are aware of how hard you worked."

Click to hear recordings from previous African singing workshops that Chris has run.
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November 2018

HARMONY SINGING FOR EXPERIENCED SINGERS — residential weekend

Friday 2 November 2018 5pm to Sunday 4 November 2018 2pm
The Claret Centre, Buckden Towers
High Street
Buckden
St. Neots PE19 5TA
Cambridgeshire

Cost: £150 (shared twin)/ £200 (single) PER PERSON
if booked and fully paid for by 3 August 2018, otherwise £20 per person more

SOLD OUT

Please note that when booking a shared twin, you must book with one other person. If you are just one person, you will need to book single occupancy.


Work as a small ensemble over a whole weekend with one voice to each part. A chance to hold a part on your own with like-minded singers. Strictly limited to 16 experienced harmony singers.

You'll need to be able to hold a harmony part on your own and have done so regularly in the past to be eligible for this weekend.

Take your singing to the next level by working as a small ensemble over a whole weekend. Unlike the Better harmony singing: the small group challenge weekends, there will be less emphasis on vocal training and more on just singing together with one voice on a part.

This weekend course will be strictly limited to a maximum of 16 singers. You must have extensive harmony singing experience and have sung with just one voice on each harmony part. You also need to be flexible vocally and be able to pick up new songs fairly quickly.


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!

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.

Comments from 2017's Better harmony singing weekend:

"I loved the singing of course: great songs, technical work and listening to each other. It was a lovely quiet venue and a nice group of people. The free time on the Saturday afternoon and socialising in the lounge upstairs in the evening made for a good balance."

"I like that we spent long enough learning some challenging material so that we could sing it well enough and get the sense of satisfaction. It was also good to learn vocal techniques in the context of actual songs."

"I liked the way everyone concentrates and personalities do not matter, only the singing. Critical comments (which are essential) were pitched at exactly the right level."
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