singing workshop themes

"You are such a natural teacher. Everybody had told me about how amazing you are and how unmissable your workshops are,
but it was even better than that!"

Chris is currently offering the following themed workshops (specific dates here) all available as half-day, one-day, or weekend workshops. He can also design a specific workshop to suit your needs. Click on a workshop title for more information and to listen to sound clips of songs learnt in just one day:


African women singing Learn harmony songs from across Africa. An opportunity to sing and move to infectious African rhythms. As the old proverb from Zimbabwe says:

"If you can walk then you can dance; if you can talk then you can sing".

Full-bodied harmonies from South Africa; overlapping rhythms from West Africa; gentle lullabies from East Africa; haunting, exotic melodies from North Africa. (forthcoming dates here)

Listen to songs learnt at recent workshops: Dithotonyana (South Africa), Bele mama (Cameroon), Vuma (South Africa).
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English Morris dancers You don't have to be a 'folkie' to enjoy singing traditional songs in wonderful 4-part harmony! Learn songs from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales to create gorgeous group harmonies to die for.

The British Isles have a rich singing tradition stretching back centuries. Popular songs of the 'folk' have been passed down orally from generation to generation in a range of local dialects and languages. Many of us learnt traditional songs at school. Songs such as The Skye boat song, The Ash Grove, Widdicombe Fair, Blow the man down and Cockles and Mussels.

In this workshop you will learn traditional songs from the British Isles, all arranged especially for voice only in full glorious harmony. Some familiar, some unexpected; some in English, some not; some in new guises, but all guaranteed to delight and feed your musical soul! All taught by ear in the traditional way. No previous experience necessary, just a love of singing. (forthcoming dates here)
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Kakava Fire Festival, Turkey Learn songs from a range of Eastern European cultures and traditions: crunchy harmonies from the Balkans, Romanian lullabies, Czech gypsy passion, haunting chants from the Russian Orthodox church, gorgeous clashing harmonies from Georgia, mountain hollers from Macedonia and more. All taught by ear in the traditional way. No previous experience necessary, just a love of singing.

Listen to songs learnt at recent workshops: sampler from Eastern European singing day, July 2014

Ej žito žela (Croatia), Maliarka (Russian gypsy), Ustat ću se rano ja (Dalmatia), Gospodi (Russia), Oj Savice (Croatia).
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Sing it big: sing it hot, strong and loud!

Gospel singers Who doesn't love to sing gospel? You don't have to be religious to enjoy the uplifting, passionate, exciting sounds of gospel music. In this liberating workshop we will sing African-American gospel songs from the 1920s (from the city, and from the country); spirituals from the slave plantations; and gospel songs from South Africa - all in glorious unaccompanied harmony! Good old-time gospel singing with no backing band, and no modern R&B flavas.

In the gospel church everyone participates, whether they have a conventionally 'beautiful' voice or not. All parts in the harmony are important, every role is valued, and each person's contribution enriches the whole – expression, not technique, is what is valued. This workshop is open to all, even if you've never 'sung' outside the bathroom before! No experience is necessary and all songs will be taught by ear.

Gospel music is undoubtedly spiritual in nature and requires expression of feeling, using body, mind and spirit. We will sing the songs with the greatest respect, but there will be no preaching here, and everyone can join in regardless of race, beliefs or ability (forthcoming dates here).

Listen to songs learnt at recent workshops: There must be a heaven somewhere, No ways tired, Prodigal son, All my trials.
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Singing man A rare opportunity for a men-only workshop. A relaxed, informal and fun day of group harmony singing. No solo singing required, and you don't even have to read music! We will learn traditional songs from cultures where men sing together as naturally as walking or talking. Songs have been specially chosen from the Republic of Georgia, Croatia, Corsica, South Africa, etc. All songs will be in three and four part harmony, and taught by ear in the traditional way.

Many different world cultures have songs which are traditionally sung only by men. For example, the 'haka' in New Zealand Maori society (demonstrated at All Blacks rugby matches), the weekly Zulu 'mbube' competitions in Durban and Johannesburg (exemplified by Ladysmith Black Mambazo), chain gang work songs in the US, work songs such as sea shanties, American barbershop, the Welsh male voice choirs rooted in mining communities. In this workshop we will learn songs from a range of cultures and styles, but all united by their rich and stunning harmonies.
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Sacred light Experience the ancient art of unaccompanied sacred singing, used by people throughout the world to bring joy, healing and inspiration to their lives. Enliven your spirit with a feast of harmonies and learn songs from a range of cultures spanning the globe.

Sacred Song encompasses an amazing mix of musical diversity: from the Black gospel church and the slave plantations of rural Southern USA, to Jewish Sephardic singing from Spain; from South African protest songs to New Zealand Maori hymns; from Corsican polyphony to the lush harmonies of the Russian Orthodox church; from the chants of the Taizé community to medieval plainsong; from the Georgian church to the Shaker community; and much more in between.

This workshop is open to people of all faiths and none. No experience is necessary and all songs will be taught by ear.

Listen to songs learnt at recent workshops: Gospodi (Russia), Mojuba effe fe i ku (Yoruba), Alleluya (Russia).
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Roaring lion In 2006 Chris built a choir completely from scratch to perform at the Warwick Folk Festival. In just six weekly two-hour sessions, a disparate group of singers came together to learn up to 10 songs in full four-part harmony which were then performed to an enthusiastic outdoor audience on the weekend of the festival. This was the first Singing Safari. He went on to create scratch choirs for the next five festivals before moving to Suffolk in 2010.

Starting in 2011 Chris has been running a Singing Safari each summer to perform outdoors near Ipswich, and one in the winter to perform in Ipswich itself. From 2018 he will be running three Singing Safaris each year: spring in Woodbridge, summer in Colchester and autumn in Ipswich.

Chris is able to create beautiful harmony singing from a group of people in a relatively short time. You can book Chris to take any set of keen adults on an imaginary safari to collect songs from around the world and then perform them. This can be done in a single day (less songs of course!), or over a period of weeks.

The 2018 autumn Singing Safari will set off from Ipswich on Tuesday 16 October ending in a concert at St Peter's by the Waterfront on Saturday 24 November. We are delighted to be joined for the first time this year by the Columbines folk trio: "an acoustic folk/Americana trio specialising in original songs and self arranged versions of traditional and lesser known folk songs. They are recognised for their striking use of close harmony singing".

Listen to a medley of songs from 2014's summer Singing Safari:

Listen to songs learnt at the 2011 Singing Safari in Ipswich: Haere Mai (New Zealand Maori), Njetsvoda (Jos Wuytack), Shosholoza (South Africa).
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Happy singers An exhilarating day of harmony singing for anyone who wants to sing — whether you think you can or not! Enjoy games and warm ups to develop confidence. Join in with songs from all around the world especially arranged for voice only, all 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! (forthcoming dates here)

Listen to songs learnt at recent workshops: You are my sunshine, Hey Yana (native American), Idonga se Jeriko (South Africa).
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World map Over the years Chris has built up an impressive repertoire of almost 600 harmony songs from more than 50 separate countries. This workshop gives a taster of the wide range of styles and moods of music that can be found across the globe. The songs come from traditions and cultures where singing comes as naturally as walking or talking and is a vital part of everyday life. Many of the songs are from the oral tradition and have been passed on from generation to generation. All songs are taught by ear in the original language. (forthcoming dates here)

Listen to songs learnt at recent workshops: Oj Dobricu (Croatia), Ide were were (Yoruba), Te arawa e (New Zealand Maori).
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