Courses Overview >> Short courses >> Finding Your Voice - Autumn 2019

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Finding Your Voice - Autumn 2019

Finding Your Voice
Key Info: 
  • Learn about ways of singing in community
  • Discover – at your own pace – how to naturally access your voice in an authentic and safe way
  • Explore various folk and indigenous traditions which still retain a strong connection to singing
  • Residential and Non-Residential Options Available

With Ruairi Edwards and Suzzie Vango

£ 650.00
Course fees include all meals, field trips, materials and teaching sessions.
The programme will run from Monday to Friday afternoon and includes four nights simple yet private accommodation and all vegetarian meals from the first lunchtime you arrive through until the lunchtime before your departure. We recommend attending this course as a fully residential participant however for you may choose to book as a non-residential participant. Please call 01803 847237 for more details.
This course is full.

How many of us have dreamed of standing on a stage and expressing ourselves through song? Yet how many of us were told 'you just can't sing'?  Or perhaps you suspected there was a beautiful voice within, only to doubt it?

This course offers you the space and time to realise that dream in the supportive environment of a learning community.

It offers the unique opportunity of dedicated attention from Ruairi Edwards who will help you develop your personal technique and style, improve your breath control and your ability to project your voice combined with the heartfelt joy and of sharing song with others.

Finding Your Voice was transformational - a truly deep and healing workshop. It felt more like a re-birth and aliveness. To be honest I experienced it as a spiritual journey of finding the voice of my soul. My body and cells are still buzzing and I'm not able to share how blown away and in gratitude I am.

In this course you will explore different singing styles including Indian vedic chanting, gospel call and response and Baltic mediterrean folk music; you will sing outside in the beautiful surroundings of Schumacher College as we turn to nature for inspiration, observing how animals communicate; you will develop a greater confidence in the power of your own voice and body; you will be able to perform for family, friends and the wider Schumacher learning community at the end of the course.

Join us for a week of uplifting connection via the natural power of your own voice. Led by Ruairi Edwards – one of the UK’s most sought-after choral conductors who has performed at Carnegie Hall, sung with Glyndebourne Youth Opera and worked alongside Gareth Malone on the BBC’s BAFTA award-winning television series The Choir.  Ruairi will be using the inspirational setting of Schumacher College to aid us in raising consciousness, improving mental wellbeing, and most importantly – empowering you to find your inner voice, your Source, your strength. As Dartington Hall's resident specialist vocal tutor, Suzzie will join the group to provide individual vocal support and guidance to participants. Whatever your specific concerns, challenges or questions, Suzzie will spend dedicated time with you and will expertly support you in the process of further discovering and developing your natural voice. You will finish your time with Suzzie with a deep and practical understanding of what is important to you, the way you express yourself, and where to go next. And above all, you will further connect with the deep joy and wisdom that your voice - and its expression - holds for you.

What previous participants have said:

"My body and cells are still buzzing and I'm not able to share how blown away in gratitude I am."

"Ruairi - a beautiful bubble of energy fizzing through our lives for the weekend."

"Ruairi is an extremely genererous teacher.  His love for choral singing is infectious... unforgettable."

Singing is humanity’s deepest source of connection and vitality.  It is hard-wired into our evolution and one of the most powerful forms of group-bonding.  No human group on the planet – tribe, society or civilization – has been able to flourish without it.

On this Short Course you will:

  •     Be guided gently and expertly by experienced professionals in voice work;
  •     Discover – at your own pace – how to naturally access your voice in an authentic and safe way;
  •     Learn about the huge benefits of singing to individual and collective wellbeing;
  •     Explore various bodywork practices which allow you to find your voice;
  •     Learn about ways of singing in community;
  •     Explore various folk and indigenous traditions which still retain a strong connection to singing;
  •     Spend time out in the beautiful natural grounds of Schumacher College, listening to the sounds of nature;
  •     Come together with your fellow course participants to create a unique choir, tailor-made to the individual requirements and passions of your specific group.



This course is full.
With Ruairi Edwards and Suzzie Vango
Ruairi Edwards

Ruairi Edwards

Ruairi is a nationally sought-after conductor, pianist and vocal coach whose approach to music – and to singing especially – is to empower and uplift people into discovering within themselves and others a deep source of joy and connection.

Originally coming from a prestigious academic background in Economics, Ruairi established a career as a professional musician aged 21, and quickly developed a national reputation within the choral music world. Having rapidly gained apprenticeships with several of the UK’s leading choral conductors – including David Lawrence, Dan Ludford-Thomas and Paul McGrath – Ruairi became sought-after for his ability to work with a huge range of different groups, from children’s choirs to choral societies, gospel choirs to business organisations.

Originally based in the Midlands, he has held lasting positions with some of the country’s most prestigious choral and music organisations such as Ex Cathedra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, National Youth Choir of Great Britain, National Children’s Choir of Great Britain and Glyndebourne Youth Opera.

Working with groups and people is Ruairi’s greatest passion. Far from sticking to conventional methods of choral conducting, Ruairi developed techniques and approaches which enabled him to work with people of hugely diverse backgrounds and in different settings. He has had enormous success in working with people and organisations who believe they “cannot sing”, and of creating ways of allowing people to access their voice – and their bodies – joyfully.

From 2012-2013, Ruairi worked alongside Gareth Malone on the BBC’s BAFTA award-winning television series The Choir. In this role, he was engaged to work within various business organisations as a vocal coach and pianist, working with people who had never sung before and creating choirs which ultimately performed on national television. With one of these organisations – Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service – his work was so successful that he was appointed permanent Music Director to the Fire Service. With this choir he went on to perform around the country and internationally, including at New York’s Carnegie Hall.

As a Vocal Tutor in Ex Cathedra’s nationally award-winning Education Team, Ruairi works up and down the country working with young people in schools, hospitals and choirs. In 2016 he went to Bangkok, Thailand, to lead massed choirs and worked with over 1000 children in a week.

Between 2011-2016 Ruairi was appointed Associate Artist at the Warwick Arts Centre, where he founded and directed an unprecedented International Music Festival, culminating in an annual event called Warwick Fused. This event ultimately featured over 250 musicians from around the world performing on stage together. This success of this festival led to its official coronation as the Lord Mayor of Coventry’s annual Charity Event.

As a student at Schumacher College between 2017-18, Ruairi has already used his music extensively with people from around the world who have come to visit. Working on several Short Courses with Jenny MacKewn and Satish Kumar, Ruairi has created choirs and performances with people who thought they could never sing, and who have reported that doing so had been one of the highlights of their experience here.

Suzzie Vango

Suzzie Vango

Passionate about the arts and education, Suzzie’s high-energy vocal workshops have gained her an international reputation as a choral leader, working with children and adults on vocal projects across Asia, the USA, the UAE and Africa.  She is highly experienced and skilled in directing, devising and delivering big sings, whole school singing days and teacher-training, which she does for national organisations including the BBC, Sing Up, St David’s and Lichfield Music Festivals, UK Choir Festival and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Recent international highlights include trips to Uganda, Singapore and Thailand and an invitation to Dubai for the Middle East Choir of the Year Competition.
Suzzie is Head of Vocal Studies at Bromsgrove School, conductor for: the National Children’s Choir of Great Britain, Orchestra of the Swan Chamber Choir, Ex Cathedra Girls Academy and a guest conductor for Manchester Chamber Choir and the CBSO Children’s Chorus (2018). She is Schools Programme Leader for Music of Life Foundation working with children with disabilities and a vocal tutor for Ex Cathedra Education, recently contributing her own compositions to their new set of music education resources, “SingMaker”.

As an established soprano, in addition to her work as a soloist she has performed and recorded with some of the UK’s finest choirs including Tenebrae, Polyphony, Ex Cathedra and The Eric Whitacre Singers. She has been featured numerous times live on BBC Radio 3 & 4 and on Classic FM, recordings and live performances. Suzzie directs and performs with her own professional, female, a cappella ensemble Papagena who were recently BBC Radio 4 “Pick of the Week” for their live performance on BBC Radio 3 “International Women’s Day Concert”.

If you would like to book onto one of our short courses, you will need to create an account. This is a simple process of choosing a username, email address and password. Once you have created an account you will receive a verification email. Please click on the verification link within to have full access to the site and to make your booking. (You may need to  check your spam folder if you do not see this email.)  We will email you confirmation of your payment and any further communication about your course application.

Residential accommodation for "Changing the Frame"  is at Higher Close, a 20 minute walk from Schumacher College. All meals will be provided at the college.

A place can not be guaranteed unless we receive your deposit or payment on your chosen course. If you would like to apply for a bursary, please do this before making your course application.

Short Course Bursaries create an opportunity for an individual to experience the powerful transformative learning by joining a course that assists the participant to inspire their wider community and benefits from the participant’s own unique contribution. It is our hope that our bursaries support a wide cross section of participation on our short course programme. The number of bursaries available is limited, competition is strong and funding is not always available for every short course. Please be aware that most bursaries are in the region of 10% – 20% of the course fee so please be prepared to raise funding from other sources.  A bursary award is not intended to cover travel or incidental expenses.

Applications are viewed on a case-by-case basis and we are unable to enter into discussions on any decisions. We generally have many more applications for bursaries than we have funding available. We can only offer one bursary per person per year and priority is given to those who have not attended the college or received a bursary before. To help us support as many people as possible, please only apply if you would be unable to attend the course without a bursary.

How to apply for a bursary

NB: Please do not pay your deposit for the course yet. Any applications received where a deposit has been paid will be rejected and the deposit refunded.

Six weeks before the course is due to start all bursary applications will be considered and responded to.  If successful you will be required to accept our Bursary Terms and Conditions.

Please answer the following:

  1. What does a bursary mean to you?
  2. How will your attendance on this course benefit the wider community?
  3. If your financial situation justifies you applying for a bursary, how much are you able to contribute towards attending this course?

Please be prepared to supply an appropriate reference in support of your application.

More about our growing areas and philosophy

We follow ecological cycles as much as possible. Much of the food is grown in the five and half acre agroforestry field – in a system of alley cropping and in the developing forest garden. The field also has fruit trees and bushes; young nut trees; a flock of pasture fed poultry; two wild life ponds, a craft and pollinator garden and a hazel and willow coppice.

Other areas include two herb gardens; four polytunnels; a perennial no dig vegetable garden and several fruit areas. We compost our garden and kitchen waste for use on site, and use green manures for fertility building.

Our students find their time engaging with food growing, and all it entails, a truly transformative time.   Our gardens are as much about nurturing people as plants, and hundreds of students have found the contact with the land and soil to be a rich learning journey.

Integral to the College’s international learning community, you will get to know students, staff and volunteers through daily meetings and shared activities. There is also a diverse programme of events and evening talks, offered by college residents, visiting teachers and local experts.