Courses Overview >> Short courses >> Finding Your Voice Weekend 2021

Finding Your Voice Weekend 2021

man with balloons
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 Christine Cairns

£ 375.00
Course fees include a two-night stay in private, simple accommodation with shared bathroom and all vegetarian meals. Fee also includes any field trips, materials as well as all teaching sessions.

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 weekend 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, Christine will join the group to provide individual vocal support and guidance to participants. Whatever your specific concerns, challenges or questions, Christine 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 Christine 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.


*The Booking Deadline gives us an accurate idea of course participant numbers at approximately 6 weeks before the course is due to run, at which point we confirm the course, add additional time for people to book on or cancel the course. We encourage people to register early for courses as places are limited.

With Ruairi Edwards and Christine Cairns
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.

Christine Cairns

Christine Cairns

Christine Cairns has had an extraordinary musical career which has seen her sing under the baton of world-famous conductors as well as running a community choir.  She launched the charity Music for Autism to host concerts for young adults with autism, giving them the opportunity to respond to music in any way they wish; a true reminder, Christine says, that the joy of live music can have the most profound effect on everyone.

Christine began her musical life as a viola player with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and went on to study viola and singing at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.  However her passion for singing eventually took over and the combination of a masterclass with international soprano Elizabeth Schwarzkopf and an audition with conductor André Previn launched her international career.

Christine has sung all over the world with some of the most respected orchestras and conductors including the Vienna, Berlin and Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestras as well as the Royal Philharmonic and London Symphony Orchestra.  She has also worked with renowned conductors such as André Previn, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Simon Rattle and also with her husband John Lubbock.

In 1995 their younger son Alexander was diagnosed with severe autism. This contributed to Christine's decision to devote her life to her family and she discovered a passion for teaching that has driven her ever since.

She began teaching at the Conservatoire, a music charity in London and has loved nurturing young singers, helping them to blossom and mature. She has taught at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and has a private practice at home in Oxfordshire. Christine regularly gives concerts for people with dementia, directs choral workshops and runs her own community choir in Shillingford, Oxfordshire.

Christine started the charity Music for Autism which has provided concerts for more than 100,000 children all over the country. These interactive concerts provide high quality music for children and young adults with autism in which they are encouraged to sing along, dance, conduct and respond to the music in any way they can; a true reminder, Christine says, that the joy of live music can have the most profound effect on everyone.

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.

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.