Vocal Freedom Project: Inaugural workshop

Vocal Freedom Project: Inaugural workshop

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Quaker Meeting House Edgbaston

11 Saint James Road

Birmingham

B15 1JP

United Kingdom

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The first in a series of workshops designed to help rediscover our voices.

About this event

What is the Vocal Freedom Project?

The Vocal Freedom Project is a series of workshops to explore creative vocal expressiveness. It centres on three themes:

- Vocal Freedom: letting go of the physical, emotional and preconceptual obstacles that inhibit us from accessing the full potential of our voices

- Vocal Connection: integrating voice with breath, imagination with embodiment, individual with group

- Vocal Collaboration: what can we do together that we can’t do alone?

Why do we need the Vocal Freedom Project?

A lot of people have emerged from the radical interruption of group vocal activities during Covid feeling disconnected from their voices. Partly sheer lack of practice, partly the experience of being boxed in on a small screen, partly the emotional toll of protracted isolation and separation. The Vocal Freedom Project creates a safe space to rediscover and revive our voices, both in the literal sense of the vocal mechanism, and in the deeper sense of our powers of expression, communication, and creativity.

Who is the Vocal Freedom Project for?

Human beings with the generosity and kindness to support each other in a space of mutual vulnerability. Participants might include:

- people who don’t think of themselves as ‘singers’ but who would like to find their voice

- former singers who would like to rediscover their voices

- experienced singers who want to explore their voices in new ways

- creative practitioners from other disciplines interested in exploring creativity in different ways

What can you expect in a VFP workshop?

Each session will go through four phases:

- Voicework warm-up – to prepare and activate the vocal mechanism, to get our heads into a musical space

- Vocal improvisation games – to build relationships within the group and establish collaborative practices we can use together

- Project work – group exploration of a specific creative stimulus

- Re-transition – vocal/cognitive cool-down so we’re ready to re-enter the day-to-day world outside

There will be a short comfort break half way through.

Are there any ‘house rules’ for VFP sessions?

1. Any note you sing within a VFP session is, for the time you sing it, the right note. You may decide to choose different notes as an exercise develops, but that’s all part of the process and does not invalidate your prior choices.

2. By the same token, all the notes that other people sing are correct for them at that moment, and nobody else the right to ask them to change them. We can just vocalise in ways that invite each other into the same house of musical being.

3. Once we start, we don’t admit late-comers. We’ve set aside the first 15 mins (7.30 – 7.45) as a time of gathering for everyone to arrive and settle into the space before we start voicework, but once we get going the distraction of late arrivals would be detrimental to the process.

What about Covid safety?

We deliberately delayed starting the project until a time we were confident that the Omicron waves of the winter and early spring would be over, so that we wouldn't have to distort the experience with over-cautious safety protocols.

We would still suggest that participants secure a negative Lateral Flow Test result in the 24 hours before the session if possible. Whilst this does not guarantee we are all covid-free it is a very useful safeguard. We also ask you stay away if you have symptoms of any respiratory infection.

Who is leading the VFP sessions?

Liz Garnett is a freelance vocal and performance coach who works with vocal groups, choirs and choral conductors to help them make music with more confidence, skill and joy. She has been freelance since 2009, when she left her post as Head of Postgraduate Studies at the Birmingham Conservatoire to develop this specialism out of themes emerging from her second book, Choral Conducting and the Construction of Meaning: Gesture, Voice, Identity. The Vocal Freedom Project was conceived in response to experiences reported by her clients and colleagues as they returned to singing in the wake of Covid.

Where can learn more about the VFP?

The following blog posts give some more background on the genesis and philosophy of the project:

Introducing the Vocal Freedom Project

What is Vocal Freedom Anyway?

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