Everyone can benefit
Learn through En - JOY - ment. Who wouldn't benefit from a joy-filled weekend focused on breathing, relaxing, and laughing? Why breathe, relax, and laugh? Because the best way to learn new skills is through fun! So, come with an open mind ready to give and receive Love with a capital "L" because this is essentially what you will do when you sing (exchange Love), and is also the true purpose of yoga (union of mind, body, spirit).
Join Harmony House Community on a transformational journey at Stowel Lake Organic Farm Wellness Centre
- 1. You’ll be guided through daily breathing and body exercises (gentle Hatha yoga and Pilates) to help you develop greater awareness of your subtle body energy.
- 2. You will learn how to open (stretch and strengthen) your physical body to become a more powerful “human resonator.”
- 3. You will learn “proper” or traditional vocal techniques as taught in university pedagogy;
- how to develop and maintain good vocal hygiene and healthy personal habits to protect your singing voice for longevity.
- 4. You will learn how to apply your awareness of subtle body energy into your “vocal technique,” which will expand your experience of sound resonating in your body.
- 5. You will learn to pick and choose the colour/flavour of your voice to reflect your true personality (how you want it to sound so it reflects your true personality) through playful “vocal production” exercises designed to develop contemporary vocal technique and the “unique artistry” of every singer.
A learning adventure:
You will sing
Songs from around the world, including popular, classical, folk, rock, jazz, blues, reggae world
You will discover
Through experimental and experiential learning and your personal confidence & freedom with vocalizing will grow
You will develop
The ability to make up your own harmonies! Don't worry, they won’t throw you in the deep end! Harmony House Community has a proven systematic approach to developing your personal “improvising” skills using practical theory/ear training exercises. Through the daily experience of “making up stuff” over simple chants and loop-style songs, it will feel less scary and completely natural in no time! So, whether you are new on the yoga/singing path or an experienced yogi/vocalist, whether you are looking to discover, recover, or expand your personal experience/understanding of voice, whether you are looking for new songs to sing/teach, or maybe you just want to have some fun!
Subtle body awareness - The final step
The more advanced you get with vocalizing the more “automatic” it becomes and the further away you get from being conscious of the foundational skills associated with singing.
Proper breath support
At the beginning of each school year, (or whenever Harmony House Community is working privately with a new student), they like to start everyone off with four to six weeks of “going back to basics” to remind them (mentally and physically) of the foundational singing skills: proper breathing and breath support, shaping vowels, placing resonance (dark/bright tone), head voice and chest voice, and noting their current “comfortable range”. They do this no matter how advanced they are because they believe it is a good habit to get into - and because they love doing it themselves!
Blending the chest and head voice
Once those skills feel like they are back in place and more honed than ever, you will move on to more advanced skills like blending the head voice and the chest voice together (in varying degrees depending on the style of music you are singing). At this stage, you also start playing with the options for creating different colours/flavours of sound: clear or breathy tone or various combinations of clear/breathy, vocal fry, big vibrato/ little vibrato, fast vibrato/slow vibrato, no vibrato.
Is your technique healthy?
Next, you will work on balancing the head voice/mixed voice/chest voice to increase possibilities for solo singing equally in all areas of the range. Harmony House Community will proactively get into the nitty-gritty of how a student’s particular voice is making its way through the vocal gymnastics exercises; what are its natural tendencies and are these tendencies the healthiest way to approach the movement that it's trying to do?
Together, they study their particular habits and slowly and methodically train new healthy habits to replace old ones. All singers can learn to strengthen “weak spots” and learn to transition through the natural “breaks” seamlessly, but it does take time. So as a voice student, you have to be willing to be persistent and patient with your technique. You have to allow time for habitual improvement and understanding without letting the pursuit of “getting better” get in your way of enjoying singing in the “now”.
The final component
The final component is the energy a singer is experiencing and using or putting into their vocalization. How subtle body energy works is the same regardless of techniques, styles, or volume; so, whether one is singing quietly or loudly, gently or belting, classical or folk or rock or pop, their true focus is only on being present to this very personal energetic experience.
Developing subtle-body energy awareness is the final awareness step of vocalizing (and being "in" a yoga pose). It is that final moment where you simply release and it "comes to life".
The subtle-body energy concept is such an important detail for the trained (or busy minded) singer because it is the difference between being "in" the song or just going through the mechanical motions; it is the difference between the voice sounding free, effortless, and authentic or effortful and "put on". The more any of you repeat any action, the more likely you are to do them on automatic, it is natural.
And for some things automatic is good, but for singing and yoga, you will lose interest if you don't keep that personal connection to the experience of doing it. Professional singers also can (and often do) fall into the trap of being on "automatic". It's good for all of you to remind your bodies of the foundational skills of singing. Without subtle-body energy awareness, you can lose connection with both your art and your audience.
So, the better you get at singing, the more you have to prioritize making and maintaining this sacred connection to your music through your voice. And the better you get a yoga, the more you have to prioritize making and maintaining the sacred connection of "listening" for the still small voice within that leads to your awareness of your divine connection to all.
What to expect at the retreat
Daily schedule options
There will be a daily schedule for early morning yoga, meditation, and chanting for early risers, later morning yoga and singing technique, afternoon walks for quiet reflective time or social time, and evening community singing and gentle yoga for sleep. The pace will be such that most people can do all of it without feeling overwhelmed or exhausted, but Harmony House Community is a big believer in following your own flow and looking after your own needs.
Sometimes in retreat settings, participants can feel a need for solitude. The farm and the Island are wonderful places to nourish your connection to nature and honour your need for alone time, so please feel free to participate in as much or as little as you would like.