Sunday, May 22, 2011

Do you care what songs you learn in a workshop?

I’ve been creating some new singing workshops for next year.

Janice Joplin

Janice Joplin by Patrick Pearse

Last week I wrote about how to create snappy, attractive titles. But what about the content – does the theme of the workshop actually make much difference?

I’ve come to believe that it’s irrelevant what songs you teach in a workshop.

People come to my workshops to have a good sing.

I try to make it fun, sprinkle the session with a few jokes and behave as if anything is possible. I try to maintain a relaxed and friendly atmosphere with no pressure. If the lunch is good and people get to socialise a bit, then that’s an added bonus.

But basically people have come to have a good sing.

As long as people know that they’ve signed up for a harmony singing workshop and that we won’t be using written music, then they usually trust that the songs chosen will be good to sing.

Not every song will be to everyone’s taste, but there will be enough variation for most people to find something they really like.

So I’ve come to the following conclusions about workshops:

  • the title should tell people what kind of day they will have: “Songs to send the spirit soaring”, “Sing out the world!”, “Set your voice free”, “Songs to soothe the soul”, “Sing your socks off” – no need to focus on the content.
  • make sure you choose songs from a wide range of styles, moods and genres.
  • don’t be too specific in what you offer or you’ll be narrowing your audience (“The songs of Billy Joel”, “Sing Lloyd Webber”, “Classic songs from 60s rockabilly”).
  • you can’t please all the people all the time – so don’t try. There are plenty of singing workshops around so people have alternatives.
  • be clear about what kind of workshop it is in the rest of your publicity – if you’re going to have piano or backing tracks, say so. If it’s for women-only, say so. If it’s only songs from the shows, say so.
  • people come to sing, not to learn – so don’t make the songs too difficult in a one-day workshop

(I’ll be following up some of these themes in later posts: How to design and plan a workshop, and People want to sing, not learn.)

What do you think? Does it matter to you what songs you learn in a workshop? Or do you just come to have a good sing? Do drop by and leave a comment.


Chris Rowbury's website:

Chris Rowbury


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