Workshops for Teachers and Educators The workshop is suitable for anyone interested in singing, acting and self-discovery. Singing is our birthright; recent research shows that our ancestors have been singing for at least fifty thousand years and that music is ‘hard-wired’ into us. For the last thirty three years, Frankie Armstrong has pioneered workshops based on this premise – immersing participants in an approach to singing that replicates the organic development that occurs in cultures where people sing as naturally as they talk.
This approach could be called ‘social singing’. Here the impulse behind singing is essentially cooperative and communal, as people sing from the cradle to the grave, to accompany ritual, work and devotion, and for pleasure.
The aim of these workshops is to enable educators to increase their range, resonance, enjoyment, ease and confidence with their voices, and to give them an approach and materials to offer in turn to their pupils.
Frankie’s approach includes the following elements:
- simple, valuable warm-up exercises that prepare the body and voice for strain-free energised singing
- easy, fun yet systematic ways of understanding the body-breath-voice relationship
- playful, practical ways of approaching voice that to help bypass the negative experiences that many people have about ‘singing’ in our culture, and to help develop their innate musicality
- simulated work activities (such as those undertaken by our ancestors) with the time-honoured pattern of call and response
- ways of further freeing the voice and exploring and playing with sound and melody
- the use of imagination and concrete imagery to explore aspects of the voice (e.g. ‘being elephants’ – to enable participants to feel both strong and soft)
- chants, songs and rounds from around the world that are suitable for children and young people – varying in complexity, harmony and rhythm according to age and experience
- guidelines on teaching songs that are designed to be inclusive and do not require the ability to read written music (i.e. learning by listening and copying, as people have learnt throughout most of human history, and has recently been revived by the Suzuki Method of instrumental teaching)
- simple structures for group improvisations that enable people to participate at their own level, and to develop their own harmonies
Note: All of this work on voice will also help teachers with the strain-free, expressive spoken voice.
A crucial aspect of this approach is the creation of a supportive, non-judgemental atmosphere by:
- fostering curiosity and discovery rather than imposing rigid notions of having to “get it right”
- enabling each participant to develop from their own level of experience and skill, whatever this may be
- and leaning by doing, then reflecting and evaluating
Frankie has been singing professionally since 1964, and also calls upon a background in social, youth and group work. She is committed to voice and song as a way of increasing personal and group confidence, as well as musicality and expressivity.