What is the end goal of harmony work?
Harmony is the great equalizer. Each voice is just as important as any other. It doesn’t matter if you work in the mail room, are president of the company or you are the Secretary General of the UN. Singing harmony together puts us on an equal footing. Harmony is an amazing lesson in listening, and being heard. When we sing harmony, we must establish and hold our own part even as others are doing something else. But we can’t just barrel through singing our own part. We have to listen to those people sitting next to us, find a way to blend and meld our voice with those around us, and then also listen to the group as a whole. It truly is a metaphor for life, exploring the issues of boundaries and openness.
Whenever we sing together, whether in harmony or not, we are entraining with each other. Just as a baby’s heart entrains with the mother’s in the womb, when we sing together our vibration echoes the vibration of those around us. And they have even scientifically proven that when we sing together our hearts beat as one!
Singing together just makes us feel better. We breathe freer, we find camaraderie not available to us in our workaday world, and our hearts feel lighter.
What do you see happen at the end of the harmony session?
As people who work together are introduced to a totally new way of looking at each other, amazing dynamics can happen as well. Unrecognized gifts can be shared. I often bring percussion instruments with me to supplement the voice. I did one workshop where I brought a small drum, and a shy man played it with such passion it blew everyone away.
As I take a group of non singers and teach them they can indeed sing in three part harmony and sound good doing it, magic happens.
How did you get started with the harmony workshops?
My neighbor, who works with the United Nations doing conflict resolution among other things, was creating a retreat for world weary UN workers to have a space to replenish and renew. Many of these workers come from high conflict areas and the burn out rate is high and the job stressful. They also were so entrenched in helping others that just like the cobbler’s kids, their own in-office tensions were being pushed aside and ignored. My neighbor was looking for an activity which would be fun, relaxing, and also community building. I suggested the harmony workshop.
What do you do in these harmony sessions?
I first get folks to relax in their voices and their bodies. I lead some stretching, some simple vocal warm-ups, and then I often have them sing a very simple round. Sometimes as simple as “Row Row Row Your Boat” or with the UN workers, “Peace begins when the hungry are fed…” Rounds are a great way to introduce harmony, because there is no differentiation between the “melody” and the “harmony”. Everyone is singing the same part, just at a different time, so harmony develops as the round continues.
Initially, there is a lot of skepticism. At first, it may seem that no one really wants to jump in and sing. It is so amazing for us all to experience the ice breaking and people opening their voices and their hearts.
I eventually teach several songs from different cultures in three or four part harmony, depending on the size of the group. And inevitably, the whole group will join in, and may even end up dancing. It’s truly a joy to watch skeptical faces turn into joyful ones.
What size groups do you work with?
We can work with groups as small as 15-20, or as large as 250-300.
How much do you charge?
We have affordable fees based on group size, travelling time, and length of program. Our fees are reasonable and very affordable. Ask for a quote today!