Workshops

For thousands of years, our ancestors sang to accompany work, devotion, seasonal rituals and social gatherings – to express joy, grief, rage, tenderness, hope and fear. All these emotions can be given full range through the power and beauty of the voice.

To help unlock this, Frankie uses a range of gentle movements and exercises to help relax and free the body and voice. She focuses on how to involve the whole body – to give rise to the voice from the feet on up. She uses chants and songs from around the world, along with simple structures to create vocal ‘events’.

If You Can Talk You Can Sing

Frankie believes passionately that singing is our birthright. For thousands of years our ancestors sang as naturally as they spoke. They sang to accompany everyday activities – at work, at play, at devotion and dance – and for their own pleasure. No one was excluded, so everyone’s skill and confidence developed naturally. This workshop is an opportunity for anyone to explore the melodic voice in an easy-going, supportive atmosphere. The aim is to tap into the joy, strength and energy of singing with others, and to find a range of colour and expression in each of our voices. This is especially helpful for people who have little confidence with their melodic voice.

Imagination – to explore and prepare the voice

After nearly 60 years as a professional singer and 45 years of leading Voice Workshops, Frankie is convinced that it is the use of the imagination that captures the essence of songs.

Bringing imagination to bear, whether in ‘warmups’ or song interpretation, brings qualities to the voice that ‘paint’ the meaning and mood of a song. Frankie and Darien will offer some of the exercises and explorations that they use to help people bring the voice and songs fully to life.

Imagination – to explore and prepare the voice: further workshop information

The imagination is arguably the reason why we vulnerable naked mammals are still on this planet. It enabled us to imagine the world as different from how we found it. This has turned out to be both for good and ill. But, in relation to song and art, it is the key. What our voice is capable of expressing, how a song is ‘painted’, the feelings it can evoke in the listener, are all due to our imaginations. Harnessing this is central for me as a singer and creative teacher.

Imagination is at the core of human creativity. A telling example that we have today is the oldest continuously existing culture that we know of – Australian indigenous culture. What we know is that they ‘sang’ the world into existence; they ‘sang’ the mythic beings of creation; and they ‘sing’ the landscape. There is no reason to think that our ancient ancestors wouldn’t also have done this, so this must still be part of our DNA.

Adventures in Voice

3 Online voice workshops x 2hours
Saturdays 11am-1pm

(£45 for all sessions, or £18 each)

Imagination – bringing voice and song fully alive – September 25th
ReWilding the Voice – October 2nd
Voices of the Archetypes of Myth – October 30th

Imagination – bringing voice and song fully alive (September 25th)
Bringing imagination to bear, whether in ‘warmups’ or song interpretation, brings qualities to the voice that ‘paint’ the meaning and mood of a song. Frankie offers some of the exercises and explorations that she has developed to help people bring the voice and songs fully to life.

ReWilding the Voice (October 2nd)
A chance to play with breath, shakes, hiccups, yodels and slides, and improvise around the sounds we hear in other cultures that allow for more freedom and flexibility in their singing. We use songs and voices from around the world to inspire us to discover different timbres, ornamentation and scales from those we may be most familiar with.

This is not about learning songs, rather it involves exploring vocal styles, such as snake lullabies, goat milking songs, mountain hollers, and of course working in the fields. There is no right or wrong, just the joy of exploration.

Voices of the Archetypes of Myth (October 30th)
An exciting way to expand vocal colour, range and expressivity. General body-breath-voice preparation leads into specific preparation for the particular Archetype/s to be explored using movement, visualisation, imagination and vocal exploration. Frankie then guides you through a story (the journey) which gives you the opportunity to inhabit the larger-than-life world of the timeless figures of mythology and legend and to discover the vocal qualities that they evoke.

For more information or to book: contact Frankie: 029 2048 0429
frankiearmstrong45@gmail.com or Darien 07788 966 050 darien.pritchard@gmail.com

Body-Breath-Voice course

3 online voice workshops (3 x 2hrs)
Saturdays 11am-1pm

Frankie and Darien Pritchard
(£50, some concessions)
The Earth in our Voices – October 23rd
Letting the Breath In, Letting the Voice Out  – November 6th

Let your Voice Soar – November 20th
We would like people to commit to all three sessions.

The Earth in our Voices (October 23rd): This session focuses on the importance of feeling ‘grounded’ (exploring the role of the lower half of the body) for our voices to flow freely through our whole body. Our ancestors lived closer to the earth, which gave their voices power and depth. We will use exercises, and songs and chants from cultures that still have this relationship to the earth.

 

Letting the Breath In, Letting the Voice Out (November 6th): It is self evident that our lungs and breath are crucial to giving full, expressive voice. Yet so many of us have restricted breathing, often without realising it, in our sedentary culture. We will use exercises to free our ribs, spine and hence lungs. This increases awareness of the diaphragm muscle, and of how this, together with the abdominal muscles, gives strength, stamina and resonance to the voice without strain. We will also play with exercises and songs that encourage increasing our range and ability to sustain sound.

Let your Voice Soar (November 20th): Most of us find ourselves with more tension than we might like in our throat and jaw. This session focuses on freeing the shoulders, neck, tongue, throat and jaw to help liberate sound and song.

Feedback from previous courses:
“helped me release jaw and throat tension and open up my voice”;
“felt more in my body as I made sound”
“it was ‘me time’ – for just me and my voice”
“felt how my whole body is an integral part of my voice”
“made me more aware of my breathing” “helped me be braver in experimenting vocally”
“fun”;
“challenging and liberating”
“ a safe environment in which to rediscover my singing voice in my body”
“so much packed in and plenty to take away”

 For more information or to book: contact Frankie: 029 2048 0429

‘Whether working at the National Theatre Studio or in a community setting, Frankie Armstrong is able to unlock the most extraordinary and thrilling sounds from people’s voices…’

Nigel Jamieson

International Theatre and Festival Director

Performance Skills Workshop

Historically, song has been used to bind communities, pass on stories and legends, comment on contemporary happenings, poke fun and amuse, commemorate / celebrate life’s important events, and to accompany work, devotion and recreation. Lacking these community contexts, how do we find our way into the heart of a song and communicate it? Indeed, how do we select songs, why do they speak to us, and why do we wish to sing them to others? This workshop explores how best to sing a song in the light of these questions – exploring such essential ingredients as vocal quality, phrasing, emotional truth and presence. There will be time for any participant who wants to work on a particular song.

Rewilding the Voice

 

What might rewilding involve?…
A chance to play with breath, shakes, hiccups, yodels and slides, and improvise around the sounds we hear in other cultures that allow for more freedom and flexibility in their singing. We will use songs and voices from around the world to inspire us to discover different timbres, ornamentation and scales from those we may be most familiar with.
 
This will not be about learning songs, rather it will be exploring vocal styles, such as snake lullabies, goat milking songs, mountain hollers, and of course working in the fields. There will be no right or wrong, just the joy of exploration.

The Voices of the Archetypes of Myth

This workshop provides an exciting way to expand and liberate vocal colour, range and expressivity. It uses movement, imagination and storytelling to access a wide range of vocal qualities and expression through exploring figures that inhabit the world’s mythology, such as The Huntress, The Trickster, The Child, The Mother and The Crone. These archetypes are not a character or caricature but a particular aspect or quality in all of us.

Bespoke Workshops with Frankie

 

Frankie builds the workshops around the expressed needs/hopes of the participants. she has been developing this approach and finds it an exciting and satisfying challenge. As with all her workshops, it is not necessary to have prior experience of singing, nor to be able to read music or have formal musical training. People with or without this background are welcome.
Each workshop always begins with body and voice preparation, which is an essential component , whatever the emphasis for the workshop.

Frankie will then outline what is on offer (see below) and then ask participants to express their priorities, and create the workshop around these requests as best she can. So far, this approach seems to have left satisfied customers.

What Frankie has to offer, The following are the “ingredients” that can go to making up the workshop;

  1. VOICE RELEASE: through a simple understanding of the use of body/breath to make the best of your voice – it’s resonance, range, openness and vitality. Appropriate muscle engagement so as to find the wonderful balance of energy and relaxation needed for free voice use – including the role of the feet, knees, belly, ribs/lungs/diaphragm; and neck, jaw, tongue, and throat relaxation.
  2. VOCAL EXPRESSIVITY: This involves different timbres and qualities so as to express various moods, feelings and cultural qualities. For thousands of years our ancestors expressed archetypal emotions through ritual chants and song – from tenderness to rage, celebration to grief. Frankie has a variety of ways that she can call on to explore this sometimes challenging but rewarding area. This can lead to;
  3. SONG INTERPRETATION: Depending on the time available and the number in the workshop, this can include working with a group song; finding what a powerful difference the way we use our breath makes; having the group explore different moods and intentions for songs. Or, if there’s time, working with individuals on a song, a song offering coaching and feed back in the spirit of support and suggestion.
  4. EXPLORING HARMONIES: Because of her interest in songs from different parts of the world and from differnt times in history, Frankie is interested in helping to open people’s ears to a variety of harmonies on the continuum from the totally random to the more orthodox. She has developed a range of simple exercises to help us be creative around harmony, to learn some simple ways of finding/developing our own harmonies to songs and repeated chants. There are also simple ways of exploring the range of feelings that different harmonies evoke. this approach is accessible whether people can or can’t read music and/or have ever had any formal musical training.
  5. VOCAL EVENTS: (posh name “Improvisation”) Over the years Frankie has created and collected a range of simple and fun structures that enable groups to make their own on-the-spot “compositions” Everyone can join in and find their own comfortable place within the structure; often we can move and “bop” about too.
  6. SONGS: Of course there will be songs. They will come from different parts of the world; some allow us to find our own harmonies and some will have arranged harmonies to learn. Rounds are always a good way of increasing listening skills, being both active and receptive – being aware of ourselves, and the totality of the group sound. Some will be gentle and some robust. All will be songs Frankie loves as this is a prerequisite for her teaching them.

My Life in Song and Politics

 

Recently I’ve been asked to sing/talk/discuss how I’ve been involved in singing for a variety of causes over the decades, and how and why I’ve involved myself in these.

Amongst others, I sang for the Anti-Apartheid and Anti-Vietnam War movements, and for Chile Solidarity. From the 70s, I sang for the Women’s Movement, and the Greenham Common Campaign, along with the Campaign For Nuclear Disarmament. It has been my enormous privilege to sing at rallies in Trafalgar Square, Hyde Park and many a Town and Church Hall to raise awareness and funds for these issues. This all sounds very worthy but it involved a great deal of lively and spirited companionship, laughter and tears, and many a friendship. I’ve had such a blessed life that the least I can do is to offer my voice in this way.

If you or your organisation would be interested in a presentation (a talk with songs) about the use and value of singing in these contexts, please do give me a ring or email. These presentations include participation as I always involve people in choruses and group songs.