“Improvisation involves coming into a situation without rigid expectations or preconceptions. We must keep going forward, fearful or not, and be ready for anything that comes our way. That’s how life is. Remembering that life can be full of surprises is always useful. We’re improvising all the time—it’s good to recognize that.”
Join musical adventurer Bobby McFerrin and his team of inspiring teachers for a weeklong workshop in the improvisational singing technique called Circlesongs. Accessible to beginners, yet challenging for even the most advanced, the program invites singers and instrumentalists to embrace the freedom to play, sing, invent, and imagine—in music and in life.
Bobby developed Circlesongs as a solo performer, when he needed other voices to help realize his musical ideas. He gave the audience parts to sing, layering harmonies and rhythms, using call and response, conducting entrances, and spontaneously composing choral pieces. All over the world, he found that Circlesongs created beautiful music and cultivated a deep sense of community and joy. He refined the Circlesongs technique further during years of touring with his group Voicestra. Circlesongs embrace all musical influences: tribal music, Bach, R&B, plainchant, Indian ragas, Balkan folksongs, doo wop, and more. Every song, every voice has a place in the circle.
This experiential workshop cultivates and develops the traditional skills required for ensemble singing—blend, balance, tuning, and sensitivity. Circlesongs also build the fundamentals of musicianship, including harmony, counterpoint, rhythmic precision, and deep listening. Invaluable for all singers and musicians, the practice is especially meaningful for music and voice teachers and group facilitators.
Bobby will be joined by cofaculty David Worm, Judi Donaghy Vinar, Rhiannon, Christiane Karam, Karen Goldfeder, and Joey Blake. Their skills range widely and each brings unique experiences, techniques, exercises, and perspectives. Each module features a combination of large group classes and smaller group seminars with individual faculty.
The program is organized progressively into three modules. Participants are encouraged to come for the full 7-day program. Those who cannot attend the full program may register after March 1 for available spaces in one or more individual modules. Registration is by phone only. Call 877.944.2002.
August 14–21: Friday 7:00 p.m.–Friday 12:15 p.m.
Circlesongs: 7-Day Inclusive
Course 3907-294/Tuition $1,750
This 7-day workshop, open to all levels, from beginners to professionals, includes all three modules. Past participants describe this full week course as a life changing journey.
August 14–16: Friday 7:00 p.m.–Sunday 12:15 p.m.
Module I: Entering the Circle
Course 3902-295/Tuition $645
Enter the circle for an immersion in sound. This 2-day workshop offers an overview of perspectives on vocal music and improvisation. Module I is open to singers of all levels, from beginners to professionals.
August 16–19: Sunday 7:00 p.m.–Wednesday 12:15 p.m.
Module II: Opening the Circle
Course 4003-296/Tuition $745
Deepen your practice and your skills and explore the myriad ways the Circle can expand. Elective topics include vocal percussion techniques, movement, drawing inspiration from world music, community building, and spiritual practice. Module II is open to all levels with Module I or previous Circlesongs workshop attendance.
August 19–21: Wednesday 7:00 p.m.–Friday 12:15 p.m.
Module III: Holding the Circle
Course 4002-297/Tuition $645
Prepare to bring the workshop back into your everyday life in this 2-day course in leading Circlesongs. Participants practice making music in the moment, developing trust and community, and using the Circlesongs method to teach and develop basic musicianship. This module is ideal for professional singers, conductors, music and voice teachers, students, community organizers, and those building a spiritual practice. Module III is open to all levels with Module I or previous Circlesongs workshop attendance.
What Bobby McFerrin does is not an act; it’s spontaneous invention, celebration, and prayer. The New York Times credits him with sparking the current revival of a cappella music. The beatboxing community claims him as an inspiration, the jazz community claims him as a legend, and the classical world celebrates his innovative spirit. His legendary solo performances and his collaborations with great artists, including Herbie Hancock, Yo-Yo Ma, Chick Corea, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and the Vienna Philharmonic, have toured the world. His latest adventure, spirityouall, is a reimagination of the American folk spiritual tradition. Through it all, his mission is simply this: to invite us all to experience the joy and freedom he feels when he sings. He welcomes the opportunity to encourage individuality, free-thinking, and exploration through his teaching at Omega.
For more information on Bobby McFerrin, visit bobbymcferrin.com or The Official Bobby McFerrin Page on Facebook.
“Music for me is like a spiritual journey down into the depths of my soul. I like to think we’re all on a journey into our souls. What’s down there? That’s why I do what I do.”