Singing the Unseen

A year-long course exploring vocal improvisation and its application to the inner life, nature connection, groups, healing, ritual and mystery.

Ok let’s fess up.

With vocal improvisation, we can sing our inner lives, heal and grow. We can sing the inner lives of others, for their self awareness and wellbeing. We can sing what is alive in a group that needs to be expressed. We can relate with nature, ancestors, Mystery. Vocal Improvisation is an artform for ritual, ceremony and healing.

For the first time, Briony Greenhill will lead a group of students through a year that focuses exclusively and in depth on these aspects of vocal improvisation, taught in four residential weeks at Coed Hills in South Wales:

Week 1: 18th – 22nd March
Finding my voice and its relation with my inner life

Week 2: 17th – 22nd June
Living my voice and connecting with the natural world

Week 3: 18 – 22nd September
Living my voice, and connecting with the unseen

Week 4: 28 October – 1st November
Giving my voice, and stepping into leadership.

Application Form

Context

What do we mean by ‘re-wilding the voice’ or ‘wild singing’, the title of most of my teaching?

Wildness has got some bad connotations. Raaaa! Wildness is brash, ugly, uncontrollable, loud, wild, dangerous.

Yet look at the first thing you can perceive that is wild. It may be the air upon your skin; the movement of the clouds above, the wind in the trees.

Wildness can be very still; very delicate.

Wildness is ecological genius.

Wildness is life living, evolving and being shaped by something more than human intelligence.

So when I talk about wild singing, I am talking about stepping out of music that is shaped by human intelligence, and into music that is shaped by more-than-human intelligence.

(This is why some of my students say this is inherently a spiritual practice, and some of my collaborators call it a ‘Jedi training.’)

Entering this state – where were are receptive to the more-than-human intelligence and let it have our voice – we enter, and become more and more able to know and access, a state of deep quiet, listening, and attunement.

In that state, we can hear more.

In this state of deep quiet, listening and attunement;

We can connect with the consciousness, perhaps the wisdom, of trees, rocks and other aspects of nature.

Some can relate with ancestors, and / or future generations.

We can feel and sing the inner lives of others

We can feel and sing our own deep inner truths, and through that, come to know them.

Then we can use this work for healing, ritual, prayer, and ‘therapeutic purposes’

I put ‘therapeutic processes’ in inverted commas because, really, why did we ever separate singing and dancing from therapy? They’re inherently woven.

In between us as we (probably) are today and the state of deep quiet, can be things that we don’t want to feel.

So using the voice and the body, we have beautiful ways to feel and sing and move into those hard places; the voice and movement become like a river that can dislodge stuck rocks and carry them out to sea.

Rivers are inherently self-healing, self-cleansing.

There is a healing force in the universe and, among all else, we can choose to align ourselves with it.

And in this some choose meditation, some choose shamanism;

I choose voice, and body.

I choose dance, and song.

Some say or feel that it’s dangerous.

Historically, witches and shamans have been persecuted and killed for these capacities.

But, it’s a Thing. It just is, a Thing.

Voice is one of the main ways that led me to this; which is perhaps why some people want to or have been trained to keep their voices quiet; because they fear the depth of the power contained in there.

But it’s safe. Ethics guide us. It’s beautiful. It’s very beautiful indeed.

Here we go.

 

Cost

Full price: £3500 for the year: 10 places available

2 Places are available at £3000

2 places are available at £2500

2 assistant places are available, with discounted finances arranged specifically.

The price includes:

– Lodging at Coed Hills for each of the 4 weeks, 2 – 3 to a room (private rooms are available for a little extra)
– 3 organic meals a day + tea and snacks
– All teaching
– A monthly group call
– Student buddy pairs providing support and continuity in between (this doesn’t cost any money but it’s part of the structure.)

 

About Briony Greenhill

At core, I am a ritual singer. For three years with the Stepping Stones Project working on youth initiation, I brought voice to the organisation’s ceremonies. I lead and bring voice to grief rituals, integrate aspects of ritual onto the retreats I lead, and am a regular ritual singer at Soulful Sundays in California – a non-christian community church. I have sung at many weddings.

I have spent many years under the leadership of female ceremonialists. Nunutsi Tenipe led my Vision Quest and mentored me; Melissa Michaels leads me in dance rituals for years and continues to; Rhiannon taught me a deeply spiritual approach to voice and remains my inspiration; I have practiced sound healing for years with Shay Nichols and other graduates of the CIIS sound healing program; and I took and later assisted many grief rituals with Sobonfu Some; now, since her passing, I lead them.

So my themes are voice, ritual and community, and the feminine – what we might call the feminine aspect in both women and men – in the context of my own earth-based spirituality which is somewhat Daoist-Pagan in nature.

I hold a first class degree in Political Science and have been studying and playing – and will continue to study and play – music my whole life.

Honestly, now back in Britain I encounter so many would-be ritual leaders; we are needed, and we need our voices.

Vocal Improvisation is good for this.

Here we go.

Course details

Week 1 – finding my voice and its relation with my inner life
18th – 22nd March 2019

We’ll work with tone and self expression. In particular:

The resonant body;
– Vocal tone; vocal meditation; increasingly subtle somatic awareness of voice, and increasingly awesome vocal quality
– Improvised chakra singing – coming deeply into the resonant body
– Integrating movement for deeper embodiment, deeper self-enquiry and expression.

Musical skills – these continue through the year.
– Singing with a drum or rattle
– A little bit of work with rhythm, harmony and scales / agility

Voice and the inner life
– Language and creature language
– establishing a self-exploratory vocal improvisation practice; allowing the inner to express through voice
– welcoming all of the inner life through the clowning practice of accept, express, exaggerate;

Living ritual: opening, closing, spring equinox ritual.

Week 2 – Living my voice and connecting with the natural world
17th – 22nd June 2019

The voice, solo and collaborative improvisation
– Deepening our work

Nature connection
– Daily sit spot
– Solo and group practice outside
– Medicine walks, group and private; tree, stone, water, animal conversations and song; plant work

Musical skills
– Singing with a drum or rattle
– A little bit of work with rhythm, harmony and scales / agility

Aspects of living ritual – summer solstice ritual.

Week 3 – Living my voice, and connection with the unseen
18 – 22nd September

Voice, language and creature language in relationship
– Singing a room, what is alive in a group
– Singing another person’s inner world
– Voice and ancestral connection
– Voice and relationship with Mystery
– Deepening our relationship with listening, emptiness, trust, and being a vessel.
– Sound healing

Musical skills
– Singing with a drum or rattle
– A little bit of work with rhythm, harmony and scales / agility

Living ritual: Autumn equinox ritual

Week 4 – Giving my voice, and Stepping into Leadership
28 October – 1st November

Students create, collaborate on, lead (if they are called to) and sing in ceremonies together. Stepping up as a ritual singer; using voice in healing, prayer, ceremony and ritual and any other kind of relationship with the unseen.

Living ritual every day – and over Samhain.

 

“Is this course against science or rationality?”

Well, a good starting point into that enquiry is this very interesting conversation between Charles Eisenstein and Rupert Sheldrake.

 

Here is the application form.

Who is this course for?

The course is limited to 16 places. I’ll consider applications based on the following four qualities: I’m looking for great strength in at least one area, and general or significant alignment across all 4 areas. So that as a group, between us there is great strength in each of the following 4 areas:

1. Vocal musicianship | This is for established voices. You’re not just beginning to sing, you already know yourself to be a singer. Maybe you lead a small or large choir, maybe you’re a performer or you have been at some point; your voice has already had some recognition from yourself and perhaps others. You have a beautiful voice, and you want to use it for community, the sacred, social change, and healing.

2. Spirituality  |  You already have some kind of spirituality. It’s likely that you already recognise the livingness of the earth, trees, plants animals waters fish, the intelligence of all things, and what I’m calling Mystery. You may have an established relationship with a spiritual path or practice – perhaps very much your own, or perhaps even a religion.

3. Therapy and healing  |  Your inner and interpersonal wisdom is in cultivation. You might even be a qualified therapist or a group facilitator or NVC trainer or of that ilk. And, you recognise that you’re not finished. I’m not finished. But that’s active and alive.

4. Ritual  |  Ideally there’s some established relationship with ritual; perhaps there’s a calling for ritual, a tender feeling around the importance of ritual; an affinity with ritual somehow. Even better, you already lead rituals, or you want to lead rituals, or you like to participate in rituals, sing in and for rituals. You’re not into smoke and mirrors, attributing powers to false gods. But, the timeless potency of people – together or alone – to recognise adore and relate with the bigger aliveness that we live in relationship with – our thirst and need for that as a culture – that’s a position statement you align yourself with.

5. We might add nature connection as a fifth.

Here is the application form.