January 2022 Note: due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are just in the process of returning to singing in person. There are also now lots of singing workshop videos for health groups here, learn and sing along songs here and vocal exercises here.
Strengthening the Ageing Voice: March 2022, 3 weeks
The ageing voice is different for each of us, but there is relatively recent research showing us that more vigorous exercising of the vocal muscles is most beneficial for our voices as we age. This is a three week online class to learn a bit more about how your voice works, and how normal ageing affects the muscles involved. You will also have space to explore how your voice is feeling and reflect on what your own voice might need, as well as learning a short series of exercises. These can be practiced daily for 5 or 10 minutes to build and maintain muscle tone in the vocal muscles, supporting singing and speaking strength and control. This isn’t about learning to sound ‘nice’ it’s the equivalent of doing some weight lifting so that when you then want to go play a sport you are more freely able to do so. We will also learn some basic laryngeal massage techniques to help release vocal tension.
Whilst all voices age differently, generally this course is suitable for men and women over 50.
You will receive three 1 hour zoom classes over three weeks with two short accompanying videos each week to help support daily practice. Using the exercises for 5-10 mins each day is the most beneficial use of the skills we will build during this short course.
Dates: March 14th, 21st, 28th 2022
Times: Mondays 3-4pm
Cost – £20-40 (if you would like to come but need a further discount, please do get in touch)
The Bubbling Pot
A Songwriting Play Space with Penny Stone. Monthly(ish) drop in. 1 hour. Hosted via zoom. More information here.
Community Singing Groups
Groups I work with regularly are listed below. None of my groups are auditioned for entry – anyone is welcome to come along and sing.
This dementia-focused community singing group meets in Musselburgh every Tuesday from 11am-12.30.
*Please note – this group is currently full, but please do get in touch if you would like to join our waiting list. We will try our best to facilitate participation for anyone living with dementia.
This is a Parkinson’s-focused community singing group, though other singers are also welcome to join us. The group meets at Marchmont St. Giles church hall every Tuesday from 2-3.30pm.
This is an open access women’s singing group. You are welcome to drop in whenever the fancy takes you or to come along more regularly.
The group currently meets at Broughton St. Mary’s (2 Bellevue Cres, Edinburgh EH3 6NE) on Wednesday evenings from 7-9pm.
This open access group meets at the Reid Memorial Church (West Savile Terrace, Edinburgh, EH9 3HY) on Thursday evenings from 6.30-8pm.
Protest In Harmony is Edinburgh’s Radical Choir. The group is co-led by Penny Stone, Shereen Benjamin and Jane Lewis. All are welcome, there are no auditions. We have a monthly rehearsal and sing at demonstrations, vigils and other campaigning events throughout the year.
The group meets at the Quaker Meeting House, Victoria Terrace, Central Edinburgh, monthly on Saturday mornings from 10-1 (usually the second Saturday of the month, but please check website for dates).
MIN Joyous Choir I work with Maryhill Integration Network to support their Joyous Choir, an amazing group of women singing together. You can see them in action here
Health & Wellbeing
I currently run weekly groups supporting people living with dementia and people living with Parkinson’s (details above). I have worked extensively with groups experiencing mental health difficulties. More information about how singing can help to support health and wellbeing can be found here.
Workshops are tailored to individual group needs and can be a mix of any of the elements laid out below. If there is a specific workshop theme you’d like that isn’t below, please do get in touch as it may be possible to put something together.
General Voice Workshops
- How does my voice work?
- Ways into harmony, improvisation and rhythm
- Voice Care for professional voice users (an especially useful workshop for teachers and public speakers)
- Sound in the Body
Political Song workshops
These workshops often link contemporary and historical struggles. As well as telling the stories and carrying the threads of our collective history, I greatly value the role of music in carrying the message of hope to and through us. Previous themes for radical song workshops include:
Songs of Social Justice; Radical Women in Song; Anti-Nuclear and Peace songs; Civil & human rights struggles from around the world, past and present; Environmental Justice; Songs of Hope; International Radical Song.
Songs of Purpose and Place
Workshops can be delivered using songs from around the world to explore common themes such as lullabies; work songs; songs of welcome and farewell; songs of celebration etc.
Seasonal nature and ‘songs of place’ workshops are available – for example Wassail workshops in apple orchards during January; sea and seashore songs by the sea; harvest songs in the late summer; tree songs sung in the forests.
These workshops can be tailored for a cohesive group wanting to write about a particular campaign, issue or shared experience, or they can enable more disparate individuals to try songwriting in different ways.
Previous songwriting sessions have resulted in songs about local campaigns to address austerity and homelessness, celebrating inspiring local activists, and exploring the experience of living with Parkinson’s and dementia. Songwriting workshops I co-faciliated around the Lost Words book resulted in some beautiful nature themed songs.
General singing workshops are also available to build confidence or for team building. Singing can be a great way for groups who don’t usually sing together to connect non-verbally, opening up different ways to communicate and work together.
January 2022: I am not teaching one to one lessons this year, but will be running some online voice ‘short courses’ at various points through the year. You can find out more information here. I’ve also put up some video vocal exercises here for anyone to try.
Please do get in touch if you think I might be the right teacher for you, and I’ll see what I can do, or if I can help you find another teacher when my teaching roster is full.
I offer singing lessons on a one to one basis. Lessons are tailored to the individual’s needs and include exploring the voice, building strength and control in the voice, and building confidence in harmony singing as well as skills like learning to sing whilst playing the guitar or piano (tricky multitasking!). Very often my singers are just wanting a few lessons to help build some confidence to get out there and join a singing group – which is the most fun way to sing once the notion doesn’t terrify you!
I am particularly passionate at helping people to find, or re-discover, their voice. You have the right to sing, and the right to make a noise, and sometimes having a space to explore your own sounds in a one to one environment can help get you going. I have been working recently with finding particular singing exercises to help people living with Parkinsons maintain and use their voice for longer.