What is a Song Circle?
In the format of a song circle, songs are shared that are simple, easy to learn and memorize, and then all sung together, sometimes with layering harmonies and different parts! You don’t need to be an expert at singing at all. Not only is it a powerful way to sing outside of societal ideas of what a “good singer is” but to practice stepping into opening your voice in a supportive and loving group container. In my experience it’s an incredibly euphoric experience of belonging.’ ~ MacKenzie Madrone
What are differences in the types of song circles @ Singing Alive?
Generally speaking, there are daytime scheduled circles, night-time fire circles, and spontaneous circles that manifest thru-out the gathering.
Daytime circles are all facilitated, and each facilitator is asked to introduce themselves and their offering during the morning circle of the day they are scheduled. They may be as tightly choreographed as a led journey, or a series of songs attended by a handout of lyrics, or as loose as lightly moderated open circles that explores themes, like blessings, gratitude, or elements, where participants share what songs they know on the subjects, or a circle with just one song sung thru-out, that elicits stories from those attending. Sometimes vocal improv, and voice training circles are offered..
Night-time fire circles are more or less ‘popcorn’ style, where people offer as they feel moved to do so. They are usually lightly moderated, often by the fire-tender assigned to that sky-lodge. Sometimes there are so many people wishing to offer that a ‘stack’ is formed, to give everyone their turn in a more orderly fashion.
Song circle participation tips (courtesy of Stuart Watson)
- Merge ~ listen closely to honor, synchronize, and harmonize with the person leading the song, by keeping your voice / instrument volume lower. If you are new to the tune or rendition, listen to a couple rounds first, visualize the images, feel the message, then move into the song
- Presence ~ support the sacred silence within and between songs, for the spaces between are the source and context
- Deepen ~ breath thru your heart, and sing from your soul; experience, deepen, and integrate the songs message into your being
- Allow ~ In group-led sessions, provide space for, and invite those less confident, or less extroverted, to share their song
Feeding the Songs
Following a song offering there is often a few moments of silence. This to digest the experience, and allow some expansiveness for the sing to waft out into the air-looms, to return to Spirit. Following this stillness, some may choose to speak to the song itself, conveying how it has affected them in some, usually positive, way. Like: ‘thank you song for. . .’ Such acts of feedback and appreciation, besides allowing the singer to learn yet more about the song and its effects on others, treats the song as the sovereign, living vibrational signature that it is, and ‘charges’ the song with the beneficial energies born of such honoring. A song so ‘fed’, grows and matures in agency, and becomes yet more effective to go out and do its good Work in the world.
Singing Alive song sharing norms, values, and courtesies ~
- Singing Alive is a communal singing gathering; it is not an opportunity to give performances, to create an audience
- The singing voice is the primary focus. All musical instruments are in service to it.
- It is understood that the passage of songs from one tradition, lineage, or culture, to another involves the need for permission. Unless otherwise stated by the originator of a song, or made explicit by a tradition, this permission is considered to be implicitly granted by those, native to that culture, who share and teach songs. That is, we would not know these songs if they were not taught to us.
- With the caveat of permission recognized, this event offers a safe space for anyone to sing any song from any culture or tradition they feel moved to connect with. To honor this soul call, we acknowledge that such appreciative engagements with songs are primarily matters of the heart, between the person and the spiritual agencies that call them.
- The working premise of this event is that there is no ultimate ‘right’ way to sing a song. Outside of helping a song sharer to remember a melody or lyric, or with pronunciation and translation, one cannot ‘correct’ a song that is presented at Singing Alive, one can only, respectfully, offer another version(s) of that song.
- Please try to arrive @ scheduled circles on time. . Delayed arrivals can cause a circle to start late, or without the critical mass of voices to get the energies moving in a timely way. A flute will be blown, which should be audible thru-out the gathering space, @ the start of each daytime circle time slot.
- Be conscious of any noises (loud talking, laughing, drumming, strumming . . ) that might be disturbing to a song circle in progress. This includes singing elsewhere @ a volume that competes with a scheduled circle.
- Many people have vulnerabilities with sharing their voice before others. Its an edge, a risk for some, often at a very deep level where reside other associated traumas and esteem issues. Please be gentle, kind, and by default, supportive if you feel the need to give feedback to those who have shared a song
Song Circle Facilitator Policy ~
Leading a song circle is not, with rare exceptions, considered an exchange for admission to the event. We do, however, have a policy whereby if you lead circles in designated (by the organizers) song circle time slots over three years, you thereafter receive admission exchange for any year you are doing a circle. In such cases it needs to be agreed upon (pre-arranged) that you will be doing a circle that year. This exchange comes with light responsibilities to show up as an ally of the organization, to act as guardians, and educators, of Singing Alive ways. Ideally, one wishing to lead a scheduled song circle would have participated in at least one Singing Alive event as an attendee before doing so. This to gain an understanding of the culture of gathering, and how to best defer to it as a lineage, while contributing to its evolution.
‘got to believe it when you sing it, that’s the . . . trick’ ~ Katie Sontag