The Alexander Technique for Singers
2019 TVF Summer Residential Retreat
Increase Your JOY
Fuel Your PASSION
Rejuvenate Your SPIRIT
What: A 6-day summer residential retreat focused on Alexander Technique and singing
When: July 8th – 13th, 2019 (Arrive late morning on July 8th; depart late morning on July 13th)
Where: The DeKoven Retreat Center in Racine, Wisconsin
Who: Passionate singers and lifelong learners of any age, ability or genre
Why: Reclaim, renew and rejuvenate your joy and passion for singing through a holistic, natural and embodied approach to vocal expression with the Alexander Technique.
Want to have a blast exploring singing in a supportive, loving community?
Are you ready to make singing a top priority in your life?
Would you like to rediscover your joy of singing?
You’re officially invited to the second annual TVF summer singing retreat at the beautiful DeKoven Center in Racine, Wisconsin from July 8th – 13th, 2019!
The purpose of this retreat is to spend 6 days away from your daily life habits and commitments to focus on one thing – your vocal artistry.
You will take a deep dive into the Total Vocal Freedom experience, where you will learn practical and holistic skills from the world-famous Alexander Technique and how to practically apply them to your singing practice.
You will learn from highly-trained teachers inside of a supportive learning community and a natural, peaceful setting.
You will leave the retreat inspired, rejuvenated and profoundly connected to your deeper artistic purpose.
2018 TVF Summer Retreat Highlight Video
A Holistic Renaissance
A Renewal of Your Whole Self
The word “renaissance” means rebirth and is defined as: “A revival or renewed interest in something.”
This retreat is designed to be a renaissance of your WHOLE self – mind, body, spirit and voice.
This will happen through a variety of activities: classes, games, non-competitive performing opportunities, connecting with others and quiet time to reflect and think.
The retreat activities will be fun, non-competitive and will help bring about lasting positive changes in your singing.
These 5 Total Vocal Freedom concepts will serve as the catalyst:
- Self-Kindness – Learn about constructive and conscious kindness to yourself
- Natural Singing – Learn how your body is designed to sing naturally with the Alexander Technique
- Community – Learn how a supportive community can inspire and challenge you to reach new heights
- Passion – Learn how consciously nurturing your artistic desires can awaken deep and profound joy
- Play – Learn how be more playful in your singing (and life in general!)
Donna Marie Castaner & Patti Potter Fitchett sharing a special moment of connection during the 2018 summer retreat
Who It’s For
Open Minds & Kind Hearts
This retreat is open to singers of all walks of life, including:
- Aspiring & Emerging Professionals
- Working & Retired Professionals
- Enthusiastic Amateurs
- Choral Educators
- Voice Teachers
- College Students
No matter where you are on your singing journey, you are welcome to join us!
We believe that every singer is unique and has a valuable contribution to make to the world with their voice.
The things we value aren’t related to the degrees you’ve earned, where you’ve sung, who you studied with or what you have or haven’t accomplished.
We value you regardless of how old you are, what kind of music you sing and what your ability level is.
You’ll fit in perfectly if you are:
- Open-Minded – you have a willingness to have experiences outside your comfort zone in order to change and grow
- Kind-Hearted – you enjoy supporting other singers inside of a loving community
- Generosity – you enjoy sharing your musical gifts with others
- Curious – you want to explore and discover new things
- Passionate – you love music and singing
TVF Founder Peter Jacobson working with Amalia Dobbins
What You’ll Learn
The TVF Foundations Curriculum
In TVF, we believe that mind-body freedom is the FOUNDATION of beautiful singing and music-making.
And we are passionate about teaching singers the essential information they need to move, sing, breathe, practice and perform well.
In this retreat you will learn principles from the TVF Foundations Curriculum, which is based on Alexander Technique principles.
It consists of 4 core areas:
- Body Freedom – Explore your total body anatomy
- Inspired Breathing – Learn how to breathe naturally and efficiently to become more “inspired” in your music-making
- Deep Practicing – Discover new holistic ways to practice deeply and effectively
- Confident Performing – Break through performing barriers and fears to perform with confidence
All learning will be experiential.
A key aspect of the curriculum is INTEGRATION – learning how mind, body, voice and spirit merge into one unified and integrated whole to create deep and meaningful singing experiences.
2018 Summer retreat participants playing & singing together
The Learning Environment
The Vocal Playground
Do you feel like you keep your creativity in a box, restricted by fear or do you allow yourself to experiment, make mistakes, and play, like a child?
Are you constantly looking for the right “answer” and trying to avoid the “wrong” one?
Consider what the Sufi mystic Rumi writes:
Out beyond the ideas of rightdoing and wrongdoing is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about.”
Our version of Rumi’s field is The Vocal Playground, a learning atmosphere unique to TVF that is ALWAYS kind, encouraging and supportive. In this playground people are seen for their greatness and what they are capable of instead as a collection of problems or issues that need to be fixed.
On this vocal playground, you will feel free to experiment, make “mistakes,” take risks and really PLAY!
Play stimulates imagination, creativity and is a really fun way to learn.
The 2018 TVF Summer Retreat Community
The TVF Community
Like Nothing You’ve Experienced Before
TVF is known for the quality of its learning communities. Students frequently report that the kindness and love they feel in TVF is like nothing they’ve experienced before.
During this retreat, you too will experience that love and support.
Along with that comes connection – you will forge meaningful new relationships with other passionate singers like you.
You will be inspired and learn from each other.
Emily Soule, a 2018 retreat participant said: “The retreat was so uplifting, it made me feel support in a field where support is seldom found.”
We believe that when musicians feel loved, respected and appreciated by a larger community they become much more effective musical communicators.
What You’ll Do
The Learning Activities
Kevin Kelly Kahelain lights up during a vocal exploration with TVF Faculty Member Eleni Vosniadou
Vocal explorations are an opportunity for you to work with a TVF teacher while the rest of the group actively observes and learns with you.
During the exploration, the teacher will help guide you to greater freedom and ease in your singing in a way that is respectful, gentle, and kind.
The teacher will also, if you wish, skillfully incorporate the constructive feedback and collective wisdom of the group into the learning experience.
Since a core TVF principle is freedom of choice, directly participating in Vocal Exploration is always optional.
There will never be pressure of any kind to sing in front of the group.
However you choose to participate, you will still get great benefit from each and every exploration.
Topics typically covered in vocal explorations include (but are not limited to): body mapping, using the Alexander Technique while singing, vocal technique, engaging the audience, body ease, tension, breathing, and more.
TVF faculty members Peter Jacobson & Fran Farrell with vocal improvisation master Bobby McFerrin during the 2018 Omega CircleSongs Workshop
Vocal Improvisation & CircleSinging (New in 2019!)
Improvisation is an exhilarating and deeply spiritual way to make music.
We believe it’s an essential skill for all musicians, but especially for those that spend most of their time as obedient servants to the printed score, faithfully recreating other people’s music, while often forgetting about the unique music that lies in their own hearts.
And yet for many musicians, it ranges from unpleasant to terrifying.
During the retreat, you will have the opportunity to safely and gently explore different activities and games related to vocal improvisation that will awaken your inner creative musical self.
Something new we’ll be exploring in our 2019 retreat is CircleSinging, a form of structured group vocal improvisation developed by Bobby McFerrin that is designed to bring people closer together and promote greater musical fluency.
In August 2018, retreat faculty members Peter Jacobson and Fran Farrell had the pleasure of attending Bobby McFerrin’s week-long CircleSongs workshop at the Omega Institute to learn how to facilitate CircleSinging sessions.
Peter & Fran are excited to share what they learned from that life-changing experience in this retreat!
Juliana Marin soaks up the love and support from the audience during the Celebration of Song
Celebration of Song
There are several activities at the retreat that allow singers to put into practice what they learn. But none of them are quite like our Celebration of Song on Thursday night. Everyone is invited to participate and the rest of the community gathers around to support the singer in a style that is unlike any other! During this event, the focus is on connection with the audience rather than perfection. The community members celebrate the singer and their offering. There are supportive signs and hugs and standing ovations – everyone is a super-star! For many, this is a really special moment to feel this kind of support from other singers. For others, giving that kind of support to other singers is a new experience.
Everyone having a great time during the 2018 retreat sing-along!
During the 2018 retreat we had a group sing-along and it was SO much fun to sing a bunch of favorite songs together. There was even a spontaneous kick line that broke out!
For 2019, we’re going to create a list of songs that will be based on your suggestions and we’ll encourage everyone to learn the songs ahead of time so that we can do some creative and playful things with the material – adding harmonies and parts, dance movements and whatever other creative things come up in the moment.
The crowd goes wild during the upside-down singing act from the 2018 New Talent Show
The New Talent Show
The highlight for many 2018 retreat participants was The New Talent Show, which takes place on the final evening and is an opportunity to explore a new talent you’ve always wanted to learn. Last year, we had a circus act, upside-down singing, beatboxing, improv comedy, an acting scene, lounge singing and more!
Lois Shive sings along with a nursing home resident during closing sing-along
Nursing Home Performance
One of the other highlights of the 2018 retreat was a performance at a local nursing home. It was so special to go out into the community and share our music. We closed the performance with a sing-along of “What a Wonderful World” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house!
After a long day of stimulating learning and playing, it can be challenging to fall asleep. That’s why we offer optional Evening Lullabies, which are led by music healer Mama Donna. During these sessions you will, as a group, sing together in a way that is soothing, calming and relaxing. The perfect thing to get a great night of sleep to be rested for the next exciting day!
The 2018 retreat faculty members (Michael Hanko, Peter Jacobson and Eleni Vosniadou) are excited to welcome additional faculty members this year!
Gaylord the Alpaca looks on while the humans do Yoga in his field
Yoga (with Alpacas)
Every morning we will offer a 1-hour Yoga class with a certified Yoga teacher. On the final day you will have the opportunity to travel to a local farm to do your Yoga class with Alpacas.
Amalia Dobbins, Natalie Ford Sadjak and Amy Mushall getting ready to set sail on a Lake Michigan Cruise!
Walks & Bike Riding
There will also be opportunities to go for walks and bike rides (bikes available to rent with advance notice) on the shores of nearby Lake Michigan.
2018 retreat participant Emily Soule letting her voice soar
The Daily Schedule
Schedule subject to change.
- 7:00 – 8:00 Yoga (Optional)
- 8:00 – 9:30 Breakfast
- 9:30 – 12:00 Morning Session
- 12:00 – 1:00 Lunch
- 1:00 – 2:30 Free Time
- 2:30 – 6:00 Afternoon Session
- 6:00 – 7:00 Dinner
- 7:00 – 9:00 Optional Evening Session or Free Time
- 9:00 – 11:00 Social Time
NOTE: Day 1 (Monday) & Day 6 (Saturday) will follow a different schedule.
Retreat Teaching Faculty
Peter Jacobson is the Founder and Executive Director of Total Vocal Freedom. He is an AmSAT-certified (American Society of the Alexander Technique) teacher of the Alexander Technique. He is a graduate of Alexander Technique Mid-Atlantic, where he trained with Nancy Romita and Wendy Salkind. Jacobson began his teacher training at Alexander Technique Urbana, where he studied from Rose Bronec and Rick Carbaugh. His training took place over three years (1600 hours). A singer, multi-instrumentalist, conductor and music educator, he discovered the Alexander Technique over 13 years ago after suffering from back pain and tendinitis while pursuing his music studies.
In addition to his private teaching, Jacobson has taught workshops and group classes to musicians at Peabody Conservatory (Baltimore, MD), Towson University (Towson, MD), Gettysburg College (Gettysburg, PA) and the Orchestra Institute of Napa Valley (Yountville, CA). Concurrent with his Alexander Technique teacher training, Jacobson has earned advanced degrees in Conducting from University of Illinois and Peabody Conservatory.
Eleni Vosniadou is a percussionist and teacher of the Alexander Technique. Trained in classical percussion, she began to take an interest in body awareness in order to treat chronic tendinitis, a persistent obstacle in the way of her professional career. In 2006, she began to study the Alexander Technique Internationale in Sommerakademie Mozarteum (Salzburg, Austria), and spent the next few years deepening her knowledge in Germany, Switzerland and England. She completed a postgraduate three – year course at the London Center for Alexander Technique and Training, followed by a complementary course in Anatomy, Physiology and Pathology in London, UK. In 2012, she began teaching the Alexander Technique at the Royal College of Music and Arts Educational London Schools in London.
Currently, she lives in Brazil where she has developed the Body Consciousness For Musicians course, specific to instrumentalists and singers who face pain or who want to improve their relationship with the instrument or with their voices. In Brazil, she is frequently invited to offer a series of training courses for the faculty of EMESP – São Paulo State School, and the Guri Santa Marcelina project, a project of the state government of São Paulo. In 2014 she presented the impact of the application of the Alexander Technique in music education at the 31st World Music Education Congress of ISME (International Society of Music Education) in Porto Alegre. Body Consciousness Lectures and Workshops For Musicians in various spaces and music institutions, including FASM – Faculdade Santa Marcelina, UNESP – Paulista State University, FAMOSP – Faculdade Mozarteum de São Paulo, Baccarelli Institute, SESC Research and Training Center, among others. In 2016 Eleni was invited to join the Internationale Sommerakademie Mozarteum faculty in Salzburg, Austria.
Michael Hanko founded his NYC-based training program, FreeBody FreeVoice, to integrate his expertise in three fields: voice training, Alexander Technique, and gentle-touch bodywork. A graduate of Princeton University with a degree in Music, he received his certification as an Alexander teacher from the American Center for the Alexander Technique. Michael studied vocal technique and vocal pedagogy for over a decade under the renowned master Cornelius Reid. He has trained in multiple bodywork modalities at the Upledger and Barral Institutes. Michael writes and performs his own musical theater works and appears as a classical baritone soloist in oratorios and concerts.M
Michael teaches classes and private lessons, both in his studio and online to students throughout the world. Along with his TVF contributions, he has taught group classes in such venues as the Juilliard School and the William Esper Studio. His classes have focused on many topics, including Overcoming Stage Fright, Vocal Technique Mastery, Alexander Technique for Performers, and The Joy of Walking.
As a teacher, musician, and artist, Molly Kittle’s mission is to empower her students and clients with tools to find ease, depth, and freedom in any activity. Not only is she passionate about conveying the power of natural movement and mechanics, she intends to help people access their own unique innateness and grace, so that they may lead richer, more meaningful lives. During her undergraduate and postgraduate studies where she majored in Vocal Performance, Molly encountered the Alexander work. Inspired by the vocal and expressive freedom she found as a result of studying the technique, she discovered her passion for working with musicians and serving others through this innovative method.
Molly holds a Bachelor of Music degree in classical vocal performance from University of Denver and has graduate education in voice performance and pedagogy from Northwestern University. Molly’s experience and love of performing is quite versatile, spanning the genres of opera, Baroque, contemporary classical, jazz, and world folk styles.
Additional training includes the International Institute of Vocal Arts in Italy, extensive training in the Body-Breath-Sound technique method, and certification through the Contemporary Alexander School, which is part of the Alexander International Alliance. Molly has trained in the Southwest, Pacific Northwest (USA), and Japan, and is honored to be a part of an international community doing such important and empowering work.
Darci Balkcom is a singer, Alexander teacher, and yoga instructor living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Darci is the Vocal Division Coordinator and Alexander Technique teacher at New Mexico School for the Arts in Santa Fe and privately. She leads workshops in Alexander Technique, Vocal Health, and Yoga for Vocalists. She is on the faculty at Montecito Music Festival, Los Angeles, teaching both Alexander Technique and Yoga for singers. As a guest teacher, Darci has taught Alexander technique around the United States at places like University of Texas El Paso, University of New Mexico, Rio Grande NATS Chapter, Santa Fe Opera, and the University of Alaska.
Darci holds a Bachelor’s in Vocal Performance from the University of New Mexico. In 2010, after experiencing severe tension and vocal fatigue for a couple years, Darci became fascinated by body awareness and the vocal freedom that Alexander Technique made possible for her to rediscover. Darci became a certified Alexander Technique teacher by studying at The Contemporary Alexander School, a 1600 hr program. Additional trainings include becoming a certified yoga teacher with Barkan Method Yoga, currently studying Yoga of the Voice, and Body-Breath-Sound Technique. As a professional performer, Darci has sung as a soloist in oratorio and opera with groups such as Boulder Symphony, New Mexico Philharmonic, Santa Fe Desert Chorale, La Musica Lirica in Italy, and Quintessence. Darci’s experience and love of music spans many genres including, musical theatre, chant, gaelic, folk, art song, and opera. Darci is a very passionate educator and performer, constantly inspired to further her knowledge of the body, mind, voice, and music. She is dedicated to applying the principles inspired by the work of F.M. Alexander to her teaching and life.
TVF faculty are all highly-trained teachers and musicians and they are passionate about helping YOU!
The DeKoven Center
The retreat will take place at the historic DeKoven Center in Racine, Wisconsin, located right on Lake Michigan. It’s quite a magical place; we’ve dubbed it “The Hogwarts of the Midwest!”
There is an easily accessible bike path and bikes will be available to rent with advance notice.
Racine is about 1 hour and 15 minutes from O’Hare Airport and about 40 minutes from Milwaukee Airport. Racine is easily accessible by car and there is free parking at the Dekoven Center.
Shuttle transportation to and from Chicago airports will be available at an additional charge.
After you register we will be in touch with your directly about your transportation needs.
All meals are included in your retreat fees.
The DeKoven Center has a wonderful kitchen staff that will be happy to work with your food allergies or needs. Please let us know in advance (after you register) if you have special dietary issues. There will be a microwave and refrigerator available for personal use.
Commuter fees include two meals per day (a third meal is available for an additional charge).
A double room at the DeKoven Center
A double room is included as part of your registration fee.
Unless you tell us who you’d like to room with, you will be assigned a roommate.
All rooms are air-conditioned – new in 2019!
Arrival & Departure
Arrival on Day 1: Plan to arrive at the DeKoven Center on Monday, July 8th between 10:00am and 1:00pm (or by 12:00pm if you want to have lunch). We will have an opening session at 2:00pm to kick us off.
Departure on Day 6: The retreat will end by 12:00pm on Saturday, July 13th.
2018 retreat participants in the Great Hall during a movement exploration
What 2018 Summer Retreat Participants Say
“The retreat is right up there with the very top experiences of my life.”
“Still on my endorphin high from the retreat. People are still saying to me ‘you are absolutely glowing!’ ‘It makes me SO happy to see and hear you SO happy!’ ‘Are you in love?!’ The retreat is right up there with the very top experiences of my life. I can’t think of a better sixtieth birthday present to give myself, which is how I framed it when I decided to sign up. (My birthday was a week later.) Magnifico!”
–Lynn Lanese, Singer from Chicago, IL
“Thank you for an incredible learning experience.”
“Where to start? I have not had this much fun learning something new. I feel like I have found long lost family. You three leaders did such a great job guiding us through the week. I loved the concert that we gave to the nursing home. Listening to the soloist and being part of the chorus was wonderful. I think the highlight for me was the New Talent and Fran’s morning sessions. When I share my week experiences, I light up and move my arms with much excitement. Everyone loves the play by play of the week😌❤️. Thank you for an incredible learning experience.”
–Linda Ransom, Singer from Madison, WI
“Watching others’ transformations was so exhilarating and informative.”
“When I came home, I was a better teacher, taking more time to listen and to not worry about having all the answers right away. My own singing the next Sunday, after two weeks of not singing before, was relaxed, free and unencumbered.”
–Lisa Rogers Lee, Singer & Voice Teacher from Chicago, IL
“It was absolutely worth every penny and I would recommend it to any and every singer…”
“This retreat gave me a new outlook on how I view my personal relationships with those around me from day to day, but especially with other musicians. I am so happy that my experience at TVF has given me new insight to how I can approach meeting other singers. My sincere hope is that I am able to bring the light and positivity of TVF with me to school and any future singing I do, not only for myself, but for those around me. building people up and really connecting with my colleagues is my number one focus!
Other than that, I just want to say that I do really appreciate you letting me be a part of TVF this summer. It was absolutely worth every penny and I would recommend it to any and every singer, as long as I know they have an open mind and a kind heart! The retreat was so uplifting, it made me feel support in a field where support is seldom found, and I got to learn about the Alexander technique which is something I have always been curious about!”
–Emily Soule, Singer from Chicago, IL
The Retreat Fees
The 2019 summer retreat fee is $1,595.
That includes all tuition, meals and lodging (in a double room).
It does NOT include airport shuttle transportation or bike rental.
If you would like a single room, it’s an additional $200 (choose single room option at checkout page).
The commuter fee is $1,195 and includes two meals per day.
A Few Important Notes (Contact us below for more information about these):
- Monthly payment plans are available (10% fee applies).
- Limited need-based scholarships are available.
- If you plan to travel from outside of North America to attend this event, there is a special international discount.
- There is a discount for groups of 3 or more.
Join the 2019 TVF Summer Singing Retreat!
Frequently Asked Questions
Will there be WiFi?
Yes, free WiFi will be available. However, since the retreat is designed to take you out of your daily life habits, we recommend that your retreat be a screen-free experience. We do understand the realities of modern life and that you may need to use your phone or computer to check in with loved ones. In that case, we encourage you to limit your electronic device time and do it mindfully and consciously.
Will I get a certificate of participation?
Yes, all participants will receive a certificate of participation in the retreat.
Do you offer continuing education credit?
At this time, TVF does not offer continuing education credit. However, many employers allow you to submit your hours independently for approval. In that case, we will provide you with any official documentation you need on official TVF letterhead.
Will there be an accompanist?
Yes! 2 professional accompanists will be on staff to provide you with expert piano accompaniment.
Is it possible to attend a portion of the retreat?
Due to the fact that we will creating a short-term community built on trust and safety, it will be too disruptive to have people arrive late to the retreat. Leaving one day early is a possibility but must be approved ahead of time.
What if my plans change, can I get a refund?
We totally understand that sometimes things can happen and you might need to ask for a refund. We will try to help in whatever way that we can. Before May 1st, you can receive a full refund less a $100 administration fee. After May 1st, your refund will be issued as credit for future TVF programs and/or live events.