Friends General Conference

Nurturing faith and Quaker practice

Call & Response: Finding the Music Inside Us

Workshop Number: 
Timothy Simmons
Who may register?: 
Open to All (adult & high school)
Experiential Activities: 
part time-attenders welcome (can come any one day)
half gathering attenders welcome
First half (Monday-Wednesday)
Second half (Wednesday/Thursday-Friday)

In this workshop participants will engage in a variety of improvisational "games" including drumming, vocalization, and exploring sound on melodic instruments, in an attempt to improvise music together, to be heard expressing ourselves creatively, and to work together to create something vibrant and beautiful.

Workshop Description

From our very beginnings, music has been part of what defines us as humans. We sing and dance to express our joys and our sadness. Music moves us, both physically and spiritually. Music empowers us to be heard in our most vibrant selves, and our most vulnerable. Bursting forth from silence, music expresses what we can't say in words. "Call and Response" is a workshop intended for both musicians and non-musicians alike. All experience levels will be honored as we explore the music that is inside us. Each day, we will engage in simple improvisational "games", including everything from drumming, to vocalization, to exploring sound on a variety of musical instruments, as we endeavor to create music together, to listen deeply to each other's most inner voices, and to create something new, something vibrant, something beautiful. Time will also be provided for processing our experiences together in the manner of worship sharing, as well as open-ended discussion. Participants will have the opportunity to play music together as a large group, in small ensembles, and, if they are comfortable, as soloists. No prior musical experience is necessary. Some musical instruments will be provided, but participants who already play an instrument should feel welcome to bring ther own. Before participating in this workshop, participants may want to read either The Listening Book, by W.A. Mathieu, or The Music Lesson by Victor Wooten. These readings are optional. Come each day ready to listen deeply to each other, and to discover the music inside all of us!

Leader Experience

I have been facilitating workshops in Philadelphia for about four years now. I have run several Improvosation Workshops at Old Haverford Monthly Meeting in Havertown, PA, and have also facilitated a workshop at PYM's Annual Sessions in summer 2013. I also led my first workshop at Gathering in the summer of 2014. With my students, I have been facilitating monthly Improvisation Workshops at DVFS, where I teach, and at local coffeeshops. Leading a workshop is like receiving a gift. To witness the ways in which participants open up musically is a deep experience. Many fear music for lots of reasons. Some of us have been taught that we have no skill musically, or that we can't really sing, or that music takes years and years to master. Therefore, being present when participants open themselves up musically is a chance to witness them expressing their deepest selves, making themselves vulnerable, and an opportunity to honor that, to respond to it, and to love them for their creativity.