Singing Schools

A singing school is a brief course of musical instruction devoted to the rudiments of note-reading and sight-singing, with a focus on sacred music. Singing schools, established as early as 1700, were the first American musical institution; they fostered musical skills, notational innovations like shape notes, the composition of psalmody, and the publication of tunebooks like The Sacred Harp. Early singing schools often lasted two or three months, usually during a season of slack agricultural work (the winter months, or midsummer "laying-by" of crops). Today's schools may last only a week or two. Other forms of instruction, comprising only a single session, frequently occur in connection with conventions or festivals. Though sometimes advertised as "singing schools," the term "workshop" might be more appropriate. For more information see "Singing-school" by Richard Crawford and Warren Steel in The New Grove Dictionary of American Music (London: Macmillan Press, 1986), vol. 4, pp. 233-4, which includes further references.

Singing teachers and others who know about upcoming singing schools in The Sacred Harp, or in other tunebooks used by traditional singers, are invited to send e-mail to ( for inclusion in the following list.

Poland, Fall 2020

Camp Fasola Europe, sponsored by Sacred Harp Musical Heritage Association (SHMHA), a residential singing school in the Sacred Harp, will held from September 21 to 25 in Wichrowe, Wzgorze, Chmielno, Kazuby, Poland.

Alabama, Summer 2019

Camp Fasola, sponsored by Sacred Harp Musical Heritage Association (SHMHA), is a residential singing school for learning Sacred Harp singing, history, and traditions. Camp Fasola is open to both youth and adults, beginners and experienced singers. Multiple daily sessions are devoted to teaching Sacred Harp singing, as well as times for recreation, rest, fellowship, and singing.

The first session will run from Sunday, June 9, 4:00 p.m. until Thursday June 13, 8:30 a.m. at Camp McDowell, between Double Springs and Jasper, Alabama; this session emphasizes adult learning. The second session will run from Monday, July 1 at 4:00 p.m. until Friday, July 5 at 9:00 a.m. at Camp Lee, near Anniston, Alabama. This session is programmed with an emphasis for youth and adults under age 30.

North Carolina, Summer 2019

Camp Doremi is a residential singing school in the Christian Harmony tradition at Wildacres Retreat in Little Switzerland, North Carolina, August 15-18, 2019. For information contact Jane Spencer at 706 769-8782, email

--Warren Steel (

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