Monthly Shape Note/Appalachian Harmony Singing

w/ Karla Mundy

Join Karla Mundy for a once-a-month Shape Note/Appalachian Harmony Singing Class.

Class One meet the first Thursday of every month, Class Two will meet the third Thursday of every month from October to June and we will explore Shape Note singing from the Sacred Harp tradition and duets and trios from the Appalachian harmony singing tradition.

**Due to popular demand this class will now be offered twice. One class will be the first Thursday of every month, one class will run the 3rd Thursday of every month!

From 6:30-7:30 we will focus on Shape Note singing. We will move slow enough to develop our ability to'sing the shapes' - this wonderful ear training and sight singing helper. We will learn new and old songs in the genre and delight in the rich and beautiful harmonic landscape of this community singing tradition.

From 7-30-9:30 we will sing duets and trios from the Old-Time and Bluegrass world. We will learn about the structure of these harmonies using feel and music theory.

We will learn about the solid structure and approach of the 3 part harmony stack and develop tools for finding those harmonies ourselves. We will learn a wonderful repertoire of songs - first by learn the melody and identifying the chord progression, then we will find the accompanying harmony lines. This is a wonderful way to explore some music theory - as it will be practically applied the entire time!

We will learn first as a group and then there will be plenty of opportunities to try the songs in small groups - with one or two singers on a part.

One of the hopes of the class is that it gives you the tools and confidence to work on this music with your singing buddies at home and explore finding harmonies yourself. Get ready to laugh as we bump around the process and then shiver when it all comes together in harmonic beauty!


Dates - CLASS ONE - The first Thursday of every month - Oct 5th, Nov 2nd, Dec 7th, Jan 4th, Feb 1st, Mar 1st, April 5th, May 3rd and June 7th

CLASS TWO - The third Thursday of every month - Oct 19th, Nov 16th, Dec 14th (not the 21st), Jan 18th, Feb 15th, Mar 15th, April 19th, May 17th, June 21st

Costs - there are several options for this course. You can sign up for the Shape Note hour only, the Appalachian duets and trios only or combine the two and stay for both classes!

Shape Note Only - 6:30-7:30 - $85

Appalachian Harmony Singing (Duets and Trios) - $175

Entire Class - $225

There are no drop-in rates - this course will progress through the material and we will build our repertoire and understanding together. Sign-up is for the entire nine sessions!

Class will be held at Unity Spiritual Centre (5840 Oak Street) 

**with one exception - the very first class (Oct 5th) will be at St Margaret's Cedar Cottage (1530 East 22nd)


Building A Vocal Community®:
Singing In The African American Tradition

w/ Dr. Ysaye M Barnwell

**There are TWO more spots for this workshop - to register please email Karla at

There is an awesome power in the human voice and when uncommon voices are blended for the common good, they become a ‘vocal community’ at its best. Masterfully led by Dr. Ysaÿe M. Barnwell, singers and non-singers alike will share the common experience of learning in the oral tradition and singing rhythms, chants, traditional songs from Africa and the Diaspora, and a variety of songs from African American culture including spirituals, ring shouts, hymns, gospels, and songs from the Civil Rights Movement. The historical, social and political context will provided as an introduction to the songs. Through out this experience, the group will explore from an African American world view, the values imbedded in the music, the role of cultural and spiritual traditions and rituals, ways in which leadership emerges and can be shared by and among community members, the nature of cultural responses to and influences on political and social struggle, and finally the significance of a shared communal experience in ones’ personal life. All that is required is a willingness to sing.

Friday Aug 25th 7:00 pm-9:00 pm

Saturday Aug 26th 9:30 am-12:00 pm and 2:00 pm-5:00 pm

Sunday Aug 27th 1:00 pm-3:30 pm 

St James Community Hall - 3214 West 10th

BIO – Dr. Ysaye M. Barnwell PhD, MSPH is a native New Yorker who has lived in Washington, DC since 1968. Dr. Barnwell studied violin with her father for 15 years beginning at age 2.5 and majored in music through high school. With this background, she went on to earn the Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Speech Pathology (SUNY, Geneseo, 1967, 1968), Doctor of Philosophy in Speech Pathology (University of Pittsburgh, 1975), and the Master of Science in Public Health (Howard University, 1981). Dr. Barnwell has been awarded four Honorary Doctorate Degrees, and the 2014 Humanitarian Award from the Washington Choral Arts Society.

For over a decade, Dr. Barnwell was a professor at the College of Dentistry at Howard University, after which she administered health programs at Children’s Hospital National Medical Center and Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. Dr. Barnwell joined Sweet Honey In The Rock® in 1979 and recently retired from the ensemble after 34 years.

WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 27: Dr. Ysaye Barnwell attends the 2011 Search For Common Ground Awards at the Carnegie Institution for Science on October 27, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Leigh Vogel/Getty Images)

Dr. Barnwell has been a commissioned composer on numerous choral, film, video, dance and theatrical projects. Dr. Barnwell is the Curator/Composer of the FORTUNE’S BONES: THE MANUMISSION REQUIEM® which began as a year on project culminating in two performances at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center of the University of Maryland in 2012. She has, for the past thirty years spent much of her time offstage working as a master teacher and choral clinician in African American cultural performance. Her workshop “Building a Vocal Community®: Singing in the African American Tradition” has been conducted on three continents, making her work in the field a significant source of inspiration for both singers and non-singers, and a model of pedagogy for educators, cultural activists and historians.

In May of 2016, President Obama nominated Dr. Barnwell for membership on the National Committee on the Arts which the Senate must confirm.

Four axioms have proven significant in Barnwell’s life. To whom much is given, much is required. As one door closes, another door opens. Everything matters. Say YES!