“I love to knock down the wall between performer and audience, that is always my goal. I invite individuals on the stage, and I always invite audiences to sing. From the beginning, I always wanted to engage the audience as active participants in the performance.”
circlesongschool is for those with a love of singing:
typically held yearly with legendary vocal virtuoso Bobby McFerrin and his inspiring team of master teachers for a workshop full of joy-filled improvised music-making and audience art, fun and games for singers of all levels of experience.
Bobby first developed Circlesongs during his time as a solo a cappella performer, when he needed other voices to help manifest his musical ideas. He gave the audience parts to sing, layering harmonies and rhythms, using call and response, conducting and composing his spontaneous inventions. During his years of worldwide touring, evolving along with his groups Voicestra, Gimme5, and MOTION, his Circlesongs concerts celebrated all kinds of music; Americana or classical, R&B, gospel, folk, pop, rock, beatboxing—combined with any sound he could imagine.
2023: Bobby McFerrin | circlesongschool 2023 took place at Grace Cathedral on Nob Hill in San Francisco, a world renowned Episcopal cathedral with a long history of fine choirs and musical excellence.
2022: Bobby McFerrin | circlesongschool 2022 was hosted by The Freight and Salvage, a nonprofit community arts organization in the heart of Berkeley, California, founded in 1968 to support music artists and creators. We were honored to be able to host circlesongschool 2022 there with their support.
The Circlesongs improvisational adventure with Bobby and the Circlesong Faculty builds confidence and trust, nurtures our creativity and deepens individual and communal musical expression. The program features lots of opportunities to lead Circlesongs in sessions that might include harmony, body percussion, music theory, freestyle language, vocal embodiment techniques, exploration of musical styles and much more, for experimentation at all levels of experience.
When Bobby and Circlesongs participants gather in community to sing for hours every day, everyone feels remarkably stronger, clearer, and more energized. Circlesongs is not only transformational for Bobby, but sparks inspiration for singer-songwriters, teachers, composers, instrumentalist, conductors, classically-trained or self-taught in the shower.
While learning techniques for improvisation and ensemble singing (blend, balance, tuning, and sensitivity) Circlesongs also provides an intuitive and direct experience that deepens our fundamental musicianship (including harmony, counterpoint, rhythmic precision, and active listening). Most importantly Circlesongs teaches how to include every singer regardless of their level of ability. The creative objective is to use our innate artistic resources to invent musical vehicles so that every voice in the community has a place in the circle.
NEA Jazz Master Bobby McFerrin is an inspiration to singers around the world who celebrate his innovative technique and spirit. His solo performances and collaborations with great artists – including Yo-Yo Ma, Chick Corea, and the Vienna Philharmonic – are the stuff of legend. Along the way there were 10 Grammy Awards, a Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award and a #1 global hit “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”
“What I love the most about leading and teaching circlesongs is that we open up people to the creative spirit that we all have within ourselves… because we all have it! We just don't use it or we're not aware of it or we're afraid of it.”
Past circlesongschool events
circlesongschool varying from 4 to 7 days, you get to learn circlesongs while leading, participating, performing circlesongs in sessions, breakouts as well as any events during the week
Tuition typically includes the full week of sessions and participation in all events. teens + welcome!
the unbroken circlesong typically lasting 24 hours, teachers, school participants and guests partake in 24 hours of continuous uninterrupted circlesinging
opening and closing with Bobby and Faculty, and lead throughout the duration of the event all through the night by the circlesongschool faculty & student circlesingers.
we encourage participants to bring pillows and blankets, stay, sing, rest and sing some more; coming and going as free as they like throughout the 24 hour period
all ages welcome!
other events whether you are part of the school or simply want to join in as a singing audience member, you can usually find other events including:
Evening Concerts and Aftershow Jam Sessions
Sing with Bobby and The Circlesongs Faculty & Student Circlesingers for the concerts and even stay after some of the show for a student jam session
circlesongschool facultyhas included internationally acclaimed and diversely gifted teachers who have sung or taught Circlesongs with Bobby over many years: Rhiannon (Hawaii), Judi Vinar (Minnesota), Joey Blake (Rwanda) & David Worm (Oakland), Destani Wolf (Berkeley), Bryan Dyer (Oakland),Tammi Brown (Santa Cruz), Tiago “Rizumik” Grade (Portugal), Sofia Ribeiro (Portugal), Juan Andrés Ospina (Colombia), Goussy Celestin (Haiti), Christiane Karam (Lebanon), Manuel Linhares (Portugal), Gaël Aubrit (France), and Zuza Gonçalves (Brazil).
past circlesongschool Faculty Our inspiring team of master circlesong teachers