Seth Wenger.
Seth Wenger.
Seed Savers Exchange invites everyone to enjoy an afternoon of singing and community amongst the beauty of the Driftless region.

Seth Wenger, an Iowa Arts Council (IAC) and National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Project Grant recipient and Scattergood Friends School (SGFS) Musician in Residence, is presenting a shape note singing workshop and leading an open community singing event in the Heritage Farm Barn Saturday, May 20, from 2 to 5 p.m.

A potluck will follow the event. Attendees are invited to bring a dish to share.
Singing will be out of the 1991 edition of the Sacred Harp, and loaner books will be available.

Wenger will address the history and evolution of the music, speak to the current demographics of the singing community, and lead an introduction to the rudiments of the four shape singing system.

The content and length of the workshop and singing school will be determined by the participants themselves.

“If there are people who want to learn more, I will speak more; if there are people who want to discuss more, I am overjoyed to facilitate that discussion; if people just want to sing, I will make sure the basics are covered, and we’ll sing our hearts out,” Wenger said.

The event is one of four being presented as the educational outreach component to Wenger’s academic, documentary and creative work this past year in the field of shape-note music.

He has partnered with the IAC, NEA and SGFS to expand his knowledge of shape-note singing and increase networking and visibility of the art form in the state of Iowa. Local Decorah partners include Seed Savers Exchange.

About shape note singing
The practice of shape note singing was developed in early colonial America as an instructional tool for teaching sight reading and singing skills in untrained populations. It is still written in the four shape system, but is also written in standard notation, like much of the other American hymnology practiced today.
Practitioners from all walks of life and levels of experience have and continue to make up this vibrant, diverse, democratically-organized community. Shape note singing, the oldest form of post-colonial American folk music, has continued to take on new composers and singing members over the years.