Michael Harper

The Moment of Ingeniousness in Singing  

A Five Day Singing Retreat

21-26 September 2021

This singing retreat is the fifth five day event Michael has run at Hill Cottage. It is intended to help singers create more freedom and authenticity in singing. Michael has devised an approach based on a combination of  breathing techniques to free the mind of anxiety, exercises to realign the body in order to use the breath more effectively for singing, as well as both traditional and innovative vocal training methods.


It is an opportunity to work closely with Michael for an extended period to achieve freer expression in singing.

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This is how Michael describes his work at Hill Cottage

“This retreat is about expression – the result of the mind (spirit) meeting the physical (body and the world around it).  Everybody brings a few songs that they like or want to sing.  And we work on the things in the person’s body, character, interpretational skills, and singing technique to get them to a point of integration of all of these elements, so that they are expressing effectively and honestly.


We all know when this moment happens, the moment of ingeniousness is inescapable.  My belief is that everyone has the possibility to create that moment.


So, the five days is about removing the stuff that gets in the way of that thing that we cannot describe in words – the magic when we are truly inspired.  We will sing simple songs together and each person will have at least a couple of opportunities to work with me in front of the group singing the song that they wish.  This sometimes also involves specific technical focus – depending on the person. 

The best way to arrive is with an open mind as often the thing we think we need is not what we really need to learn at that moment. We will eat together, walk together, sit quietly together, sing together, learn together, play together, and have time on our own if we wish.”

The group will focus on the breath, then spend time on stabilising the body by revisiting static posture and freedom in movement,  to uncover how the voice is used and how to work with the body to liberate it.

Each singer will have at least two, one-to-one masterclass sessions with Michael, singing their chosen songs and being witnessed and supported by the whole group.

This benefits both the individual and group members who continue to learn via these short masterclasses.

It is necessary to bring a couple of simple song to work on during these sessions. Support pairs or trios are encouraged to meet each day to discuss the general teaching and how to act on the individual advice that Michael gives.

Five days together can create a sense of community. Sharing meals and informal singing time in the evenings offers another important dimension to the retreat. The feedback from participants reflects the progress that everyone makes, as well as the impetus to continue developing their voices and sense of self, as a result of concentrated time spent with Michael.


“Singing with Michael Harper invites us to let go of the anxieties that hold us tight and engage with his holistic approach to the use of body and voice. The result is a kind of alchemy which astonishes and delights in equal measure by enabling the discovery of the voice we possess but which we are so good at concealing. Five days with Michael are a joyful and enriching experience.”  David Riley

“This was a transformative week! Michael seems unique to me, in his ability to know what is going on in one’s body/mind and the blockages to true expression through singing. The way he worked with me was gentle, sensitive and compassionate. And to experience this in such a beautiful place care of Zarine and Jeremy feels a huge privilege – thank you.” Meretta Hart


“Have come away with lots of exercises I can do – to improve my breathing and practice some movements which help me to sing out with confidence.” Jan Norton

“Inspiring and transformative…plus wonderful food and company. Thanks to everyone” Jackie Jones

Michael Harper is a countertenor, singing teacher and workshop facilitator.  He has worked internationally as a singer and teacher in the UK, U.S.A, China and many countries in Europe. He has sung at the Linbury Theatre at the Royal Opera House, the Geneva Ballet, the Megaron (Athens), and the Venice Dance Biennale.

As a teacher and workshop facilitator, he has worked with the Youth Music, SingUp, The Sage Gateshead, The National Theatre, and the Centre for Performance Research in Aberystwyth, the Asolo Song Festival, Pegasus Opera, The National Theatre (London) and choirs throughout the UK and in Germany.

He teaches masterclasses internationally; has singing studios in London, Bristol, Newbury, Frome, Newcastle and Oslo; and is Co-Creative Director for Sing for Water, London (The Mayor’s Thames Festival).

Michael’s singing retreat will take place in the Round House which is an intimate space that also hosts meditation weeks and other group events.

The following arrangements will be subject to Covid Guidance, current at this time.

Arriving by 5.00pm on Tuesday evening with dinner and a short session and continuing from 10.00am-5.00pm on Wednesday to Saturday and  10.00am- 4.00pm on Sunday.


Cost of the Retreat – Tuesday evening – Sunday 4.00pm

Workshop, full board and accommodation in a:

Single Rooms in the Studio and Rowan Cabin £420 (6 places)

Single Steep Curved Stair Accessed Crog Loft in Ash and Alder Barns £400 (2 places)

Large Single Rooms in Ash and Alder Barns £450 (3 places)

We ask for a deposit of £100 when booking.

£15 of this deposit will be non-refundable as a contribution to our fixed admin costs. The remainder of the deposit is refundable if you cancel up to 8 weeks before the event. After that time it also becomes non-refundable unless we have to cancel the event and then your whole deposit will be returned.

The balance becomes due two weeks prior to the start of the event which is non-returnable. If there are circumstances that create a risk of cancellation for you, we recommend that you take out cancellation insurance, in case you are unable to attend.

In the unlikely event that we need to cancel or postpone, a full refund of what you have paid to us will be offered. Our liability is limited to what you have paid for the retreat or the workshop, therefore travel insurance is recommended, if you have booked tickets to get to Hill Cottage.


Accommodation and Food The food will be vegetarian. There are 11 residential places for this retreat. Participants will be asked to help with clearing up and keeping the space alive and welcoming.

Please contact Zarine for more information or a booking form info@hillcottageretreats.co.uk