The Alexander Technique
The 2023 TVF/MBMS Summer Retreat
What: A 6-day residential retreat focused on the practical application of the Alexander Technique to music-making and life
When: July 18th – 23rd, 2023 (arrive late afternoon on July 18th; depart noon on July 23rd)
Where: The DeKoven Retreat Center in Racine, Wisconsin
Who: Adult (18+) musicians, including instrumentalists, vocalists, teachers and conductors
Why: To learn essential skills that will improve the quality of your music-making and your life!
Faculty: Michael Hanko, Peter Jacobson, & Eleni VosniadouRegister Now
Guitarist & Singer Kevin Kelly Kahelain lights up during a lesson with faculty member Eleni Vosniadou
ALL Musicians Welcome!
Dear Fellow Musician,
My name is Peter Jacobson, the founder and director of Total Vocal Freedom (TVF) and The Mind Body Music School (MBMS).
Since 2018, we've offered a total of seven retreats (4 summer, 3 winter) and the sheer amount of learning, transformation, enjoyment, connection and joyful music-making that happens in our residential events gets me so excited!
You might have noticed this event is called the TVF/MBMS Summer Retreat. This temporary dual name represents 2 things:
- Our school is currently in a transition period (which you can read more about here).
- We are drawing on the past 9 years as Total Vocal Freedom (for Singers) while looking ahead to our future as The Mind Body Music School (for Musicians).
This means something very important:
For the first time, our summer retreat is open to ALL musicians – vocal and instrumental!
If you're looking for a deep and fun music education experience like no other, I encourage you to keep reading. On this page, you'll find pretty much everything you need to know about this event, including the structure, schedule, location, pricing and more.
And good news – if you register by April 18th, you can save 10% off registration fees with early-bird pricing.
BECOME inspired, rejuvenated and profoundly connected to your deeper artistic purpose.
Summer retreat participants playing together
Who It's For
This event is open to any musician – vocal or instrumental – wherever they are in their music journey.
Our programs are made up of a wide variety of musicians who tend to share 3 essential qualities: an open mind, a kind heart and a musical soul.
You will especially fit in if you value things like kindness, respect, generosity of spirit, artistic excellence and musical enjoyment.
Here are some of the main reasons to this retreat:
- You are feeling stuck in an artistic rut and want to surround yourself with inspiring ideas and people
- You want to learn how to practically apply the Alexander Technique to your music-making and your everyday life
- You feel ready to learn something new
- You want to give and receive support inside a truly kind community of musicians
- You are ready to take your music-making to the next level
If you're still not sure if this event would be a good fit for you, write us a message.
Collaborative Pianist Work Study Program
This year, we will be selecting up to 3 collaborative pianists to participate in our work study program. As part of this program:
- You will offer your services as a collaborative pianist during classes, events and performances.
- In exchange for your work, you will receive a work study scholarship that will cover the majority of your tuition.
- There will be special learning opportunities just for collaborative pianists.
If you are interested in applying for this opportunity write to TVF/MBMS admin assistant Samantha Collins directly.
ENJOY being part of a vibrant community of like-minded and kind-hearted musicians.
Retreat participant Emily Soule letting her voice soar
What You'll Learn
Here are the some of the benefits you can expect to experience in this retreat (based on past student's reports):
Greater Confidence & Self-Worth
- A stronger sense of personal and artistic self-worth
- A deeper connection with your artistic purpose
- Improved self-confidence – more courage and less fear
Improved Musicianship & Expression
- Improved musical and technical skills
- More authentic musical expression and storytelling
- Better listening skills
More Body Freedom
- A reliable way to free your body from unwanted tension
- A deeper understanding of how your whole body works
- Music-making that is relaxed, free and unencumbered
1. The Core Concepts
In both large and small group formats, all retreat participants will learn the core concepts of TVF/MBMS work:
- The 4 Pathways: Spark, Story, Self & Skill
- The 4 S.E.L.T. Practices: Slowing Down, Experimenting, Listening & Trusting
- The 7 Alexander Principles: Wholeness, Body Awareness, Head-Spine Relationship, Inhibition, Non-Doing, The Alexander Process & Use Affects Functioning
- The 12 Body Design Concepts: Skull, Jaw, Tongue, Neck/Throat, Spine, Ribs, Pelvis, Legs, Feet, Shoulders, Arms & Hands
2. Your Focus Area – Vocal or Instrumental
Throughout the retreat, we will be breaking into smaller groups that will be be divided by focus area – vocal or instrumental. These focus groups will allow you to dig deeper into the specific issues and topics related to the kind of music-making you do. If you're a music teacher or conductor, we will also be offering several teaching labs during the retreat that will go deeper into the practicalities of incorporating Alexander Technique and Body Mapping principles into music lessons and rehearsals.
Celebrations of Music
- We will have 2 separate Celebration of Music events on the last two evenings – one for solos and one for ensembles. These events are a great way to put into practice what you are learning in front of a friendly audience. During these events, we put the focus on connection with the audience rather than perfection. We truly celebrate every musician and what they have to offer.
- One of the other highlights of our retreat is a performance in the local community, typically at a nursing home or assisted living facility. It is so special to go out into the community and share our music with others.
Morning Breath Meditation Sessions
- Every morning, before breakfast, we will be offering optional Breath Meditation Sessions to help you get centered and present for the day of learning ahead.
Walks & Bike Rides
- There will also be opportunities to go for walks and bike rides on the shores of nearby Lake Michigan. Depending on interest, bikes may be available to rent for a small additional fee with advance notice.
Retreat participants enjoying themselves during a large group session
The Daily Schedule
(Subject to change)
- 7:00am – 8:00am Breath Meditation Sessions (Optional)
- 8:00am – 9:00am Breakfast
- 9:00am – 10:30am Learning the Core Concepts (Large Group)
- 10:30am – 11:00am Break
- 11:00am – 1:00pm Focus Area Sessions (Small Groups)
- 1:00pm – 2:30pm Lunch
- 2:30pm – 4:00pm Individual Practice and/or Small Ensemble Rehearsals
- 4:00pm – 6:00pm Community Session (Large Group)
- 6:00pm – 7:00pm Dinner
- 7:00pm – 9:00pm Evening Activity or Free Time
NOTE: Day 1 & Day 6 will follow a different schedule.
What Past Participants Say
"The retreat is right up there with the very top experiences of my life."
“Still on my endorphin high from the retreat. People are still saying to me 'you are absolutely glowing!' 'It makes me SO happy to see and hear you SO happy!' 'Are you in love?!' The retreat is right up there with the very top experiences of my life. I can’t think of a better sixtieth birthday present to give myself, which is how I framed it when I decided to sign up. (My birthday was a week later.) Magnifico!”
–Lynn Lanese, Singer
"Before this experience, I was going through a rough patch with my own confidence as a musician..."
"...but much of the program focused on self-care and self-kindness, and I feel like this allowed me to focus inward and find ways to embrace my singing and work on a new level. I left the retreat with a more open heart and a stronger sense of self-worth. I am eager to continue learning from these teachers and students!"
–Nadine Gomes, Singer & Voice Teacher
"Thank you for an incredible learning experience."
“Where to start? I have not had this much fun learning something new. I feel like I have found long lost family. You three leaders did such a great job guiding us through the week. I loved the concert that we gave to the nursing home. Listening to the soloist and being part of the chorus was wonderful. I think the highlight for me was the New Talent and Fran's morning sessions. When I share my week experiences, I light up and move my arms with much excitement. Everyone loves the play by play of the week❤️. Thank you for an incredible learning experience.”
–Linda Ransom, Singer
“Watching others' transformations was so exhilarating and informative."
"When I came home, I was a better teacher, taking more time to listen and to not worry about having all the answers right away. My own singing the next Sunday, after two weeks of not singing before, was relaxed, free and unencumbered.”
–Lisa Rogers Lee, Singer & Voice Teacher
"It was absolutely worth every penny and I would recommend it to any and every singer..."
“This retreat gave me a new outlook on how I view my personal relationships with those around me from day to day, but especially with other musicians. I am so happy that my experience at TVF has given me new insight to how I can approach meeting other singers. My sincere hope is that I am able to bring the light and positivity of TVF with me to school and any future singing I do, not only for myself, but for those around me. building people up and really connecting with my colleagues is my number one focus!
Other than that, I just want to say that I do really appreciate you letting me be a part of TVF this summer. It was absolutely worth every penny and I would recommend it to any and every singer, as long as I know they have an open mind and a kind heart! The retreat was so uplifting, it made me feel support in a field where support is seldom found, and I got to learn about the Alexander technique which is something I have always been curious about!”
–Emily Soule, Singer
“I LOVED the retreat."
"I learned so much about myself, perhaps most significantly that I could give myself permission to do (or not do) some things. That seems basic when I see it in writing, but in the context of self-care, it was a radical realization for me.”
–Margaret Quinnette, Singer
“The retreat was a very positive experience for me. I was so inspired by other teachers and artists."
"There was a balance of musical concepts and connecting with ourselves as a person. The highlight for me was the explanations and the circle singing. This retreat made me want to find a deeper connection with my inner compass. Also learn more about the human body.”
–Yedda Hay, Singer & Teacher
"I felt like it didn't matter that I am not a professional, but felt like what I thought and felt was valid.”
“I loved the casual masterclass atmosphere, the way everyone was treated with love and respect, and as if we were the only one in the room. The opportunity to explore our creativity was welcome, and way more fun than I thought it would be. Activities that encouraged play are not usually something that I enjoy, but since this was a judgement free zone, I felt more comfortable."
–Martha Springstead, Pianist & Choral Director
“Because of the safe and trustworthy space created for freedom of exploration and discovery, I was able to lay aside my former self-judgement and fear of mistakes."
"When it came time to perform in front of everyone, I was not even thinking about the fact that there was an audience present, and I wasn’t nervous. My intention for every performance was to provide every possible aspect of support to the singer while creating beautiful music and a satisfying, enjoyable performance experience. Because I had not rehearsed with them, I gave full permission (to both myself and the singer) to expect mistakes and imperfections; this resulted in the ability to completely ignore or let go of those things as they occurred, and allow myself to be totally present in the joy of making music. It is truly one of the most rewarding things I’ve experienced in 40 years of music-making."
–Deb Logan, Pianist & Choral Director
“My experience of the retreat was an immersion in living and learning in grace and truth..."
"...of finding song and substance/soul within and seeing with new eyes, listening - opening, a blossoming awareness and connectedness to the beauty of our oneness in sound and being. There was joy in the simple things; the tiny shifts in mind and body which led to peaceful ease, the healing touch of a loving hand, a look shared between friends. I found comfort in being included, and noticed others finding it too. It was a safe space in which to begin to bloom and I gave myself permission to breathe free.”
–"Mama Donna" Castaner, Singer & Teacher
The DeKoven Center
The retreat will take place at the historic DeKoven Center in Racine, Wisconsin, located right on Lake Michigan. It's quite a magical place; we like to think of it as "The Hogwarts of the Midwest!"
There is an easily accessible bike path. Bikes will be available to rent with advance notice.
- Single, double and triple rooms are available.
- The accommodations are simple, clean, and comfortable.
- Bathrooms will be shared by up to 6 people.
- Unless you tell us who you'd like to room with, you will be assigned a roommate.
- All rooms are air-conditioned.
A double room at the DeKoven Center
All meals are included in your retreat fees.
The DeKoven Center will gladly accommodate any food allergies or needs with sufficient advance notice. After you register, we will ask you to let us know if you have any special dietary needs. There will be a microwave and refrigerator available for personal use.
Racine is about a 1 hour and 15 minute drive from the Chicago O’Hare Airport and about a 40 minute drive from the Milwaukee Airport.
There is free parking at the Dekoven Center.
We will be assisting in organizing ride sharing from the airports.
- Arrival on Day 1: Plan to arrive at the DeKoven Center on Tuesday, July 18th between 3:00pm and 5:00pm. We will have dinner at 6:00pm followed by an opening session.
- Departure on Day 6: The retreat will end at 12:00pm on Sunday, July 23rd.
Retreat participants in the Great Hall during a movement exploration
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you offer continuing education credit?
At this time, TVF/MBMS does not offer continuing education credit. However, many employers allow you to submit your hours independently for approval. In that case, we will provide you with any official documentation you need on official MBMS letterhead.
Are there scholarships available?
Yes, there are limited, need-based scholarships available through an application process. To request an application, please write to TVF/MBMS admin assistant Samantha Collins directly.
Is it possible to attend only a portion of the event?
Due to the fact that we will creating a short-term community built on trust and safety, it is not possible to attend only a portion of this event.
What if I have additional questions?
If you have additional questions, click the orange button below to contact us and we'll get back to you within 2 business days.Contact Us Now
Your registration fee (prices listed below) include all tuition, meals, and lodging.
A 10% discount is available until registration closes on July 14th.
Contact us directly via email to inquire about these following:
- Commuter rates (with or without meals)
- Monthly payment plans (10% fee applies)
- Need-based scholarships
- "Plus One" discounts – bring a friend/partner/colleague and you'll each receive $100 off registration fees
- Group discounts of 3 people or more
- Refunds will be offered before May 31st (less a $150 admin fee).
- If you cancel, for any reason, between June 1st and July 11th, you will be offered an account credit (less a $150 admin fee) that you must use within 1 year towards any TVF/MBMS online program or live event.
- If you cancel after July 11th you will forfeit your registration fee.
- If you have a last-minute medical emergency or illness and need to cancel you will receive an account credit (less a $150 admin fee).
Thank you for taking the time to read about our 2023 Summer Retreat!
If you feel the call to join us, click the below button below to register.
And if you have questions or are wondering if this event would be right for you, you can send us an email now.
To Your Success!
Founder & Executive Director
Total Vocal Freedom
The Mind Body Music School