Song Organizers

Song Organizers
Photo credit David Millstone

Shared Weight is excited to announce a brand-new list for song organizers!

We invite anyone who is interested or experienced in organizing any form of participatory song session or event to join this email discussion group. Session types can include pub sings, shanty/chantey sings, ballad swaps, worksonging, protest songs, all-school sings, camp singalongs, and more.

Our goal is to support each other by:

  • Asking and answering questions that are of interest to song organizers.
  • Discussing issues that come up in our singing communities.
  • Sharing resources that are helpful in organizing song events.
  • Planning and announcing gatherings for song organizers. 
  • Note: This list is not for promoting local sings.

We discuss a wide variety of topics, including but not limited to:

  • Making your song session or event welcoming, accessible, and inclusive
  • Meeting the needs of a wide range of singers, from those who lack confidence and experience, to those whose strong voices and robust repertoire may overshadow quieter participants
  • Encouraging socially appropriate content and behavior
  • Addressing challenging situations
  • Pros and cons of different styles of facilitation
  • Tips for starting a new song session or planning a song-focused event
  • Building your singing community and keep it strong

New organizers are encouraged to ask questions of the group, share joys and frustrations, and seek support from others with relevant experience. Experienced organizers are invited to share their song session’s norms and customs, describe lessons they have learned through personal experience, and spark interesting discussions with informed questions and observations. No matter how long we’ve been at this, we all have something to learn from each other!

If you have questions about this list, please contact Amanda Witman

Seth Seeger and Chris Weiler started Shared Weight in 2004 with a single email list to support fledgling contra and traditional square dance callers in learning, discussing, and drawing on the support and experience of workshop leaders who were at CDSS’s Pinewoods American Week that summer. They later expanded the mission of Shared Weight by adding lists for various types of organizers and musicians to support each other and help those new to their roles grow and thrive. 

In early 2019, the idea for a traditional song organizers listserv was proposed by the Country Dance and Song Society. CDSS, working with Emily Addison, learned through their 2016 and 2018 organizer surveys that members of the traditional song community wanted an online forum to discuss organizing song events. With the renewal of Shared Weight and revisiting of the various of the current list mandates, the timing felt right and this new list was launched.

Shared Weight and CDSS approached a number of song organizers and were thrilled when Amanda Witman (a pub sing leader in Brattleboro, Vermont) agreed to be the founding moderator. Amanda previously founded a Facebook group for Song Session Organizers. Amanda is supported by list champions Lynn Feingold, Suzanne Mrozak, and Lynn Noel, all of whom have significant experience with organizing song sessions and events.

The founding moderator of this list is Amanda Witman.

Lynn Feingold, Suzanne Mrozak, and Lynn Noel are list champions.

List champions actively support the list by promoting its existence and encouraging conversation. If you would like to become a list champion, please reach out to Amanda.

You can subscribe to the Song Organizers list in one of two ways:

  1. Sign up for a Shared Weight account prior to subscribing.
  2. Subscribe without creating an account.

Creating an account takes a few more steps, but they are quick, and having an account has definite advantages. This allows you to manage your Shared Weight messages (e.g., sign up to receive the digest version – helpful if you want to limit the number of emails in your inbox).

Follow these steps to subscribe with an account:

  1. Visit https://lists.sharedweight.net/postorius/lists/.
  2. Click ‘Sign Up’ in the top right corner. Then follow the instructions to create an account. Note –> your username can’t have a space.
  3. Check your email inbox and follow the instructions in the confirmation email. This will lead you to the login page.
  4. Once you are logged in, click on the list you want to join and then click  ‘Subscribe’. Note –> You can use the same account to subscribe to more than one list!
  5. Add your email address. We highly recommend that you also add your name – the Shared Weight lists are a supportive community and it’s good for folks to know who you are! 
  6. Click ‘Subscribe’.
  7. Once you have a Shared Weight account and have subscribed to the list(s), you can manage your settings.  Check out our Technical FAQs page.

Follow these steps to subscribe without an account:

  1. Go to https://lists.sharedweight.net/postorius/lists/contracallers.lists.sharedweight.net/ 
  2. Add your email address. We highly recommend that you also add your name – the Shared Weight lists are a supportive community and it’s good for folks to know who you are!
  3. Click ‘Subscribe’.
  4. Check your email inbox and follow the instructions in the confirmation email.

If you get stuck or have questions about how to join, please check the Technical FAQs page or email Seth Seeger.

The Song Organizers archive is public.

You can view past posts by visiting this link.


Who is this list for? – Anyone who is interested in organizing any form of participatory song session is welcome to join this email discussion group. 

What is Shared Weight and how is it involved with this list? – Shared Weight is an accessible, non-corporate online platform that hosts communities of traditional dance, music, and song with the goal of supporting each other across geographical boundaries. 

What is CDSS and how is it involved with this list? – The Country Dance and Song Society (CDSS) is one of the oldest folk organizations in the United States. It is an education and arts service nonprofit committed to connecting and supporting people in building and sustaining vibrant communities through participatory dance, music, and song traditions that have roots in English and North American culture. In 2019, in response to input collected in a survey of traditional song leaders and organizers in North America, CDSS approached Shared Weight and they agreed to add a Song Organizers List to their offerings. 

What types of song sessions do people talk about on this list? – You may find discussion of pub sings, shanty/chantey sings, ballad swaps, worksonging, protest songs, all-school sings, camp singalongs, and more. It is quite possible that this scope will evolve over time. If you are not sure if a particular type of song session fits within the scope of this list, bring it up and find out!

Are there any rules that I need to know about? – Shared Weight has its own set of List Standards that all participants must adhere to. Find them at: https://www.sharedweight.net/about/list-standards/.

Is the content of this list public or private? – Public. The emails sent to this list go out to all list members. In addition, all messages are stored in a public archive so that the information can be searched and accessed by anyone who may benefit. The archives cannot be edited, so interact thoughtfully, be careful about what you post, and do not share confidential information in this list.

I have something I want to share with the group. How do I post to the list? – Send an email to this address: songorganizers@lists.sharedweight.net. You must be a member of the list to post a message.

I sent an email to the list, but it doesn’t look like it has posted. What happened? – As a general rule, all posts to this list must be approved by a moderator before being sent out to list members. All you have to do is send your email to the list; the moderator will do the rest. All Shared Weight lists are run and moderated by volunteers, so please be patient if your post doesn’t appear right away. If your post is not approved, you will be notified.

Can I promote my event on this list? – No, this list is not for promoting song sessions or local events. If you are planning or running an event specifically for song organizers, contact the moderator to find out whether it is appropriate to post about it.

So where can I promote my local sing or event? – CDSS hosts an Events Calendar where you can add your event information. Be sure to choose “Traditional Song” as the category. Find it here: https://www.cdss.org/community/events-calendar.

Where can I find out about other song sessions and events? – CDSS’s Events Calendar is a good place to start. Under “Select Category,” choose “Traditional Song” and click “ok” to limit the list to song events.

Where can I find more information and resources about organizing a song session or event? – CDSS offers a helpful collection of Folk Song Resources here: https://www.cdss.org/resources/how-to/folk-song.

I want my friend to join this list. Can I add them? – No, you may not add anyone but yourself to this list. Please encourage friends to add themselves by going to this link: https://lists.sharedweight.net/postorius/lists/.

I’ve forgotten my username or password ~ I want to change my settings or unsubscribe ~ I’m having other technical difficulties – No problem! Shared Weight has a FAQs page just for technical questions. Find those answers and more here: https://www.sharedweight.net/about/technical-faqs/