SongPath Oxford 2022
there is a pleasure in the pathless woods
Monday 17 & Tuesday 18 October 2022
Oxford Botanic Garden, Rose Ln, Oxford OX1 4AZ
In the glorious autumnal colours of the 400-year-old Botanic Garden, they unearth a wealth of nourishing connections to the world around us through music, poetry and science. Singers and SongPath co-founders Jess Dandy and Joanna Harries will be joined by guest musicians and speakers as they journey from flowerbeds to fountains, exploring the connective power of walking, talking and music-making together.
SongPath will also be giving free Music & Wellbeing workshops for branches of Oxfordshire Mind throughout the autumn.
What is SongPath?
creative connections for better mental health
SongPath is a mental health initiative, providing participants with nourishing ways of connecting through walking, talking and music-making in nature.
Our outdoor interactive events around the UK unite professional musicians, experts on the natural world and mental health professionals in uniquely curated walking trails rooted in each local landscape. Founded in 2019 by singers Jess Dandy and Joanna Harries, it exists to creatively reconnect us with the natural world around us through music, poetry, art and science.
SongPath also grows roots in local communities by partnering with local branches of mental health charity Mind to provide free workshops and free places at our events for service users.
Find out about future SongPaths
SongPath Leeds 2022
hope is the thing with feathers
In the magnificent spring scenery of RSPB St Aidan’s nature reserve, we explored Leeds’ rich and fertile heritage as part of the Leeds Lieder 2022 festival.
Joining us for music, poetry, science, amazing views and wonderful wildlife (including bitterns, avocets, black terns, skylarks and meadow pipits) were Jesse Bannister (saxophone), Giuliano Modarelli (guitar), Lucas Mander (ornithologist) & Rufus Harrington (psychotherapist)
We also gave two free workshops at Inkwell Arts for Leeds Mind, and offered free tickets to our events at RSPB St Aidan's.
SongPath Oxford 2021
a green thought in a green shade
Autumn was the season for planting a SongPath at Oxford Botanic Garden. We created two SongPaths at the Oxford Botanic Garden as part of Oxford Lieder’s 20th anniversary festival, journeying through the trees, plants, ponds, and orchard of the historic 400-year-old gardens, from the mighty Dawn Redwood to the colourful Autumn border.
We also worked with Oxfordshire Mind, giving six free workshops about music and nature, providing free places for service users at our events, and donating £5 from each ticket sold to support their future work.
SongPath Cumbria 2019
a song sleeps in all things
Our first SongPath event took us on a creative journey in South Cumbria, in partnership with the Ulverston International Music Festival and local branches of Mind.
We journeyed from Bardsea on the Furness Peninsula, across Birkrigg Common’s stone circle and woods to Swarthmoor Hall. Joining us were international pianist Martin Roscoe, Cumbrian pipes and fiddle expert Caroline Francis, local Furness community choir, eight professional singers, psychotherapist Rufus Harrington and local Cumbrian poet Neil Curry.
We also worked with two local branches of Mind (Mind in Furness & Ulverston Mind), giving free workshops and providing free places at the event for service users. We also raised £5,796.75 to support their future work.
the songpath podcast
where conversations about mental health help us to connect creatively and restoratively to ourselves, each other, and the world around us.
In the latest episode, Jess continues her conversation with composer and gardening enthusiast, Alex Mills. They discuss his musical work, his commitment to "rawness" in art, and the benefits of sharing difficulties.
Songs of the River
Inspired by the landscapes, history, people and stories surrounding us, Songs of the River is a new podcast by SongPath co-founder mezzo-soprano Joanna Harries which creates an exploratory journey along iconic rivers using folksong.
Songs of the Thames - London
Songs of the Clyde - Glasgow
Thanks to support from Royal Philharmonic Society Enterprise Award & RCS Make it Happen Award.
the songpath blog
'I like walking round the lake because I don’t have to think about the route. I just walk around it and I’m free to reflect on other things. I can’t get lost. Not in a navigational sense anyway.'
Harry Perrin writes a beautiful new entry to our Mind Wanderings Blog on the freedom of familiar walks, the music of movement through natural and built environments, and 'the spaces between the notes, where the real work is done'.
If you are interested in writing a Mind Wanderings Blog entry, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We'd love to hear from you.
hope is the thing with feathers
ornithology for the soul
engage creatively with the profound detail of birds – in your gardens if you have them, via the window if you can’t go out, on your daily walks, or even on internet searches and television programmes.
notice their movement, their song, their plumage, and perhaps even feel into their worlds, taking on their physiology, their high flight, their lack of restriction relative to yours, and their obliviousness to your current situation. Come back down to earth with a newfound sense of possibility and a deeper, more centred sense of yourself.
reflect on what feathered life brings to you: it might be a specific bird, or birdlife generally, and you might think about how engaging with them makes you feel, and whether something creative or restorative comes out of that.
This can take any/many forms: video, text, audio, visual, whatever you like; feel free to experiment.