Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Singing While Making Cheese!

Lady in Red

Ricki and Jamie have traveled around the world to singing camps sponsored by Village Harmony Singers.  In the little known picture at left, (it's little known because Ricki doesn't know we put it in here!) Ricki is making an announcement at one of these camps.

Ricki also hosts many singing workshops in Ashfield, MA where she and Jamie live.  In fact, two exciting events are coming up next month.  (Info at the end of this post.)

A few months ago, we received this e-mail from Jean, in Marquette, MI:

A friend and I were talking about all the kinds of milk that could be used for cheese making: cow's milk, goat's milk, etc., and then we started getting silly with milk of magnesia, milk weeds and milk duds.... The latter would make chocolate cheese.

Continuing on the silly line, we wondered if there were any cheese songs which we could sing while making cheese. Not having any come to mind we started on "Mary had a little mozzarella, a little mozzarella, a little mozzarella, Mary has a little mozzarella, as shiny as it could be..." and "Stir, stir, stir your milk, vigorously around the pot, merrily, merrily, merrily, keep it kind of hot."

As you can tell we were having a great time and could well use some legitimate cheese songs to celebrate this wonderful activity.

So we are wondering if anyone knows of any songs that are used for making cheese and if you would be willing to share them with us.  If so, please send them to and we will publish them in this blog for others to share.

When we were looking online for songs, we came across many blogs where the authors spoke about singing along to rock music, etc. while making cheese.  There are also several videos on UTube which include funny songs about cheese. Here's a cute one:

These are the workshops we mentioned above:

 Appalachian Workshop  May 16-17
This will be a relaxing event hosted at Ricki and Jamie's home in Ashfield, MA. This 2 day session will be a chance to get comfortable with singing 3 and 4 part harmonies in small groups. The leaders have an amazing way of getting a group comfortable with a song and then breaking the group into smaller groups. You will be surprised to find yourself singing your part on your own (or with another) as part of a trio. 
This music is catchy and very intuitive. The individual attention from these three leaders is reassuring and helpful. We'll eat healthy meals together, hang out, socialize, and have a concert and jam session Saturday evening.
Sorry- This workshop has been filled.

May 22 - 23
South African Singing and Dance Workshop with Matlakala Bopape

We have discovered that the previous email on this incredible event had a non-functional email address for contacting us. We still have quite a few spaces available. Please sign up and come!


WHAT: This is an exciting opportunity to learn from South Africa's leading ethnomusicologist, Matlaka Bopape at Ricki and Jamie's Place. This dynamic leader will challenge participants with beautiful songs of South Africa incorporating the dance movements which she finds integral to the music.

WHERE: 292 Main Street in bucolic Ashfield, MA, the foothills of the Berkshires

WHEN: May 22 - 23 from 9:00 AM Saturday to 4:00 PM Sunday

WHY: This is a rare opportunity to immerse yourself in the beautiful melodies, rhythms and movements of this inspiring music and to work intimately with the best!

HOW: Reserve a space by sending a check for $150  (plus $25 per night for lodging) made out to: Ricki Carroll at PO Box 85, 292 Main Street, Ashfield, MA 01330. For more info call 413-628-4568 or email us at

Who is Matlakala Bopape?

This musical dynamo has been conducting the Polokwane Choral Society since 1986. She has led the choir to top prizes in South African competitions and festivals, and on tours to Europe and North America. Since 1991, she herself has often captured the prize for best conductor. She is also a composer, who created the choir's Tonic Sol Fa number Dinoto.

Matlakala's endless patience, careful attention to vocal technique, and rich repertoire of folk and contemporary South African choral music make her a formidable teacher.These skills and knowledge, coupled with her radiant personality, make her sought after to adjudicate at home and lead workshops abroad.She will conduct choral workshops during FOSAPA's Eastern Canadian tour with the Polokwane Choral Society.Following the tour, she heads to the Village Harmony summer camp in New England, where she will be teaching for her fifth year.She has also given workshops in the U.K. and Italy.

Matlakala Bopape received her training in history and music appreciation from the University of Witwatersrand.While doing her MA studies in African Language and Literature in London, England, she studied voice and choral techniques part-time at the London School of Singing.

Ever since her days in teacher's college, Matlakala has been conducting choirs.As a teacher, she conducted girls' choirs, boys' choirs and mixed ones, and represented the Northern Province nationally on several occasions.In 1979, she also became part of a group that founded the Seshego Choral Society, now known as Polokwane - a community-based group with the aim of nurturing musical talent in the African society.She continued her association with the choir during those early years, while studying full-time at the University of Witwatersrand.In 1986, she took over the choir's reins following the death founder Sefoloko H.H. Ramokgopa, with whom she had co-founded the choir, and whom she assisted.

With Polokwane, she has dedicated herself to drawing out musical excellence by increasing the self-esteem of her choristers.

Beyond her music-making capacities, Matlakala Bopape finds herself involved in many other activities on behalf of the choir and individual members, as well as the music community at large - not the least of which was launching the African Meropa International Choral Festival in 2003, the first such event in Limpopo province, and the first folk-singing festival in South Africa. She fund raises for underprivileged choir members, teaches students in the choir and assists them in their musical studies as needed, and helps with job-seeking skills and placement.She assists schools, churches and other community choirs with music, and encourages conducting skills in others within the choir.She also adjudicates in music competitions in schools and churches.

Polokwane is Matlakala's avocation.She works as regional director for the Technikon SA, now University of South Africa in Limpopo Province.As well, she is involved with rural education, and trains rural women in indigenous jewelery making.

Matlakala Bopape
- mat-la-KA-la boh-PAP-ay (ay as in say)

Address: Ricki Carroll and Jamie Eckley
POB 85 or 292 Main Street, Ashfield, MA 01330
Phone: 413-628-4568    email:

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