Sea Chanteys in Wisconsin (and Beyond)


Learn about the history of sea chanteys in Wisconsin, and sing along, increasing your skills related to these types of songs.


Date: September 10, 2022; 2 pm – 4 pm, CST

Skill Level: all

Class Registration Fee: By August 19, 2022: $30.00

After August 19, 2022: $35.00


Sea chanteys in Wisconsin?

Long ago, songs of the oceans and seas made their way along America’s rivers and onto the Great Lakes, gaining a presence in the upper Midwest where many evolved into regional folk songs.  In this way and others, such songs have become an essential part of American music traditions on land as well as water.

Participants will be introduced to a selection sea chanteys and maritime ballads presented in a manner mindful of the music’s historical and modern cultural contexts.  Along with repertoire we will look at basic harmonies, time and tempo, and etiquette for chantey leaders and chorus singers.  While the majority of the material will be a cappella, instrumental accompaniment will be touched upon.  The songs will be approached not as mere curiosities from the past, but as living and relevant art.  Beginning and experienced singers alike are welcome to take part in the positive and supportive atmosphere of this adventure.

Even prior to leading a sea-song ensemble that performed monthly at the Loring Bar in Minneapolis decades ago, John C. Van Orman was well aware of maritime music’s place on the inlands.  He continues to perform this repertoire today, most recently at the North House Folk School Wooden Boat Show.  His experience as an anthropology instructor at Ozarka College, music programs director at the Ozark Folk Center and presenter of children’s music workshops at Folklore Village has provided him the tools to teach in group settings.