The Kaw Valley Shape Note Singing Association
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A KVSNSA sing...

At one of our regular Lawrence sings

Come Sing With Us!

Beginners are welcome.

Next local sing:
February 19
special time and place
in Lawrence

Our group has been shape note singing in the Kaw Valley (northeast Kansas) since 1991. Shape note singing is a very community-oriented, inclusive form of singing. No experience is necessary, and we charge no admission fee or dues. While most of the tunes in the book we sing from (which dates back to the 1840's) are hymns and anthems, we are a cultural, not religion-based organization. Come see what it is about at one of our upcoming events listed below! On the web, you can visit the Sacred Harp Page or the Fasola Home Page to learn more about shape note singing in general.

For more information about our group, or to get on our mailing list or email list you can e-mail or call (785) 749-1356. Find us on facebook, too!

Our Upcoming Singing Events

We sing monthly, usually on the third Sunday of the month, with occasional adjustment due to holidays and special events. Our new location is is the Oread Friends Meeting building in Lawrence, but it sometimes varies. Check back here for details on our next sings!

Sunday, February 19, 11:30 am to 1:30 pm
Special Location - 814 Kasold Drive.

Join us from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm for a special shape note sing as part of a weekend of music and dance. This sing will be at Lynne Vannahill's, 814 Kasold Drive in Lawrence. Join us beforehand if you can for a potluck brunch from 10:00 am to noon. We hold this sing to help introduce friends from the contra dance and old time music communities to shape note singing, so newcomers are especially welcome. As always, the sing is free. Can't make it right at 11:30am? Don't worry - just get there when you can.

Click for more information on other events of the MidWinter Meltdown weekend.

From the north:
I-70: get off at the West Lawrence turnpike exit. Go south on Iowa to and exit right to westbound 6th Street/US40. Go one mile west to Kasold. Turn left onto Kasold. Go two blocks south, and 814 Kasold Drive will be on your left hand side.
From the south: Take K-10 to US59 / Iowa Street north. Go three miles north to 6th Street. Turn left on 6th Street. Go one mile west to Kasold. Turn left onto Kasold. Go two blocks south, and 814 Kasold Drive will be on your left hand side.

Directions to our new regular monthly sing location: Oread Friends Meeting
The Oread Friends Meeting is at 1146 Oregon Street in Lawrence, KS. Oregon Street is one block west of Haskell Avenue in east Lawrence.

If you are coming in to Lawrence from the east on K-10, Haskell Avenue is a major intersection as you are coming in to town, with a QuickTrip gas station on the near corner. Turn right on Haskell Avenue. Go north 1 1/4 miles to 13th Street (stop sign). Turn left on 13th Street, then the Oread Friends Meeting is a little over a block ahead, the first building on your right.

If you are coming in on I-70, get off at the East Lawrence exit (US-59). Turn left (towards downtown). Continue south, crossing the river, until you reach 11th Street (a T-intersection, about 2 miles from I-70). Turn left on 11th Street. Go east 0.6 miles to Oregon Street. Turn right. The Oread Friends Meeting is just under a block ahead on your left.

Parking is available in the warehouse lot diagonally south and west on 12th Street.

Questions about our sings? phone Brad at 785-749-1356.

Regular Shape-Note Singing Nearby:

City Usual when/where Contacts
Kansas City Meets irregularly.
Rainbow Mennonite Church
1444 Southwest Boulevard
Kansas City, KS 66103

Omaha, Nebraska 2nd Sundays 2pm-4pm
St. Vincent's Church
51st and Lake Streets
Cindy Miserez (402) 850-8553
Columbia, Missouri 2nd & 4th Tuesdays 7:30-9pm
Trinity Presbyterian Church
1600 W. Rollins
Wendy Hofmann (573) 446-1075 or
Penny & Lou Kujawinski (573) 874-1096
St. Louis, Missouri 1st, 3rd & 5th Mondays 7pm
Location varies, so visit for details.
Dave at (314) 776-7477

What It Sounds Like

To those used to the tight harmonies and polished dynamics of modern and commercial music, shape note singing will sound quite different. It is typically sung full voice (no or very few written dynamics), and tends to have more open harmonies. It is done for the joy of singing, not as a rehearsed performance. Traditionally the first time through a song, we "sing the shapes", singing the fa, sol, la, and mi syllables that go with the four shapes of notes (triangle, oval, rectangle, and diamond) printed in shape note music. (So if we were singing the shapes of the four notes in our logo, we would sing sol fa la mi.) The advantage to singing the shapes the first time through is not needing to look back and forth between the words and the music - the shape of the musical note tells you what to sing.

The following mp3 file from one of our sings in 1998 was chosen not for its quality, but as representative of the tunes and process of shape note singing. It starts with one person giving pitching the tune, since shape note tunes are pitched wherever convenient for the range of those present at a sing. Next, the tune is sung once through singing the shapes, and then it is sung through with the words. As you can hear, a few people started with the words by accident, but quickly corrected themselves. Mistakes happen - we accept them. But we also enjoy when a tune falls into place particularly well. Since we are sitting in a square, with one part singing on each of the sides, it can be very powerful when you hear all four parts coming together full force in harmony.

Here is Africa, #178 in the Sacred Harp, sung at one of our sings, in MP3 format.

You can also listen to #217, Ballstown, recorded at our Feb 4, 2012 sing, on YouTube.

What We Typically Sing

There is a tradition of keeping minutes of what is sung at shape note / Sacred Harp gatherings. We don't always get around to it. But you can look here at some of the minutes we have kept to get a feel for which songs we sing frequently.

Tunes sung Feb 2009-Jan 2012, ordered by number of times sung:

Some older minutes:
2003: January | February | March
2002: September | October | November

Some non-shapenote Lawrence music and dance events of interest...

West Side Folk - Folk Concert Series in the Lawrence, KS area.

Lawrence Barn Dance Association - Contra Dancing in the Lawrence, KS area.

International Folk Dance - in Lawrence, Kansas

For more music and dance in Kansas...

Kansas Folk Music and Dance Resource Center Logo Visit other parts of the Kansas Folk Music and Dance Resource Center at for information on other Kansas folk and acoustic music, dance, and heritage.

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This page maintained by Brad Levy. Last Update: 16 February, 2017