ember is a community choir and polyphonic singing course for all levels based in Wisconsin, directed by folk musician Anni Zylstra. We sing songs from old polyphonic singing traditions with a primary focus in Balkan, Georgian, British Isles, and nature-based rounds & harmony songs. Whether you're looking for an accessible and fun opportunity to connect with the places of your lineage through song, or simply stretch your voice into exciting new territories and reap the many health benefits of group singing along the way, ember is for you!  
We are a queer-friendly crew open to folks of all genders, ages, and backgrounds. This group is anti-racist, trans-affirming and does not use gendered singing methodology. We practice cultural appreciation and exploration, and seek to combat the default of cultural ambiguity many of us learned in white supremacist society by naming the lineages and origins of our music and the wider contexts from which they emerge. 

We learn primarily through oral tradition style call-and-response - the original ancient format for music making  - along with word sheets, which helps make this music accessible to all. Having fun, learning incredible music, honing our songs, honoring rich folkloric traditions, and building community through in-person practices, meet-ups, and gatherings are our primary focuses, but we will schedule a few performances throughout the year.
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Dry Leaf

How it works:

• This course is hosted & recorded as part of a live choir experience. Virtual participants are invited join a local group of live singers weekly in southern so-called Wisconsin and become part of the choir from afar. This hybrid model allows distance guests to experience the full harmony and spontaneity of real time singing.

• It is also an option to take the course on your own schedule as a self-paced experience, including making up missed live classes, using the recorded weekly zoom session and online materials. 

• After completing registration, you'll receive the full package of materials: Zoom link, Google Drive access, course materials, and be invited to a live introduction and orientation call on September 29. 

 This class is suitable for singers of all experience levels, and is especially well suited for those new to polyphonic musical styles. Online participants are muted for the duration of live classes, but are able to hear and sing along with full live group harmony. Our music is taught in the oral tradition with word sheets as support, and thus is abundantly accessible to beginners AND more advanced singers. If you'd like to take the course with other local singers to create your own live harmony experience, we encourage you to invite local friends to join the course as well, or reach out and we can try and connect you with others enrolled in your area to get together and sing!

If you're looking for the in-person details and registration, you can find them here

What's included:
• Access to live Zoom classes with our in-person group on Thursdays, 7-9 PM CT

• Links to 20 hours of class recordings for make up, review, and self-paced learning

• Access to recordings and individual practice tracks for each song, song lyrics and translations, cultural information relevant to the music, and other resources

• Access to an active community of fellow singers and learners
• Invitations to yearly in-person singing gatherings / retreats 

This hybrid model of learning is experimental, and online participants are extended members of the live class experience. The class is not a polished, finished product, but rather a fluid and happening experience you are a part of. You will experience all of our live, real-time chaos, laughter, questions, and sense of community building, and in that, learning in a highly authentic, imperfect way. If you're joining us online, we ask that you offer us your patience as we navigate the imperfect technologies available to us as we share this offering.

About Anni

Anni (she/they) is a folk singer, basketmaker, farmer, and queer magic sower based in the unceded land of the Oceti Sakowin and Ho-Chunk people in so-called southwest Wisconsin. She believes that folklore is a living, embodied, and essential practice that can help connect us to the land, our histories, and to each other, and be one of many tools in helping unearth patterns of systemic oppression rooted in domination and colonization. Anni is not an expert musician, but has been singing all their life and specializes in making complex music digestible and accessible for beginners and anyone who wishes to learn. They have a decade of experience leading oral tradition singing and hosting welcoming spaces for singing in community. In recent years, she has had the privilege to travel to the Balkans, Georgia, and the British Isles to learn music, and loves to learn the lessons more traditional (and especially non-capitalist) cultures teach about how to live a good life. 

Ember Fall Season
10 Weeks
October 6 - December 15
Thursday Evenings 7 - 9 PM CT
via Zoom
Registration Closes September 29!

Class FAQ
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How to Register


1. Review our Sliding Scale Guidelines to determine your registration level.

2. Choose your sliding scale tier ($100 - $250)

3. If you're paying with Venmo, scroll to the first registration form and fill it out completely, open your Venmo app and send your dues to @anniezylstra with just an emoji in the comment box! 

4. If you're paying with a card or Paypal, scroll to the second registration form and fill it out completely. Payment is accepted directly through the form.

5. If you're in need of a payment plan, reach out and we can set up a monthly payment.


We are very happy to offer this course on a sliding scale basis to our extended community, especially because similar online classes to this one value in the $500 - $1000 range! In the spirit of folk, we want the material of this course to be as accessible as possible, while also honoring all the time, energy, and skill it takes to offer a class of this kind. Scholarships beyond the discounted sliding scale rate are available for BIPOC and disabled members who need support in joining.


Because the course can be self-paced, we are open to international participants - just select the box for international registration in the Paypal & card form.


Refunds are available until the first day of class, Oct 6.


If you're looking for the in-person registration option, please view our Ember Viroqua page as many class details are different for local participants! 

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