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Vocalist, Songwriter, Vocal Mentor, Improv Singer



Vocalist, Songwriter, Vocal Mentor, Improv Singer

The Regions Own: Patti Shaffner is a local Singer/songwriter Mainstay.  Her clear Bell-like tone is soothing and appealing to varied audiences and musical tastes. Jazz, Folk and Musical Theater and others

  First Runner Up: Acorn Theater Songwriter Competition     July 2015    "I Don't Do Country"

First Runner Up: Acorn Theater Songwriter Competition

July 2015

"I Don't Do Country"

Patti has studied Improvisational Singing with Mistress of Improv: Rhiannon and continues writing songs as spirit moves her. 

She performs Solo, with Her Husband David Cowan and with SongSisters, a folk trio. She has opened for the legendary Michael smith and won numerous awards for her songwriting. Additionally she has been active in community theater for over 25 years and has awards for performance and been recognized for her directing. 


1st Runner Up this year for my song:

'Dance Among The Stars' 


"Blessings" - First Prize Winner

Singer/Songwriter 2016

The 17th Annual Great American Songwriting Contest


A Song about Blessings - written for my friend and mentor Kalani Souza




Take a listen

Featuring SongSisters: Amy Dixon-Kolar and Sue Fink on "Different Eyes"

Patti is a ‘natural’ singer with an understanding of the profound need to express ourselves through our voices. Her own journey into Improvisational Singing has developed over a lifetime of creating melodies, invented language and performing, eventually leading her to venture into jazz and ’scat’ singing.

In 2004 she attended a workshop with Bobby McFerrintitled “Spontaneous Invention” and her horizon of vocal improv expanded . In 2008 completed ”All The Way In”, a master class with internationally recognized Master of Improvisation, Rhiannon.

In addition to performing as a jazz vocalist and solo singer/songwriter, Patti is a member of SongSisters  - along with Sue Fink and Amy Dixon-Kolar - together they combine talents and share harmonies and ideas on stage.  

She coaches others in finding a way to use their voice without fear of judgement and delights in singing improvisational music with others who are learning to let go and move into the moment!

"Ashes to Ashes" an original tune performed together with Waz and Buddy Pearson at Valparaiso University Center for the Arts to benefit WVLP 98.3 FM

Short clip of Patti's arrangement of Lennon/McCartney's "Can't Buy Me Love" - Leandro Lopez Varaday on Piano and Scott Pazera on Bass.






What's Going On & Where & When


What's Going On & Where & When




SongSisters Live at Davenports - July 2013


Performance Dates

Click on any venue name for details and location

June 22nd


Concert & a Movie Series

Westchester Public Library

Thomas centennial Park

Chesterton, Indiana



(Held at the Library Service Center in the event of rain)


June 29th

Patti Shaffner & David Cowan with Amy Dixon-Kolar and Jeanne Arrigo 

Wishbone North

3300 N. Lincoln

Chicago, IL

7 to 9PM



July 20th

Patti & Leandro Lopez-Varady

Concert & a Movie Series

Westchester Public Library

Thomas centennial Park

Chesterton, Indiana



(Held at the Library Service Center in the event of rain)

Calendar page

  For information or to schedule workshops, lessons or performances

Contact Me:

Name *


Classes and Workshops

"Singing is about listening, not about being heard. When we listen, the song can at last be sung." ~ Patti Shaffner

Classes and Workshops

"Singing is about listening, not about being heard. When we listen, the song can at last be sung." ~ Patti Shaffner

I have developed and facilitated a number of workshops and in-service introductions to improvisational singing.  These ‘classes’ open doors to greater vocal flexibility and creativity whether participants consider themselves ‘singers’ or not.

Workshops and Classes

  ~ Singing In The Circle

  ~ Singing The Awakened Heart

  ~ Individual Coaching

  ~ Singing Vigil

  ~ Improv 101 for Students                

 Singing In The Circle

Singing in the Circle is improvisational singing.  No text - no lyrics - no sheet music.  It is about creating in the moment.  It is not necessary to be a confident singer to benefit.  Feeling free and more relaxed while singing with others leads to new perspectives, allowing groups to become more cohesive.

This is a  perfect workshop experience for all types of singers: Students, Choirs, Self-proclaimed ‘Non-singers’, Aspiring Singers and Professional Singers as well as Groups and Organizations with a desire to connect with each other for a greater sense of community and cooperation.

  Singing the Awakened Heart

The human voice is an amazing tool for healing. Take this opportunity to learn how to create your own unique healing sounds.  You will also be introduced to overtone techniques and chants.  Allowing yourself to listen and feel into your own body with sound will take you into the journey of awakening your Heart and your own voice.

Participants should wear loose clothing and bring a blanket or mat to lie on.

  Individual Coaching

Those who desire an opportunity to explore their own vocal creativity will benefit from one on one coaching.  We will focus on both speaking and singing vocal qualities and evaluate strengths and areas for improvement.  Anticipate a non-traditional approach intended to elicit your untapped potential.

  Singing Vigil

This four hour workshop will give you an opportunity to learn to sing in a group with the focus on ‘giving back’ to those in transition.  The transition may be one of leaving the body - or traveling the path of difficult change - or recent trauma.  Begin learning the skills that will allow you to listen with deep intention - to be present - to blend with others and to find the healing sounds and songs that are ‘in the moment’.  Chants, rounds, toning and songs will be touched upon in addition to improvised song.  Each participant will have the opportunity to receive song as well as to give song.

  Improv 101 for Students

The Crown Point Indiana High School Choir Class learn the basics of Improv Circle Singing

Students in High School, Choirs, Groups and Organizations can learn basic listening skills as well as spontaneous invention of vocal song.

“You can’t do it wrong! You can make different choices, but you can’t do it wrong!” is the mainstay of this class.

I can come into the school during class hours as a resident artist/teacher or set up specific workshop time and space.


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What Are They Saying



What Are They Saying


"Patti's music and presentation are flawless, insightful, and beautifully rendered. Each song is a tasty morsel to be relished. I feast on her music every time I hear it. "
 - Suzyn C. Mills
Former Director, Acoustic Renaissance Concert Series Hinsdale, IL

"Patti is a talented vocalist and has found a unique way of relating to her audiences. Her original compositions combined with well chosen standards leave the listener wanting more."
- Scott Pazera, Professional Bass/Guitarist

"I cannot remember the last time I was overcome with emotion through song. Patti Shaffner's CD 'Everything Changes - again' started to raise goose bumps on my arms and my feet began to tap."

- Janis Moore, Post-Tribune

"Having had the pleasure of knowing and playing piano with Patti of the past several years, I can vouch for the fact that she is one of the area's top Jazz Vocalists. Her love for the music shows in her outstanding interpretations of the songs of others and in the singing of her own compositions."
- Billy Foster, Professer of Music Emeritus and Professional Musician

"In addition to being a fine singer, Ms Shaffner is a talented composer.  Her compositions exhibit a blend of witty lyrics and funky soulfulness that makes them both entertaining and stimulating to listen to." 

- Darrell Tidaback, Professor of Music, Notre Dame

"Patti, your voice is killer!!! I really enjoyed listening to you, Buddy, and Waz together! Smokin'! I thought the next thing that was going to happen was the stage going up in flames!"
 - Melissa Latronica-Welsh, Sax Player

"Whatever she sings, she brings it to life!" 


Photos - Near and Far

Past Peformance Venues Include:

Fox River Valley Folk Festival Geneva, Illinois

Chicago Street Theater - One Night Jam Series - Valparaiso, IN

Wishbone - Chicago, IL

Two Way Street Coffee House -                  Downer's Grove, IL

Concerts on Creek - Rockford, IL

Uncommon Ground - Chicago, IL

Davenports Piano Bar - Chicago, IL

Front Porch Music - Valparaiso, IN

Acoustic Renaissance Concerts - Hinsdale, IL

Just Goods - Rockport, IL

Lake County Folk Club - Gurnee, IL

Sage Restaurant - Chesterton, IN

Paul Henry Gallery - Hammond, IN

Towle Theater -  Hammond, IN

Westchester Public Library Concert Series - Chesterton, IN

Miller Bakery Cafe' - Miller Beach, IN

Memorial Opera House - Valparaiso, IN

Big Island Brewhaus - Big Island, HI

Maxine's - Michigan City, IN

Francesca's Famiglia - Barrington, IL



Improv Singing

 Spontaneous and in the moment...Once sung, never heard again.  No "wrong" way....only different choices...always choices.

Improv Singing

 Spontaneous and in the moment...Once sung, never heard again.  No "wrong" way....only different choices...always choices.


What is Improv Circle Singing

Circle Singing is a vocal improvisational technique in which singers adopt text-less, melodic and rhythmic chants that are layered over one another in a seamless whole. Singing tones without words frees the mind from expectations or preconceptions building an exhilarating creativity unique to the moment.

Circle Singing typically begins with one person offering a simple revolving lines that is repeated. Additional lines are layered over the first, creating harmonies and counter-melodies. The sum of the parts often results in beautifully inter-woven songs and complex rhythms. One of the most enjoyable aspects of circle singing is the creativity which emerges spontaneously.
— Tomme Maile - Trybal Revival

This clip is from a benefit event titled “Life As Improv - The Sweet Spot At The  Aquatorium” - June 6th, 2010 combining the efforts of Circle Singers from Kalamazoo, Michigan and Northwest Indiana and Dancers from the South Shore Dance Alliance

What evolves is not intended to be duplicated.  Working outside structured boundaries allows individual expression, spontaneity and experimentation which creates a different experience each time.

Like any improv sometimes things work brilliantly - sometimes, not so much - but for me it is like Life.  We all have stunning moments when what we have surrendered to moves through us in a stream of consciousness that shines through.  We also have those less than generous - less than connected moments when we seem to falter and stumble.  Circle Singing in and of itself brings people together in community allowing both aspects - or rather - many aspects of ourselves to be expressed.  Each person has the opportunity to be part of the whole and individual at the same time....

This is such an ancient way for humans to come together... in song.  Groups that sing together in this way find a way to be at peace with each other if only for the time that they are connect in song.

We are so used to performances being rehearsed and pre-arranged.  This is an opportunity for people to experience something wonderfully flawed from the beginning and wonderfully perfect whatever happens!!!

In this often offbeat contemporary life and time we live in, we sometimes find ourselves without a constructive way to give voice to all the joys and frustrations, challenges and successes that we experience.  As little children we sang because it just felt good to express our current reality in the most primal of ways.  We opened our mouths and let the sound come out about the spaghetti on our plate or the color of the sky.  We didn’t censor it or think of it as ‘not good enough’. 

On October 20, 2010 the Crown Point High School Choir students had their first public performance of completely improvised song.  Since I was without a voice that night they were on their own to create their own music and I am so honored and so happy for them and for the deeper creativity that this process awakens.... Enjoy!

Nowadays we tend to compare ourselves in a very unnatural way.  We think that if we don’t sound like someone from ‘American Idol’ or the latest musical flavor of the day, that we therefore cannot sing.   Maybe we were told that we didn’t have a good voice so we stopped singing and believed what we were told.  We learned that if we didn’t ‘measure up’ to the one that everyone thought was so wonderfully talented - that we should just be quiet and find something else to do with our creative energy.

So I invite you to re-think your voice.  No comparing - no self-deprecation.  There is no way to do it ‘wrong’.  We can always make a different choice.  


Quotes and Such...

Various thoughts and quotes on music and singing

Quotes and Such...

Various thoughts and quotes on music and singing


From my friend:

Peggo Hodes - A Vibrant Voice

Toning is effective for focusing your energy whether sung aloud or silently in your head. The brain processes the information of the sound the same whether you sing out loud or silently. When doing it silently, let you lips, breath, and mind move as if you are singing out loud. This is the power of visualization.