Retreat Workshop Descriptions

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(Workshops are listed in order of the schedule)

Medicinal Poetry & Lyric Writing | Niema Lightseed | All Levels

Poetry is the voice of the soul channeled through words. A blend of intuitive listening and refined crafting that taps into the pulse at the heart of creation and deeply affects our consciousness. One of the ways that we connect with, make sense of, and heal our relationships to both our inner world and the Life around us is through creating art. Through guided meditation and practices to connect with your Muse, writing exercises, and editing tips, attendees will learn a process for more deeply tuning into your life experiences, recording them, and then translating those experiences into art that can help broaden your own understanding and nourish others. Whether you are crafting poems to be read and spoken or lyrics to be set to music, this workshop can help you write words that are meaningful to you, learn to alchemize your experience into medicine, and refine the process through which your lyrical music-making can become a healing art.

Cultivating Confidence On The Spot | Zig Zag | All Levels

Confidence is the memory of success. In this workshop you will be guided through a fun process that will help you reign in confidence by setting you free from stress with incremental steps. This process will show you how to build your confidence in a calm way with the three C’s: courage, consistency and compassion. She teaches a proven method you can use anytime you’re feeling scared or nervous about a creative project or performance. 

Guitar Chops for Songwriters  | Lewis Childs | Intermediate to Advanced 

In this workshop we will talk about what we can learn from making our own arrangements of other people’s music. Explore some common rhythmic figures found in lots of songs that can be used in our own creative work. Dive into differences of tone (electric vs. acoustic) (nylon vs. steel) (fingerpicking vs plectrum) and decide what is right for your song. We will talk about the importance of finding the right key for your voice and how that might change depending on the setting you are playing in. We will look at chord progressions, scales, modes, modulation, voice leading, reharmonization as they relate to the writing process. Briefly talk about open and dropped tunings and how they can be used to inspire new melodic and harmonic ideas in the creative process. And tap into the importance of stretching and identifying tension in the body so that your playing habits don’t compromise your physical well being.

Songwriting as Truth-Telling | Matt Meighan | All Levels

You will learn tools and techniques for starting songs, finishing songs, and developing your own authentic musical voice.  An inspiring, non-judgmental space in which to deepen songwriting practice. 

Songwriters Circle | Hannah Sophia | All Levels

In this workshop we will work together to write and perform a song in 90 minutes. The Songwriters Circle begins with each individual writing and anonymously sharing the joys and challenges they are facing. Hannah leads a group discussion as we read through responses and hone in on our vision. With Hannah’s help we bring our voices together to create a song and a moment that cannot be duplicated! You won’t want to miss this unforgettable experience of emotional expression, freedom of voice and connection. 

Monkeys and Lollipops in Performance!  | Kathleen Hollingsworth | All Levels

Do your fingers shake when you take the stage? Does your voice suddenly stop working in front of an audience? Is your mind telling you hyperactive stories while you are trying to perform? Do you feel fine playing in your bedroom all alone, then everything seems to fall apart in performance? Sounds like you have an out of control, ill-behaved monkey mind! This workshop will dive into why we get nervous on stage, and discuss a few methods to tame that bad monkey, give it a lollipop, and go ask it to sit in the corner while you are busy uplifting the world with your music. Towards the end, we will have a few practice performers try out some Lollipop techniques! *lollipops provided

Merging with the Muse: A Creativity Playshop | Jonathan Brinkley | All Levels

How does a song become a song? What is inspiration? What is writer’s block? How do we make friends with our inner critic, choosing how and when to use that powerful tool? These are a few of the questions we explore in this fun and transformative Playshop. Join veteran singer-songwriter Jonathan Brinkley as he uses innovative games and practices to get to the bottom of the creative process.

Embodied Rhythm & Intro to Drumming | Sara Tone | All Levels

This workshop is open to anyone looking to begin or refresh their relationship to rhythm and drumming. No previous experience required. Finding the melodic quality of rhythm can transform the way you hear and therefore are able to express yourself rhythmically. This class will offer an introduction to timing, feel, pulse and count using our hands and voices. We’ll explore the realms of 4 and 6 count music. The 2nd half of class we’ll get into the power of polyrhythm (rhythmic weaving), an intro to drum technique, then learning a traditional West African break. As we learn about the unique aspects of the different kinds of drums, we’ll explore hand percussion and how it can support songwriters. Drums included in class are Cajón, D’jembe, Ashiko, Conga, Dun-duns, and a variety of small hand percussion. To play these drums, many of them West African, this comes with a beautiful and crucial responsibility to share the history and context of privilege and how to support or get involved in the West African music community locally and globally. Fifteen Drums available for class. ~You are encouraged to bring well tuned full size hand drums.

Voicestra and Vocal Improv | Robin Jackson | All Levels

Use the power of your voice to create a silly cypher of voicestra magic! Learn vocal warm ups and fun ways to expand your voice with confidence and ease. Learn  to beatbox, create sounds and unleash your inner vocal freak. All in a supportive and deeply encouraging container. This workshop is ALL about loosening up and letting your wild, wacky and weird flag fly high! All levels! Guaranteed to expand your confidence and your consciousness!

Songcraft: The Art of Song | Pete Kartsones | All Levels

In this workshop participants will learn a few of my most effective tricks and approaches for the crafting of a song. Such as finding catchy melodies, chord progressions, using less is more techniques, where, when and why’s of choruses and going into the mathematics of lyrics. 

Song Forms – an overview | Matt Meighan | All Levels

Some arrangements of  song parts — verse, chorus, bridge, etc —  are common across genres and over time. Familiarity with these forms can make writing songs easier, and increase enjoyment when listening. We’ll explore the most common song forms used in folk, blues, country and pop, listen to examples and talk about how the forms are typically used. Participants will come away with a deepened understanding of song forms and a variety of forms to use in writing their own songs.  

Closer to the Bone | Zig Zag | All Levels

Learn how to turn your wounds and struggles into art and song! Writing about your private world allows you to connect to universal truths.  She teaches how to get closer to the real you and develop your authentic voice to engage any audience. In this workshop you will peel away any fluff to get into the private places of your soul and create beauty from shadows. These emotions have energy and vitality and create connection with your audience. As we learn to get specific about what’s right in front of us, or deep inside of us, we hit upon truths that allow the audience to be fully engaged.  (Spoken word, Poetry, Song)

Recording Basics: Essentials for Emerging Songwriter Pt. 1 | Lewis Childs | All Levels

This workshop is an introduction to sound recording. We will:

  • Talk about the value of playing in time
  • How to approach the preproduction process
  • Explore affordable tools for making high quality demo recordings
  • Take a look at the value of editing and crafting a dynamic arrangement for your song
  • Cover the basics of compression, eq, reverb, delay, panning and dynamics
  • Demonstrate the creative uses of sampled instruments (midi) in audio recordings
  • Understand the value of having an objective perspective that can give you feedback on your work

Circle Singing | Ali Boyce and Robin Jackson | All Levels

Whether you love to sing, or you’re a recovering non-singer, you’re invited to sing simply for the joy of it! Come to this singing circle to connect with new friends, exercise your voice, gather skills in listening and singing, and soak up the many wonderful health benefits of singing! Ali will lead the group in all different types of songs, from simple melodies, to rounds, layered songs, and several part harmony pieces, all in the aural (by-ear) tradition. Expect to move your body, explore your breath and voice, and connect with yourself and others through song, all in a trauma-informed environment. Singing with others will leave you feeling bliss and belonging in a way you may have never felt it before.

Unlock your Chakra, Awaken your True Voice | Blair Borax | All Levels

Every human being has a unique and powerful voice with boundless potential for confident, clear, and creative self-expression. Unfortunately, this potential can be left untapped or hidden by struggles of self-doubt, shame, or fear of speaking up. The throat (or visshudha) chakra is the energetic gateway between our inner and outer words. It offers us the innate right to speak and be heard. If it becomes blocked, communication can become a struggle.  If it is clear, it can be a source of power and creativity. During this workshop, we will explore meditation, breath work, chanting, vocal exercises, and asana practices that help us to unlock the throat chakra and embrace the power of our own voices.

Take your recordings to the next level (Part II)  | Lewis Childs | All Levels

This course goes into greater detail the topics that were covered in the recording basics class and gives participants the ability take a deeper look at different tools that are used in the recording process. We will:

  • Explore the value of recreating recordings of songs that will inform your creative work
  • Understand the value of reference recordings
  • Look at advanced techniques that help keep the listener engaged
  • Talk about sing sampled instruments, a deeper look at the tools and how to use them

Intro to Jazz Chords | Matt Meighan | All Levels

Learn  the most common  chords and progressions used in jazz and swing tunes, how to use the chords in your own songs, and maybe a simple jazz standard or two. For intermediate guitar players.

Beginning Music Theory for Songwriters  | Kathleen Hollingsworth | All Levels

If your New Year’s resolution is to no longer be intimidated by geeky musicians who talk circles around you about music theory, this class is for YOU! We will discuss triad chord qualities, progressions, theory lingo, and look at how certain chords/progressions can help complete cohesive prosody in your songwriting. *We will not address learning to read music notation in this course. 

Speak Easy: How to Free Your Voice – A Singing Playshop |  Jonathan Brinkley | All Levels

Get ready to learn crazy simple exercises that will unlock your true voice, diminish strain, and bring the fun! Jonathan has been helping students accomplish just that for more than a decade. Singing is our birthright. Let’s do this! All levels welcome. 

Song Share | Pete Kartsones | All Levels

Bring a song that you may want to get some outside help with to the table. Each person shares a song and we all come together with positive input to help out. Maybe it needs a bridge? A chorus? A stronger Melody? Etc…etc. This is a group effort and a beautifully vulnerable place to share.

Ensemble skills: Play your songs with a full band | Lewis Childs | All Levels

Have you ever wanted to hear what your song sounds like with a full band behind it?! We are SUPER excited to offer this experiential workshop for the first time! Participants will be asked to bring a basic arrangement of their song with a chord chart. (If you need help making you, you can get some guidance from a teacher during one of our 1-1 sessions). Each participant will get 15 minutes to play their song with our in-house backing band, which will then be avail for the SAT night performance. Limited to 5 participants only. Must submit

Songwriting as Truth-Telling | Matt Meighan | All Levels

Tools and techniques for starting songs, finishing songs, and developing your own authentic musical voice.  An inspiring, non-judgmental space in which to deepen songwriting practice.

Embodied Rhythm and Continued Drumming | Sara Tone | Intermediate/Advanced

This workshop is best for those who’ve taken my Intro class (Fall ’19 or Spring ’20) or have some experience in hand percussion and rhythm. In his class we will be continuing our exploration of embodied rhythm. Warming up with hands and voice, we will take a more in depth approach to melody and polyrhythm, utilizing both 4 and 6 counts, West African break and call signals, and more complex polyrhythmic  patterns. Going for the ‘brain gym for the win’! Acknowledgement of West African history in context of privilege, as well as how to support or get involved in the West African music community locally and globally. Drums included in class are Cajón, D’jembe, Ashiko, Conga, Dun-duns, and a variety of small hand percussion. Fifteen drums available for class. ~You are encouraged to bring well tuned full size hand drums.

Voice Tech | Kathleen Hollingsworth | All Levels

How does this instrument work we can’t see or touch work? How can we utilize more of our vocal possibilities? How do we take care of this instrument from overuse and abuse? Should I get a teacher or coach? Or a degree? What is head tone? Chest singing? Articulators? Vibrato? Breath support? Is vaping better for your voice than smoking? Come sing and we will find out how we can use this internal instrument to paint more colors in our songs with varying techniques.

“The Songwriter Soiree is music church for me.
I’m inspired every time by the vulnerability musicians embody.


Thank you Robin for creating a cocoon that feels untouched by the outside world. Songwriter Soiree is the medicine we all need right now!

– Uma T