Retreat Workshop Descriptions


Many of the workshops will occur multiple times throughout the retreat. Please see the SCHEDULE.
Workshops are organized by teacher’s last name.

To learn more about each teacher, check out our TEACHER BIOS.

Sing Your Face Off | Jonathan Brinkley | All Levels

What is resonant singing? Where does vocal tension come from? How do you get the most sound without trying so hard? How do you make singing FUN? These are the questions we explore in this playful and super-informative singing session. Beginners and pros alike will get something valuable out of our time together. 

Who is Jonathan? 

A singer-songwriter for 25+ years, and a current student in Portland State University’s prestigious Vocal Performance program, I have loads of vocal tips and tricks up my sleeve. I specialize in finding singers’ authentic voices.

Ears Without Fears | Jonathan Brinkley | All Levels

I want to hear your unfinished song! 

In this non-judgmental, positive and inclusive space, we will find out what it takes to bring a new song to completion. As your facilitator, I bring 25+ years of songwriting success (and failure) to our listening circle. My philosophy is that there are no rules in song craft, but sometimes we need guide rails to see where we’re going. I will offer gentle recommendations for how each song can be its best self. Also, if you think your song is “done” but it just seems to be missing something, bring it!

Recording Basics: Essential Skills & Tools for Songwriters  | Lewis Childs | Beginner/ Intermediate 

This course will cover the basics of the recording process. We will explore how you can use your DAW as a songwriting tool, talk about the value of reference recordings and take a look at different ways to craft an engaging arrangement for your song. We will also demonstrate how we use eq, reverb, delay, panning and dynamics, in our productions, and connect you with resources that have helped us in our production process. Ultimately we want to empower you to reach a larger audience, and have the skills, resources and community to create something that you are proud to share! (Open to all levels)

Song Circle with Lewis Childs | All Levels

Borrowing from the songwriter in the round format, this workshop offers participants a unique opportunity to share their songs and a give some insight into their creative process. It’s also an opportunity to get feedback from the group on songs that you are currently working on and we’ll talk about developing strategies for overcoming challenges that come up during the creative process.

(I will add that this workshop should ideally be capped at about 15 participants. Last time this wasn’t a problem but we could consider doing some kind of sign-up so that we make sure everyone in the group has a chance to share)

How to JAM! | Jason Krivo Flores | All Levels

Curious how “seasoned musicians” can just jump in and play with each other or anyone without knowing or rehearsing the songs beforehand? How can you make space for an instrumentalist to improvise a “solo” over your song? How can you easily communicate the basics of your song to other musicians and instruments? (Bass, Drums, or melody instruments).  This workshop will cover many shortcuts, secrets, and tricks of the trade that any musician at any level can use to JAM. Even if you think you have a “tin ear” or think you are “tone deaf” this workshop will have you jamming in no time.

Evening the Odds and “Odding” the Evens… | Jason Krivo Flores | All Levels

What if you were trapped in a box in your musicianship and you didn’t even know it?

What if you’d been limiting yourself to tic-tac-toe when you could be playing chess? And, what does any of this have to do with songwriting?! Well probably unbeknownst to you, every song you’ve ever written is very likely in 4/4 or 3/4—i.e., waltz—time (or a related derivative double or triple time signature). But, did you know that outside of America most cultures play music in many other fascinating and interesting meters such as 7/8, 5/16, 5/4, 9/8, and the possibilities are endless. Take your songwriting to new and exotic places in this workshop, which will cover the basics of time signatures including: what’s a time signature? How can I change the meter of my song and how do I choose which meter might work best? How can I fit my lyrics and strumming patterns to the new meter?  In this workshop you’ll have a chance to take a song you’ve already written, discover what meter it’s in and change it to something cool and different. No prior music theory knowledge is needed. All will be illuminated.

Creative Individual Intuitive Readings | Dana Hersh | Anyone

Do you wonder how to connect more clearly with your creativity, and learn what might be getting in the way? Dana will be offering 30 minute individual reading sessions to help you gain insight into your creative process and tap into the knowledge of your wise self. Special Soiree Retreat rate: $75 and only $60 if you book it in advance! Limited sessions available over the weekend – to secure your spot, book in advance HERE.  Learn more about Dana’s work here.

Group Sound Bath Experience | Dana Hersh | Everyone

Join Dana for an immersive sound experience to soothe your nervous system, make space for your creative spirit, and come into resonance with self. Facilitated with multiple instruments, voice, and original lyrics. This will be offered to the entire group in the soiree space at the end of the night at 10pm on Friday evening. You won’t want to miss!

Intro to Modal Music | Jay Hogan | Intermediate

Most songs these days can be arranged with 3 chords, some version of I-IV-V. But that system has only been around for a few hundred years. Our ears also recognize and like the more ancient sounds sometimes called “modal.” What is modal music, and how can you incorporate it into your songwriting? This class is light on theory and focuses on practical easy ways to find “that modal sound.”

Glossolalia and Nonsense Rhymes | Jay Hogan | All Levels

Here is another dimension of songwriting for you to explore- glossolalia (aka scat singing or singing in tongues) and the use of nonsense syllables. Both of them play with word-like sounds, using rhythm and textures that evoke feelings. Glossolalia occurs in many cultures around the world. It is often used as a form of prayer, as well as in jazz and other kinds of music. This workshop will allow you to tap into this form of creative expression. We will also examine the use of nonsense syllables, such as in children’s songs or styles like Doo-wop. Along with being a playful workshop, a recurring theme throughout is the nature of vocal sound- all those vowels and consonants and sound systems that allow us to have speech and song.

Rock your Stage Presence with Confidence | Robin Jackson | All Levels

Perhaps you’ve been here: You love performing and you want to share you songs with people, or maybe you haven’t performed much…either way, the experience can sometimes feel nerve wracking. What do I say to people? How do I come off as confident if I feel like throwing up from fear? Am I connecting with my audience? Do people like my song? How do I engage people? 

If any of these scenarios sound familiar, you’re not alone! Creating confidence on stage is an art, just like writing songs. And part of being a songwriter can be not just writing the song, but how you share it to others so they can connect with it, and you, more effectively. 

In this workshop you will learn how to build greater confidence in yourself when you perform. You’ll learn how to make your song as musically and energetically inviting as possible so they can enter into that sacred space with you. You’ll learn some ways to banter, and how to connect with your audience in your own, unique way. We’ll flip the script so you feel less the need for approval, and come more from a place inspired by the words of JFK:  “think not what your audience can do for you, but what you can do for your audience.”

Music as Marriage | Lesley Kernochan | All Levels

Our relationship with our muses is just that, a relationship.  A unique and personal one filled with many struggles and joys.  Sometimes when we see it through the lens of this personification it can be easier to perceive how to tend to it.  How is your relationship with music going?  Are you frustrated, jealous, appreciative, inspired, and/or grateful?  Perhaps all of the above!  In this course we will look at our own unique relationship with Music and inquire how to continue to heal, nourish, and delight in it. 

Music as Manifestor | Lesley Kernochan | All Levels

The power of our lyrics

For thousands of years the combination of words and sound have been recognized for their powerful and healing potential.  Toning, mantras, Kirtan, and more all tap into this capacity for manifestation through invocation.  In this course we will look deeper into this phenomenon and see how to best incorporate it into our songwriting / lyric writing process while still allowing for the raw expressions to be honored.

Let’s explore together and build some confidence! 

Community Singing Circle | Karly Loving | All Levels

Sing grounding, uplifting, life-affirming songs taught by ear. We’ll sing for the joy and communion that we create when we bring our voices together!

Emergent Songwriting | Matt Meighan | All Levels

Songs arise naturally from our own depths and from the world around us. Along with craft, songwriting involves learning to hear and trust the songs that come to us, and trust our own voices to give them a shape in the world. This workshop will offer tools to discover and give voice to songs that are true to your own unique perspective and experiences – the songs that only you can write. We’ll do writing exercises (sharing optional) and explore approaches to starting and finishing songs, getting unstuck, using your authentic musical voice, and cultivating inspiration through deep listening and songwriting in community. For anyone interested in writing songs, whatever your writing or musical experience.

Moveable “Jazz” Chords for Guitar | Matt Meighan | Intermediate

Though a large number of chord shapes and voicings are used by jazz guitarists, there are a few essential shapes that are not difficult to play and are highly useful. We’ll learn a half-dozen moveable chords, and look at ways to use them to add color to your new or existing songs or to play jazz standards. These chords can be played anywhere on the neck, so the same shapes can be used in a variety of progressions in any key. We’ll also discuss the circle of fifths as a tool for understanding and creating chord progressions. For guitar players who can play standard open chords (C, G, etc.) and barre chords and would like to add some new chords to the mix.

Tame Your Inner Critic | Matt Meighan | All Levels

One obstacle to the flow of any creative work is our personal troll, the inner critic – the quick-to-judge voice in our heads telling us that anything we’ve written is no good.  The inner critic finds fault with everything, and likes to use the word “too” – too corny, too angry, too depressing, too rhyming, too . . . fill in the blank. These pronouncements can block creative flow and leave us feeling stuck or overly cautious in our writing — or stop us from writing altogether.

Through writing exercises and discussion we’ll explore ways to reduce the inner critic’s power to inhibit us from using our authentic voice in song.

Wander and Wonder: Writing with the More-Than-Human World | Jennifer Perrine | All Levels

This class, held outdoors on the farm, will guide you in practicing skills associated with shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing—a gentle, meditative approach to being with nature. The class will include several invitations to explore your senses and your relationship with nature, time for written reflection, and opportunities to share your writing. You’ll learn approaches to writing and to being with nature that you can use every day to foster relaxation, connection, and wonder. No prior experience with writing is required. All forest bathing and writing prompts may be practiced seated, standing, or walking/rolling.

Serious Play: Surrealist Writing Games | Jennifer Perrine | All Levels

Surrealist games are practices for circumventing our rational, reasoning mind to unlock subconscious or seemingly irrational forms of creativity. By using play, surprise, and chance, we’ll write in ways that tap into our dreams, our imagination, and our intuition—the extraordinary spaces that help us move through challenging times. No prior experience with writing is required. Some of our writing will be done individually, and some will include collaboration with the rest of the group. Expect a lot of laughter, delight, and mystery as we break through conventional thought and behavior to deeper truths.

Contents Under Pressure: Using Constraints to Stretch Your Creativity | Jennifer Perrine | All Levels

Putting constraints on our writing can feel like a challenge, but sometimes a little pressure is what’s needed to push our writing in a new direction or to find language for what seems unspeakable. We’ll draw on constraints such as lipograms and acrostics, as well as poetic games like bout rimés, to radically depart from our typical writing habits and to discover what happens when we write our way out of tricky restrictions. We’ll write together and have the opportunity to share initial drafts, and you’ll leave equipped with a bounty of new possibilities to explore constraints in your future writing. All are welcome—no previous experience with poetry or constraints is necessary.

Singing Through Fear | Lizzy Ross | All Levels 

For so many of us, singing is a joyful and free experience – except when we do it in front of an audience! What would it take to bring that joy, ease, and freedom into our experience of performing? How can we notice and relate to the fears and challenging physical sensations that often accompany public performance? In this workshop, we’ll explore what happens when we sing in front of an audience, how to move through fear and challenging thoughts, and how to encounter the joy of vocal performance in the present moment. Along the way, I’ll share my experience as a performer and vocalist, including tools and techniques that support free and ease-full vocal expression. Participants may volunteer to work through the process with the class, and/or may join as witnesses and supporters.

Songwriting with the Senses | Lizzy Ross | All Levels 

It’s an age-old adage of songwriting: show, don’t tell. How can we write lyrics that make listeners really feel our message? Object writing is a technique we can use to connect with our senses and communicate rich sensory experiences through our lyrics. In this workshop, we’ll learn the basics of an object writing practice and explore a stream-of-consciousness writing approach. We’ll examine our relationship to our inner critic – and lovingly invite it to sit in the backseat while we go on a fun ride!  Bring a pen and paper, and get ready to practice imperfectionism.

Arrange Yourself! | Omar Ruiz Lopez| All Levels

Welcome to Arrangement with Omar! Are you feeling stuck on a song? Don’t know what to do with that middle section? To me, Music is organic and always changing depending on the time, place and your mindset. In this workshop, we will work on methods and tools to suss out what a song could be by playing with tempo, textures, time signatures, form, and feel. We will listen to songs together and discuss different musical elements before diving into a couple of songs by campers/what we enjoy about them before diving in and taking them apart, piece by piece.

Writing with Others | Omar Ruiz Lopez | All Levels

The creative process doesn’t have to be on your own! It can be a fun and rewarding  experience when done collaboratively, too. In this workshop, we will listen to music cowritten with others before working together on group songwriting strategies, writing to each other’s strengths, small group chemistry, and approaches to finishing songs. We may even get to listen to each other’s creations!

Open Your (Guitar) Mind! | Omar Ruiz Lopez | Intermediate

Tired of standard tuning? Want to increase your instrument’s resonance in different keys? Let’s get to it! We are going to play around with 4 main open tunings I use for guitar before trying them out on some different songs and tunes. Open tunings help with adding depth to your accompaniment while also being able to carry melody. This will be especially useful to your solo writing/playing. Then we will apply some of these concepts and tunings to writing new material. We will cover these in flat picking and finger style guitar.

Group Songwriting Session | Hannah Sophia | All Levels

This group session 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 that will be performed that night at the Soiree! Max of 20 participants, instrumentalists wanted!

Restorative Singing | Hannah Sophia | All Levels

Learn techniques to self regulate your nervous system and help your body to sing with ease. This workshop will include self massage of the face, neck and shoulders.  I will then lead the group through restorative singing exercises and stretches to gently bring awareness to your voice and how it moves through your body. Once we are all feeling calm and relaxed we will sing a few uplifting, simple songs together, then part ways feeling rested and relaxed.

Queer Creative Circle | Hannah Sophia | All Levels

Do you have something queer that you made, or love, that you want to share with other queer folks? Is that queer thing you?! Great! Join us for a moment of sharing queer joy! Bring your favorite songs, poems and instruments-originals and covers are welcome! This is a space for all voices and abilities and is is for queer folks and those comfortable in a space that centers the queer experience. We will have time for both individual and group singing/music/jamming.

Hearing and Playing the Melody of Rhythm Part 1 | Sara Tone | All Levels

Drums provided (limited) ~ Please bring FULL SIZE drums if you have them- D’jembe, Cajón, Conga, Ashiko, etc. *This class will be loud! Come prepared with earplugs if needed, water, an open mind, and clean hands 🙂

How we hear rhythm in music can greatly affect how we perceive and express music. By listening deep into rhythm for the melodic lines that live in pulse and meter we can strengthen our musical perception and creativity.

In this workshop we will dive hands first into learning and playing a polyrhythmic song (more than 1 rhythm) from the Malinke tradition of Guinea, West Africa. I’ll give an introduction to the Malinke lineage that I too am a lifelong student of, with an intro to the D’jembé and Dundun drums we’ll be playing. We will all learn multiple parts, looking at how they fit together to create the unique rhythmic song. It’s encouraged that everyone switch up drum parts at least one time to give multiple rhythmic perspectives.

The goal by the end of this workshop is to have embodied the hearing of melodic rhythm as complex braids and weaves of patterns that exist in time, as woven tapestries exist in space. Deep one…
Looking forward to sharing this with you.Please check out for more info on my teacher Fara Tolno, his foundation and the incredible work they are doing in Guinea to strengthen the quality of life there by increasing access to education, clean water, medicine, sustainable farming and local food.

Hearing and Playing the Melody of Rhythm Part 2| Sara Tone | All Levels

A continuation for people who already took the 1st intro workshop. Experienced drummers are welcome to this class as we will not be doing an introduction.

After revisiting the polyrhythmic song from the first Intro class, we will bring our new skills to another song with just a bit more complexity and push. This is a deep opportunity to get out of the way and let yourself feel the music deeply. A goal for this class is to begin to perceive how polyrhythm is a technology in and of itself that informs how we experience music as we know it today. This class is gonna heat it up, come prepared to DRUM!

Sticky Melodies (Intro to Ear Training/ Interval Theory) | Sara Tone and Jacob Last | All Levels

What is it that makes a melody stick? Earworm much?…We’ve all had songs stuck in our head, for better or worse. Sometimes songs or melodies we can’t even name. In this class we’ll have a broad look at sticky songs through multiple lenses to open our creative palette and inspire our melodic song writing.

In our class flow we will -listen to and name examples of catchy melodies -touch in on interval theory and ear training via piano -have an intro to neuro-science and how music lives and bridges within the hemispheres of the brain.In the last 1/3rd of class we’ll get in small groups with the opportunity to share and analyze each other’s songs with fresh ears, giving and receiving feedback on the melody/feeling/flow of a song you want to share. Come with a journal, open ears, your voice, primary song instrument ie. guitar, uke, banjo.

“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