Retreat Teachers and Topics

Teachers for our 2023 Retreat will be updated over the next few months and announced as added. Workshops will continue to be updated as the retreat approaches, so stay tuned!

Robin Jackson

Retreat Director and Facilitator

An award-winning songwriter, teacher, activist, and spirited impresario, Jackson has dedicated himself to creating connection through art and music.  He is the founder of the Songwriter Soiree, Director of Joy Now youth program, and performs and records internationally as a musician. In addition to directing the retreat, Robin will be leading a workshop on vocal improv and jamming! “A captivating song-crafter, a true storyteller.” – NPR.

Matt Meighan

Songwriting instructor

Matt Meighan co-founded and directs the Hidden River Songwriting Camp and hosts an annual songwriting retreat in Donegal, Ireland. He has taught Songwriting as Truth-Telling classes in Portland since 2009. Matt’s teaching encourages songwriters to express their own truth in their own authentic musical voice. He studied poetry at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics in Boulder, Colorado, where he earned an MFA in writing and poetics. Matt performs in Portland and around the Pacific Northwest and is currently recording his third album.

Sara Tone

Drum Instructor

Sara Tone has been teaching and performing music in the Portland area since 2005. She is a graduate of the The Evergreen State College and has taught a variety of classes to both kids and adults including Intro to West African Drumming and Community and Performance Choirs. Sara’s strengths are songs rooted in heartfelt messages about life and social justice. She is a consummate song crafter and expert of West African Drumming. She will be offering workshops on drumming as accompaniment, jamming and voice. Sara’s intention as a teacher is to help build strong foundations in rhythm, voice, hearing and feeling music through awareness, technique, and JOY!!!

Nick Harris

Yoga Instructor

Drummer. Musician. Entrepreneur. Yoga. Inspirational Speaker. Dream Chaser! = Spreader of MUSIC, LOVE & POSITIVITY! P.O.P.

Yoga has been the element of life that allows Nick to harness a multitude of robust experiences into a practice based in gratitude, presence and energetic flow. Through disciplined self-reflection and powerful daily self-improvement practices, Nick will arrive to class equally humbled and excited to share the yoga experience with you.

Nick can be found instructing Yoga classes in Portland, OR, and is currently accepting private & semi-private yoga clients.

Stephanie Cooke

Music and Songwriting Instructor

Stephanie is a versatile pianist, performer and instructor with a passion for making music education and artistic expression a reality to all levels and ages.

Stephanie’s music and live performances are an expression of raw vulnerability and honesty; Stephanie believes that by owning her authentic voice, she can empower herself and her audience. Stephanie’s mission is to encourage others to embrace their own creative, unique voices.

Niema Lightseed

Poetry workshop instructor

Niema Lightseed is a priestess of the new paradigm dedicated to transforming oppression through embodiment education, linguistic analysis, art, and ritual. A healing artist since 2004, she writes, performs, and teaches medicinal poetry; offers creativity coaching; teaches about the convergence of liberation politics and somatic awareness; and seeks the marrow of life through a variety of meditative and creative disciplines. Niema will be offering workshops on poetry, writing and unlocking the words within!

Lewis Childs

Songwriting instructor

Lewis Childs is a songwriter, performer, educator and recording engineer based in Portland, Oregon. Born in Los Angeles, California he started playing electric guitar at the age of 13 and studied musical theater at Cuesta College, and vocal performance at the U of O school of Music. He has performed in all over the world and has taught workshops at educational institutions throughout the Pacific Northwest. His artistic collaborations include harmonica virtuoso Joe Powers, Márcio daLari (Brazilian Master of Percussion), Maggie Wheeler (actress and singer known for her work on the popular T.V. show “Friends”), Galen Clark (Trio Subtonic) and Robin Jackson (Singer-Songwriter and musician). Always learning, he is currently studying music production with Martin D. Fowler (composer & multi-instrumentalist who produces music for film, advertisements, & podcasts, and performs with the NYC based Arthur Moon). Lewis Child’s most recent recording is called, “Grace.”He is offering a workshop entitled, “Hey Song, What do you Need?” This workshop looks at how each song can be viewed as an entity that has the power to teach us about ourselves and reach a community of people who can support one another. We will explore concepts of harmony, rhythm, lyric writing and the editorial process and touch on strategies for developing arrangements that serve the song in a variety of environments. “Oh the places you’ll go…” Open to all levels.

Jonathan Brinkley

Songwriting instructor

Jonathan is a singer, songwriter, and music teacher in Portland, Oregon and around the world. Often called “deeply moving” and “emotionally intelligent” by fans, he is known for a unique honesty and musicality that combine to take listeners on their own inner journey. A two-year commitment to writing a song every week has challenged and changed his own creative landscape and developed powerful tools in the process. Now, after three studio albums and many extended tours, he brings these tools to playful yet compelling workshops. His greatest hope is to inspire others to use their own gifts to change their lives.

Ali Boyce

Singing and Song Instructor

Ali Boyce is a singer, performer, multi-instrumentalist, community choir leader, songwriter, voice teacher, massage therapist, and yoga teacher. She has been performing on professional and ramshackle stages for the last 15 years. Her workshop ‘Embodied Singing’ combines yoga, mindfulness, and singing to allow the singer to explore a full-bodied free expression of their voice. She leads song circles in Portland and Milwaukie, and is a member of the Ubuntu choir network. She is deeply curious and passionate about the healing power of singing and the voice and how it relates to creative expression.

Dawn “Zigzag” Montefusco

Poetry and Creativity Instructor

Dawn “Zigzag” Montefusco has been writing poetry and songs since she was five. Today she is an award winning poet and transformational writing coach. She attracts people from around the world who are looking to breakthrough resistance and make an impact with their writing. She is the author of, Write Your True Story: Unleash Your Creativity, Share Your Message and Inspire the World, and a collection of poems, Stay With Me. Dawn graduated from NYU with a liberal arts degree and went on to achieve an MFA in creative writing from Eastern Washington University.  She earned her Transformational Coaching Certification from Erickson College. She will be offering a workshop called, Closer to the Bone: Turn Your Wounds and Struggles Into The Gift of Song.  She teaches how to get closer to the real you and develop your authentic voice to engage any audience.  She will also be teaching a workshop called, Cultivating Confidence on the Spot to help breakthrough performance resistance.

Zak Borden

Songwriting and Guitar Instructor

Zak Borden is a multi-instrumentalist, producer and songwriter weaving vast and diverse influences gathered over 25+ years performing and teaching music. He has toured extensively throughout the US, Europe and Japan and steeped himself in many styles including Brazilian choro, bluegrass, delta blues and traditional Irish music. He is currently pursuing full accreditation to work as a creativity and transformational life coach. He also deeply loves meditation, yoga and partner dancing.

Samara Jade

Songwriting and Guitar Instructor

A modern folk troubadour, Samara Jade is dedicated to the art of listening deeply and crafting soul-centered songs, inspired greatly by the wild wisdom of nature and the landscape of the human psyche.  Her songs, sometimes whimsical and sometimes dark and deep but always truthful and harmonically rich, ride the crest of the unknown and are medicine for personal and collective transformation.

Hannah Gabrielsen

Songwriting Instructor

If you’re wondering what a Teaching Artist is, you need to look no further than the name. I am both a teacher and an artist and my work is deeply rooted both in the arts and education.
I live where pedagogy and artistry meet and I use my work as an artist to inform my teaching and vice versa. 

In the eight years since I started my studio I have successfully crowd funded,  recorded and released 5 EP’s. Posted over 50 (and counting) original songs on Patreon and finished a first draft of an autobiographical musical, all while transforming the lives of hundreds of students through the power of music. 

My career has been a gift, and like all of my creative pursuits, I want to make everything I’ve learned as accessible as possible. I’m passionate about creating and holding space for others to tell their stories and find healing, as they connect to their hearts, through music.