Retreat Teachers and Topics

These are our amazing teachers and their offerings. 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!!!

Blair Borax

Yoga Instructor

A dedicated and sincere practitioner, and a Yoga Bhoga-trained 500-hr RYT, Blair shares the practice of yoga as an offering for personal and collective, divine and radical, growth, healing and liberation. Inspired by growing food and making music, she often weaves song, chanting, and metaphors from the natural world into her classes. You can find her on instagram at @blairartthou to get to know her more and find her offerings!


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.

Pete Kartsounes

Songwriting and Guitar Instructor

An award winning singer-songwriter, flat picker, and cutting-edge musician’s musician, Pete Kartsounes is no stranger to life out on the road. He has spent over two decades bringing his smokey soul-filled voice and guitar to stages all over the world. After 19 years submerged in the Colorado music scene, Pete now resides in Bend, OR spending most of his days writing, recording, teaching guitar, song schools, hosting songwriter stages and touring.