Retreat Workshop Descriptions

********Autumn Workshops Announced Closer to the Event! Below are Workshops from Winter********

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

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

Intuitive Readings (Private Sessions) | Dana Hersh | All Levels

Embracing your creativity and putting yourself out on the line is a big deal! It’s a courageous act, and can often bring up a lot. If you are facing blocks in your creative process or challenges in other areas of your life, tuning into guidance from a higher-level perspective is a great way to support your growth process. Dana will be offering 30 minute 1:1 intuitive readings to help you gain insight, move through blocks, and tap into the voice of your authentic self. (Note: this service is at an additional fee. Special Soiree Retreat rate is $80 on site and only $65 if you book in advance! Limited sessions available – book HERE to secure your spot. Learn more about Dana’s work here.)

Group Sound Bath Experience | Dana Hersh | All Levels

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

Restorative Singing | Hannah Sophia | All Levels | Wednesday 1:40-3:20 Soiree Central (UFC)

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.

Silly Songwriting | Hannah Sophia | All Levels | Tuesday 1:40-3:20 Macy Chapel

Using humorous and nonsensical writing tools to get your creative juices flowing. Excellent for new songwriters and people facing writer’s block.

How to JAM! | Jason Krivo Flores | All Levels | Tuesday 1:40-3:20 Soiree Central (UFC)

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.

Stage Presence: The Art of Holding Attention| Jorah Lafleur | All Levels  | Wednesday 1:40-3:20 Macy Chapel

MY SPIN: As a spoken word poet, I have spent most of my stage life with no other engagement tools than my voice, my words and my body. Without a musical instrument, costume, or character to assist me, I have been given many opportunities to explore how to make an attention-inspiring offering to a crowd. The formula that I’ve found successful can be summarized as: Courage + Craft = Connection. I’m excited to share what has worked for me, and to help each person discover the elements that work for them.

SETUP (Courage): Sharing our creativity publicly is inherently vulnerable. We will spend a little time taking stock of what beliefs we hold about how we show up on stage, what past experiences may color our current thoughts, and what sensations arise in our bodies when we prepare to take stage. We will name how we would like to feel, exploring what metaphor or point of focus might help us enjoy more comfort and confidence on stage.

ACTIVITY (Craft): Elements such as our tone, speed, volume, and posture, all affect the way our work is received. We will run through some playful activities that help us consciously build a full palette of vocal effects and emotional possibilities. Through the use of words that are not our own, we can experience a freedom to focus on how we feel using different tactics. Like actors, we will practice making purposeful choices about the delivery of words as vehicles for connection.

Word Harvest: Poetry to Play With | Jorah Lafleur | All Levels | Tuesday 10:15-12:15 Lower Friendship Center and Wednesday 10:15-12:15 The Annex

MY SPIN: Being a teaching artist primarily working with youth during their school day, I am often in a position to witness outer embodiments of my own inner resistances to writing. ; )

SETUP: The blank page can be incredibly daunting. How can we coax brilliance from nothing? How do we get started? How do we motivate ourselves to sit and write even when we don’t feel inspired?  We will spend a little time naming what we may find challenging about writing, and how we’re excited to grow in this area.

ACTIVITY: This will be an opportunity to explore how structure can create freedom. Participants will be given a series of prescriptive poetic exercises and prompts. We will use sand timers to engage in the feeling of doing writing sprints, where we keep the pencil moving and trust the flow wherever it goes, without time to stop and self-edit. After we’ve gathered a full handful of pages, we will begin culling through the harvest, and have a bit of time to share and celebrate any exciting bits, beginnings, or full bounties that can be used for future songwriting or directly as poetry. 

Opening Lines| Ken Gaines | All Levels  | Tuesday 10:15-12:15 The Annex and Wednesday 1:40-3:20 Pacific Woods Lodge

From a listener’s point of view the very first “opening line” they hear whether musically or lyrically is often what makes them either want to listen to the rest of a song…or not.

We’ll explore different ways to approach this then go off to our respective corners to see if we can come up with opening lines or licks that make us want to hear what comes next.

Write a Song with a Famous Songwriter!| Ken Gaines | All Levels | Wednesday 10:15-12:15 Lower Friendship Center

I’ll introduce a song written by one of the “gods” of songwriting and, briefly, talk about it structurally. Then, we’ll each rewrite it…and re-write it again to the point that each writer won’t have to share performance rights with the original.

Recording Basics: Essential Skills & Tools for Songwriters  | Lewis Childs | Beginner/ Intermediate | Wednesday 1:40-3:20 Lower Friendship Center

This course offered by Lewis Childs will cover the basics of the recording process, and talk about different tools that are available to creators. First we will talk about strategies for creating a good sounding demo. We will also 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 | Tuesday 10:15-12:15 Soiree Central (UFC), Tuesday 1:40-3:20 The Annex, Wednesday 10:15-12:15 Pacific Woods Lodge, and Thursday 11:30-1:30 Soiree Central (UFC)

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)

Emergent Songwriting | Matt Meighan | All Levels | Monday 10:15-12:15 Macy Chapel and Thursday 11:30-1:30 Pacific Woods Lodge

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 | Wednesday 1:40-3:20 The Annex

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.

Performance and Presence | Matt Meighan | All Levels | Tuesday 1:40-3:20 Meeting House

Increasing presence during a song’s performance creates a more compelling and satisfying experience for both performer and listeners. Through exercises and discussion, we’ll explore ways to deepen our natural capacity to connect with ourselves, the song, and the audience, whether on stage or sharing a song informally with a friend. We’ll look at working through stage fright and what to do when things go wrong. Participants will come away with tools to use both on and off stage, to deepen presence during a song’s performance and build our capacity for presence over time. For anyone interested in sharing songs, regardless of performing experience.

Optimizing Vocal Wellness for Professional Voice Users (PVUs) | Myla Duane | All Levels | Wednesday 10:15-12:15 Macy Chapel

This session features a comprehensive exploration of the pivotal aspects surrounding vocal health. The speaker explores the nuanced concept of vocal hygiene, unraveling its importance for individuals reliant on their voices in professional capacities. Attendees gain profound insights into recognizing and managing vocal fatigue-related challenges. This session not only equips professional voice users with practical strategies but also underscores the critical significance of vocal wellness in sustaining long-term vocal health and professional success.

Note-Worthy Strategies: Amplify Your Music with Social Media | Myla Duane | All Levels | Thursday 11:30-1:30 The Annex

This session features an exploration of different approaches to elevate attendee’s musical presence in the digital realm. The speaker unravels a set of note-worthy strategies, offering valuable insights on harnessing the potential of various social media platforms to expand reach and connect with a broader audience. Attendees can anticipate gaining actionable techniques for optimizing their online presence, fostering engagement, and leveraging social media as a powerful tool to amplify the impact of their musical journeys.

Free Your Voice, Free Your Soul with Voicestra! | Robin Jackson | All Levels | Tuesday 1:40-3:20 Lower Friendship Center

Use the power of your voice and body 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 and then jam with others as we co-create songs on the spot! 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!

Medicinal “Pocket Songs”| Samara Jade | All Levels | Tuesday 10:15-12:15 Pacific Woods Lodge and Thursday 11:30-1:30 Macy Chapel

There are as many reasons to write songs as there are songs.  But one of my favorite things about songwriting is that it can be an amazing tool for personal growth, reflection, and emotional comfort.  What better way to anchor an intention or reminder deep into your soul than by singing it?  Songs that help you do this can come in all shapes and sizes, but in this workshop we’ll focus on writing short, mantra-style songs that are the distillation of your truth medicine into a memorable nugget you can carry in your pocket for moments when they’re needed.

Alternative Tunings Fluency| Samara Jade |Intermediate/All | Wednesday 10:15-12:15 Soiree Central (UFC)

It can be easy to fall into ruts using the same chords in standard tuning on guitar, and stepping into the world of alternate tunings is like opening up an infinite portal of possibility!   In this workshop, we’ll focus on two of my favorite and most commonly used tunings – DADGAD and CGBDBD (open G).  We’ll learn how to play the basic chord shapes in these tunings, and how to find the chords for songs you’ve already written and cover songs.  This is a game changer for anyone wanting to diversify the sounds of their guitar accompaniment.  For intermediate guitarists.

Hearing and Playing the Melody of Rhythm Part 1 | Sara Tone | All Levels |Tuesday 10:15-12:15 Meeting House and Wednesday 10:15-12:15 Meeting House

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 | Thursday 11:30-1:30 Meeting House

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!

Arranging: Bringing Your Song Home| Shireen Amini | All Levels | Tuesday 1:40-3:20 Pacific Woods Lodge and Thursday 11:30-1:30 Lower Friendship Center

You’ve got a set of lyrics but you’re not sure how to organize them. Or you have a mostly-finished song, but you’re unsure how to make choices for fine-tuning or adding instrumentation. Arranging is the art of putting contrast, function, timing, and accompaniment in service of the most engaging and effective experience of your song. The lyrics and music do most of this work, but song form and intentional crafting of the journey can really bring your message home. Think about songs that lose your interest compared to songs that you want to listen to over and over again. A lot of arrangement choices are intuitive, but many depend on understanding the functions of song sections (like verse, chorus, bridge), the functions of instruments, and having a solid sense of the aesthetic and impact you want your song to have.

In this workshop, we will sit in a circle, go over some helpful information for preparing to make arrangement choices, and offer a number of possibilities for your songwriting. We will give participants a chance to share their lyrics or songs-in-progress and receive support for their arrangement. Whether or not you get a chance to share, you’ll learn processes and possibilities you might apply to our own songs.

Drum and Sing AT THE SAME TIME in Community| Shireen Amini | All Levels | Wednesday 1:40-3:20 Meeting House

In this workshop, we’ll connect with a variety of drums and, working with two main tones, slowly build our capacity to drum and sing at the same time! Why do this? Drumming and singing is an ancient and powerful practice on the energetic, emotional, and spiritual levels. It’s an age-old way to heal and gather strength in community. But also, this skill can enable your growth as a musician, your capacity to support other artists, and your capacity to support community singing.

After laying some foundation, we will learn up to two community songs with arranged drum parts for all skill levels. In this way, we will enjoy the multi-layering of our voices and the sweet satisfaction of interlocking rhythms…at the same time. Taking time to drop in with the ancestral ties of our drums in relationship to our own ancestries as well as empowering ways in which drum and song can support modern movements of social change and community healing will also be important intentions for our time together. This process involves reconciliation, reciprocity, a reclamation of our birthright to rhythm and our joy. All of it. If you are down for this, please join! Some instruments will be provided. You are also welcome to bring your own drum.

“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