This is where you’ll find descriptions of the classes being offered at the retreat as well as information about mentor sessions and song salon.

Our instructors are currently planning a selection of classes to inform, nurture and inspire your songwriting. Come back later or sign up for our mailing list and we’ll be in touch soon with all the details.

The Art of Songwriting

Mary Gauthier

In this class I will help you understand how to make your songs resonate with listeners. I will work with you and your songs, encouraging you to break through fear-based ruts, and guiding you to take greater risks that will deepen your writing. You will also see other people do their work and learn from watching their process.

We all have to push through firewalls of fear, confusion and self-doubt as we write, and in this class we will see how exposing our vulnerability allows a songs truth to emerge. Once we understand this, our songs will connect us to ourselves and to other beings in ways we never could have imagined. These new connections inevitably bring us joy. All art is a walk from the known towards the unknown. The uncovering and revealing of emotional truth is a powerful source of transformative beauty, the creation of resonant art.

Getting the most out of the Song

Laurie Lewis

The Nature of Songwriting

Laurie Lewis

Writing songs for kids and Writing Songs with kids

Gail Dreifus

Gail will encourage you to get in touch with your inner child and write from a kid’s perspective .  Being silly, creative and performing your song with enthusiasm is the goal of this workshop.  She will share with you ideas on what to write about and provide you with thoughts on how to craft your song to be teachable and entertaining.  Another aspect of this workshop is how to write songs with kids. Gail has been trained as a “Guitars in the Classroom”  (GITC) teacher under the founder, Jessica Barron. Gail is bringing this knowledge to YSR to share easy tips on how to write songs with kids.  Bring pencil, paper, and a sense of humor and wonder.

How to Tame (or quiet) Your Inner Critic!

Gail Dreifus

We all have an inner critic at some point in our songwriting journey.  It is that voice that expresses self doubt, criticism, and sometimes stops us from writing and performing. In this workshop we are going to tackle our inner critic with tips  and ways to make our critic a “friend” and a valuable  part of editing.

Please bring a song or part of a song that you are working on or one that your critic has put on the shelf or garbage can.  Let’s turn this around and make your critic a positive part of your songwriting process. Let’s face our fears and fuel our passion.

Songwriting Gym

Adam Burns

Your creativity is just like the muscles in your body; you need to exercise it regularly to keep it strong and healthy. If you’re going to be a great songwriter, you need to write songs. Lots of them. Some of them will stink, and that’s OK. In this class, you’ll learn several activities that, if performed regularly, will strengthen your creative skills so when inspiration strikes, you’re ready to take on the challenge and finish the song. Come ready to play.

Colorful Chords

Adam Burns

Your guitar chords are boring. Nobody wants to tell you because you seem like a really nice person. But your chords are really boring.

The good news is, more colorful harmonies are, literally, at your fingertips. We’re not talking major finger gymnastics here, just some simple changes to chords you’re already playing to create more compelling accompaniments to your melodies. I promise it won’t hurt. Much.

Vocal Workshop

Suzie Glaze

This special vocal workshop created specifically for students of the Yosemite Songwriting Retreat will center on voice production essentials such as breath control, body relaxing techniques and skills for getting your voice ready to perform your original songwriting. Warm up your voice and focus your personal connection to your songs.

Live Sound Workshop

David Budries

This is an open session to answer any general questions about performance sound including small sound reinforcement systems, personal recording, microphone choices and techniques, signal processing, the challenges of using Zoom sound, and any other sound/music related tech topic.

Mentor Sessions

In addition to classes and workshops, Joe and Laurie will also be available for mentor sessions throughout the weekend. These sessions are your opportunity to have some one-on-one time with our instructors and get specific advice on something you’re working on.

Song salon

Song salon is an opportunity for you to present your works-in-progress to the group and get feedback, ideas and encouragement. Bring us your tired, your weak, your half-written, yearning to be finished. Come ready to share, give feedback, and be nice.