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. Some of the classes have materials that you can download and keep.

Packaging Your Song

Joe Craven

There are many ways you can package a song; genre/style, instrument choices, different arrangements, etc,. “Producing” a song can make a great song fall flat or make a mediocre song a mega hit! Take a traditional song and make it indie pop; take a brand new song and make it sound 100 years old. Looking at things differently is part of a long, grand tradition in Folk Music. Bring completed or partials of songs and let’s have a great time playing dress up with those awesome ideas of yours!

Improvisation For Better Songwriting

Joe Craven

A refreshing look at the disciplined practice of spontaneity in word and sound play, jump starting your ideas and keeping your songwriting movin’ & groovin’. We’ll explore the concept of “word salad”, the value of scatting melodies and rhythm reading. It’s Joe’s modern take on the idea of being a “song catcher” not of other’s songs, but your OWN! Get ready to move, write, make sounds and smile.

The 5 Minute Song Start

Rita Hosking

Sometimes the best motivator is a deadline, so, let’s do this. I’ll model the process for you first: topic, brainstorming, zeroing in, random grasping, and then,…is that a verse line,…or a chorus? Sounds like a great song start!

Lyric Tricks

Rita Hosking

Wanna learn some good ways to come up with lyrics, or make them stronger? We’ll discuss and try out patterns, show vs. tell, poetic devices, and rhyme schemes. Be prepared to share!

Three Chords & The Truth

Ben Morrison

Anyone can write a song. All you need are three chords and the truth. In this course we’ll look at examples of popular three chord songs and work on exercises to inspire your own. We’ll delve into basic song structure and simple ways to write your song and make it powerful. Let simplicity free you and your songwriting.

Get Out of Your Rut!

Ben Morrison

Everyone gets stuck in a rut every now and again. All the songwriters I know experience writer’s block. It’s all part of the amazing and ever frustrating creative process. In this class we’ll go over some of the rules and tricks to get you unblocked and get the creative juices flowing again. 

Your Fretboard is a Wonderland

Adam Burns

Have you heard the humans only use 10% of their brain? Well, that’s a myth, but there is mounting evidence to suggest that most guitarists only use 14.29% of their fretboard, which is not good news for the future of original music.

This class is for guitarists who have a good grasp of basic chords and are ready to explore the ‘dusty end’ of their instrument. We will go boldly into the ‘here be monsters’ regions of the double-figure frets, seek out strange new voicings and teeter perilously on the brink of what might be considered ‘noodling’.

We will also make mistakes. Lot’s of mistakes or, as I prefer to call them, ‘mutations’. As any good biologist will tell you; there’s no evolution without mutations. At the end of this class, your musical comfort zone will be just a little bigger, and your songs will be all the better for it.

Fascinating Rhythm

Adam Burns

With its twangs, thrums, clicks, dings and pops, the guitar is an extremely versatile rhythm instrument. As songwriters, we use rhythm to drive our listeners along the journey laid out by our lyrics and melodies. Let’s make the most of all the possibilities that our 6-stringed friend has to offer.

This class is about the notes that you play and, more importantly, the spaces in between them. We’ll start with some exercises that will strengthen your internal metronome so that you can play with syncopation without losing the beat. Then, emboldened by our newfound sense of rhythmic stability, we will let go of the downbeat handrail and drift with grace among the marvels of syncopation and SPACE!

From Start to Finish

Gail Dreifus

I don’t know about you, but I have so many starts to songs, let’s practice finishing them!

We are going to start and finish a song focusing on completion rather than writing a perfect song. We will start and finish this song in an hour! The first songs you write in this defined short schedule won’t be perfect. In fact, you might actively dislike them. The important thing is that you know you can write quickly. As long as you keep up this practice you will get use to thinking creatively quicker. Our goal is to write songs that are compelling, true to the character of its performer or writer, and finish it!

Writing Songs for Kids and Writing Songs With kids

Gail Dreifus

During this pandemic, how better to educate and spend time with kids than on Zoom, social distancing and having creative fun?

Gail will encourage you to get in touch with your inner child and write from a kid’s perspective. Being silly, creative, writing 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” 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 whatever you use to write with, a sense of humor and wonder with you.

Maximizing Your Vocal Potential

Cheryl Lockett

Introduction – The voice is organic and considered by many to be one of the most powerful instruments on the planet. Each voice is unique. Fitness, good posture and breath support are essential elements in order to maximize the best vocal potential when singing or speaking.

Objectives – The primary objective of the session is to introduce vocal concepts needed to improve the quality of sound, and develop a tone equally pleasing at all dynamic levels. Specifically, vocal anatomy, vocal health, posture and breathing; how to establish a solid foundation of breath support for singers and speakers, to manage and sustain their individualized sound will be presented.

Live Sound Class

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 Rita 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. You will get 15 minutes with your mentor so please arrive on time and come prepared.

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.