At the Yosemite Songwriting Retreat, we chose instructors that are not only great musicians but also gifted educators. These individuals bring diverse skills and perspectives to teach practical skills through stimulating curriculum. Previous instructors include Laura Love, Eliza Gilkyson, Laurie Lewis, Peter Rowan, Terri Roche and Joe Craven.

2019 Instructors

mary-gauthier.jpgMary Gauthier

“With songwriting as powerful as hers, there’s no need to go looking for qualifiers. She’s a unique, intrinsically valuable musical voice. And there’s never a surplus of those.” — Randy Lewis, Los Angeles Time

The Associated Press named Mary Gauthier as one of the best songwriters of her generation and we are very excited that she will be joining us at the 2019 Yosemite Songwriting Retreat. Her songs have been recorded by dozens of artists, including Jimmy Buffett, Blake Shelton, Tim McGraw, Bettye Lavette Mike Farris, Amy Helm and Candi Staton, and have appeared extensively in Film and Television, most recently on Yellowstone, ABC’s Nashville, HBO’s Banshee, and Masterpiece Theater’s Case Histories. Her second album, Filth and Fire was named Best Independent CD of the year by the New York Times. She was signed to Universal Lost Highway, and her following 3 records were listed in both the LA Times and NY Times top three releases of the year. Her record Mercy Now was named in the top 5 records of the decade by No Depression magazine. She was awarded New Artist of the year by The Americana Music Association in 2005. Visit Mary’s website for more details.

joe_cravenJoe Craven

Joe Craven is a musician in the broadest sense of the word. Contagiously curious about musical sound, Craven plumbs the depths and outer reaches of his creativity with a flair for both the whimsical and the profound, as well as a refreshing openness about the vehicle he uses to get there. A former 17-year-member of the David Grisman Quintet, Joe Craven is a one-man band and his tool box includes a wide variety of string and percussion instruments as well as found objects. For 30 years, he’s recorded and performed with an incredibly diverse list of artists, including David Lindley and Jerry Garcia.

A visual artist, former museologist, actor and award winning creativity educator, Joe has a unique gift for transferring his enthusiasm for music to audiences and fellow musicians alike (though the two categories are hardly separate: members of a Joe Craven audience can become musicians by the end of the show). Working with all ages from pre-schoolers to adults, Joe has made his workshops, lectures, and artist residencies the stuff of legend. Director of RiverTunes Music Camp and Co-Director of the Wintergrass Youth Academy, the multi-talented Craven also emcees music festivals nation-wide, performs session work, and contributes music and sound effects to projects ranging from computer games to film soundtracks. Find out more at Joe’s website

gail_dreifusGail Dreifus

Gail Dreifus bought her first guitar at“Goodwill” at the age of 14 and has been writing songs since she could string a series of basic chords together. Starting with songs of protest and heartfelt love songs, Gail also writes about nature and history. Inspired by  living in YosemiteNational Park, she developed a program of original songs  about the park which has been performed for over 25 years for children and their guardians. Her songs are catchy, appealing and it is surprising  to note how much information is incorporated in the lyrics.

Gail has  produced seven CDs for National Parks across the United States and has  performed them with her children’s band, “Recycled String Band.” This  band was formed in 1990, and continues to delight audiences with songs about nature and ecology. Her writing credits include an award from the  National Park Service in Washington, DC for her musical Interpretation and  presentation of national parks and monuments.  Gail has performed at  conventions, libraries, schools, museums, radio and television and for her  students.  She teaches English and History in a one-room school in El  Portal, CA. Aside from writing and performing children’s music, Gail is part of Meltwater Bridge Band, which performs Gail’s original music throughout California. Find out more at Gail’s website.

adam_burnsAdam Burns

Adam Burns is a musician and educator based in Mariposa, California. Adam combines rock, folk, ska and eastern European influences to create music that is both energetic and richly melodic. He performs regularly around California with his band, Bootstrap Circus, and teaches music in El Portal and Mariposa.

Adam grew up in rural England and moved to California in 2004. He worked as a Field Science Educator for NatureBridge in Yosemite for seven years before transferring his education skills to music. In 2010, Adam launched the Beat Harvest music education program with a mission to inspire people to make music and teach them the skills they need to do so. In his teaching, Adam focuses on unleashing creative potential and collaboration with other musicians. His goal is to teach his students not only to play their instrument, but also how to use music to express themselves and build community.