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.

October 2021 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.

laurielewis2011 Laurie Lewis

Grammy Award-winning musician Laurie Lewis is internationally renowned as a singer, songwriter, fiddler, bandleader, producer and educator. She was a founding member of the Good Ol’ Persons and the Grant Street String Band and has performed and recorded since 1986 with her musical partner, mandolinist Tom Rozum. Laurie has twice been voted “Female Vocalist of the Year” by the International Bluegrass Music Association and has won the respect and admiration of her peers.

Laurie is a dedicated teacher, both in one-on-one sessions and in workshop settings. In her words: “I’ve taught music, fiddle, songwriting, vocal styles, harmony singing for many many years. I’ve organized and run camps: Bluegrass Week at Augusta Heritage Center for ten years, and Bluegrass at the Beach up in Oregon for fourteen. Recently, I’ve been teaching at a camp for kids. It’s just so great to watch them grow up and get deeper and deeper into the music, and to feel like somehow you’re some little part of it.”

Find out more at Laurie’s website.

Joe Craven Talkin'Joe Craven

An award-winning educator for over 30 years, he has presented at well over 500 schools, universities, civic and community groups. Joe has paneled at the American String Teacher’s Association and he is a keynote clinician at a wide variety of music retreats and school residencies. He is Executive Director of RiverTunes and Vocali Music Camps in California and he’s been a Master of Ceremonies at a variety of events, notably Delfest, Hangtown, Grand Targhee and Telluride Bluegrass.

Whether presenting to communities in Costa Rica, corporate heads in Contra Costa, Goodwill Industries, The United Way, young men in juvenile detention centers, families in homeless shelters, a university lecture in Washington, jamming with Gnawa musicians in Morocco, on stage at Carnegie Hall with Stephane Grappelli, or at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall in Scotland balanced on a 12 foot ladder singing with an angel food cake pan in front of thousands of school kids …no matter who and what Joe’s connected with, he’s at home and loving every minute. ‘Everything Joe touches turns to music,’ says mandolinist David Grisman, with whom Joe played for almost 17 years. 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 Burns Small

Adam Burns

Adam Burns is a musician and educator based in Mariposa, California. Adam draws on art rock, post-punk and new wave influences to create dynamic and melodic songs full of rich imagery and wry humor. His lyrics celebrate the strange and magical things that thrive beneath the surface of everyday life in a world where superheroes, witches and arsonists rub shoulders with bored housewives and small town hustlers. His dynamic and agile guitar playing beautifully compliments his gritty vocal style.

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.

Visit Adam’s website to find out more.