Contemporary Folk Week - July 28-August 3, 2013
HEART OF GOLD:
YOUR UNIQUE STORY & SONG (Joe Crookston)
There is a Georgia O’Keeffe quote that I love, and I’m paraphrasing: “The parts of ourselves that we are most self-conscious of are the parts of ourselves that are most uniquely true to who we are.” I see my work as a person and as a songwriter to access THAT quirky/true part of myself and tell THAT story. In this workshop, we will travel along musical, instrumental, emotional, mystical, humorous and personal roads as we explore the many aspects of a powerful song and performance. Everything is interconnected: the melody, the imagery, the emotional core, the bass line, the lyrics, the phrasing and our commitment to being ourselves. This is a creativity workshop where we will write together, we will sing together, we will laugh and we will mine for gold in those quirky, hilarious and deep places inside ourselves.
SWIMMING IN THE RIVER
OF YOUR SONG (Sloan Wainwright)
This is our time to create songs from a place of freedom, flow and fun. Each day we’ll show up and allow ourselves to dip into the waters of creativity – we will listen, we will write, we will mine ideas and marry together music and words. Using games and prompts, we will practice being in and writing in “non-edit” mode and see where each of us are led. Through examples and discussion we will play with our ideas and open ourselves to inspiration. You’ll leave the class with a whole new outlook on your songwriting process, with new skills to help you grow as an artist, and a new song to sing. Jump on in...the water is fine!
THE DIALOGUE OF CREATIVITY (Cosy Sheridan)
Generally, when we write a song we tend to do it alone. And unless we do a lot of co-writing, we tend to think of our creative process as private. We often spend a lot of time developing an authentic individual songwriting style. Can we open up that private space and still maintain a sense of self in our songwriting? This week we will each set the intention to write a song. On our first day we will have a guided meditation to open the door, and we’ll help each other find meaning in that experience. During the week we will use partner and group exercises and games to help us explore our own song as it is being written. We will create a safe place to explore how it feels to have others enter our private creative process.
WRITING MELODIES (Cliff Eberhardt)
We’ll start with a brief history of melodic writing and then show how to incorporate a melodic vocabulary into your songs, including what to look for to get out of melodic repetition. Bring in songs that are incomplete or songs that you feel need improvement, not songs that you are married to or have already recorded. You’ll be asked to start with just a verse and a chorus to work on, no complete songs until later in the week. We’ll talk about how to insert different chords and use different intervals of your existing songs to improve your melodies, how to make the songs have more memorable melodies, and how to insert intros, bridges and endings. By the end of the week we will try to reconstruct your work into a complete beautiful song. Usually during the week most students start to get it and add their own suggestions. That’s when I get to take cat naps. The point is, I’ve never taught this class where the students didn’t have a great time.
WHERE YOUR SONG WANTS TO GO
AND WHERE IT WANTS TO LIVE (Cliff Eberhardt)
Sometimes when we start a song we think we know what’s best for it, but believe it or not, sometimes we don’t. Songs take on a life of their own. We think that we’re the mapmakers but occasionally a song wants to take a different or new route. This class will be about freeing your songs – to learn that at times changing course in the writing is what the song wants. What the song wants the song should get. We’ll hear your songs, I’ll give my critique, then we’ll have a class discussion on what works and doesn’t work. We’ll want to know why you wrote the song and where you wanted it to go. We’ll give each other examples of how songs have changed course in midstream and how we followed the new idea. By the end of the week we’ll have listened to the rewrites and be awed and amazed at the progress that we’ve made.
GETTING FROM GOOD TO GREAT (Sally Barris)
This is a class for songwriters who want to take it up a notch. There are songs, and then there are SONGS. What makes a song magic? What gives it the mojo to transcend time and space? How do you reach a wider audience and even get to a pro level? Each student will receive in-depth feedback, a full tool kit of strategies, and new skills that will widely broaden their songwriting horizons. Please plan to share one song and bring copies of your lyrics to share with the class.
HITTING TOO CLOSE TO HOME (Sally Barris)
Ironically, what is most personal is most universal. In this class we will focus on dealing with difficult subject matter in songs. As writers, we write about everything and everyone. Part of our job is to make sense of the things that don’t. How we deliver that song can make all the difference. So whether your song is personal or political, etc., we will create a safe zone and learn poignant, tactful and sometimes funny ways to express ourselves. Plan to bring a song you’ve been working on that challenges you and pushes you a little out of your comfort zone. This song could end up offering the greatest gift.
SONGWRITING 101 (David Roth)
Let’s roll up our sleeves together and start at the beginning. This all-levels class is geared especially towards those who are new to the craft but also to those who simply might like to strip down their own process a bit by looking at songwriting through a different lens. We’ll write every day (I’m lyric-driven – I usually start with words and see where they lead me), brainstorm compelling individual themes worth writing about, examine the different elements that make a song, and engage in lively dialogue/exercises/demonstrations on topics like sculpting inspiration, developing universal truths from personal stories, the marriage of lyrics and music, tackling tough subject matter, and being honest. We’ll also have fun in a safe, playful, supportive, permissive, and powerful environment and with any luck (luck: the intersection of opportunity and persistence), and as time allows, we’ll get to hear some of these new creations during the week. We’ll also use one session to do a group co-write of a custom-made song for a sick child and his/her family for the Songs of Love Foundation in New York...very meaningful and powerful.
GRAIN OF SALT (David Roth)
Here’s an interactive and participatory opportunity to air out a song (or part thereof) that you might like some input on. You’re in charge of your song and you get to make all the final decisions, but what we can offer one another is food for thought. We’ll hear these works-in-progress and become a collective think-tank about what’s working so far and what might be improved upon in a supportive and constructive environment. There’s a lot to be learned by witnessing the process too, so it’s also an opportunity to hone your listening and feedback-giving skills as well as a chance to ponder all the elements that make a song click. Everyone will have a chance to be heard during the week, and we’ll bask in the beauty of our different points of view. Fun, friendly, playful, substantive, and all taken in with a you-know-what.
SINGING WITH YOUR HEART,
SOUL, AND BODY (Sloan Wainwright)
Inside each of us lives and beautiful and unique instrument, so let’s sing together with joy and freedom! In this workshop we will move our bodies, soften our hearts, open our mouths and let our voices out to play. With an emphasis on vocal health and self care, we will use a combination of vocal warm-ups and work-outs – traditional and non-traditional – to help relax, release and strengthen the voice, making it more flexible and reliable. Individual attention is offered as well as to the group as a whole, and each student will be supported in developing their own personal vocal practice. This class is for singers and non-singers alike.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE SONG (Siobhán Quinn)
This is intended as a next step for prior students of the Vocal Clinic class, but also available to those with a bit of vocal experience. We’ll spend the first day on basics, getting everyone on the same page, then immediately focusing on tools to capture your best performance in songs of your choice. There will be individual work/performance and interactive vocal warm-ups each day. Everyone will learn crucial vocal and performance skills for translating technical singing skills into excellent vocal performance of songs – whether humorous, sensitive, deep, dark songs, or the wailing blues. Siobhán may even use video to record and show you exactly what’s happening when you sing.
VOCAL CLINIC (Siobhán Quinn)
This class is for road-weary, occasional and even “never before” singers, especially guitarists! Everyone has a unique sound from the physical make-up of their vocal cords/resonance chambers; learning vocal technique will help you claim your songs with your voice! Siobhán uses classical/modern technique as a foundation for vocal flexibility while helping you to maintain individual vocal personality. We’ll work individually to explore and enhance your voice and you will develop a personal basic regimen to maintain skills you learn in the workshop. Siobhán is an encouraging teacher who will help you to bring out the best parts of your voice within each song you sing. Be prepared to work on two songs – one you love to sing, and one you really want to sing. They do not have to be your own and a capella is just fine. We will cover 1) vocal/breath warm-ups leading up to advanced workouts, 2) physiology of the voice, how to use each part – knowledge crucial to getting the most out of your instrument, including vocal health issues, 3) specific issues and exercises for songwriters/guitarists, such as posture with instrument, lack of breath, singing flexibly within your range, positioning and strengthening exercises to shake out the unsteady parts of your voice. We’ll work toward songs in the second half of the week, and how to translate the emotional intention of a song effectively.
STAGE FRIGHT, STAGE STRENGTH
(AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN) A & B (Livingston Taylor)
(Note: This class is offered twice; once in the morning, then repeated in the afternoon) Walking on a stage and facing an audience is an act of bold, courageous presumption. The notion that we have the right (and the need) to ask that our vision be seen and heard is a daunting request of strangers. No wonder people are terrified to go on stage. Let’s figure out why we want to do this, why it’s OK (even essential) to ask that our light be seen, and then DO this for one another. To allow ourselves to fall into the “mosh-pit” of an audience (a metaphor only, I won’t be teaching that technique), to accept their verdict about us (good or bad) with the grace that this is our vision and that we need them a great deal more than they need us is our goal. It is wonderful to be fear-free on stage.
SHIVERS AND GOOSEBUMPS (Joe Crookston)
Would you like your listeners to get goosebumps when you sing your original songs? Would you like to become more confident in sharing your music? We will explore numerous ways to sharpen these skills, and learn to be better communicators when presenting songs. This workshop is about looking inside ourselves to find the best, most authentic way to write and perform songs with the skills we have. We’ll talk about and practice guitar/instrument techniques, fingerpicking ideas and “sonic spices” that can help your songs shine. We will explore why dynamics and arrangements are so useful in conveying a song with clarity and power. This workshop is for everyone who writes songs or would like to learn more about the process. Participants will delve into their own song ideas and deepen their ability to craft songs that connect deeply with others. Come ready to play, grow, learn, and make beautiful music.
INTENTIONAL PERFORMANCE (Ellis)
Connect To Your Audience By Fully Embracing Who You Are. Every concert is different, but every audience wants the same thing: to feel moved and connected to the music you are making! Magic happens naturally when there is ease, joy, and a shared sense of a real connection between an audience and a performer. It can happen in the unexpected imperfect moments and there are practices you can use to strengthen your sense of balance and “play” in your performances. You are the only you in the whole wide world. So how do you allow yourself to be as full and bright as you can be and as the world needs? In this class, we will examine how to identify and use your music mission and we will explore how to prepare mentally and musically so you can fully ‘show up’ at every show!
Guitar & Creativity
MASTER CLASS (Janis Ian)
This will be a traditional master class, normally offered on the university level and to colleagues in the arts, focusing on the role of and history of the artist through the ages and up to the modern world. We will be covering story-telling as it spread from the Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal to the ancient Greeks and those ugly Romans, the Dark Ages, the medieval troubadours and their role in spreading the news, the Renaissance, and why syphilis gave rise to the “artist as lunatic” perception. We’ll pay attention to fear and its affect on us as creative persons, the poetry and consciousness of wood, what to do when the well runs dry, the importance of both craft and talent, and the impossibility of living up to your ideals. There will be quotes and song illustrations as well. Students will be asked to read 3-4 short stories about artists before class begins. Contact me at email@example.com for copies of same. Please bring a kazoo. (No class limit)
BEYOND THE FOURTH WALL (Janis Ian)
What are the things no one talks about? Yes, you can talk about them here!!! My morning “Master Class” will have a very defined fourth wall; it is an instruction class, not a discussion. Conversely, the afternoon class will be a guided free-for-all. Participants are encouraged to bring any and all questions and thoughts about art and business; discussions are expected. There will be a few guest interviews of select instructors and students, conducted by me and covering everything from “How political are the Grammys?” to “What do female performers do when there’s no bathroom available?” to “How can I age gracefully in a youth-skewed market” and “Why do I even bother?!” and “How can I convince my family to give me my college money and let me spend it making a CD instead?” Both classes will take advantage of the fact that I’ve been doing this since I was twelve years old. I am 61, so I must have learned something by now. Chiefly, I no longer have anything to lose by telling the unvarnished truth. Bring questions you don’t think anyone else will answer. Bring your doubts, bring your confusions, bring your anger and pain. We will sort through as much of it as we can, and become stronger in the making. (No class limit)
TIME & TOOLS OF A SONGWRITER (Ellis)
Right-Brained Approaches To Time Management & The Creative Process.Setting aside songwriting time has always been challenging for me amidst a busy touring schedule, being a mom to a toddler, and doing all those music business-y things on my to-do list. About a year ago I was officially diagnosed with ADD. This new understanding of my awesomely powerful creative right brain and not so powerful executive functioning helped to me understand why traditional left-brained time management and organizing skills haven’t worked for me. In this workshop I will bring inspiring ideas, stories, as well as easy daily practices that will help you be more open and creative. I will also be offering friendly tools for time management that are designed for us wandering creative minded songwriter types who want out of the box! I have found that structure is freedom and I can’t wait to show you these tools.
INTRODUCTION TO OPEN TUNINGS
& PARTIAL CAPOS FOR SONGWRITERS (Cosy Sheridan)
Using open tunings or partial capos can effect a song even as we are writing it - sometimes inspiring a new emotional tone to the lyric or a new melodic idea and taking it in a direction we would never have found in standard tuning. In this class we will learn three basic open tunings and a couple of partial capo configurations and we’ll see how they can affect our songs. If you are writing a song during the week, bring it in and see what happens each day as we try a modal DADGAD tuning, or a sweeter Open G tuning, or we try putting an E sus capo on the 4th fret. We’ll see how our instrument can take our songwriting in a different direction.
JUKE JOINT BLUES (Guy Davis)
Come one, come all. Participate - with any instrument - in some tasty blues classics like “Little Red Rooster” and “Hoochie Coochie Man”. We’ll focus (but not exclusively) on the Delta, Piedmont, and Chicago style blues songs and rags, and if you want to share a folk, country, rock, ballad, original, any kind of song, you are welcome here. Singing is encouraged even if you’ve never sung in front of anyone before. The one thing we’ll ask of one another (from novice to expert and all in between) is that we listen attentively and adjust our own “volume” so that even the softest voices can be heard. Suitable for all levels.
HARMONICA: HANDS, RACK, AND BOX (Guy Davis)
Be prepared to have some serious fun. If you want to learn harmonica come to this class. Guy will teach you the regular scale, the blues scale, how to bend notes, and no matter what level you’re at, he’ll help you get better. Jesse Fuller, Doc Watson, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Guy are all guitar and “rack” harmonica players. They play both instruments at the same time with the assistance of a harmonica rack, leaving both hands free to play the guitar or other stringed instrument (“box”) at the same time. Students will need a diatonic key of “A” harmonica (bring others if you have them). Guy will begin with harmonica basics for all levels, then progress to “hands-free” as the week unfolds. This free-wheeling workshop will leave you with a few new songs AND the ability to play harmonica along with your guitar or other stringed instrument.
GUITAR TOOLS: STRING THEORY FOR GUITARISTS A & B (Ray Chesna)
(Note: This class is offered twice; once in the morning, then repeated in the afternoon.) Ray ties it all together and breaks it all down. Be it your own personal style, your songwriting, blues, bluegrass, new age, Celtic, pop, jazz; the one thing that they all have in common is THEORY. This fun and involving course will explore melody (scales) and harmony (chords) in understandable terms and with simple concepts. The insightful, practical instruction will enable the student to easily apply the concepts to the guitar. This has been a popular course for several years now, and, of course, Ray has some new tricks up his sleeve. This year we will be spending more time on chords, chord progressions and deconstructing classic songs. Clear, helpful handouts will allow the student to bring this information home for continued study. Repeat offenders always welcome.