Lyrics First (Daily class)
Ah, the age-old question for writers: Which comes first—lyrics or music? While there’s no wrong answer, Levy is an advocate for prioritizing the poetry/prose. In this class, he’ll teach you the step-by-step method he has used to pen more than 100 songs. You’ll also learn how to adapt his system to suit your own strengths and weaknesses.
Introduction to Open-G Tuning (Workshop)
Bored with standard EADGBE tuning but befuddled by the alternatives? In this one-hour workshop, you’ll learn a handful of easy-to-grab shapes in Open-G tuning that will get you through just about any song. You’ll also learn how writers like Joni Mitchell, Keith Richards, and Mark Knopfler have used this tuning to craft iconic songs.
“Hooking” the Listener (Daily class)
In this three-session class, we’ll discuss song hooks and their function, identifying them in songs and citing our all-time favorites. Then we’ll do exercises to find great hooks that will elevate and carry your song. And we’ll work on integrating the rest of the lyric to support the hook.
How to Feel at Home on Stage (Workshop)
In this one-hour performance workshop we’ll discuss various aspects of stagecraft, including mindset and presence, how to connect with your audience, how to be comfortable with a mic, and other technical aspects of performing. Bring your axe and a song to share.
Rhymes With Orange (Workshop)
A lyric kernel lands in your lap like a wind blown buck. Now what? Expand it to a full line, flesh out a verse or chorus—but what about the rhymes? Push the limits of the rhyme box, as your lyric language expands too. Odd rhymes, soft rhymes, bold rhymes, internal rhymes, perfect rhymes—they often surprise the writer as much as the listener. Turn a few happy accidents into something you love to sing by way of the rhyme.
Melody Spaghetti (Workshop)
Just as a song lyric takes us somewhere in our listening mind, the melody delivers it to our doorstep. However a chorus and verse lands, the melody is the tool and tie-in for what we get to create. Birds do it so well, and so can we. We’ll throw some melodic spaghetti at your lyric walls and see what sticks.
LATE FOR THE TRAIN
Copacetic Co-Writing (Workshop)
You don’t always have to go it alone as a songwriter. This hands-on class will walk you through the art of the co-write, with exercises you can use to collaboratively write lyrics and melodies to build musical arrangements that are greater than the sum of their parts.
The Art of the Simple Solo (Workshop)
Soloing doesn’t have to be fancy! We’ll walk you through the ins and outs of taking solos from both sides of the mic. As a songwriter, you’ll learn some useful tools to know when and how to prompt fellow musicians to take a solo successfully in your song. If you’re a soloist, or want to try soloing for the first time, there are a few tricks you can use to write (or even improvise) a tasty solo while staying true to the vibe of the material.
Build a Bridge Over Troubled Water (Workshop)
Sometimes a song just needs… something else. Whether simple and straightforward or bold and adventurous, bridges can be great tools to help a song land with the listener. We’ll take a look at this mystified element of song structure in broad daylight, inspecting its strengths and weaknesses to make sure it can hold weight.
Chords and Melodies (Workshop)
Severin Browne has been called a “Chord Guy” for many years because he delights in finding unique harmonies for his melodies. In this workshop, he will take you on a ride through some fabulous songs, and demonstrate how to use the secrets in these songs to make your own memorable. There will be a small serving of music theory so you can understand how to apply the secrets in whatever key is preferred.
Harmony Choir (Daily class)
Camp Choir is more than just a choir. It is a class on how to create and sing harmonies, and work on a couple of songs to be sung at the end of camp! There is something for every singer of every level. Come learn how to sing well with others!
“What Would Stephen and John Do?” (Workshop)
In this song starting workshop, we’ll explore the songwriting techniques of two of our late greats, Stephen Sondheim and John Prine, to find quick, easy and fun ways to start your lyrics.
Cosplay Wordplay (Workshop)
In this one-off, lyrics-oriented workshop we’ll be generating a trunkful of material to use for a song about a character other than ourself. Each participant will choose from an array of things to wear to inspire them to become that character (cross-dressing encouraged!), and will use as prompts a wide range of questions provided to flesh out their song’s subject. No need to write a lyric at the workshop, we’ll just enjoy stretching our creative limbs. Bring pen and paper.
Morning Stretch & Tunes with Troon (Daily class)
Start the day with Troon’s voice tuning and toning, and tuning your body too. Stretch your body and voice, wake up and warm up for an amazing day.
Troon plays banjo, fiddle, and guitar, so look for her “at large” in camp, coaching and chipping in on songs.
Running the Basses (Workshop)
Accompany anybody on the bass after one class? Yes, it can be done. Bring a bass if you have it, or just a guitar if you don’t. If anyone coming to camp has a spare bass to loan to others, that would be great.
GarageBand 101 (Workshop)
Have a Mac? Then you have GarageBand and you can record yourself on it.
Song Charts and Cheat Sheets (Workshop)
A lyric sheet with chords written above it only works if you already know how the song goes. What if you need a chart to give to someone, or to remember how your own song goes? We’ll address all this and more.
Mark is also the camp Guitar Doctor. Yes, he diagnoses and fixes guitars. And Mark is a staple at our evening coffeehouse shows. Grab him for help on your song arrangements and/or tap him to be your backup band leader.
All Teachers & Coaches
Writing Hall for All/Pick Your Poison
Friday–Sunday, 3:30am–5:30pm, stay in the main lodge or find a special spot to work with our teachers and coaches, with peers or by yourself. Improve your instrumental chops with our teachers; refine your lyrics or melody with a coach; jam with others in the Crafts Lodge; practice at the Amphitheater Open Mic; or go on a Haiku walk with Arturo.
Have you ever been stuck on that one verse, or been unable to find a graceful exit out of your song, or just feel that your song needs some luster? Fret not! Our teachers and coaches are here to help you finish up and get your song polished for Sunday night’s New Song Coffee House!