2018 Classes

2018 SummerSongs Classes (more to come!)

Songwriting 101
with David Roth

Never written a song before? Brimming with ideas that are all dressed up and  no place to go? No ideas at all? 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 through a different lens at this wondrous art form. We’ll write every day, 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, 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.

Guitar Arranging for Singer-Songwriters
With Pete Kennedy

Pete has a lifetime of experience backing singer-songwriters on the road and in the studio. His early travels with Mary-Chapin Carpenter led to a steady gig as a member of Nanci Griffith’s Blue Moon Orchestra. He can be heard playing the opening guitar solo on Nanci’s Grammy-winning CD,”Other Voices, Other Rooms”, and his work with Nanci involved backing her numerous songwriter colleagues, including Emmylou Harris, John Prine, Guy Clark, and Townes Van Zandt as they would show up to collaborate with Nanci on a song or two. Each singer had their own artistic approach, and for Pete the challenge was always to “zone in” on that and play in a way that would frame their lyrics and bring out what they wanted to communicate to the listener. That education was invaluable when he joined forces with fellow Blue Moon orchestra alumnus Maura Boudreau and they became the married Kennedys. Each song on their dozen CDs started as a guitar arrangement, and that is how they are performed live. Pete is thankful to the many mentors who taught him to play with taste and imagination, and he looks forward to mentoring aspiring singer songwriters in developing their own guitar arrangements. This will be a “master class” format, which means that it will be driven by the students’ own performances. Play a song, and Pete will help you get the maximum depth and breadth from your guitar part.

Performance Class: Overcome Jitters and Connect with Listeners
With Maura Kennedy

Maura has been singing for audiences since she began staging her own shows on the back steps at the age of five. She’s been perfecting her stagecraft ever since, and her adult life has been spent traveling the US and Europe. She’s always shunned tricks and gimmicks, focusing on making her listeners feel the depth and breadth of a song as deeply and passionately as she does. To help you do the same, Maura will show you how to overcome nervousness before and during the performance, establish and keep a connection with every listener, and portray the kind of confidence that draws the audience in. Maura uses relaxation techniques, meditation, a panoply of stagecraft tips, and positive constructive feedback to show you how you can put your song across in the most effective way. You love the songs you sing, so overcome the obstacles that block you from showing that love to your listeners! Come prepared to play one song for the group.

Singing with Your Heart, Body & Soul
with 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.

Harmony for Everyone
with David Roth and Glen Roethel

No better time in this world than now for some harmony! Join David and Glen in an all-levels exploration of singing together. This will include some basics on harmonic principles, locating the “wheelhouse” of your range, finding and holding your part, and singing fearlessly and whole-heartedly. We’ll explore 3-4 parts on as many songs as time will allow, and through our practice will start to train our ears to find our “place in the choir”

The Rhythm Guitar Workshop
with Maura Kennedy

Maura grew up with the guitar goal of being a great rhythm player. In her early bands, she kept the drummer right in tempo, and at a recent session in New York City, the bandleader told the bass player, “Stay in tempo! Follow Maura’s right hand!” Besides keeping a perfect groove, she specializes in coming up with parts that “sound like a whole band”. Her strong rhythm playing was the bedrock of many Nanci Griffith tours, and being a singer and songwriter, she knows how to use dynamics to bring out the lyric of a song and make one or two guitars get a big sound. There is a lot of music in that instrument, and Maura will show you how to get the most out of it. She’s also a truly caring teacher, and she brings out the fun in learning!

The 5 Things That Will Improve Your Guitar Playing Now
with Pete Kennedy

(Intermediate) The one simple exercise that will do the most to improve your playing. Triads: One bit of theory that will get you playing up and down the guitar neck. Modes: They’re a lot simpler than you think, and they will open up your solo ideas. Harmonics: Your guitar has a wider range than you think! Cool Chords: Pete shows some of the voicings that George Gershwin and Ray Charles used to kick the blues to the next level

Shadow Songs
with Steven Prasinos

In psychology “shadow” is a Jungian term referring to unknown, unsaid or unwanted aspects of the self. The shadow is the source of inspiration and healing. To explore the shadow requires courage. Without this courage, we are in a rut or have writers’ block. With this courage, we find the seeds for songs that are fresh and energetic. Such songs are healing for the songwriter and for like-minded listeners. In this class, we will study the process of converting shadow material into song. We will see how compassion, group support, and curiosity make the shadow less threatening. We will see how universal shadow material is. As a class, we will support one another in transforming shadow seeds into songs. These songs may be confessional (direct), narrative (stories), silly (exaggerated) and so on. The class environment will be playful and supportive. Students will be free to choose to share their explorations or not. The student will leave the class with a clearer understanding of how inspiration works and the treasures that lie within us. The class is not group psychotherapy but rather a chance to experience how the heroic songwriter ventures into the cave of oneself for the sake of art.

Musician’s Palette
with Vito Petroccitto Jr.

“The Musician’s Palette” is much like a painter’s palette of colors, only our paint you can hear! The painter has colors to paint a picture we can see. They’re beautiful colors, some straight, others blended together to create gorgeous tones for our eyes. The musician has the same thing, only our colors are sounds like chords and scales! In this course I will show you the relationship between notes, chords, scales, keys, and how they all work in concert together to bring us beautiful pictures we can hear! Please join me in exploring the wonderful views of sound. Applies to instruments of all kinds! It also will help you develop your jamming skills and give you more tools for your songwriting toolbox. If you’ve ever been stuck using the same four chords over and over again, this information might give you a new boost to get out of that rut! What you could walk away with: A better understanding of theory; Knowledge of which chords go together in any given key; Vito’s “Page of Relations” (which is like throwing the circle of fifths at the wall and having all of its secrets become totally apparent; An understanding of the Nashville number system and then some. I’ve been teaching guitar for many years so I’m sure there will be something to gain here! Let’s get to painting!!

Writing a Humorous Song
with Sue Riley

Having a humorous song in your set can go a long way towards endearing yourself to any given audience. Much humor will come from the delivery, but a songwriter can use tailored methods and tools to make a song funny. A humorous song is different than a parody and can even poke gentle fun at the songwriter if written in the first-person. In this class, we’ll explore different kinds of funny songs and the components that go into them, then we’ll build our own from the ground, up.

How to Prepare For and Successfully Do a Recording Project
with Mark Dann

An architect wouldn’t put up a building without a blueprint. Start to finish, Mark will take you through the whole process sequentially through the week ~ answering the basic questions before spending time and money: Play and sing at the same time or not? Record to a click or not? How to record simple demos at home first to answer the above questions. Have other musicians present at the first session or not? To have a producer or not, practicing routines, etc. Mark will go through everything you can do before you take the big leap. Then comes a discussion of several recording and production techniques – the pros and cons of click tracks, singing separately, overdubbing musicians, etc. Without a plan, you might be painting yourself into a sad-sounding corner. Mark will cover several possible scenarios, with lots of examples. Recording vocals from A to Z, editing, mixing, and mastering. This is a masters degree in five days from a highly seasoned and transcendent music maker.

Mid-day Potpourri
with Mark Dann

Master musician, engineer, and SummerSongs staple Mark Dann will again offer his mid-day variety of different one-time classes which will include guitar setup and adjustments, basic chart writing, learn how to accompany anybody on the bass in one class – even if you’ve never held a bass in your hands before – and Garageband 101 (Mac users). Come to any or all!