2022 Instructors & Classes

SummerSongs 2022 Class Schedule

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Anne Heaton


Melody & Freedom
We’ll explore a lyric writing prompt on freedom and how knowing “the rules” of melody can set our melodic writing free as well!  We’ll explore 8 aspects of melody, do a writing prompt, and then look at fun game-like ways to select lines for our verses and choruses and create melodies for them!  Let’s see how fun and spontaneity in our approach lead to great places!

Write Your Soul Song
We’ll explore writing a personal song using a powerful blueprint that is ubiquitous (it’s everywhere in popular music, folk music, rap, etc.). We’ll also explore how different parts of the self can uncover distinct points of view that can be used in your song. We’ll engage in a playful exercise and through a step-by-step writing process, I’ll invite you to begin to craft the verses and choruses to your Soul Song.

Bio: Anne Heaton is a singer-songwriter and pianist who has captured audience imaginations for over fifteen years with her songs that are, by turns, “tender, barbed and spiritual” (Washington Post). She’s been featured by the New York Times Music Podcast, played on NPR, at the Sundance Film Festival, and for Lilith Fair (2010). Known for the infectious energy of her live performances – “a natural performer [with] a rich, soaring voice” (Seattle Times) – Anne has played over 1,000 headlining shows nationwide, and has shared the stage with artists such as Jewel, Sarah McLachlan, and jazz drummer Max Roach. Anne has taught songwriting and creative practices at Interlochen, Berklee College of Music, for the GRAMMY Camps, and through her own online songwriting program, Soul Songs School. Anne is currently earning her Master’s in Curriculum & Instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she intends to research the outcomes of songwriting as a healing tool for teenagers. Anne lives in Milwaukee where she enjoys coffee, Lake Michigan, and being a mom to two freethinking daughters. ~ 

Sloan Wainwright
Sloan Wainwright


Singing Heart, Body, and Soul
Singing is fun!  Inside each of us lives a beautiful and unique instrument!  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 workouts, to help relax and strengthen the voice – making it more flexible and reliable. Individual attention and support are offered to each person in class as well as to the group as a whole.

Bring Us Your Song
This playshop will focus on vocal performance and how to put together a simple, playful practice around vocal presentation. Please be prepared to present any song of your choice ~ an original song, a cover, a hymn, a camp song, a chant, even something as simple as “You Are My Sunshine” or “Happy Birthday”!  This will give Sloan the chance to work with as many people as time will allow and share tools and tips for your vocal performance practice.  Feel free to accompany yourself, sing with a track or sing a cappella, and please think about any questions that you have about your singing and what you’re working on in your performance!

Bio: Folk-pop artist Sloan Wainwright belongs to a musical dynasty of impossibly gifted singer-songwriters. Her family tree (brother and folk-music luminary Loudon Wainwright, sister-in-law Kate McGarrigle, nephew Rufus Wainwright, nieces Martha Wainwright and Lucy Wainwright Roche) reads like a who’s who of contemporary folk music. Sloan’s incredible gift is not only her unique songwriting ability but her dramatically voiced rendition of her original songs. Defying standard categorization, singer/songwriter Sloan Wainwright consistently demonstrates her easy command of a variety of American musical styles — pop, folk, jazz, and blues — held together by the melodious tone of her rich contralto. The end result is a unique and soulful hybrid. With a solid and impressive discography of 11 original CD releases to her credit, Sloan continues to write, sing and perform live. In addition, Sloan has written numerous musical compositions for theater and dance and teaches at many of the best-known master songwriter series and workshops. Sloan’s open spirit and first-hand experience are welcomed –year after year– in the musical classrooms of such prestigious song camps as Richard Thompsons Frets and Refrains, Moab Folk Camp, The Swannanoa Gathering, SummerSongs, WinterSongs, WUMB Radio’s Summer Acoustic Music Week (SAMW), and Lamb’s Retreat. ~ sloanwainwright.com

Pat Wictor


Harnessing Poetry for Songwriting
Song lyrics are (most of the time) much closer to poetry than prose, using many of the same devices as poetry.  In writing songs, we’re exercising both musical and poetic skills. We’ll pay attention to the suggestions of rhythm and melody in poems, which can help you in matching lyrics and music as you write them.  We’ll also investigate how recurring sounds, metaphors, and images can give poems and songs coherence and emotional resonance.  And, we’ll explore ways of using poems as springboards to writing poetically (including songs). Reading, writing, and singing.

Break Up Your Patterns!  (Guitar workshop)
We all get in ruts with our guitar playing, and it limits what we can do with our songwriting.  This workshop will give you several different approaches to experimenting and expanding your adventurousness on the instrument.   The more experimental you can be on your guitar, the more song ideas you can generate.  We’ll explore methods of breaking up right-hand picking patterns to give you more rhythmic freedom and create melodic interest.  We’ll also explore ways of breaking up fretboard patterns, to experiment with different chord voicings and movements on the neck of the guitar.  These are things even beginning guitar players can do – you don’t need any special knowledge or experience to experiment!   All levels and experience are welcome.

Bio: Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Pat Wictor is at home in many musical worlds.  Grounded in rural blues and gospel traditions, Wictor’s lean, poetic songs and expressive guitar playing are seasoned with jazz, pop, improvisational surprise, philosophy, and social commentary.  His recent solo CD, This is Absolutely Real:  Visions and Versions of Phil Ochs reached #2 on the Folk-DJ charts and was nominated for Best Tribute Album by the Independent Music Awards.   Pat currently tours solo and in duos, often with jazz vocalist Deborah Latz, and teaches workshops on guitar, songwriting, body percussion, and vocal and instrumental improvisation. ~ patwictor.com

David Roth


Grain of Salt
Stuck somewhere in the middle?  Got a work in progress?  Here’s an interactive and participatory workshop for any songs or parts thereof that you wish to have some input on. We’ll hear these songs-in-the-making and become a collective think-tank about what’s working so far and what might benefit from a closer look.  It’s also an opportunity to hone your listening and feedback-giving skills as we work with each songwriter during the week.  We’ll ponder the many elements – lyric, rhythm, chord progression, key, arrangement, etc. – that make a song click.

Step Up to the Stage
Here’s your opportunity to perform fearlessly in front of your peers and coworkers and hone in on your confidence and artistry.  We’ll use this time to hear everyone and enter into respectful and constructive exercises and discussions about shining moments and ones that can perhaps use a little polishing.  What we’ll strive to do is help one another discover our unique strengths and how to make every performance moment count.  Bring a song you know by heart, a sense of humor, and a willing spirit.

Bio: David Roth is a singer, songwriter, recording artist, and enthusiastic instructor who has taken his songs, experience, and expertise to a wide variety of venues in this and other countries full-time for more than three decades. His work has found its way to Carnegie Hall, the United Nations, several Chicken Soup for the Soul books, the Kennedy Center, Peter, Paul, & Mary and Kingston Trio CDs, the Kerrville New Folk Award, NASA’s Goddard Space Center, the Rise Up Singing and Rise Again (sequel) songbooks, and 15 CDs on the Wind River and Stockfisch (Germany) labels.  David has taught singing, songwriting, and performance at SummerSongs (where he serves as Executive Director), the Augusta Heritage workshops (WV), Common Ground on the Hill (MD), the Woods Dance & Music Camp (Ontario), Moab Folk Camp (UT), the National Wellness Institute (WI), and for many other songwriting groups and associations around the country.  David annually leads musical tour groups to Ireland and Scotland and is creator/director of the Cape Cod Songwriters Retreats which began in 2014.  He’s also organizer/host of the Cape’s Full Moon Open Mic which since 2005 has provided a forum for musicians to connect/be heard while at the same time collecting donations ($16,000 to date) for local non-profits to help neighbors in need. ~ davidrothmusic.com

Steven Prasinos


Shadow Songs
In psychology “shadow” is a Jungian term referring to unfamiliar or unwanted aspects of the self. By exploring one’s shadow the songwriter can find inspiration. This exploring requires courage. Without this courage, we are in a rut or have writer’s 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 week-long class, we will study the process of converting shadow material into song. We will see how compassion and curiosity make the shadow less threatening. Each class will begin with a meditation cultivating these attitudes. We will practice transforming shadow seeds into songs that may be confessional (direct), narrative (stories), silly (exaggerated), and so on. We will see how surprisingly universal shadow material is. In a playful and supportive environment, 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. The class is not group psychotherapy but rather a study of how the heroic songwriter ventures into the cave of oneself for the sake of art.

Bio: Steven is a clinical psychologist, author, and singer/songwriter.  As a psychologist, Steven has had a successful psychotherapy practice for over 30 years.  As an author he has published numerous professional articles, often exploring the integration of psychology and spirituality.  He has given talks on dream interpretation, psychology and soul, and the psychology of music.  He is also a published science fiction author and budding watercolorist.  As a musician, Steven has been writing songs for over 25 years.  He performs, as “Dr. Steve,” throughout Connecticut and fronts “The Dr. Steve Band.”   Steven lives with his wife Nancy in rural Connecticut.  They have 2 lovely daughters. ~ drstevesongs.com

Melinda Wood Allen


Singing in Harmony
Experience the joy of making beautiful music together in harmony – adding depth, fullness, warmth, interest, beauty, and just plain FUN to well-known and new songs.   All voices are welcome!  In this class, we will work on listening and vocal skills to get you comfortable singing harmonies for sing-a-longs, performances, and even developing original arrangements (adding harmonies to each other’s songs) as time permits.  I’ll share tips to help you sharpen your harmonizing skills, and we will perform IN HARMONY at the closing show!  Drop-ins are welcome, but if you want to perform with us, you must be in class enough to learn the song well and blend with the group—at minimum the final 2 days.

Bio: Melinda Wood Allen is an award-winning singer/songwriter/actor and choral director whose joy in life is making music with others, and her specialty is working with those who think they can’t!  She and her choirs and ensembles have performed at Carnegie Hall, in grand cathedrals, on street corners, at state prisons, and just about everywhere in between.  She loves all genres of music, and as well as singing her own brand of original Folk/Americana songs, Melinda has sung with jazz, rock, pop, and country bands, toured with symphony orchestras, and been on the road with the Michael Martin Murphy Band.  Give her a cheese sandwich and she will harmonize with it…and then share it with you! ~ melindawoodallen.com

Mark Dann
Mark Dann

Mid-Day Potpourri

Monday – Chart Writing: A lyric sheet with chords written above it only works if you already know how the song goes.  Learn how to write a chart that other musicians can read.  It’s easier than you think.  Tuesday – Guitar Setup and Adjustments: Learn how to make simple adjustments on your guitar, or at least be able to tell when professional help is needed.  Wednesday – Bass Class: If you can play the guitar, you can play the bass.  And if you can back up your friends on the bass, you’ll get out of the house a lot more.  Thursday – GarageBand 101: Learn all the cool things you can do. Including making really good demos or maybe even a full CD.  Video tutorials are available to take home, so bring a flash drive if possible.  Friday – How to prepare for a recording project: There are many questions to ponder: Play and sing at the same time, or record the instruments first and sing after?  Use a click or not?  if and when to bring in other players. Basically, how to get it started, and succeed.

Glen Roethel

BIO: I got hooked on tape recorders as a young child.  Quite a bit later, I started recording songwriter-oriented albums in the Greenwich Village music scene.  That led to opening a pro-level recording studio in NYC that I ran for over 31 years.  All the while I was constantly playing gigs, and building and repairing guitars.  Hence, my course subjects!


Playing Well Together ~ Ensembles!
If you’re not playing alone, you’re playing together – hopefully well. Ensembles CAN be a train wreck, you know. In this workshop, we’ll break down into little parts some things that might help you prepare. For starters, we’ll look at our basic needs: backing vocals & vocal arranging, rhythm section (rhythm guitar, drums or percussion, bass), lead singer(s), a lead instrument (guitar, sax, oboe, kazoo, paint can), whatever else you want your group to do on stage…dancers??? We’ll be preparing to perform at the Student Show, so it’s best if you stay for the duration, but hey – anything can happen.  In the words of Bryan Adams, “Summer of ’69”:  Me and some guys from school ~ had a band and we tried real hard ~ Jimmy quit and Jody got married … you don’t want to know the rest! Bring all of your instruments and noisemakers.

BIO: Glen Roethel, guitarist/vocalist/songwriter/entertainer, helps kindle the energy of the SummerSongs experience. Study guitar, songwriting, harmony, or performance with him; take part in a late-night jam-singalong-dance party after the evening coffeehouses have wrapped up. He is an award-winning songwriter, a jury-selected performer at NERFA and the Singer-Songwriter Cape May festival, and a 2020 Gold prize winner at the Mid Atlantic Songwriting Contest (MASC) with Us! (his socially-minded trio with Summies Judy Kass & Amy Soucy). You’ll see or hear his songs in a Presidential Museum and New Thought and Hal Leonard Corp songbooks. To Glen’s credit are multiple self-produced CDs and beautiful compilation CDs, plus instrumentation, vocals, production, and co-writes on gorgeous and award-winning recordings by Penny Nichols, Sue Riley, David Roth, Sloan Wainwright, Jan Garrett & JD Martin, and many others. Oh, and come to Ireland with Glen, Sue, and Sloan in 2024! ~ glenroethel.com