I love teaching! I come away from my workshops exhausted and happy, all a sign that I've worked hard and given everything. I teach Songwriting, and the class is called Catch and Release, for that's what a songwriter does: we catch ideas, we catch melodies, we hunt and search and put everything found in our writing books so as not to lose them. When a song is done, baked like a cake in the oven, we release it to the world and it begins to have a life of its own.
Songs are made things. I do liken it to the making of a cake, following a recipe – in my case, writing words, then putting them to music. I can write the other way, i.e. music –to-words, but I my natural bent is the other way round. But I encourage my students to try everything, anything to help the song get born and sing.
So we try a lot of different things. A lot of writing is involved as we make our way toward a finished song. We write to show ourselves the freedom of boundaries; we write to set our system-bound minds free. We write every day and/or every session. Some sessions are an evening for a couple of hours, some take up an entire weekend, some, like Esalen, are 5 days long.
I started teaching Songwriting because I saw that many people who genuinely love music, do not believe this is anything they could do personally. The same holds true of singing or playing an instrument or many other forms of artistic expression. I want to remind you again that art is a "made thing", and as such, can be accomplished. Of course, there are all levels of expertise and courage and interest. Of one thing I am certain: we all of us can learn to express ourselves in a more beautiful way - and writing a song is as fine a way as any to learn this way of being in the world. The way in which I teach does not assume anything, so we all start with baby steps and finally, with a song we have all written together, we hit the ground running. If you say to me: "I cannot write", I will show you how and put you with others who will help you; Likewise, if you say: "I can't play anything, nor can I really sing, but I love music!", I will make sure you are with others who do play and sing and can support your writing in those ways.
I am always looking for new places in which to teach Songwriting, and my partner and I have found a really fascinating place that is just the ticket. It's the Tokeland Hotel, a national historic landmark overlooking Willapa Bay and the Pacific Ocean in Tokeland, Washington where I'll be teaching again in March, 2015. This old hotel traces its roots to 1885, and with a new lease on life, was re-opened for business in 1990. A lot of my returning participants have wished for rooms of their own, a place where partners were welcome - whether taking the workshop or not - and food particular to their tastes. We think that this old hotel with its 18 second-floor rooms, bathrooms within steps of each room, a guest reading room in the west end dormer, antique-filled lobby, 65-seat dining room with a view of the hotel grounds, the fireplace room with overstuffed couch and game table--all will serve beautifully to make our stay a comfortable one as we work on songwriting. All partners are welcome, and there will be activities available nearby, such as resting, walking, charter fishing out of Westport,-for the adventuresome-, a nine-hole golf course, kite-flying on the Grayland beaches, rental bicycles for touring the cranberry bogs, clam digging by the front door, or joining the locals for crabbing just off the pier at nearby Toke Point. The Hotel will take care of any of these activites.