workshops



I offer the following workshop courses:
CHORDS AS ADJECTIVES: Along with the lyric, chords are responsible for conveying the intended meaning and emotion of the song. Chords can support the adjectives in the lyric, supply the adjectives, and work against the adjectives to produce irony. Knowledge of chord substitution will help you do this by expanding your choices of basic chords to include more subtle alternatives. This class has proved helpful to songwriters of all levels.

WRITING THE BIG CHORUS: How to set up and deliver a "knock-it-out-of-the-park" chorus- the hallmark of many Hit Songs! Which chord progressions do this most effectively? How can you make your melodic and lyric choices really "pay off"? These questions and more will be answered along with a little human psychology thrown in!
MUSIC THEORY FOR COMMERCIAL SONGWRITERS: BEGINNING TO ADVANCED COURSES: Whether you play a musical instrument or not, a fundamental working knowledge of music theory is a valuable tool for songwriters who want to elevate their craft to a whole new level. I graduated from college with a music degree in Jazz Studies. It took me five years and four summers, so I know how hard this stuff can be! But it doesn't have to be! After spending the last twenty-five years as a songwriter, teacher, and performer, I've managed to distill a lot of information down to what is most usable for the novice and professional songwriter. The ability to read music is not required for this course.
MUSIC BUSINESS: Interested in making a little music in the money biz? There are some things you need to know! I'll share what I've learned (and still learning) from my experiences as a staff songwriter, music publisher, and studio musician in Nashville. Learn up-to-date industry practices, and techniques, that will help you with co-writing, making demos, networking, and pitching your songs. This is a structured course covering many areas of the music business, while still allowing plenty of time for Q&A. Before packing up your uncle's VW bus and moving to town, take this course!
EXPOSITION METHOD: An amazingly effective lyric- writing method that will jump-start the process, and keep you focused on your idea. In many cases, you can cut your writing time in half, and achieve greater clarity than ever before. If your goals are simplicity, directness, and clear communication, this method is for you! Required: a rhyming dictionary and a thesaurus (Roget's 2nd edition preferred), or on your computer: (Rhyme Zone, Master Writer, etc.)
MODULATION: It's more than just your typical "American Idol" moment! Modulation- a change of key that occurs within a song- is an extremely effective harmonic device that can add interest and emotional excitement to your song, and not just during the Chorus sections! With artful handling, modulation can be great, and it's easy to do. Warning: It can also come across as a little corny, so learn to handle with care!
THE ART OF CRAFTING THE COUNTRY SONG: The Authentic Country Song is as much an art form as Blues and Jazz- you know it when you hear it. I'll uncover the characteristics that make an authentic Country song what it is, and show you how to craft your own. Learn how story-telling techniques and the use of figurative language can help you communicate to your audience on a much deeper level no matter the style or genre.
MUSICAL "STYLES" AND HOW TO WRITE 'EM: "Looking for an islandy-thing to round out the album." "Need up-tempo cajun." "Looking for something in 6/8 to complete current project." Seen this before? By the time most of us get a chance to pitch a song for a current project, eight of the eleven tunes are already in the can with songs written by the artist, with the artist, the producer, the producer's girlfriend, the artist's brother- you know what I mean. Learning how to write songs in many "different" styles will only increase your chances of getting on a record. I'll show you what these are, and how to write 'em! "Need mid-tempo cowboy-cha-cha in minor key (preferably with the words 'lake', 'truck', and 'beer'.)" No problem.
GENIUS STEALS!: They say, 'Talent Borrows'; well, I've stolen from the best, and now you can steal from me! I'll show you some incredible songwriting 'moves' from legendary writers like Jimmy Webb, Burt Bacharach, Paul Simon, James Taylor, Steven Sondheim, and a host of great Nashville writers too! Steal from the best and take your songs from good to Great! And don't worry, they stole from somebody too!
CULTIVATING "AUTHENTIC VOICE": A truly authentic voice identifies the writer like his or her fingerprints. Learn how to enhance your originality by: focusing on the play rather than the value of the words, inserting a foreign detail and seeing where it takes you, being aware of those moments when you "surprise yourself", having faith that your words used your way will generate your meanings.
Exceed your original impulses by saying "no" to cliché and over-worn images and ideas. Resistance leads to discovery: find your unique way of saying things and stand out from the crowd.
THE CREATED LIFE: Progress and innovation in any field of endeavor comes from thinking creatively. The author draws on many years of experience from a wide range of cross-disciplines to uncover principals that enhance creative thinking. Discover what song writing, bird watching, martial arts, walking, and jazz improvisation all have in common. Learn how recent advances in the cognitive sciences and research into flow can help you develop a more effective working method, and ultimately, a more intentional and artfully lived life. Whether you're an amateur or professional songwriter, the CEO of a major corporation, classroom teacher, or software designer, this class is for you!
Schedule a workshop!
Workshops and Speaking Engagements

-Nashville Songwriters Association International
-Morehead State University, Morehead, KY
-Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN
-Belmont University, Nashville, TN
-Tallahassee Community College, Tallahassee, FL
-Musicians Hall of Fame, Nashville, TN
-Country Music Hall of Fame, Nashville, TN
-Berklee College of Music, Boston, Mass
-Texas Songwriters Cruise
-Tin Pan North, Toronto, Canada
-Madison, Wisconsin, NSAI Chapter
-Tennessee Songwriters Assoc., Nashville, TN
-Knoxville Writers Guild, Knoxville, TN
-Mississippi Songwriters Festival, Ocean Springs, MS
-Tallahassee, Florida, NSAI Chapter
-"Blast On The Bay" Songwriters Festival, St. Joe, FL
-REO Songwriters Festival, British Columbia
-Guest Presenter: 2014 MEIEA (Music Entertainment Industries Educators Association)

Beginners all start from the first stage. Upon reaching the final stage, they find that it stands next to the first stage, resembling that state of mind they had at the beginning, when he or she knew little. In this state, intellectual calculations are lost sight of, the technical skill having become so automatic, it is completely divorced from conscious effort. They have become the learning. This is the ultimate goal in all arts, where learning gained is learning lost.

-D.T. Suzuki
The student first copies the instructor, seeking to discipline the mind to practice. Next, the techniques are broken down. The understanding of these techniques does not come from the instructor, but from the student himself. Words cannot transmit the feeling of a properly executed technique, only correct performance will do. In the final stage, the student understands the essence of the art, and must leave the teacher. This stage is vital to the health of the art, since a teacher whose students do not leave to become more skillful than he, is a teacher who has failed.

-ibid