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SummerSongs West 2014

May 29th to June 2nd, 2014

Price: $479.00 (add $20.00 to price after 3/31/14)

(All cabins are shared with  other people or you can stay in a hotel in Cambria for additional money.)

Plan to arrive by 3pm on Thursday and leave by noon on the following Monday.

Ready to Register? YES!

Hi Everyone!

The 11th Annual SummerSongs West is a 5-day gathering for all who want to study music in a great camp that will take place at our California home, the spectacular Camp Ocean Pines in Cambria, CA, on May 29th to June 2nd, 2014. This coming June will see us at camp having a blast with our dear teachers and friends  Penny Nichols, Kate Campbell, Cliff Eberhardt, Tom Prasada Rao, Cyd Smith and our wonderful East Coast teacher Glen Roethel who will be teaching classes and leading jams at night. Special guest coaches will include Severin Browne, Rebecca Troon and Susan Reeves. We will be offering all-levels classes in songwriting, guitar, singing, harmony, performance, and more in addition to a full menu of concerts, coffeehouses, and song circles. Students and teachers alike will share songs, information, insights, trade stories and perform for the community we have grown to love. And it all takes place less than an hour north of San Luis Obispo, CA. Join us!

The instructors and classes are listed below. 2014 Class descriptions are being updated as they are recieved from the instructors.

Click on an instructor's name for a description of their classes.

Instructors & Classes

  • Kate Campbell
  • Cliff Eberhardt
  • Dale Laduke
  • Penny Nichols
  • Tom Prasada Rao
  • Florence Riggs
  • Glen Roethel
  • Cyd Smith
  • Ed Tree


 Look for updated course descriptions & more teachers in the upcoming months!

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Kate Campbell


Songwriting from Start to Finish

Over the course of writing a song we usually get stuck somewhere along the way.  Sometimes at the beginning, sometimes in the middle, and then we just can't finish.  My goal for the weekend is that everyone goes home with a new and complete song.  I want to start with the notion of "sketching" out our ideas as an artist would before applying other layers.  From there we can begin to fill in the gaps and a more solid structure usually begins to emerge.  Then it's a matter of using some tools of the trade to fix and finish the piece.  One of the things I like about songwriting workshops is I almost always pick up some new tools for my tool box.  So don't forget to bring along your artist kits-writing utensils, musical instruments, and notebooks, ready to start sketching.

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Cliff Eberhardt


WRITING MELODIES (Cliff Eberhardt)

We’ll start with a brief history of melodic writing and then show how to incorporate a melodic vocabulary into your songs, including what to look for to get out of melodic repetition. Bring in songs that are incomplete or songs that you feel need improvement, not songs that you are married to or have already recorded. You’ll be asked to start with just a verse and a chorus to work on, no complete songs until later in the week. We’ll talk about how to insert different chords and use different intervals of your existing songs to improve your melodies, how to make the songs have more memorable melodies, and how to insert intros, bridges and endings. By the end of the week we will try to reconstruct your work into a complete beautiful song. Usually during the week most students start to get it and add their own suggestions. That’s when I get to take cat naps. The point is, I’ve never taught this class where the students didn’t have a great time.

Songwriting and Editing (Cliff Eberhardt)

 In this class we will explore how to arrange songs to put them in a concise form ready for performance and or recording. As a group we will look at every part of the song from lyrics to melody including solos intros and endings. We will discuss production values, what instruments we hear that will enhance the overall sound of the song. We will work on the arrangement of the instrument that you play with your song. Please bring at least two printed copies of your lyrics and bring a song that you are willing to work on. Not one that has already been recorded.


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Penny Nichols:

Harmony singing

Have you ever wanted to learn to sing in harmony better, how to do it and where it is appropriate in a song? You will have a chance to experience for yourself the fun and unique qualities of singing in harmony and how to begin to master the skills needed to sing in harmony well. You will learn listening techniques, how to recognize chordal relationships and how harmony fits into a melodic landscape. Don't miss the fun of singing in harmony with your pals at WinterSongs West!  Taught with Dale.

Vocal Recording Technique

Here is the workshop you have been waiting for!  A chance to work with one of the most experienced vocal recording artists around in a real studio environment on one of your own songs!  Learn all about how to give your best performance on a recording, how to communicate with the engineer/producer, how to stay on pitch, how to keep breathing, how to deal with anxiety in the studio, how to evaluate your performance, how to choose the best performance and how the recording process works.  Plus you will leave the workshop with one of the best performances on a CD that you have ever done! Taught with Mark Dann.

Singing with Style and Precision 

Penny will be teaching basic singing skills for anyone who would like to explore singing in a relaxed and friendly setting.  You will learn exercises to relax your body and prepare for singing, to work with pitch perception and tone as well as exercises to strengthen your voice and to use your body to resonate sound.  You will leave with a whole new set of tools to help you become the singer you want to be!

Penny's Staff Bio

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Florence Riggs

Toning Circle

Private voice coaching 


Tom Prasada Rao


Band in a Box (How to spice up your guitar playing)


 Are you looking to enhance your strumming patterns or your picking style?  Are you eager to modify the way you play but don’t know where to start?  This interactive guitar class will offer you some easy steps to take.  Bring your guitar, a tuner, and an extra set of strings and we will start from the ground up.

We’ll start with the concept that less is more.  We will learn a simple alternating bass line.  Then we will add the drummer with a backbeat.  We’ll walk through a couple of different alternate tunings with a series of one and two finger chords that are full of mystery.  By the end of the weekend you will be sounding more like a band in a box


1) Learn to muffle the strings

2) Learn to play a backbeat

3) Learn to play a bass line

Song Starters


Are you coming to Summer Songs to actually write?  Do you find yourself editing everything you do to the point where you don’t like it.  Or have you not been able to write lately? Do you need a jumpstart? 
Consider this class as the jumper cables.  Everyday we will use a couple song prompts to help you get out of your head and into the song.  Most of these exercises come from my teaching days at the U of VA “Young Writer’s Workshops” and I’ve seen them work.  I’ll be doing them too – cause I usually end up with something I like.
Here’s a prompt even before you get to camp:  Write the song of your favorite scene in a movie.  Not the backstory – the scene.  Put yourself in that scene and describe it first person.  Who are you?  Where are you coming from / going to?  What do you see?  What are you wearing?  When you touch your hands to the ground what do you feel?


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Glen Roethel

Guitarchestra - an exploration of group performance, creativity & production values


Strap in while we learn new skills and use existing skills to create a guitar symphony arrangement of a new, original composition which we will perform in concert at the student show. Be a “first chair” performer or conduct the Guitarchestra – either way, plan to have fun, laugh and learn.

You may encounter some or all of the following in this class:



• Hammer-ons, Pull-offs, Flatpicking, Note bending, Strumming, Head-banging

• Lead, Melody and Harmony playing

• Syncopation, Synchronization

• Your Inner Adolescent

• Conducting / Being Conducted


...and a special bonus: Hair Tips


Appropriate for all levels. Bring a tuner, a capo, your best 'rockstar' attire, and every drop of attitude you can muster ;-)




Playing Well Together : you know you want to :-)

Somewhere within the musical landscape ranging from mountain music to Steely Dan lies the key to the graceful magic that is "tasty" performance. Whether in a well-played solo, or in the larger context of musicians playing together – even supporting a vocalist – there are learnable skills to help us do it better. Time and experience are great teachers, but in this class we aim to crack the code and unlock shortcuts to help us play well with others....today!

In our musical sandbox you will improve your live performance skills – some of the same skills you can use for song arranging and record production – but with the added bonus of learning how to avoid collisions, pile-ups, sand in your face, bruised feelings and smashed instruments.

What you will learn more about:

• Listening skills, Patience, Self-control, Discipline

• Phrasing: How to breathe properly with your instrument

• Stage Communication skills: How to provide & receive visual cues

• Watching & Anticipation: How to anticipate and utilize visual cues



Cyd Smith

Music Theory


We'll start with the absolute basics of music theory and stroll through scale creation, chord theory, and what it all has to do with playing the music you love. 


Getting Off of Your Guitar Plateau


What's keeping most of us stuck in our technical limitations as guitarists? Much of it is excessive muscle tension--we're trying so hard we're getting in our own way. Current neuroscience supports the value of bringing attention, relaxation, and enjoyment to retrain ourselves to use our bodies and our practice time more efficiently. Bring your curious mind to this class--it will be a very hands-on, practical investigation with each student receiving individual attention to troubleshoot what's holding him or her back.



Dale Laduke


Learn fundamental skills to get you playing ukulele in this entertaining, hands-on class. We’ll work on rhythm, strumming patterns and some finger picking. With a few basic chords you can play along with others and accompany yourself on a multitude of songs. Learn to find the right key for your voice and where the notes are on the fret board. Bring your own ukulele.

Dale LaDuke

is an award winning singer-songwriter, guitarist, and

ukulele performer. Class is limited to 8 students.


You’ve got the basics down, now you’re ready to learn more advanced techniques in strumming and chord progression. Hone your skills and have fun in this Level Two class. Prerequisite: completed



Harmony class with Penny and


" A Year Of Piano Lessons In An Hour And A Half - Part A"


Dale LaDuke has been teaching piano for many years and long ago realized that a fundamental basic was not being taught by most music teachers. Usually introduced at advanced levels, and in a confusing and inapplicable way even then, it contains the building blocks for beginners to understand the keyboard and begin to see how songs are built."


Ed Tree

Demo recording with Ed and Vocal Recording Technique with Penny


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