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WinterSongs 2014

Friday, February 14th to Monday, February 17th, 2014

Ready to Register? YES!

snowy covered trees

Ashokan Center, Olivebridge, NY

Cost: $529.00 for the weekend.
$50 discount if you register before 12/15/13 with a $100 deposit.
Private rooms available $40-80 per night extra
$25 discount for each newbie you bring to camp! (reimbursed to you when they come to their first camp.)

Ashokan Center

[plan to arrive by 3pm on Friday and leave on Monday by noon]

Hi Everyone!

Welcome to our  annual winter gathering, guaranteed to warm your spirits in any kind of winter chill!  The beautiful Ashokan Center (where SummerSongs began in 1999) once again provides the backdrop for a fun-filled and jam-packed weekend (literally!), complete with S'mores, campfires, and some of the finest camp food you'll ever eat.  Instructors include perennial favorites Penny Nichols, Brooks Williams and Sloan Wainwright.  We welcome back Tom Boyd, Cadence Carroll, Mark Dann, Vito Petroccitto and Sue K. Riley.    We are thrilled to have them with us, Join us!  And don't forget - EVERY camp brings a wealth of information and experience from our students too, so be prepared for a weekend you'll never forget with old and new friends.

Instructors for 2014:

Click on an instructor's name for a short description of their classes. Some bios are still in the works...

Instructors & Classes


Tom Boyd

The Act and Art of Story-Writing:

Writing personal stories and memories helps people find the arc of their own experiences and create short pieces that can become songs or poems. There will be brief presentations on the craft of story writing, followed by in-class writing, sharing, discussion, games, and more!

Cadence Carroll

Introduction to African Drumming:

Drumming is incredible! Many will attest to the fact that it is a healer of the body, mind and soul. For songwriters in the contemporary folk world, it is also a wonderful way to connect with the music, write songs, and accompany our fellow musicians in performance or just for fun.

This weekend we will:

  1. Learn and review the basics of African Percussion, focusing on how to hold the drum, create 3 basic tones, and play without pain. We will focus on listening to the drummers around us, gaining confidence and experiencing the joy of African Rhythms.
  2. Explore multi-part rhythms and, for those wish, add singing to our playing.
  3. Go as far as we can. Beginner and experienced drummers are welcome. I encourage you to come and achieve a new level of mastery!

I truly believe everyone has rhythm, and all can reap the joy of connecting with the drummer inside. With a few basics under your belt, you can then adapt it to your own needs and musical styles.

Please bring a Djembe, Ashiko or Conga if you have one. Drums will be provided for those who do not.

Accompaniment for the Singer/Songwriter:

This is a class for all who enjoy making music with others…or would like to! All instruments are welcome and encouraged. If you are a percussionist, it’s an opportunity to take the fun of drumming one step further – workshopping of what makes a good accompanist and what makes good accompaniment. I’ve spent much of my musical life trying to dispel the myth that the djembe can only be a loud solo instrument – on the contrary, it is a wonderful accompaniment instrument for almost any style of music. My desire to change people’s minds has taught me countless lessons in what being an accompanist means.

This class is an open workshop for anyone who wants to work on playing well with others. ALL instruments – including VOICE – are welcome! Bring a friend – bring two! We will work on arranging songs for performance at camp or outside of camp. Learning to play respectfully with others and supporting each other’s music is our goal. Fun WILL be had in the process!

Cadence's staff bio

Mark Dann

workshop title here

Mark's staff bio

Penny Nichols:

The Basics of Publishing and Copyrighting:

Learn how, when and where to (a) protect your ownership of your songs, and (b) create a business entity (publishing company) that you can use to manage your millions and market your products!

In today’s complex world of intellectual property, it is important to understand the basics of copyright and publishing of songs. This class will give students the basic tools for copyrighting and publishing. We will discuss the relevant forms and fill them out so that they can be submitted for copyright. We will also discuss the advantages of setting up a publishing company and go through the steps do so.

For more info on Penny visit: www.pennynichols.com

Penny's staff bio

Vito Petroccitto

"The Yin and Yang of Music"

Ok, you've learned your chords, you even have a couple of scales under your belt! Now what do you do with them? Put them to use in a cool and fun way! This course will examine and then apply the basic elements of jamming with another musician, sitting in with a group, or "noodling/improvising" over someone's song live or in the studio. If you were ever blown away by watching folks jam together, and sat back wishing you could participate, this class is great for you. Who plays "lead"? Who plays "rhythm"? What is "lead", what is “rhythm" anyway? And most importantly, what do we play together? Chord theory and scale theory all in one, we'll be doing more playing than anything in class! This will be a jammin’ class! We will also look at charts - cheat sheets - these things may be presented to a group when jamming, I'll help you understand how to find your way through this roadmap of music/song! Group Jam! Let’s play!

"Sliding Around With Guitar!"

Basic slide guitar fun in G tuning! Experience de-tuning you guitar and playing some slide guitar in a safe environment - Vito's woodshed! Learn some simple tricks and sound like a pro. We will tune our guitars to an alternate tuning and slide into the world of slickety doodling slide guitar fun! A lot of playing here, jamming some slide blues, learning about the basics of alternate tunings!

Vito's staff bio

Sue K. Riley

The Magic of Imagery:

A mental picture is worth a thousand words. How can we draw the listener in to our song with imagery and details, and get them to connect with our story? When we perform our songs live, we have the opportunity to connect with people through our music. What makes our songs stand out from others and makes them something that the listener will remember and want to hear again? A song rich in imagery can paint a picture in the listeners’ mind that they can adapt to their own memories. Why say “I looked at the old pictures” when you could say “from a cardboard box of memories, I lift the faded photo”, or “I feel sad” when you could say “I’m as blue as a…”, ah, the possibilities are endless! Be poetic! Combine your lyrics in new and magical ways!

This creative process workshop will focus on adding more imagery to your writing and you will be writing every day from prompts. Please bring pen and paper and prepare to capture the songwriting ideas that this class will generate.

Sue's staff bio

Sloan Wainwright :

Find Joy On Stage:

Sloan will provide a safe and supportive atmosphere all around performance – song selection, introductions, elements of taking care of yourself on and off stage, tools for preparing, practicing, facing and engaging happily with the audience.

– Find your calm and peaceful center in the eye of the storm, and harness the energy of expression.
– Claim space on stage and be in the beautiful and exciting moment of performing – exploring the world of "owning it"!
– Experience being your authentic self and in-the-flow with the audience.
– Release your inner strengths to savor the moment so you can remember your performance instead of the memory being erased by nervousness.

We're gonna talk about performance and check in with what you need.
We're gonna get everyone up on stage.
We're gonna have fun!

Singing With Your Heart, Soul, and Body:

Inside each of us lives a beautiful and unique instrument. 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 come out to play. With an emphasis on vocal health and self-care, we will use a combination of vocal warm-up and work-outs – traditional and non-traditional – to help relax, release and strengthen the voice, making it more flexible and reliable.

Each student will be supported in developing their own personal vocal practice. Attention is offered to each individual as well as to the group as a whole. This class is for singers and non-singers alike!

Sloan's staff bio

Brooks Williams

Acoustic Guitar Roots And Beyond

...will look at the acoustic guitar techniques shared by Americana, blues and folk-rock. Enrich, enliven and expand your guitar skills by exploring techniques such as alternate chord shapes, walking bass lines and bluesy riffs that move up and down the fretboard. Equally, extend your sound with a toolbox of strumming and picking rhythms, including the blues shuffle, boom-chick, and alternating bass. All techniques will be supported by handouts (TAB and chord charts) and taught through specific songs. This is a fun, hand’s-on workshop with lots of playing, jamming, and singing. It is ideally suited for guitarists who know how to play the basic 1st position chords (e.g. A, D, E, G, C, Am, Em, Dm). Bring an acoustic guitar, picks (if you use them), spare sets of strings and a capo. Spice up your guitar playing and add a little zip to your songs!

Songwriting From The Roots

...is a workshop that looks at the key elements of blues and Americana songs. We’ll examine everything from the structure and the story of the song to the choice of chord voicing and melodies and then try our hand at writing our own songs “in the tradition.” Mindful of what’s come before but eager to infuse something new and modern and very much our own into the songs, this is a hand's on workshop. No previous songwriting experience necessary, and open to all who like to sing, we'll explore a different song and technique to jump-start our creativity.

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