Songwriters Retreat to State Park | New
A songwriting retreat held in the Cedars of Lebanon State Park not only drew some of the best minds in the Nashville area, it also brought musicians from across the country to Wilson County.
The artists of the CedarSong 2021 retreat have come from as far away as Brooklyn, NY, a small village in Alaska and everywhere in between for the opportunity to hone their craft.
Brooklyn singer and songwriter Meghan Cavanaugh has said she wants to move to Nashville in the near future, possibly even as early as next year. She wasted no time immersing herself in the scenery either, as she has performed at two downtown venues, Alley Taps and Two Kegs, since arriving on Monday.
“I figured if I came to Nashville I should have the full experience,” she said.
Karen Lawton is a substitute teacher at a K-12 school in a village near Prince of Wales Island in Alaska.
Lawton said she wrote over 100 songs, but admitted that she was only proud of about 10 of them. She sees room for improvement in her timing and is hoping retirement might be just what she needs to fine tune it.
Mike Hebert, meanwhile, is from Iota, Louisiana. He also has a place in Erin, 40 miles west of Nashville, and spends his time coming and going. The guitarist said he had been playing since he was 12 years old.
“I met Sharon (Burgess, CEO of CedarSongs Retreat) at a songwriting event in Nashville,” he said. “She wanted us to come last year, but COVID prevented her. “
Hebert said he had recorded three albums, but didn’t want his experience to hold back the growth of retirement.
“It’s a little hard to teach an old dog new tricks, but I hope I can get something out of it.”
The retreat is open to anyone who wishes to develop their songwriting skills, regardless of genre or instrument.
Nancy Higgins’ passion is contemporary Christian worship music. She is from St. Louis and has been to Middle Tennessee three times this year for various music conferences and now retirement. She said that maybe it was comparing apples to oranges, but that she really enjoyed the intimate and relaxed surroundings offered by the surroundings of the state park.
Another artist, Caitlin Agrell, is from Sea Ranch, California. She said the retreat had already been cathartic. “Last night’s song circle was just good for my soul and for a lot of us.”
She said that due to COVID she hadn’t been around musicians for a long time and she really misses the energy.
On Friday morning, the artists were preparing for a class with Nashville-based songwriter Buddy Mondlock.
Ahead of the session, Mondlock said he planned to take one of his songs, play it for everyone, and then “deconstruct” it, from a fundamental musical point of view.
Mondlock explained that by using his own songs as examples, he can talk about concepts like layers of meaning, the effective use of imagery and detail, and storytelling as well as technical aspects like structure and rhyme scheme.
“I’m trying to show how the songs are unusual,” he said. “The songs don’t have to fit into the usual mold. Some songwriters believe there is a formula for writing a hit song.
Mondlock said this can have a chilling effect on creativity, so he hopes his lesson will help the artists in attendance explore the limits of their own creativity when it comes to songwriting.
Titles of the retreat workshops include Crafting the Unforgettable Song, Lyric Writing Technique, The Art of Co-Writing, and How to Promote Your New Song.
Mondlock isn’t the only professional songwriter leading sessions during retirement. Victoria Banks was named Female Artist of the Year and Songwriter of the Year by the Canadian Country Music Association in 2010, and she has numerous nominations. She currently teaches songwriting at the Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business at Belmont University.
Another instructor is Leslie Garbis, a vocal and performance coach. Garbis is a vocal technician who enjoys helping singers, speakers and even those who don’t study singing discover, connect and unleash their “real” voices. She has a Masters in Music, specializing in vocal performance. Garbis also teaches at Belmont as an assistant professor.