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Annie Cook singing at the
Sky Bar at the Beacon Hotel
Washington, D.C., September 2013

Intuitive Singing-Songwriting Workshop Series

With nine Vineyard singer-songwriters/music producers (listed below)

Starting January 6, 2018
Saturdays 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

For ages 11 - 17
(will consider highly focused 8- to 10-year olds)
Limit: 10 kids per session

Funded by a grant from Music Drives Us - Contact Annie at to sign up!

Musician bios and music links coming soon

This series of workshops will allow kids who are either already engaged in music or want to be to develop their "musical muse" through working with established singer-songwriters in the community who bring a range of perspectives to the songwriting process. This is a non-academic program with a focus on intuitive, "by ear" musical development; we will not be writing sheet music. The atmosphere will be one in which we treat youth like "peers at a different stage of the game:" our approach is non-authoritarian and collaborative. We give kids the space and respect to develop an original song and interpret a cover song, on their own and in collaboration with fellow workshoppers and our guest artists. Kids may sign up for any or all workshop sessions, with a maximum of 10 kids per session. We will keep a waitlist and ask families or kids to alert us within 24 hours prior to any session if they cannot make it, so we can make room for another participant.

The workshop sessions will be managed by songwriter-vocalist Annie Cook with assistance from music producer Adam Garde. We will spend the first hour of each workshop engaging in songwriting and singing exercises and games. The last two hours will feature our guest artists sharing their musical experience and knowledge with the kids and engaging them in the wonders of musical expression.

Saturday, January 6
   Guest artist: Willy Mason
Willy Mason

Saturday, January 13
Guest artist: Sean McMahon

Sean McMahon
Martha's Vineyard Public Charter School, West Tisbury

Pathways ARTS, Chilmark


The Language of Song:
Experiments in Lyric and Melody


Sound and Space:
Playing with Improvisation

Songwriting is a fun and powerful way to express ideas and emotions. The combination of word and melody allows one to imbue language with a whole new set of shades and colors. This makes song an easy place to talk about things that are difficult to express and share otherwise. In our session, we will get a sense of what this process can be like and play with some of the tools that are at the songwriter's disposal. No experience with music or writing required. 

Improvising is at the heart—and the start—of many songs. Being able to "make it up as we go along" allows us to indulge in a sense of play, and to discover sounds and lyrics we might not know are inside of us. In this space, there are no rules; even if what we come up with leads to a structured song. We can focus on trusting our intuition; getting comfortable with just "jumping off the cliff" and writing even when there seems to be no inspiration. How a song is phrased, the instrumental arrangement, adding harmony: all of these aspects come into play. Improvisation is also a key part of writing music collaboratively: think of the Beatles' Lennon and McCartney, the Indigo Girls, and many others. In this workshop, we will not only take the leap into individual improvisation, but try writing a song with another person ... just to see what happens.

Saturday, January 20
Guest artist:
Jodie Treloar Sampson
Jodie Treloar Sampson
Saturday, January 27
Guest artist: Shawn Barber
Shawn Barber
Alex's Place
Lower-level performance space
Vineyard Haven (at YMCA)
Oak Bluffs Free Public Library

Freeing the Song Within:
Letting Your Creative Star Shine

Songwriting for Non-Singers:
How I talked my way
into a song ...

Getting the courage to spill your guts musically can be hard ... let’s face it, the idea of being on stage, and performing your own songs isn’t always easy! Growing up, I faced those same challenges ... I want to assist young people in getting past the various hang-ups that can accompany self-expression through songwriting and performance. Through sharing personal experiences, and supporting each other through various exercises, I hope to empower kids to transcend any potential speed bumps a young musician may face, and have fun doing it!

What is my workshop about? It's about how I taught myself
to "sing" when so many others couldn't teach me, and when so many more people told me not to. It's about sharing my experience with you of how I overcame my fears, believed in myself, took chances, stuck my neck out, fell on my face, got back up again, and went back to work. Time permitting, I will share with you some of my favorite inspirational stories and quotes, anecdotes of how I went from sitting on my back porch playing to the birds, to driving people away from campfires, to forming a band (Good Night Louise), playing original music, and getting whole crowds on their feet dancing; and every now and then leaving them in tears. As the old adage goes, if you're in the record store and you can't find the album you want, you need to make it yourself.

Saturday, February 3
Guest artist:
Rock 'n' Roll Rick Padilla

Rick Padilla

Saturday, February 10
Guest artist: Jessie Leaman

Jessie Leaman
  St. Andrews Episcopal Church
   Music Hall, Edgartown
Alex's Place
Lower-level performance space
Vineyard Haven (at YMCA)


Composing Songs that Rock!


Music Lab: Crossing Borders

I generally start a song with lyrics expressing a particular feeling, accompanying myself on acoustic or electric guitar: then I take that song to my band and give them some freedom to come up with those nuances of beat, bassline, and lead guitar that make the song come alive. The collaborative nature of a band defining a song from its rough draft to performance-ready state involves work, fun, and mutual respect. As a frontman, the music fuels my stage persona: I'm into the total performance, like some of my favorite artists such as Iggy Pop and Nick Cave. My main influences are punk, rock, and pop music, and my lyrics tend to express dualities in life and love. In this session, I'll encourage you to conjure your inner rock god or goddess, letting your passion out in words and melodies. Exuberance is fun for performers, but it also creates a dynamic connection with the audience. Music brings us together!

There is only one you. But who are you? Sometimes we have to leave home—or at least, our comfort zone—to find out. Songwriting involves digging deep inside ourselves, but also going out, exploring beyond what we're used to. Growing up we have all kinds of music in our heads. The more we learn, the better our music vocabulary, and the more we have to play with. In this workshop we'll explore different kinds of music, crossing genres and checking out new roads to songwriting.

 Saturday, February 17
Guest artist: Adam Garde
Adam Garde
Saturday, March 10
Guest artist: Siren Mayhew
Siren Mayhew
Pathways ARTS, Chilmark St. Andrews Episcopal Church
  Music Hall, Edgartown

Sonic Beats and Sound: Playing with Hip Hop, Electronica, and Ambient Styles and Recording Tech


Light and Shadow:
Evoking Mood in Song

In this workshop, we'll play with the possibilities of music technology, with a focus on beats and electronic sound. Rhythm will be our gateway to musical expression, through musical styles such as hip-hop. We'll also explore how to create "soundscapes" through the electronica and ambient genres. Fusing various styles can lead to unexpected results and open up how we "write" a song. A chosen rhythm can affect the emotion and "color" of chords and inspire lyrics that arise from the basis of sound. Many musicians today also record their own music, saving on studio engineering costs, at least for "demo" (sample) recordings. We will also discuss recording options so that you can keep snippets of songs in progress as well as consider how to engineer your own recordings.

Once you tap into your inner resonance, your personal vibration, the frequency that moves you, may it never leave you; even if you leave it for periods of time. As a classically trained singer, I have gone through phases of intense dedication to my art punctuated by time off to pursue other, less emotionally charged activities. The time off I took was a necessary breather from performing as well as a growth period. My relationship with songwriting is quite personal, and the songs I write are often depictions of very personal experiences, leading to an inevitable feeling of vulnerability on stage, which can be difficult to overcome. However, over time I have found that people are touched and relate most passionately to my most emotionally charged songs. My background in musical theater has had a significant influence on my current sound and in contributing to an air of "theatrical melancholy." When we sing, we transcend for a few moments our daily grind and rise into another realm of feeling, whether to escape the monotony of a dull day, to cope with a personal crisis, or to simply transport ourselves into an imaginary world of our own making; and it's a gift to transport our listeners there alongside us. In this workshop, we'll give ourselves the freedom to feel a range of emotions and to balance sound and lyrics in staying true to what we want to express. I am here to encourage you to be courageous with your self-expression. 

March 17, 24, and 31 - Open rehearsal sessions for performance (voluntary) - March 31 @ Alex's Place lower-level performance auditorium; other sites TBD

Performance 1: Fri., April 6 - 7:30 - 9:30 p.m.: Alex's Place       Performance 2: Sat., April 7 - 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.: Oak Bluffs Library

Other performances TBD