The 2020 KFF Songwriter School II Faculty include:

Steve Seskin


Registration is $420 through March 31, 2020. Pre-paid reservations are required, prices increase after March 31. Your registration fee includes admission to the festival and campground (including Sundown Concerts and tent camping), four days of songwriting classes and lunches on class days.

From Director Steve Seskin:

By popular demand, we are doing a four-day hands-on songwriting school the week after song school. The dates are June 1st - 4th. The amount of students will be limited to 30 or less. I will be joined on the faculty by Johnsmith and Rachel Garlin. Over the course of four days, the attendees will be encouraged to write, given the chance to do some solo writing, co-writing, and have the opportunity to share what they’ve written with the group. The faculty will be assisting the participants in all parts of the process. An exact schedule will be posted soon but to give you a synopsis of some of what we’ll be doing here are some examples.


Johnsmith will lead several groups including these


I will give the class an option of 4-5 prompts to choose from, for example: 

  • A cross road in your life, moment where you made a choice that changed the course of your life. 

  • Any list. Things to do, things to bring, things I hate, laundry list, bucket list, list of what’s in the closet, wallet, purse, tool box, grocery list, etc. 

  • A time you knew great defeat or disappointment. 

  •  – write from a different perspective. Become a character, a different time and place. A cross road in history. ei. To be at a Martin Luther King Jr. speech 

  • OR What’s up right now in your life. What’s cooking, just under the skin? 

  • I will have you free write for 12 min. Then you'll partner up with the person next to you in the circle. One person goes first. You will read your 12 min free write. Your partner quietly takes notes of words, lines, feelings that come up for them. After the person finishes reading, you'll continue talking for 5 min. The partner actively listens and still makes simple notes. Then the partner (listener) takes a couple minutes to ask a few questions, what year was it? I'd like to hear more about this..? etc. Then the listener hands their notes over to reader and then they switch roles. Class comes back next session with their song to be shared for feedback. 

  • Another fun exercise is: Pick three. One title, one genre, and one emotion. Can be solo or as a co-write. Basically I make several slips of paper. One is a batch of titles or song subjects. Another pile of genres (folk, blues, reggae, bluegrass, country, rap, lullaby etc.) And a final batch of emotions (compassion, anxiety, longing, silly, sad, etc) I put them in three hats. Each person or each co-writing team picks one from each hat and goes off and writes a song. Can be fun. It's mostly about the challenge of making the three pieces fit. Can be done solo or co-write.

  •  I've had great success with writing from a photo. If you are joining us for week two, please bring with you a half dozen photos that hold meaning for you. Family members, friends, old homes, pets, vacations, cars, etc. I work this similar to first exercise. I will have you partner with the person next to you. You'll take turns. First person shares their 5-6 photos and tells just a word or two about each. Then your partner chooses one of the photos that intrigues or interests them and tells you to write a song about that. You'll go in depth talking about the photo while your partner takes notes for you. After about 5 min the listener gets to ask a few questions. What's not in the photo? Where is it, what year, who are those other people, what were you feeling? Hand over notes, switch roles, come back next session with song start to share in the circle.


       Rachel Garlin will lead a group in jumpstarting ideas, daring to write a SFD ( sh**ty first draft ) to see where it might go from there. Then she will show you how to get excited when you write, what to leave in, what to leave out and how not to let the editor in to the process too early. It’s all about faith and timing.


        Steve Seskin will focus on inspiration, how to find it, how to keep it and what it is. There is a Picasso quote he loves, “ Inspiration does exist! But it likes to find you working. Once you have an idea, what are some techniques for making it come to life. He’ll lead a workshop on how to spot where you might want to take a song next by looking at where it has already taken you?


During the week there will be many opportunities to write, play and get feedback from the faculty.  More details soon.


Suggest reading “ If You Want to Write" by Brenda Ueland, "Bird by Bird" by Anne Lamont

More information about the 2020 KFF Songwriter School II

will be posted here as it becomes available.

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Kerrville Folk Festival Foundation

is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.