9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Kennedy Outdoor Theater 

The 2022 KFF Songwriters School Faculty include:

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Steve SeskinDirector

Bill Nash.jpg
Vance Gilbert 1.jpg
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Seth Glier b&w.jpg
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Kerrville Folk Festival has offered Songwriters School for over 35 years. Held in the Kennedy Outdoor Theater with plenty of room for break-out sessions, the intimate setting of Quiet Valley Ranch on weekdays, paired with the quality of the faculty and the synergy of creative collaboration, have given KFF Songwriters School a solid reputation for helping writers move up to the next level. Registrants vary from experienced songwriter performers to lawyers who really want to be songsmiths. Songwriters School is limited to 60 to maximize the opportunities for each student to get feedback and receive coaching on their work. Steve, Vance, Susan, & Seth are teaching all 4 days. Eliza is teaching Day 1 & 2.  Tom Kimmel is teaching Day 2 & 3.

 

Pre-paid registration is required, prices increase after April 15, 2022.

Your registration fee includes a KFF hat, 4 days of songwriting classes, lunches on class days, and depending on the registration option you choose, may or may not include admission to the festival (and campground) for the 4 class days. (You must have festival tickets for each of the 4 class days in order to register for Songwriter School. The Songwriter School registration option that does not include festival tickets is designed for those who already possess festival tickets for those 4 days.)

 

Registration including festival tickets: $575  (after 4/15/22: $600)

Registration without festival tickets: $500  (after 4/15/22: $525)

2022 KFF SONGWRITERS SCHOOL SCHEDULE 

 

​MONDAY
9 am   Welcome to Song School Steve Seskin and Thomas Chapmond

9:15 am till 10:15 opening master class

Steve Seskin and Seth Glier will open with a talk on Inspiration: Where do songs come from?

This workshop explores ways to empower you to write about more than just your own life and to use emotional moments as catalysts to inspire you. We’ll also delve into the power of fiction and examine what’s really important in songs — emotional truth. My friend Allen Shamblin always says “A great writer never lets the facts get in the way of the truth.”

10:15 till 10:30 - Break

10:30 till 12noon:  Master Class with Susan Gibson
"I have had the good fortune to have a song land at the top of the charts. However, the songs that quietly touch other people, sometimes one person at a time, and the ones that can't quite make it off the page inspire me to teach and learn at writing workshops. I look forward to sharing my perspective on songwriting with a focus on writing for connection to the listener even if that is just your own ears."

Noon till 1:00 - Lunch

1:00 till 2:00 pm - Meet the full-time faculty Steve Seskin, Vance Gilbert, Susan Gibson, Seth Glier, Tom Kimmel and Bill Nash talk a bit about the schedule for the week.

2:00 pm to 3:30  -  Afternoon Electives

Seth Glier and Tom Kimmel will offer the 1st of many critique sessions for students. During this session they will take a loving look at 4 or 5 songs.  There will be a lot to learn observing this process so feel free to attend even if you don’t feel ready to look at one of your songs yet. Please bring at least two copies of your lyric.

Bill Nash will offer a class on alternate tunings. He will teach you what they are and how to use them to open a whole new world of possibilities for the musical side of your writing.

Steve Seskin on Rhyming and Metaphor
Rhyming is our best friend but it's also our worst enemy since it constricts us and makes it harder to say what we want to say in a song. We'll look at inventive ways to use rhyme that sound natural, not drawing too much attention to the rhyme and letting the listener concentrate on the content of the lyric. We’ll also look at metaphor and figurative language and how they can deepen the emotional experience of a song.

Vance Gilbert will offer Covers, Jazz, Jokes, Stories, and Acapella - How to Round Out Your Live Set:
You’ve got a mess of great tunes, enough guitar chops to maintain time and interest, and a voice all your own. While you’d think that that’d be plenty, remember, you’re not just a vessel of good songs, you are an *entertainer*. Is what you do enough for a solid full set of music? Let’s play some mini sets and examine where you can - as a late career baseball pitcher might say - “give them a slightly different look” with tools other than just your fine songs.

3:30 till 3:45 - Break

3:45 till 5:00 -  Afternoon Electives continue

Steve Seskin and Seth Glier will offer a critique session for students. During this session we will take a loving look at 4 or 5 songs. There will be a lot to learn observing this process so feel free to attend even if you don’t feel ready to look at one of your songs yet. Please bring at least two copies of your lyric.

Tom Kimmel Writing Through the Dry Season

Every writer — veteran or beginner, amateur or professional — must begin, must face the blank page again and again. Whether we simply hunger for fresh material, are experiencing so-called writer's block, just haven't written anything lately, or we simply want to begin a new project and are uncertain where to begin, we can all use tools and support for getting things going. And perhaps more importantly, we’d like to stay on a roll once the wheels are in motion.

In our class we’ll explore ways that writers can cultivate an environment that nourishes inspiration, look at songwriting tools in our “bag of tricks,” and we’ll examine simple practices that launch the creative process and nurture it from day to day.

Vance Gilbert will work on performance issues with a small group of 6 to 12 students. You may participate directly or simply observe his working with others. This will involve the art of performance, stage patter as well as vocal technique and control, diction, projection and learning how to get inside each song you sing.

Bill Nash Multiple capos! Bill is one of the masters of using two or three or even four capos to create amazing possibilities of sound with his guitar. he will de mystify this process and show you how to use multiple capos to make you sound like an even better guitar player than you are.

Susan Gibson “FISHING WITH A LINE INSTEAD OF A NET”
Make your point by supporting the big ideas with the tiny details. Get specific with concrete imagery and thorough metaphors.

5:00 pm till whenever -  SONG CIRCLE on the main stage.



TUESDAY
In addition to the master classes this morning, there will be private mentoring sessions with Vance Gilbert, Susan Gibson, Bill Nash and Seth Glier.

Five 30-minute slots from 10 am till 12:30 pm. Signups for these slots will be at 8:30 am on the main stage. Please sign up for only one per day until everyone has had a chance to take a slot. If there are open slots after that, you may sign up for a 2nd slot on the same day.

9 am till 10:30 - Master Class with Steve Seskin: on Melody Writing
In focusing on melody writing, I teach from a place of writing melodies for lyrics. Prosody is the marriage of music and lyric. We will explore ways to determine if the overall vibe of the music feels right and look at specific parts of songs in terms of choosing an appropriate melody that milks the emotion that the writer would like the listener to feel from the lyric. I will also talk about phrasing and accents. There is an important word in every sentence. We look at choosing accent places that stress the right syllables and help drive home your point. Music can actually change the meaning of a lyric when used to its fullest potential. We also discuss rhythm and range and how to use them effectively in songs.

10:30 till 10:45 - Break

10:45 till 12:30 - Master Class with Tom Kimmel Songwriting: A Big Picture Perspective  

Songwriting is most definitely an art! And as artists, we songwriters constantly soak in the world of sights, sounds and feelings. Then somehow, incredibly, from time to time, songs ideas bubble to the surface like magic! And yet we writers must also find our ways to give shape to the spirit in those songs. We continually refine our song-crafting skills, even as we cultivate the spirit that inspires our writing.

In our class we'll take a look at the most commonly used song structures and the time-honored, practical tools that give accessible shape and sound to our unique creative expressions… and we’ll examine practical ways we can cultivate inspiration.


12:30 till 1:30 - Lunch

1:30 till 3:00  -  Afternoon Electives  

Bill Nash will offer a class on alternate tunings. He will teach you what they are and how to use them to open up a whole new world of possibilities for the musical side of your writing.

Steve Seskin will talk about Point of View - The importance of finding the most powerful way to tell each story/song you write. We have many choices in this area if we allow ourselves the freedom to explore them!

Tom Kimmel will offer 'the Power and Importance of the Third Verse”. To bridge or not to bridge. Where do you want to leave the story?

Vance Gilbert on Performance

Susan Gibson “MAKE ME CARE”
   Maximize your performance to engage your audience. Craft introductions to your songs to put the picture in the frame. Practice staying open and in the moment to better connect with your listener. This is a performance class. We will critique performances, discuss ways to prepare for a show, how to visualize the set, creating a set list, prepping banter, choosing clothing style and lighting.

3 pm till 3:15 -  Break

3:15 till 5 pm   -  Afternoon Electives

Seth Glier will offer THE ELEMENT OF SURPRISE:  He will talk about how to make your songs more engaging by harnessing the unexpected, exploring chord substitutions/reharmonization, dynamics, tempo, and arrangement

Bill Nash Multiple capos! Bill is one of the masters of using two or three or even four capos to create amazing possibilities of sound with his guitar. he will de mystify this process and show you how to use multiple capos to make you sound like an even better guitar player than you are.

Steve Seskin will offer a further look at the musical side of things. The emphasis will be on gaining an understanding of keys, scales and chords as well as chord progressions and how they work as a tool for your songwriting. He will also talk about lining up your verses so there is continuity between them.

Vance Gilbert on Performance
This is a performance class. We will critique performances, discuss ways to prepare for a show, how to visualize the set, creating a set list, prepping banter, choosing clothing style and lighting.

Susan Gibson will offer a critique session for students. During this session they will take a loving look at 4 or 5 songs. Please bring lyric sheets. There will be a lot to learn observing this process so feel free to attend even if you don’t feel ready to look at one of your songs yet.

5:00 pm till whenever - SONG CIRCLE on the main stage



WEDNESDAY
In addition to the master classes, there will be individual mentoring offered by Susan Gibson Seth Glier, Bill Nash, and Steve Seskin 10am till 12:30 five 30-minute slots.

9:30 till 10:45 -  Master Class with Vance Gilbert:
I Still Got It - Staying Acoustically Relevant After A Certain Age
This discussion kind of speaks for itself. After years of practice and hard work, all the best honed aspects of what you do has really come together - and you have some grey hair.  We’ll talk about your age, station, health, direction, and expectations. Singing styles, dropping keys, what you sing about, and some truth telling will be present too. Plenty of discussion, be prepared to play and sing.

10:45 till 11:00 - Break

11:00 till 12:30 - Master Class with Tom Kimmel "What's In Your Songwriting Tool Box". What tools do we have ready to help craft our songs? What is the journey in our song? Show me don't tell me. Are we telling our truth? Many of us know Picasso for his wild and sometimes surreal cubist paintings, but when we look at his early work we discover that he was a master of form. As songwriters, if we’re not well-grounded in form—that is, if we’re not at ease working with commonly used song structures—we’re not likely to consistently write strong and effective songs. In this class we’ll explore together the process of building better songs. We’ll do some writing, and supportive constructive feedback will be given, as time permits.

12:30 till 1:30 - Lunch

1:30 till 3 pm - Master class on Co-writing Songs  

Steve Seskin and Seth Glier and any other faculty that would like to join in. The do’s and don’ts, ins and outs of writing a song with someone else. It’s a delicate dance that can be everything from amazing to disastrous.

3:00 till 3:15 - Break

3:15 till 5 pm -  Afternoon Electives

Seth Glier and Tom Kimmel will offer a small group critique session taking a look at a number of songs to identify what’s working and what’s not. This will be a good lesson in how to write honestly and learn how to recognize language you’ve used that sounds ingenious. (Note that having a lyric sheet handy is helpful.)

Vance Gilbert Jazz Standards the Vance Way
"Yes, you have a folk guitar.  Yes, you know about six or seven chords. No, you don't have to approach a jazz tune like some sort of Tony Bennett or George Benson. Yes, you can sing from the Jazz Standard repertoire, even acapella, and no you don't have to be a jazz singer to do so.  Enough this jazz yes and no - come take a look at some tunes you may have ignored because you didn't sound like Ella. We'll look at vocal approach, some alternate chords you can grab, and you'll sound like, well, like *you* doing those tunes you've always wanted to do. “

Susan Gibson “FISHING WITH A LINE INSTEAD OF A NET”
   Make your point by supporting the big ideas with the tiny details. Get specific with concrete imagery and thorough metaphors.

5:00 pm till whenever - SONG CIRCLE on the main stage.


THURSDAY
9 am till 10:30 am Mentoring will be offered by Susan Gibson, Bill Nash and Vance Gilbert. Four 30-minute slots will be available for each of them.

9:30 am till 10:45am - Master Class with Seth Glier: Production
Seth Glier will record a song live and walk you through a step by step process of recording and producing your work to release to the world. Not everyone can do this but every writer should have an understanding of what’s involved so they can communicate with a producer if and when they work with one.

10:30 till 10:45 - Break

10:45 till 12:00

Steve Seskin will talk about rewriting. Writing can more easily come from that dreamy/stream of consciousness place. Rewriting involves considering what you’ve already written and in many ways is a lot more tedious. In this seminar we examine all types of rewriting. Are you rewriting because the content is not serving the moment in the song, or is the problem the tone of how you put forth your idea? We'll also look at how to know when a song is done and the wisdom of sticking to the task versus putting a song away for a while and giving it a rest. Many times, I write more than I need just to give myself choices.

12:00 pm to 1:00 - Lunch

1:00 pm till 2:15 -  Electives
 
Seth Glier  and Steve Seskin will talk about songwriting for social change. A commentary on our responsibility to use our gift to comment on what’s going on in the world in a way that doesn’t get too preachy but hopefully inspires people to take action. We certainly don’t have to devote all our artistic energy towards this but I think it’s important for every songwriter to realize the power of music and to not be afraid to delve into what they believe in through their songs.
 
Susan Gibson will offer one of many critique sessions for students. During this session we will take a loving look at 4 or 5 songs. Please bring lyric sheets. There will be a lot to learn observing this process so feel free to attend even if you don’t feel ready to look at one of your songs yet.

Bill Nash Multiple capos! Bill is one of the masters of using two or three or even four capos to create amazing possibilities of sound with his guitar. he will de mystify this process and show you how to use multiple capos to make you sound like an even better guitar player than you are.

Vance Gilbert will work on performance issues with a small group of 6 to 12 students. You may participate directly or simply observe his working with others. This will involve the art of performance, stage patter as well as vocal technique and control, diction, projection and learning how to get inside each song you sing.


2:15 till 3:45 - Last small group classes

Vance Gilbert will work on performance issues with a small group of 6 to 12 students. You may participate directly or simply observe his working with others. This will involve the art of performance, stage patter as well as vocal technique and control, diction, projection and learning how to get inside each song you sing.

Bill Nash will offer a class on alternate tunings. He will teach you what they are and how to use them to open up a whole new world of possibilities for the musical side of your writing.

Seth Glier  and Steve Seskin ( part two ) will talk about songwriting for social change. A commentary on our responsibility to use our gift to comment on what’s going on in the world in a way that doesn’t get too preachy but hopefully inspires people to take action. Participants will share their experiences and exchange ideas that connect songwriters with causes and how best to go about writing songs that can help make the world a better place.
 
3:45 till 4:00 - Break

4:00 till 5 pm -- Closing session. Q and A comments and a general catch all session with most of the instructors. 5 pm big hugs and goodbyes

The Kerrville Folk Festival is happy to provide two scholarship opportunities for two songwriters

to attend the 2022 Kerrville Folk Festival Songwriters School free of charge. 

This scholarship is bestowed in memory of Doug Fesler.  To learn about the scholarship, how to apply, and about Doug Fesler, visit this website:  http://dougfeslerscholarshipfund.com/   The deadline to apply is April 18.  Scholarship recipients will be notified by April 24th.

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"You know how it is when you discover something so cool that you want to share it with all of your friends? That's the Kerrville Songwriters School. The faculty is first rate and the student-teacher ratio is the best of any songwriting program that I have attended. Highlights included receiving a constructive song critique (and spontaneous harmony accompaniment) from Kathy Mattea, Steve Seskin, and Bonnie Hayes (head of the songwriting department at Berklee School of Music) and a demo recording session with Lloyd Maines. I'm so glad that I finally gave myself the gift of attending."

Lisa Fancher, Kerrville New Folk award-winning songwriter, lawyer, and performer with Clyde, Gal Dangit!, and Firewater.