The 2020 KFF Songwriter School Faculty include:

Steve Seskin,

Director

Kerrville Folk Festival has offered Songwriter 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 Songwriter 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. Songwriter School is limited to 60 to maximize the opportunities for each student to get feedback and receive coaching on their work.

 

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

2020 KFF SONGWRITER 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 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 noon Master class with Terri Hendrix and Lloyd Maines 

How to get past the fear and create a songwriting and or performing situation that’s both fulfilling and artistically rewarding. How to discover your own voice in a sea of other songwriters out there. How to find the magic. Keep the magic. Give the magic. Not burn out. This class is based on the book, “Big Magic.”

Producing, studio, mastering etc Q and A on what to do with your wonderful song once the writing is done!

 

Noon till 1:00 - Lunch 

1:00 till 2:00 pm 

Meet the the full time faculty Steve Seskin, Vance Gilbert, Terri Hendrix, Lloyd Maines, Seth Glier and Bill Nash and talk a bit about the schedule for the week. Some of our part time instructors may attend this as well. 

 

2:00pm to 3:30  -  Afternoon Electives

Lloyd Maines guitar class learn how to use your guitar as an asset rather than a liability. All levels welcome. bring your guitar and learn a few tricks from a master in a group setting.

 

Terri Hendrix Hands on writing exercise…“Pass the Hat” It’s a fun way to get ideas to finish unfinished songs. In a group setting, we each take turns talking about a song we need to finish. Each person in the group has exactly two minutes to write as much as they can on that song topic on one piece of paper in their journal. After two minutes, they rip the page from their journal. They do not sign their name to the page. Everyone’s ideas are folded over, collected, shuffled, and given back to the person who had the song idea. By the time we are done, each person in the group leaves with a “gift.”More about this at the class….

 

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 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. 

Seth Glier will offer a class; topic TBD

 

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 the 1st of many critique sessions for students. During this session we will take a 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. Please bring at least two copies of your lyric.

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. 

Lloyd Maines recording begins. Leave Kerrville with a recording of one of your songs. More on this later.

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 Terri Hendrix, Vance Gilbert, 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

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.

 

10:30 till 10:45 - Break 

10:45 till 12:30  -  Seth Glier Master Class - Topic TBD

12:30 till 1:30 - Lunch 

1:30 till 3:00  -  Afternoon Electives 

Terri Hendrix "The Part That Ain’t Art” Music business made fun. It’s a crash course in all things music business. From the brass tacks of recording to releasing music independently in a digital world. We will discuss it all. 

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 offer the 2nd critique session for students. During this session we will take a 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.

LLOYD MAINES will offer the continued recording session

3 pm till 3:15  -  Break 

3:15 till 5 pm   -  Afternoon Electives 

Seth Glier will offer a class; topic TBD

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. 

Terri Hendrix will offer Hands on writing exercise. Please see Monday at 2:00 for a description of this class.

Steve Seskin will offer a 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 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.

 

Lloyd Maines will continue recording all participants who would like to record a song.

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 Seth Glier, Bill Nash, Steve Seskin and Terri Hendrix 10am till 12:30 five 30 minute slots. 

 

9:30 till 10:45  -  Vance Gilbert master class I Still Got It - Staying Acoustically Relevant After A Certain Age:

This discussion kinda 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 Steve Seskin -  Point of View

In this seminar we explore eight different perspectives to choose from when deciding how your characters can best tell their story. We will look into figuring out how to find the most powerful way to tell any given story. We’ll talk about 1st, 2nd, 3rd person and various combinations as well. We will then look into more complex ways to use perspective to bring out the most emotion in all your lyrics. I believe this is one of the most important lessons on the road to writing great songs.

 

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 dont’s, 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 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. 

Steve Seskin and Terri Hendrix will critique songs again together. Please see Monday at 1:30 for a description

Vance Gilbert Jazz Standards the VanceWay 

"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 a capella, 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. “

 

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

 

THURSDAY 

9 am till 10:30 am Mentoring will be offered byTerri Hendrix Bill Nash and Vance Gilbert. Four 30 minute slots will be available for each of them.

 

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  -  Terri Hendrix Hands on writing exercise…“Pass the Hat”

It’s a fun way to get ideas to finish unfinished songs. In a group setting, we each take turns talking about a song we need to finish. Each person in the group has exactly two minutes to write as much as they can on that song topic on one piece of paper in their journal. After two minutes, they rip the page from their journal. They do not sign their name to the page. Everyone’s ideas are folded over, collected, shuffled, and given back to the person who had the song idea. By the time we are done, each person in the group leaves with a “gift.” More about this at the class….

 

Steve Seskin will offer will offer one of many critique sessions for students. During this session we will take a 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.

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. 

 

Lloyd Maines. More recording

 

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. 

Seth Glier will offer TBD

 

Lloyd Maines More recording

 

Terri Hendrix  "The Part That Ain’t Art” Music business made fun. It’s a crash course in all things music business. From the brass tacks of recording to releasing music independently in a digital world. We will    discuss it all. 

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 

"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

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