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"Bill Pere embodies the link between music and science" -- The New York Times

(click here for 2011 retreat)
(Conducted by Bill Pere, based on his popular "Songcrafters Coloring Book: The Essential Guide to Effective and Successful Songwriting", and by Kay Pere, nationally known voice and creativity coach

Songwriters from 4 states from Vermont to Florida gathered for a weekend in the woods, overlooking Billings Lake in North Stonington, CT.   Three days of intensive master classes , good meals, and good company proved to be a refreshing, renewing, and inspiring time for all in attendance.   Below are some photos and comments from attendees.

___Great weekend. We had some talented people in various stages of their development as songwriters. Everyone enjoyed the new relationships we were able to build and the things we learned from each other. I thought the sessions were extremely informative, and definitely improved our understanding of the basics of our craft. I strongly recommend that anyone who has the opportunity to attend one of these events in the future certainly do so. Anyone who is not a member of Connecticut Songwriters should seriously consider joining. – Jim Hendricks, singer-songwriter, Connecticut

___I had a great time.  It was a productive weekend and I think we would all agree. What's interesting is that despite our varied backgrounds and experience, we all came away with some valuable experience. Also, I found the sessions on creativity, business, and Myer-Briggs to be as helpful as the songwriting sessions. Overall, I came away inspired and see the experience as a valuable step on my journey as a songwriter. I'm sure I'll be seeing you at CSA events over the course of the year. – Gary DeMichele, Singer-songwriter, Connecticut

___Thank you for a very special weekend. The setting was beautiful, the hospitality fantastic, the accommodations were very good and the food was great.  However, the best came with the very knowledgeable and helpful instruction along with the honest and productive critiques and advice. Everything exceeded my expectations.  It was a very worthwhile weekend.Ü Thanks again for the opportunity to attend and your efforts to make it so successful. – Art Meister, singer-songwriter Essex, CT

___ I have never been captivated by a textbook like I was by this one and when I saw that Bill was conducting a  songwriters retreat in Connecticut, I knew this was an event I definitely wanted to attend.
     The weekend was everything I had hoped for and more. The group was small (12 songwriters all at varying levels) The setting was beautiful.. The course followed the text (and beyond) and also included several critique sessions where direct constructive feedback was given to each individual songwriter about their own work.     
     It was a “bonus” and a surprise to me that Bill’s wife Kay is also an accomplished artist who has a wide reputation as one of the premier vocal instructors in the Northeast. Kay conducted several sessions during the weekend including vocal coaching and a workshop on what she has dubbed the “Creative Compass” (designed to outline the cyclical nature of the creative process). She and Bill together also conducted a very interesting session on the selection of vowel and consonant sounds for songs. Kay was a highlight of the weekend and the two of them together are an incredible teaching pair. Throughout the course, Bill instructed us on what he calls “The Seven Foundations of Effective and Successful Songwriting"
       We had the privilege of performing our own songs for the group and receiving direct critique from Bill. This was the part of the session that I had the most angst about before leaving home (particularly because I have not written many songs or shared them with others). The critique session quickly became one of my favorite parts of the weekend as Bill and Kay created a very safe environment in which to receive constructive feedback. Bill emphasized that there will always be someone who will like any song, but also, that all songs can be improved to appeal to a larger audience.
    Good songs deserve to be worked on and good audiences deserve to hear songs which have been crafted with thoughtfulness and effort. The feedback was not about right or wrong, but rather about choices and a desire to improve. As it turns out, my songs need a lot of work, but I’m grateful that I have received the feedback and I now have some knowledge with which to move forward and make improvements with my own "eyes-wide-open" – I have done some work since and the songs are better (Bill was right!)
     Finally, the last exercise of the weekend was a collaboration project. This was the perfect ending to the perfect weekend. One of the things that we discussed is that because a song is a form of communication. In order to write a song that reaches the largest audience, there needs to be input from people with different communication styles. Bill used the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to pair us up with our opposites and sent us off to write a song. It was VERY interesting, and VERY fun. I never thought that I would be able to collaborate on a song, but this exercise opened my eyes to collaboration and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to do more of it.   After reading his book and attending his workshop, I have a great respect for Bill Pere as an artist and a teacher.
 --  Cecilia Dahl, singer -songwriter, Boston, MA

___It was an eye-opener and provided invaluable tools on effectively honing a songwriter's skills. I realized the areas where I can significantly improve; having this retreat provided more options for me to utilize. Most importantly it pushed me to be and do better as songwriter and artist. I really do wish the retreat was longer; the setting was ideal, and the relationships formed reflected a musical bond that was natural. Its really up to me. I have the choice - more choices I see now. Thank you isn't enough BIll & Kay. But thank you. – Melissa Ternier, singer-songwriter, Stamford CT

     ___It was a blast and we had pizza and pillow fights and ghosts stories and… well maybe not ghost stories, but it was a lot of fun and man did I learn a ton of new stuff about writing good songs and making my songs even better.
     I went there to get help with my lyric writing mainly. I wanted to learn how to write more easily and with some purpose and I think I got some good ways of doing that. There sure was a lot to write down and talk about!
     It’s a great idea because we were really isolated from everything else – you know – school, the Mall, boyfriends, girlfriends, and we had to really concentrate on writing songs. Bill and Kay sure know their stuff too. It’s a humbling experience to play a song in front of a bunch of strangers and then, have it dissected and analyzed. But that’s what I went there for.  Mom and Dad paid good money so I could get good advice and not to have someone say – Great Job – I can get that from Grandma plus a pinch on the cheek.
     Bill was a great teacher (you should check out his book called The Songcrafters’ Coloring Book) and he taught us cool ideas like prosody, semantics and phonetics. I never really think about a lot of this stuff when I sit down to write a song and it’s probably why my head feels like it’s gonna explode when I am trying to finish a song. But I sure will use it now because it really makes sense and I hate feeling like I’m looking for something in a dark closet when I’m writing (ha that’s funny, a dark closet…).
     I also got a cool vocal lesson from Kay (Bill’s wife). I need to learn how to really make my words be understood and she had some fool-proof techniques for making the words come out right!
     We also did some collaboration which was fun – want to do more. It was a weekend well spent – new friends, new ideas, new songs to come! –
Darryl Gregory, singer-songwriter, Sandy Hook, CT

(click here for 2011 Retreat Photos and Reactions) 

( See here what others have said )

Check out these samples from the book

Bill Pere is widely regarded as one of the top songwriting analysts and critiquers in the industry today