SummerSongs is a community for singer songwriters to feel supported emotionally and technically to pursue the passion of making original music. The camps are the main event, happening twice per year on both coasts. This community has been instrumental for me in finding the motivation to write and perform my original music in an environment of encouragement, technical expertise, and friendship; with classes on song crafting, guitar playing, harmony, performance, as well as a wonderful venue to meet other musicians. This is my musical family, a special group of extraordinarily talented and fun-loving folks. I'm a lifer!
SummerSongs West Songwriting Camp has truly been a life changing experience for me. There is also a SummerSongs East camp in New York for those on the East coast. I attended my first SummerSongs West camp in summer of 2005 and I have not missed one of the two annual camps (SummerSongs West & WinterSongs West) since then. That's 13 camps! And, I'm not alone. The teachers and students I have met at this camp have become like family...we call ourselves a "tribe" because there is an overwhelming feeling from everyone of having found a significant group of like-minded and like-hearted people. The founder, Penny Nichols is wonderful to have started such a safe and supportive place for songwriters to come and hone their craft. And it doesn't matter if you are a beginner or an old pro, the playing field is leveled at camp and everyone shares their unique gifts and talents without fear of being critiqued. All feedback is positive and constructive and meant to help you grow, not shrink from criticism. There is something for everyone at the camps. Our nightly "Coffeehouse" performances are fun and some of the best songwriting I have ever heard! The staff of teachers are very talented, experienced, inspiring and supportive in their workshops. And they are always open to one-on-one help if you want it. I could go on and on, but I can tell you that if you have ever thought you would like to meet other songwriters and explore songwriting, singing and vocal techniques, music (guitar and piano), harmony singing, and more, then the folks at SummerSongs camps will warmly welcome you to the tribe.
My name is Sheldon, singer for 45 years now mostly in jazz, opera, and classical. My greatest yearning has always been to express my deepest feelings through singing (opera can be really good for that). I tried for years to write my own songs but always hit a wall and gave up. After 911, I just lost the desire to sing anything but what was closest to me (and not in any foreign language), so I essentially stopped performing. And then I found Summersongs songwriting camp! In an environment of such profound support, encouragement, skill, fun, and inspiration I broke through a thick wall called "I can't" and now find "I can" write songs that express my deepest yearnings and I love performing them. This has made an incredibly big shift in my life in all aspects. I continue to go to the Summersongs songwriting camps for the loving supportive community, extreme joy and valuable knowledge that helps me express myself in my own unique way.
While best known as a songwriters’ organization, Summersongs helped me beyond measure in performance skills, from introducing a song to microphone techniques, to making connection to the audience, to gracious acknowledgement of applause. I learned vocal exercises that I use without fail before performances or recording. I received advice that helped me fine-tune songs that were accepted on a major label as well as independent labels. I learned recording techniques that changed my whole approach to the process. Summersongs is the whole package, taught by some of my most admired and stunningly skilled professionals. It is also a loving, accepting music community, offering gentle guidance with positive reinforcement led by proven recording artists and performers. Summersongs is an unforgettable experience in every way.
SummerSongs has taught me so many things about music that it would be impossible to list them all. From performance skills, vocal training, songwriting by genre, guitar classes of all types, to recording skills, it has been invaluable to me.The abilities of the instructional staff have been consistentlyoutstanding. Most of all, it has repeatedly inspired me, re-ignited my creative flame, and made me feel a part of an extended musical family.
Summersongs Songwriting Camp changed my life and in turn I have been empowered to reach out and effect change in my own community! Founder and director Penny Nichols created a model for how to run a songwriting camp that is the most effective I have ever experienced. Beyond improving my songwriting and performing, it inspired me to form a local songwriter's group based on her model and then to found an acoustic performance venue that also serves to benefit a local not-for-profit land conservation trust. Artists that perform at the venue also conduct workshops for our community at our venue (as well as in the public schools) which are similar to those I attended at Summersongs. What is so special about Penny Nichol's model? Summersongs provides an emotionally safe environment for artists to take risks and test their limits. Commentary must be solicited directly by each artist according to their desire for input - and when it is given it must always be constructive and kind. The faculty is strictly held accountable to maintain this environment in their classes as well as in song circles. Also, mutual respect for each musician's abilities and artistry is encouraged by requiring everyone that participates in a song circle to listen to everyone in the circle if they are to participate in a round. What happens over the course of camp is quite remarkable. I have seen so many lives enhanced and enriched not only by the musical gifts that are shared and developed at camp, but also by the sense of community and the deep friendships that are formed over the years by the participants that attend. I have never seen anything quite like it. The many connections and friendships I've made continue throughout the year. What attendees learn in camp they take back to their communities, empowered to make a difference where they live. In the future I am looking toward to starting a similar songwriting camp here in Florida. After each camp we all fill out comment sheets giving feedback on the faculty, our personal experiences, and suggestions for improving the camp experience. It is clear from my years of going to camp that those suggestions are carefully considered and acted upon if deemed appropriate. Over time they have found a strong faculty base to draw on and are always trying new faculty after careful screening. The decisions to have faculty come back are very much based on the experience of the campers with those members. Please consider granted an award to Summersongs Songwriting Camp for it's role is promoting the arts while empowering artists to promote the arts in their own communities.
SummerSongs is a life-changing paradise for songwriters, poets, singers, seekers, and lovers. Set in pristine land in upstate NY (and now in Cambria, Cali), SummerSongs opened me up at a critical time of my life, when I was trying to reconnect with my creative self. Communing with nature, surrounded by open, humble, creative, and giving artists--teachers and students alike--SummerSongs is a nurturing community that will inspire and humble you. From professionals to beginners, SummerSongs has something for everybody, but mostly it is an accepting and giving community of creative people. It will change your life too. Twelve years and one precious CD later, I am forever grateful to founder Penny Nichols and all the beautiful people that stoke the flames of this bonfire of humanity. : ) http://www.reverbnation.com/fredarcoleo
Largely because of this group, I started singing again, and all the things that follow a voice re-opened! This is a very worthy, enormously talented group!
I first heard about SummerSongs from its founder, Penny Nichols, but was a bit skeptical that it could be as good as she claimed. After finally making the trip to upstate New York from California, I realized that I had found something so precious that I wanted to go back again and again. So I did. Now I teach at the SummerSongs West and WinterSongs West camps in Cambria, California, and donate money to the foundation when I can afford it. Our job on staff there is to encourage the campers in whatever ways they need to be encouraged. This is not a "music industry" camp where we criticize songs that are not hits, but rather a personal creativity camp where each participant is encouraged to write songs, perform them, and grow in the process. And since everyone is in the same boat, so to speak, the camaraderie and friendships formed are strong and lasting. And there is no boundaries between students and teachers - we are all students at camp! I also find that helping others reach their musical goals has the unexpected result of boosting my own creative output.
SUMMERSONGS -- I first heard about Summersongs, by word-of-mouth, from a friend I had met while serving as a band videographer years back. She said that this songwriting camp was the perfect vehicle to get out from behind my camera and start writing and performing like I had always wanted. Up until then, I didn't know how to even get started writing songs or performing in front of other people. In fact, I wasn't sure I had the "right stuff" to even do this, figuring that musicians were born, not made. But I wanted to learn, and from what I was told, Summersongs was a warm, nurturing community to start learning, making some mistakes in a non-judging environment, and growing step-by-step. With a little healthy skepticism, I signed-up for a camp, fully expecting that it couldn't be as perfect as billed. But I figured it was better than just sitting around wishing I could change. What i found, at my first camp in the summer of 2008, was an eye-opener -- a beautiful camp setting in the NY Catskills, and even more important, beautiful people who loved music and loved sharing their knowledge about it. That week, I learned how to approach writing songs and, just as importantly, how to break my writer's block (which often struck me at the time). I learned to accept my own musical vision and my own style as worthwhile while bringing it out from my heart and mind to my voice and guitar. I learned that I COULD change and even progress at my own pace, all the while having a blast! I have been a regular at camp ever since, treasuring it as much as a learning time as a social reunion with kindred spirits. More than that, I have started taking my music and performing it outside of camp for others who now look at me and say, "I wish I could do that, but...." I can honestly and open-heartedly recommend Summersongs to them and anyone else looking for a change to do just as I did -- live my dreams, grow, have fun, and pass the helping hand to others.
My experience with Summersongs only goes back two years, but what's now more important is that this experience will be continued for many more years in the future. I'm a middle-aged techie who has loved music all my life. Long ago, I decided to pursue a mostly non-music career based on a skewed perception that creating music was the province of the few and the gifted. But I always wondered what it could be like for me. A couple years back, at the urging of a friend, I attended my first Summersongs camp. It was like a revelation! This diverse of community of kindred spirits showed me how accessible my dream of becoming more musically creative really was. Even though we are united by our love of music, we also share compassion, knowledge and true friendship while helping each other realize our aspirations. For me, this transcendance allows me to reshape my vision of my future in a decidedly more musically-active direction. Thanks to Summersongs, I'm writing, performing and learning more every day. The community of Summersongs friendship keeps me going all year round, even when not in camp, but returning to this newfound world is always anticipated. Penny Nichols epitomizes the Summersongs experience, and attracts, nurtures, and binds us all in our creative journeys. My life has been immensely richer for this experience!
I have been attending Summersongs camps since 2008 and they have had a profound effect on my musical journey. Penny Nichols has created a wonderfully supportive group of instructors who not only are masters at their crafts but will nurture your soul as they help you grow musically.
Review from Guidestar