Over the past few years Iâ€™ve consciously focused on â€œprogramming
inâ€ more quality time away the biz of music, from the regular
routineâ€¦.and the list of chores at home. Scheduling in
that artist time has made a big difference in how much writing
I get done, because often times what I need is a couple days
of continuous focus, verses a two hour segment, every other day.
I have my private places I can go to for isolationâ€¦â€¦but
there is also the option of going to where there are a whole group
of people who are doing the same thing: paying close attention
to their creative energyâ€¦â€¦and giving it the time and attention
itâ€™s been waiting for. There is something special about sharing
that retreat time, especially with those who are doing the same
workâ€¦â€¦(and who, like you, may need someoneâ€™s fresh ears to bounce
a new idea off of). In that inspired atmosphere there can
be a lot of synergy that comes into play, in both group and individual
This island in Rainy Lake (on the border of Minnesota and Canada)
is as fine a place for a retreat as I can think of. It
has all the isolated beauty that you can imagineâ€¦..and an amazing
rustic feel. It is the former home of Ernest Oberholtzer,
whoâ€™s legacy as an outdoorsman and a protector of wilderness
is still very present in the cabins, and library and charm of
this quiet corner of the globe (in that portion of the lake,
the proportion of humans to eagles is probably close to one to
The Oberholtzer Foundation now protects this pristine
refuge, and programs the summer weeks for different groups, from
poets, to photographers, to painters, to songwriters This
year (2010) I will be organizing the ten folks who comprise the
songwriterâ€™s group. I invite anyone who is interested, to
contact me about joining us for the week (which hasnâ€™t been nailed
down yet, but will probably be in the second half of August this
year). I can provide more information and websites to go
to, for those interested.
What I can say about this jewel of an island isâ€¦.Iâ€™ve
been there for the last three summers and I hope to continue going
for as long as Iâ€™m able. Each group is uniqueâ€¦â€¦..with different
talents and gifts to share. But itâ€™s the work and the play
and the comaraderie that make it an amazing experience. To see more photos.
Another jewel, in a completely different setting,
Full Circle retreat is located in the coulee region of southwest
Wisconsinâ€¦..with long wooded valleys, trout streams, and a smattering
of old farmhouses.
Like Mallard, there are different groups who meet
to workshop their respective art formsâ€¦..but at Full Circle these
are primarily weekend retreats (more realistic, for many). And
unlike Mallard Island, this is a weekend that I facilitate as a
full workshop. Hereâ€™s a descriptionâ€¦
How do songs get written? There are about as many
ways to write them as there are songs. Songs are an intersection
of story and music that has no address, no formula, and no timetable.
This workshop is a time to let the playful writer in you put
some of your stories to music. Discover ways of writing and of
playing music that spawn melodies and images....that have not
yet been joined, not yet been sung. The ability to play an instrument
isn't required for the workshop (although, if you have one, please
bring it along).
All writing experience levels are welcome.
The songwriterâ€™s weekend in 2010 will be the weekend
of Sept. 24-26 (Fri.-Sun). For more details, contact Kathleen
Grittner at Kathleen@fullcircleretreat.comâ€¦..or call 608-675-3828
(April through October) or 952-920-2384 (November through March).
This is another pristine spot to immerse yourself
in a verdant landscape that is uniqueâ€¦and a night sky where the
stars have little competition.
I find the workshop/retreat work very gratifying.
For those of you who know of other retreats....and workshopsâ€¦.for
songwriting, please pass on your connections. There can always
be more creative time programmed inâ€¦to offset that unending home