Songwriters Workshop

Songwriting is a craft. It requires an understanding of the construction of songs, different rhyme patterns, meter, and the methods of how to wrap your story up in about three minutes so that the listener “get it”.

Songwriting workshops also offer the opportunity to spend time with others who are as excited about songwriting as you are which can spark your creative energy in ways you have never imagined and sometimes even help you discover a songwriter to co-write with!

Unlike a jam camp where a musician might jump from one instructor to the other playing different instruments, attending the songwriting workshop at Strawberry Jam Camp requires a full commitment of the two and half days because the class covers many things that will not be repeated as the class continues and the goal of the class is to have you writing a song with the oversight of your instructors and using the tools you have learned during the workshop.

Donna Ulisse & Rick Stanley: Instructors for 2018 Songwriting Workshop

Between Donna and Rick, they have had songs recorded by Doyle Lawson, Larry Stephenson, Claire Lynch, Darin & Brooke Aldridge, Nu-Blu, Keith Whitley (when part of Ralph Stanley’s band), Don Rigsby, & Volume Five to name a few. Donna also had a song on the Grammy winning album Streets of Baltimore by Del McCoury Band. She is also the author of the The Songwriter in Me: Snapshots of My Creative Process and has recorded many songs she and Rick co-wrote on her nine album releases that have been at the top of many bluegrass and Roots Music charts. Donna was named the 2016 IBMA Songwriter of the Year. In 2017 she won the IBMA Song of the Year Award for writing the bluegrass hit, “I Am A Drifter”, recorded by Volume Five and in 2018 she was named SPBGMA Songwriter of the Year.

When you spend a few days in a songwriting workshop with these two instructors you will cover a lot of ground! Beginning songwriters to longtime songwriters are welcome! Be sure to bring paper and pencil, laptop or any writing tools you use as well as the instrument you write with.


Song Critique

Bring a song you would like to share. It can be partially formed or complete. You can perform it in front of the class or just read the lyric if there is no melody yet and Rick and Donna will share their insights on the strong parts of the songs and areas you might be able to strengthen. If you don’t have anything, you can just be a part of hearing the other songs and suggestions. 

Nuts and Bolts of Songwriting

will be covered including rhyme patterns, what a “hook” is, titling your song, how to tighten your lyric, using imagery in your lyric to make it more interesting, meter, song scrapping (how to observe life around you for song ideas), marrying a lyric to the right melody, how to write melody if you don’t play an instrument, what is a bridge and when does a song need one, and so much more.


During this workshop you will meet and bond with other writers. Rick and Donna will pair you up with someone else in the class and give you a writing assignment. You will work on co-writing a song and your instructors will offer insight and some assistance along the way. Many people who attend a songwriting workshop have never co-written, but it is very useful practice to grow as a songwriter and steps out of your comfort zone. 

Question and Answer Session

There will be plenty of time for questions if they don’t cover something you need help on.