Song School

emPower Music & Art's
Totally Cool Song School

February 26, 2018
All Day!

The Beautiful Tampa Westshore Marriott


7th Annual Totally Cool Song School!

Beginning or seasoned songwriters will have the opportunity to take their skills to the next level. Small classes and award winning hit songwriters make this the ultimate learning and fun experience.  This year’s faculty includes: Sloan Wainwright, David Roth, Daniel Nahmod, Freebo.

$199 (2 meals included)


Classes are small, allowing lots of “one on one” time with the instructors.  Most classes are 8 people or less.  Each class is two hours long and you have 2 to choose from in two time slots, along with optional classes, song circles, and private mentoring ( for a nominal extra charge)




Session One:  10 AM-Noon

David Roth:  Prompt Songwriting

We’ve got a couple hours.  There’s no time not to, so let’s write.  A lot.  Prompts.  Exercises.  Wordplay.  Melody-making.  Co-writing.  Improvising.  Bring something to write with.  Ready, set, go!

Freebo: Partial Capo Workshop
   By simply putting on a partial capo, without retuning your guitar, Freebo will show you how to create beautiful new chord voicings, making your songs more interesting and rekindling that immense joy you know you can have when playing guitar. This will be an interactive workshop, so bring your guitar!

Daniel Nahmod: Congregational songwriting intensive.
In this 2-hour workshop, Daniel will discuss and demonstrate how to craft an effective congregational song. We'll explore:

* LYRICS which avoid cliche, over-complexity and jargon as they convey not only a message but, far more importantly, a feeling. 

* MELODY which is accessible, memorable, and compelling, with enough sophistication to remain interesting... but not so much that you lose the room.

* STYLE AND STRUCTURE which welcomes all generations into participation, conforms to the expectations of the genre, and cooperates with, rather than undermines, the intention of the song.

Daniel will discuss some of his best-known congregational songs (Get Ready My Soul, When I Pray, Swing Wide The Doors, Love Is My Decision, etc.) from a songwriting perspective, then guide you in beginning to write your own personal musical prayer to share with your community.

Faith Rivera: How to write songs that showcase your best vocal

For singer/songwriters and songwriters that demo your songs using your own voice, discover ways to write songs that bring out the best in your unique voice.  Whether you are sharing your songs live or in recordings, it is your vocal performance that delivers the feeling & message of your song and ultimately, helps listeners to connect to the music.  By getting familiar
with your own unique vocal qualities, you can begin to shape your songs so
you are able to share them in more impactful ways.  A good song is even better when your vocal performance can add, instead of take away, from its brilliance and full potential.

Some areas we will explore include:  
•    Finding the "right" key and your voice's "sweet spot,"  
•    Writing melodies that best suit your timbre & rhythmic
•    Exploring different genres to discover new cool qualities in your
•    When is it time to "hire" a singer and more!
You will walk away knowing your voice more intimately and as a result, improve your songwriting skills to allow for a more powerful vocal delivery and more heart-felt impact to your listeners.

Feel free to bring: *Short example of your usual vocal style/genre - either live or a recording

Lunch:  12:15 PM-1:30 PM

Second Session:  1:45 PM-3:45 PM

Daniel Nahmod: Good To Great:  A Rewriting Workshop

In this 2 hour workshop, we'll explore the crucial, exciting and painful process of rewriting!  As artists, we tend to think that the flash of inspiration inspires a work of art that's perfect from its inception.  But the CRAFT of songwriting - as well as the art - nearly always calls for re-evaluation of that first version of a song.  What works and what doesn't?  What's too long?  What's not clear?  Is the key right?  Is the tempo, the style, the structure?  In this practical 2 hour workshop, Daniel will demonstrate his own rewriting process, and encourage you in developing your own rewriting skills.  Learn to listen critically (to your own songs, no easy feat!), experiment unsentimentally, make decisive changes, and take your latest (or years-old) creation from good to great.

Faith Rivera: Writing Affirmation Songs
What a time of great change and upheaval!  What is ours to do as songwriters- specifically writers of positive/spiritual/new thought songs?  Where can we channel our love, heartbreak, sometimes anger and transform it into the beginnings of what can be a lasting solution?  
•    Of course the answer is – a song, the music and the collective healing & upliftment that can happen through 3 minutes of beautiful organized sound.
In our time together, we will write 3 power/affirmation songs or chants on who we are and what we stand for, what we will continue to sing for and live for!
•     First our focus will be "I AM" - our own personal mantra of Who I Am in the midst of all that is going on.  
•    Then "YOU ARE" - affirming the love, beauty, etc. we know in others, all others.  
•    And ending with powerful "WE ARE" statements of who we are collectively, pointing the direction of where we are headed and who we have to be along the way.
Through questions, sharing, reflection, prayer, and more guided-activities, you will create your own power/affirmation songs or chants crafted by your own words and inspired by your insights & feelings. These songs and chants are not only a reminder to you of your awesome “you-ness” but a gift to share as a lighthouse, bright spark of hope, groundedness to others at this time of need on our planet.

We will hold the highest and best as we craft our songs & chants.  Our intention is to bring our best as songwriters to the table, leave our complaints and woes at the door, create the space for inspiration & solution-mindedness to guide the way and ultimately to create music that transforms the world by transforming us first.

David Roth:  What’s Goin’ On?  Topical Songwriting in Trying Times

Writing about what’s going on the world never gets old, tho some say the “shelf life” of topical songs is short.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  No matter.  Here’s a class to write and sing about what’s on your mind in this busy and complicated world AND an opportunity to look at things from a broader perspective - yours!

Freebo: “What About the Music?”
So many songwriting classes/workshops focus on lyrics...the poetry, the message, the imagery, the written language... and of course the lyrics are really important. I work really hard on mine. But lyrics alone are a poem, not a song. So in this class, I'd like to focus primarily on the music; helping you find a strong melody that fits your lyrics, streamlining those lyrics so they suggest a simple rhythm, finding the chords that go with your new melody, simple alternate chords to make your song more interesting and musically compelling, and finally creating a chorus, the most important part of your song, the element that stays with the listener....the HOOK! Seems like a lot to accomplish in such a short amount of time....but "If Not Now, When?" Let’s get started!


Optional Mentoring: $25 for 20 minutes   4:00-5:00 PM
David Roth
Daniel Nahmod
Faith Rivera

OR: Optional Class: Richard Mekdeci:  “Songs Held in Mind”

Dinner:  5:30 PM-7:00 PM

Song Circle: 7:30-9 “Share a song in a supportive circle, no critiques”
David Roth (limit 8)
Freebo (limit 8)


Sue Riley:  "Imaginative Imagery: Writing from Prompts"
A mental picture is worth a thousand words.  How can we draw the listener into our song with imagery and details, and get them to connect with our story?  When we perform our songs live we have the opportunity to connect with folks through our music.  What makes our songs stand out from others and makes them something that the listener will remember and want to hear again?  A song rich in imagery can paint a picture in the listeners’ head which they can adapt to their own memories.  Ahhhh, the possibilities are endless!  Be poetic!  Combine your lyrics in new and magical ways!
This creative process workshop will focus on adding more imagery to your writing and you will be writing from prompts.  Please bring pen and paper and prepare to capture the songwriting ideas that this class can generate


Teacher Bios

David Roth has been leading workshops on songwriting, singing, and performance for more than two decades and is honored to be a part of the Posi Music Festival once more.  Now in his 27th year of full-time music-making, David’s songs have found their way to Carnegie Hall, the United Nations, several Chicken Soup for the Soul books, the Kennedy Center, the Kingston Trio, Peter Paul & Mary concerts, NASA’s Space Shuttle Atlantis (his song, “Rocket Science” circled the earth in 2009), the “Rise Up Singing” Songbook, more than 300 New Thought Centers throughout North America, countless coffeehouses, conferences, concert halls, festivals, and 13 CDs on the Wind River and Stockfisch (Germany) labels. The former artist-in-residence at New York’s Omega Institute won his 4th consecutive Posi Award last year (among 10 nominations since we began) and joyfully returns to our gathering from his home on Cape Cod where for the past 8 years he’s hosted the Full Moon Open Mic, providing a forum for local musicians to connect and be heard while at the same time collecting donations for local non-profit organizations. (

Sue Riley is one of the co-founders of empower Music and Arts, dedicated to promoting positive music.  Sue is an award winning songwriter with 8 CDs, multiple songbooks, and other resources.  She tours the country performing in PosiPalooza concerts with other great Posi Music artists. Sue is the Music Director for empower Posi radio, and part of the team that hosts the yearly Posi Festival and various songwriting retreats during the year.  In addition, Sue serves on the board of directors for Summersongs, a songwriting camp held yearly in upstate NY.  Sue is passionate about the power of positive music to change lives.

Richard Mekdeci (mek-dee’-see) is one of the co-founders of empower Music and Arts, dedicated to promoting positive music.  Richard’s experience as speaker, singer and award winning songwriter spans a wide range, from performing with the Florida Symphony Orchestra as a trumpet player, to over 20 years of writing, producing and performing in Nashville Tennessee with artists like Kathy Mattea, Susie Boggus, Patty Loveless, Dolly Parton, Bonnie Nelson, and others. He has produced or co-produced eighteen albums of Posi Music including six projects of his own. During his 10 years at Unity Worldwide Ministries as Sacred Music Resources Coordinator he produced songbooks, the Sound Connections music conference and newsletter and provided music resources to churches around the world.

Looking for the Posi Fest?

Click the butterfly to take you to the Posi Fest page!


Last year's emPower Posi Music Festival,  was a jam packed weekend of music, workshops, and fun.  Here's what some of the attendees are saying about the experience.

"Just want to send you a big hug of appreciation for the Posi gathering. It was really amazing. What a thrill to see so many remarkable artists working together to make such meaningful music. We loved it."  (Flossie Ernzen, Licensed Unity Teacher)

"I am SO enriched by the Posi Festival.. thank you so much!"  (Linda Chubbuck, performing artist)

"You organize a really amazing event—I met so many terrific folks whom I can't wait to see again."  (Jeff Brown)

"I feel so blessed to be in this tribe of amazingly gifted, generous, funny, and inspiring people."  (Karen Drucker, Posi artist)