2023 Songwriting Workshops

February 2-5, 2023  ***SOLD OUT***

We have a few openings available for our virtual songwriter workshop Feb. 2-5 with instructors Eliza Gilkyson, John Gorka, and Don Richmond . We create a safe environment within which to expand your songwriting vocabulary in a very supportive group setting. We have daily discussions, prompts, friendly song critique sessions and evening performances. We have a lot of fun and we work hard with killer results. It has been a real joy to come together online and leave the world behind for a weekend and just spark the flame of creativity with like minded souls. Join us?

We generally work on your songs in the group circle where we provide supportive suggestions and clues. We have found that the group learns more from hearing these in-group discussions than they would from the “talking head” instruction style. These are really One-on-Ones in the company of the group. Writers begin to discern certain cumulative patterns, tips and lessons that emerge from each song presentation in the group.

We give out daily writing assignments that writers can work on in their spare time as well as during the group circle sessions.  We have morning and afternoon sessions, writing periods and a critique-free performance session on Friday and Saturday evening.

We invite students to bring songs they are working on in any stage of the process, from snippets of ideas to full blown pieces, songs where you have gotten stuck or need a bit of direction. We love working with your ”starts” and want to help you with the “finish”.

Most importantly we want you to know that we NEVER make judgments about anyone’s works in progress or “levels” of expertise. We are just grateful to explore creativity with each one of you as it expresses itself uniquely for each writer.

We will have a test run soundcheck session before the workshop to make sure you have mastered the complexities of Zoom audio/video format, and we have Cisco Ryder on hand to meet with you before the test run to go over any specific technical questions you may have.

Registration is $500 per person.

~ Eliza

John Gorka
Don Richmond

For all inquiries, please email Michael Elliott



June 18 – 21, 2020  ***SOLD OUT***

Join songwriters John Gorka, Don Richmond, and Eliza Gilkyson for their annual workshop at Casa de Musica, Eliza’s beautiful adobe hacienda located at the foot of Taos Mountain in the village of Arroyo Seco, just 15 minutes north of Taos, New Mexico. These three world-renowned artists bring years of experience and craftsmanship to their workshop, and they are excited to help you unlock your songwriting potential, regardless of your level of experience.

We are also pleased that Cisco Ryder Gilliland will be joining us again for another adventure down the songwriting trail. Cisco brings over twenty years of drumming experience and has been recording and producing for over ten years. The Nocturne Diaries which he recorded and co-produced in 2015 was nominated for a Grammy. Eliza’s latest album, SECULARIA, was produced by Cisco and has received rave reviews.

Cisco will be setting-up a small studio during the June workshop and will not only offer recording tips, tricks, and advice, but also the chance for students to record a song over the weekend.


August 13 – 16, 2020

Come join Eliza Gilkyson and Mary Gauthier for their fourth joint songwriting workshop at Casa de Musica. Mary and Eliza are pleased to announce that the director of the esteemed Yosemite Songwriter Retreat, Gail Dreifus, will join us again for the workshop, helping facilitate the flow of work and play throughout the weekend. Gail is a songwriter/performer herself and is going to run the evening song circle jam sessions.

And – back by popular demand – on Saturday the southwest’s beloved musician/producer/songwriter Don Richmond will join us to bring his expertise to the adventure.

Our intention is to create a non-judgmental safe environment to facilitate exploring the mystery and the crafting of songwriting, working together to reach the depths of self- expression.

“The combination of Mary Gauthier and Eliza Gilkyson . . . is a powerful journey into the world of accomplished, award-winning women who write and sing folk music. Pulling no punches and writing from their own worlds and experiences, this is complex and dramatic music, personal experiences reinvented for all of us to relate to.”

The songwriting sessions are designed to inspire and instruct, to challenge and support, and to move you further along your songwriting path. The instructors will work in one-on-one and group sessions every day and into the evenings. The days are organized around group gatherings, where all participants come together for discussion and song-sharing, then break down into smaller groupings and co-writing opportunities, as well as signing up for individual sessions with the instructors.

A continental breakfast and catered lunch spread are provided on-site. Dinner and lodging not included. Dietary restrictions are taken into consideration, just let us know ahead of time. You are on your own for dinner break, but evening sessions carry on into the night, with jamming around the fire-pit on the patio or in the spacious living area of Casa de Musica.

Tuition for either workshop is $1000 per person, plus 7.32% NM combined state and county tax.  A $100 deposit will reserve your space and installment payments are accepted with payment due in full by July 13, 2020.

More Information:

  • Casa de Musica on Facebook – for details about the August 13 – 16, 2020 workshop, including pricing, nearby lodging, meals, and the venue.
  • For questions or to request a link to the brief online registration form contact Michael Elliott at cdmusica777@gmail.com


John Gorka · Don Richmond · Cisco Ryder Gilliland · Mary Gauthier  ·  Gail Dreifus

June 2018 Songwriting Workshop


June 2017 Songwriting Workshop


July 2017 Songwriting Workshop