Click here for the Song Camp Italy schedule overview, which includes meals, breaks, open mics and song circles.

Class descriptions appear below the schedule.

Times, details and instructors are subject to change. The information posted reflects the most up-to-date information currently available.


Wednesday, 4 October

9:30am - 9:50am
2023 Song Camp Italy Opening Community Sing

led by John McCutcheon, on the restaurant terrace


10:00am - 12:30pm - Morning Songwriting Classes

Directed Writing 1 with Paul Reisler in Conference Room 1
It is recommended that all students take Paul's "Directed Writing" class, unless they've taken this class before. Students will need to attend Paul's "Directed Writing" classes all 3 days it's offered, and will expected to share their song during Saturday's session.

Happily Ever After: The Marriage of Music and Meaning with Susan Cattaneo in Conference Center Courtyard

Writing On Purpose with John McCutcheon in Conference Center Bar


2:15pm - 4:15pm - Afternoon Songwriting Classes

Creating Memorable Melodies with Paul Reisler in Conference Room 1

Guitarama with Matt Backer

Songwriter's Master Toolkit: Overcoming Creative Paralysis in Your Songwriting with Susan Cattaneo

The Art of Performance with Steve Poltz


4:30pm - 6:00pm - Elective Classes

Write A Jingle with Steve Poltz

To Sing or Not to Sing? SING, of course! with Susan Cattaneo

Coaching & Mentoring with Matt Backer in Conference Room 2

Traditional Music with John McCutcheon in Conference Room 1



Thursday, 5 October

10:00am - 12:30pm - Morning Songwriting Classes

Directed Writing  2 with Paul Reisler
(Must have taken Directed Writing 1 to attend)

Story with John McCutcheon

In Service To The Song with Matt Backer


2:15pm - 4:15pm - Afternoon Songwriting Classes

Harmony & Chord Substitution with Paul Reisler

Shotgun Co-Write with Steve Poltz and John McCutcheon

The Devil's In The Details... and so is a great song! with Susan Cattaneo


4:30pm - 6:00pm - Elective Classes

The Edit Point: Writing for Production Music (Film + TV) with Matt Backer

Coaching & Mentoring with Steve Poltz

Painting With Words with Susan Cattaneo



Friday, 6 October

10:00am - 12:30pm - Morning Songwriting Classes

Directed Writing  3 with Paul Reisler
(Must have taken Directed Writing 1 + 2 to attend)

Song Critiques with Susan Cattaneo

Coaching & Mentoring with Matt Backer


2:15pm - 4:15pm - Afternoon Songwriting Classes

Advanced Harmony & Chord Substitution with Paul Reisler

Let's Do A Nashville Co-Write with Steve Poltz

Me, Myself and I Workshop with Susan Cattaneo


4:30pm - 6:00pm - Elective Classes

Voice: Point of View in Songwriting with John McCutcheon

Social Media can be FUN! with Susan Cattaneo

Please RELEASE ME! Best practices for releasing new music in 2023 - 2024 with Chicago Mike Beck and Jenn Cleary


8:00pm - 11:00pm - Concerto di Chiusura #1

featuring Steve Poltz, The Reislers and Matt Backer



Saturday, 7 October

10:00am - 12:30pm - Morning Songwriting Classes

The Parallel Universe: Group Songwriting with Paul Reisler

The Art of Performance 2 with Steve Poltz

Song Critiques with John McCutcheon


2:15pm - 3:30pm - Afternoon Session

Songwriting Panel Discussion
with Paul Reisler, John McCutcheon, Steve Poltz, Susan Cattaneo and Matt Backer


3:45pm - 5:15pm - Elective Session

Sharing of songs from the Directed Writing class with Paul Reisler


5:30pm - 6:00pm
Closing Community Sing

led by John McCutcheon


8:00pm - 11:00pm - Concerto di Chiusura #2

featuring John McCutcheon, Rahel n Beck and Susan Cattaneo



Class Descriptions


John McCutcheon

Writing on Purpose
Have an idea, an insight, an opinion you want to sing about? Here's a discussion and demonstration about how to begin to communicate clearly and connect with your songs. It's not about saying what you want to say, it's about communicating. Whether it be politics, faith, or telling a story you think people ought to hear, it takes thought and attention.

Story is the connective tissue of humanity. It's how we learn and talk about ourselves, how we find our place in the world, how we discover others. This session is about what to tell, how to tell, how to engage, and how to keep folks in the thrall of the story right up to the end.

Voice: Point of View in Songwriting
Who is singing the song, telling the story, speaking up? This is really about empathy, letting your narrator, your characters really be themselves, not merely avatars of you, the writer. One of the wonderful things about songwriting is to create and occupy a world that is fresh territory for you, the writer, and for the listening. Take everyone on a ride for 3-4 minutes. It requires skill, imagination, and humility.

Traditional Music
This is where it all began for me and where it is all still rooted. Traditional songs were written by someone, of course, but survived solely on merit, one person at a time. No recordings, no videos, no "here is a new song by so-and-so." Sing, Remember, Repeat. Period. Few "modern " songs could survive such a gauntlet. What forms, skills, and insights can we gain by immersing ourselves in this music that is the source of all the world's music?

Shotgun Co-write (with Steve Poltz)
In this class you will bear witness to the birth of a baby lamb. Oops. I mean song. You will be watching two songwriters start with a blank page and (hopefully) create a song while you watch. You'll learn about making choices quickly and the give and take of bringing out the best in each other. It's a fun class and takes the pressure off of you. It's like watching a car crash only there are no injuries other than bruised egos.


Steve Poltz

Write a Jingle
You are going to write a jingle! We're going to pretend someone hired you to write a song for a huge advertising firm. It can be a jingle for a product you loathe like maybe Monsanto, or, a ditty for a product you absolutely love. Keep it short. 15 seconds to 90 seconds. Yes, 90 seconds is still cool. You can do it a capella or use whatever instrument you like. Let your freak flag fly and most importantly, MAKE MISTAKES! Let's open up our brains, tell stories and have some fun. It's not rocket science. Or is it? I think it's magic.

Let's Do a Nashville Co-write
We'll pair you up with someone to write a brand new song. We'll give you a phrase and some guidelines to help speed up the process. You'll write a song and perform it. You'll have a deadline. Mission impossible? No! It will be awesome.

The Art of Performance
Over the years after making countless blunders on stage, I've learned a few things. I can't remember what I've learned, but I do remember that it's important to set up your songs on stage and put on a show. You take the audience on a journey. A great performance involves the audience. It's a conversation, not a watch me shine. You are giving them a reason to listen and relate to your song. We'll talk about setting up the song and how to create an arc to your set. We'll also cover some of the nuts and bolts of performing, including sound check, commanding the stage, and reading the audience.

Shotgun Co-write (with John McCutcheon)
In this class you will bear witness to the birth of a baby lamb. Oops. I mean song. You will be watching two songwriters start with a blank page and (hopefully) create a song while you watch. You'll learn about making choices quickly and the give and take of bringing out the best in each other. It's a fun class and takes the pressure off of you. It's like watching a car crash only there are no injuries other than bruised egos.


Paul Reisler

Directed Writing
Thirty years ago, a friend gave me the best advice I've ever heard regarding songwriting. He told me to get up every morning and write a song, complete it, and put it in a file folder and not look at it for 6 months. Not a good song or a long song necessarily, just a song. Two years and several hundred songs later, I realized that I had not only learned a lot about the craft of songwriting, but a great deal about how to generate ideas and images and carry them through, how to dance around writer's block and how to fool myself into approaching my writing in a fresh way each day. If you want to write songs on a regular basis, you need a reliable technique that you can use whenever you sit down to write. You'll be writing a song during this workshop and gathering the tools you'll need to write on a daily basis.

This class will be presented each morning of Song Camp Italy and attendance at all sessions is required.

Harmony and Chord Substitution
We'll learn how to set chords to your melody, how to shade the emotion of the moment with a proper choice of chords, chord types and substitutions, using harmony to control forward motion, creating contrast in your song structure, and much more. In addition, we'll take one song and harmonize it in 8 different ways using different types of chord substitutions. Again, this is a participatory workshop that will give you specific techniques and inspiration to use in your music.

Advanced Harmony and Chord Substitution (alt title: "Does your truth requires more than Three Chords")
Sure, three chords and the truth works for some songs. But it's a bit like writing a story with just nouns and verbs – It covers the black and white, and perhaps the primary colors. To really paint the picture, you need the subtle emotional shading – the adverbs and adjectives – that a more extended harmonic language can provide. If you want to add some color to your palette, this class is for you. While this might sound complex and scary to the theory-phobic, we promise to lead you through it in an accessible and fun way so that you'll understand how to use it and why it works.

We'll be looking at techniques such as cadences, extended chords, voice leading, borrowed chords, secondary dominants, diminished ii-V-I progressions, flat 5 substitutions, modulation and perhaps even negative harmony. We'll also look at a really incredible program that lays out the chord substitutions in an organized way. There will be lots of examples of the techniques in a wide range of styles. Participation in Paul's regular Harmony and Chord Substitution class is a prerequisite.

Creating Memorable Melodies
This workshop explores melody and its magical interaction with a lyric. Melody and speech are fruits of the same tree--the words are in the music and the music is in the words. There is music in the way we speak and melody is but an amplification and embellishment of the natural rhythm and pitch of our speech. There will be lots of techniques for building melodies from short motifs. We'll explore what makes a melody memorable, how to make the music support the emotion of the lyric, how to control the forward movement of your song, discovering the music in the lyric, finding melodic inspiration, and much more.

The Parallel Universe: Group Songwriting
You don’t have to grab the brass ring and hit the jackpot to have a successful career with your music. There are ways to use your music in service and make some money from it too. Paul is the founder and artistic director of Kid Pan Alley. KPA has now written over 2,800 songs with over 80,000 children using a group songwriting process Paul developed. Artists including Amy Grant, Sissy Spacek, Pinchas Zukerman, Delbert McClinton, Cracker, Kix Brooks, the Nashville Chamber Orchestra, Corey Harris, Suzy Bogguss and many others have recorded songs we wrote with the children. It’s part of how we give back some of what has been given to us and it sows the seeds for a new generation of songwriters.

It’s also great for our own songwriting chops because we have to work quickly using our intuition and wits. There’s no time for the dreaded editor. Kids' minds work in the way we wish ours would when we write songs -- non-linearly. And it may be the most likely way to make money with your songwriting. This process is not just for working with kids -- it's an approach to songwriting that works with any group.

Songwriting Panel Discussion
Join us for an exhilarating and insightful panel discussion on the art of songwriting. Led by Paul Reisler and featuring Matt Backer, Susan Cattaneo, Steve Poltz, and John McCutcheon, these accomplished artists, each with their unique perspectives and experiences, will answer your questions and share their secrets, inspirations, and creative processes in the world of songcraft. Whether you're a budding songwriter seeking guidance or a music enthusiast curious about the magic behind the music, this panel offers a unique opportunity to have your most burning questions answered.


Susan Cattaneo

Me, Myself and I Workshop
What is your origin story? What are the wonderful details that all add up to making you who you are? And how can they be harnessed into writing great songs? Join me as we explore the roots, myths and magic that make you into the person and songwriter you are. We'll dive into specific songwriting prompts to get you thinking about your story and what makes you unique.

Songwriter's Master Toolkit:  Overcoming Creative Paralysis in Your Songwriting
Struck by an unstoppable urge to write a song? Maybe you have a melody, chord progression, or a snippet of lyric, but then something happens, and you just can't write past it? And your inner critic is whispering give up and try something much more fun like… accounting? Don't lose hope. Help is on the way. This master class focuses on practical tools and tips that will help writers get and stay inspired. Great song ideas are all around you. Let me help you find and finish them! Come prepared to write.

The Devil's In The Details…and so is a great song!
How often are you stuck with lyrics that feel "generic" and uninteresting? Join me as we explore ways to generate sense-bound imagery for your songs! I'll start the hour by showing you some in-class writing techniques to get you thinking about ways to "show not tell" your story. Some of the writing prompts we'll learn about are focused writing, object writing, and writing through the power of metaphor and how it can transform any song into magic.

Happily Ever After: The Marriage of Music and Meaning
Sometimes, a song is a perfect union of words, melody and chords. We can't quite put our finger on why it all works so well. We just feel it. When that happens, chances are, prosody is in the process! This class will be devoted to exploring and working with this invaluable songwriting concept. We will listen to songs and look at lyrics that have great prosody built into them and then I'll have you try creating some sections of your own.

Painting with Words
This clinic explores an invaluable and transformative lyric tool called “Re-coloring”. We will look at various song styles that incorporate Re-coloring and learn how this technique supports the narrative flow of your lyrics. A wonderful and creative tool for all songwriters—you might never write another song the same way again!

To Sing or Not to Sing? SING, of course!
Whether you're an experienced singer, a professional shower crooner or just beginning to share your sound, this class will focus on all things voice related! We will work on breath control, warming up, vocal health, stage performance techniques and interpretation tips, and most importantly, the mind/body connection to singing. Come prepared to make some beautiful noise!

Social Media can be FUN!
Let's face it. For many artists, generating creative content can be exhausting and overwhelming. Join me as we break down social media myths and wrangle posting to social media into something that you can enjoy. We will create digital mood boards to help you define your brand to help you reach the fans who will love what you do.


Matt Backer

The Edit Point - Writing for Production Music (Film + TV)
My music has appeared in a variety of television programmes, from "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" to "Keeping Up With The Kardashians" and many points in between. What is the difference between writing to picture and writing something that will be used to picture, and how do you picture it? Is it purely instrumental, or can songs be used? (Spoiler alert: They can.) Can they be monetised? (Another spoiler: Yes). How is this achieved? If any of these questions are of interest to you, come along. Be prepared to navigate the rocky shoals of the music publishing world too.

In Service To The Song
A well known artist was asked to describe my playing, and he replied "Matt plays for the song". I was flattered, but realised my songwriting probably contributed to recording with diverse artistes like Joe Cocker, Swing Out Sister, Sly & Robbie and Bananarama.

If you're a musician and want to contribute creatively to others' songs, or you are a songwriter who wants to get the most from their musicians, this might be of interest to you. Songwriters: You're probably better session musicians than you realise!

Want to learn some face melting shredding techniques? Well, this won't be the class for you. However, if you're a songwriter who wants to brush up on technique to accompany yourself or you're an established guitarist who wants to learn a little more about supporting vocalists and others instrumentalists live and/or in the studio, acoustic and/or electric, why not pop down to Matt Backer's Guitararama workshop...


Chicago Mike Beck

Please RELEASE ME! Best practices for releasing new music in 2023 - 2024
Musicians releasing new music today are faced with a bewildering array of options, challenges, choices and chores: Album vs EP vs singles? Videos? Which one of the 20+ distributors to use? On which streaming service(s) should you focus? On which social media platform(s) should you promote your new release? Radio – Is anybody listening? DIY vs hiring someone? And that's just the tip of the iceberg! Ugh!!!

In this workshop, Jenn Cleary and "Chicago" Mike Beck will walk you through step-by-step current best practices for sharing your new music with the world. Releasing music in 2023 is nothing like it used to be and the process, marketplace, opportunities and best practices are continuously evolving for the independent singer-songwriter.

What are the best ways to get your music to "rise above the noise", get heard by the largest possible audience and impact your music career with the most positive possible outcomes? This workshop will outline the realities of how to share your music in this brave new world and give you an action plan that will eliminate the mysteries, misunderstandings and mis-steps, helping you maximize the impact of your new music.

Takin' Care of Business! Setting Up For Success in the Music Business - Critical Business Infrastructure for Every Songwriter & Performer
Question: Do you know the secret of how to end up with a million dollars in the music industry?
Answer: Start with 2 million!
Unless we already have a couple million in the bank (and even if we do!) independent artists and songwriters need to make sure we are on top of the business aspects of our recording, songwriting and performing activities. This workshop -- hosted by Access Film Music's "Chicago" Mike Beck -- will take participants through a check-list and review of critical business infrastructure for every performance / recording / songwriting career, including the setup, structure and form of your business, an inventory of intellectual property assets (copyrights and trademarks), and possible regulatory requirements. It will also include a discussion of important considerations for various common music industry contracts, music publishing matters, licensing music to film / tv / videogames / advertising, trademarks, how to get your royalties from performance rights organizations (PROs) like ASCAP, BMI, SoundExchange, the MLC and more.

PASSPORT REQUIRED: International Touring wiithout a Record Label, Agent or Manager
Touring internationally presents daunting logistical challenges, but it can be immensely rewarding -- artistically, professionally and personally. In today's "post-COVID" world (and it's not so "post-COVID" as we'd like to believe!), there are additional considerations and inherent risks involved with touring, which are amplified when international travel is factored into the mix.

This workshop examines the nuts-and-bolts of touring internationally, including getting gigs, making contacts, transportation, PA and backline, visas, financial realities of touring overseas, as well as strategies for maximizing your impact before, during and after your tour. The impact of COVID and other disruptive events on international touring will also be discussed, as well as how these types of complications can be evaluated and proactively addressed while planning your international tours. A world of opportunity awaits! Chicago Mike Beck will help you get there with this practical and inspirational workshop.