News/Thoughts

For The Songwriter In You

Some dreams fly like a rocket! My husband, Rick Stanley and I sold our home we had for many years in Nashville proper and bought eight acres and a brick rancher in Lebanon, Tennessee a few years ago. I remember gazing out over the fields and wondering what in the world we would do with all that land. I surely lacked the farm girl gene and Rick only had a push mower at the time. We had to look beyond the tall grass. Whoever had the property before us had a garage/workplace under the patio area, and it seemed to be begging me to make it over and give it a new purpose. After some elbow grease and the help of my dad and brother, Rick and I watched it become the Lil House, complete with a kitchenette and the most perfect writing table.

That’s where the dream started – the one I dared to put into motion by sharing an idea with my husband and our good friend, Jerry Salley. Both these fellas were on board right off the bat, and we launched The Lil House Songwriting Workshops in 2017. From that first workshop to this moment, it has been an unbelievably beautiful journey. To watch someone show up at our door with hope and a guitar and leave after the two day experience with a smile and a song or two from the workshop, is a feeling I find hard to describe.

What we offer is a glimpse at our creative process; from the point of inspiration through the construction, and maybe reconstruction, and ultimately the finishing touch on a song. We never promise to complete a whole song but we sure work hard to try and make that happen. I always describe it as a bit like speed dating. Time is divided up into four three hour blocks for the weekend, which allows the attendees the opportunity to write with each of the pro writers.

Every three hours we switch it up and it’s onto the next song. We throw in a home cooked meal and a picking party but the real secret to the success of these Lil House weekends is the exclusivity! We only have four to six students per workshop. The almost one-on-one experience is where the “ah ha” moments happen. To a teachers heart, there is nothing better.

One part of the dream that I never saw coming until it charted was that these Lil House creations would flower into radio cuts! That’s right, we are having commercial success with the songs written at our workshops. Currently we have several songs on the charts and we couldn’t be more excited for the writers involved.

Songwriting is something for all ages, all levels, and all dreamers. If you’ve lived life, which I know you have, then you have a song. I know writing comes more naturally for some and we love helping that natural ability grow with a writer. However, there is also joy in teaching those who have to start from scratch. If you have the desire to write and would like to join us for a weekend of writing, please contact us at donnaulise@gmail.com for information on Lil House Songwriting Workshops. We are currently sold out through 2019 but will be announcing the 2020 workshop dates soon and would be thrilled to see you here on the wee farm. Write on my friends!

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