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Join Me For A life Changing Songwriting retreat

Learn how to write an exceptional song while while dipping your toes in the music industry at a songwriting retreat led by artist development legend, Judy Stakee.


09/30/2019 - 10/4/2019

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Take your songwriting skills to a new level while learning how to marry melody to story in a 5 day long journey with world-renowned artist and songwriting mentor, Judy Stakee. Judy was Sr. VP of Creative at Warner/Chappell for 20 years, before starting her own artist development company to nurture the minds, bodies, and souls of aspiring songwriters.

Judy’s “First Step” retreat is geared towards songwriters and musicians who have never co-written before, and who would like a stronger foundation in the fundamentals of songwriting. Over the course of the retreat, Judy will challenge your potential and enable you to grow, taking you to a new level as a songwriter and music industry professional.

You will learn song structure, core storytelling principals, what makes a great lyric, and how to co-write and collaborate (how almost all of today’s hits are made). You’ll be given exercises that help you dig deep into your own thoughts and opinions, to strengthen your ability to tell a clear, concise, captivating, and compelling story.

Although the workshops focus on songwriting, this retreat will leave you with a better understanding of yourself, and your perspective on life and the music industry. You’ll walk away as part of a growing community of songwriters from around the world, and with a newfound confidence to chase your dreams.

Why you Should Attend

If you’re a talented artist or songwriter who is new to co-writing, just beginning to learn about the music industry, and in need of some new songwriting friends - this is the retreat for you!

It doesn’t matter where you’re from, your age, or your current occupation. This retreat is built to help you turn your desire to write songs into a practice you can keep with you forever. The workshops will help you give you the ability to write songs better than you can imagine being capable of. You’ll leave with a stronger voice and a clear path on what your next step should be - in music, and in life.

 The Retreat Experience

Lodging & Accommodations


  • Shared cabins and bathrooms (single occupancy available upon request for additional fee)

  • Fresh linen and clean bedding

  • Limited parking

All meals will be catered by an on-site chef that prepares each meal using fresh, organic, locally-sourced produce that will properly nourish the body.


Writers are responsible for getting to the retreat center, but once you arrive to the retreat center, everything is taken care of for you. The address and details of the retreat center will be provided to you upon acceptance.

Retreat Package

Your retreat package includes: a bed in a shared room, full access to retreat activities, fully-catered meals, 3 live performance demos of your co-writes, an invitation to Judy’s private networking Facebook Group of 500+ artists and songwriters from around the world, and a signed copy of her book The Songwriter’s Survival Guide.

Space is limited per retreat. Upon acceptance, a $695 down payment is required to secure your spot. Your airfare and travel expenses are not included. If you are under 18, your parent or legal guardian must give written permission before you can attend.

Early Bird (Before 6/13/19) = $1595*

Late Bird (Before 9/13/19) = $1695*

Sleepy Owl (After 09/13/2019) = $1895

*Interest free payment plans are only available for Early Bird and Late Bird.

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Name *
Phone *
If you are under 18, you must have your guardian's permission to attend.
You will be assigned a shared room by gender.
Please submit up to 3 original songs for consideration.
Share a link to your Facebook page or Instagram, if you have one.
Do you have any of the following skills?
Please select all that apply.
What are your strengths as a songwriter?
Please select all that apply.


+ Why do I have to apply to attend?

Judy accepts artists and songwriters to her "First Step" retreat based on their demonstrated passion and interest in songwriting. The application process ensures that all retreaters bring a basic level of musicality to the table.

(If you are a more experienced songwriter, you can apply to Judy's It All Starts With a Song Retreat.)

+ How old do I have to be?

You must be 14 or older to attend. If you are 18 or under, your parent must sign form that gives permission.

+ Does it matter what genre I am?

No. Judy encourages and welcomes variety at her retreats.

+ What if I don’t play an instrument?

You don’t need to play an instrument to attend. If you’re a topliner, Judy will assign you to a co-writing group with others who play an instrument.

+ What if I don’t sing?

You don’t need to be a singer to attend. If you’re a lyricist, instrumentalist or producer, Judy will assign you to a co-writing group with a singer or topliner.

+ How will I know if I’ve been accepted or not?

One of Judy’s team members will reply via email to your application and let you know if you have been accepted or not.

+ Why wasn’t I accepted?

The most common reason Judy doesn’t accept someone is the links they send in. Please make sure you send the correct links for up to 3 original songs. If you don’t have any songs produced, you can make a video of you or someone else performing them. Production quality is not a determining factor in acceptance.

+ Will Judy actually review my application?

Yes. Judy reviews all applications before offering acceptance.

+ Will I need to bring my computer?

No. You won’t need it for anything that your phone can’t handle. You probably won’t find much time to use it, either. You’re encouraged to leave your computer and other devices at home. But if you do choose to bring your computer for any reason, there’s free WiFi at each retreat center.

+ Will I need to bring my own instrument?

If you want to bring your instrument, it’s recommended that you bring an extra cable and your own guitar or keyboard. You don’t need to bring an amp.

+ Can I bring my camera?

Yes! There won’t be a lot of time for photos, but Judy and her team encourage you to document your retreat experience and share it on social media after the retreat.

+ Do I have to stay at the retreat center?

Yes. Your full stay at the retreat center is included in any package you choose. If you must stay off-site for any extenuating circumstances, please reach out to Judy and her team once you’ve been accepted to discuss your situation further.

+ Who will I be sharing a room with?

Upon arrival and check-in at the retreat center, you’ll be assigned to a shared room or cabin based on your gender.

+ Can I bring friends or family to stay with me at the retreat center?

No guests are allowed to stay with you at the retreat center. However, your friends or family are more than welcome to stay off-site for the duration of the retreat and meet up with you after.

+ I really want to go, but I can’t afford it. What are my options?

By applying early, you’re able to take advantage of an interest free payment plan. Some past retreaters have had success running personal fundraising events, getting local businesses to sponsor their attendance, and applying for grants from music and artists foundations. Judy’s team is happy to help any accepted artist or songwriter apply for grants.

+ Can’t I just work with Judy remotely?

Judy provides mentoring to artists and songwriters through Skype (or in-person if you’re local to Los Angeles). If you decide you want to work with her remotely and not attend a retreat, you can purchase single consultations or apply for her mentorship program. However, it will be difficult for Judy to recreate the magic of her retreats through consultations alone. If you are serious about working with Judy as your mentor, attending a retreat will allow you to meet her and begin developing a relationship. If you wish to invest in mentoring, you’ll get even more out of your sessions with Judy once you’ve gone to a retreat.

+ I heard you offer scholarships. Is that true?

There is no scholarship offered for Judy's First Step retreat.

+ I can’t make any of these dates. Will there be more retreats in the future?

Judy plans to hold retreats in the future. Dates, locations, and pricing are all subject to change.

Sign up for Judy’s email list and/or follow her on social media to stay advised about her upcoming retreats.

+ Who can I contact if I still have questions?

Please reach out to Judy and her team through her Contact page.