Songwriting Retreat

“The only way you can cross a finish line is by taking the first step.”

Learn how to write an exceptional song while meeting life long friends and collaborators with legendary music publisher and artist development specialist Judy Stakee.

Ben Lomond, CA, USA

September 30th - October 4th

About Judy Stakee

Judy Stakee is a legendary music publisher, author, speaker, and artist mentor known for her work as Sr. VP of Creative Warner/Chappell Music where she signed and worked closely with many of today’s most acclaimed artists and songwriters, including Sheryl Crow, Katy Perry, Michelle Branch, Gavin DeGraw, Jewel, Joy Williams, John Shanks, Julian Bunetta, and more.

In 2009, she noticed a problem in the new music industry - a lack of artist development. So, Judy created her own company to address the issue by developing a methodology to teach artisans and songwriters how to be their best, utilizing her 40+ years of music industry experience. Her approach is simple: by strengthening the mind, body, and soul, you are also strengthening your lyrics, melody, and voice.

In 2016, Judy started her world renowned songwriting retreats (based on the songwriting camps she produced at Warner/Chappell). Each year, she takes groups of songwriters away from their everyday lives to develop themselves, their creative process, and their craft. 

Her retreats have become a main focus for teaching songwriters, as she noticed the huge strides of growth the songwriters and artists would make after completing the 5-day long journey

About The first step

songwrting Retreat

Take your storytelling skills to a new level while learning how to marry melody to story in a 5 day long journey with world-renowned songwriting coach Judy Stakee. Over the course of the retreat, Judy will challenge your existing talents and allow you to push past your creative boundaries, taking you to a new level as a writer and creator.

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

Although the workshop focuses on songwriting, it leaves the writer with an overall better understanding of themselves and their perspective on life.

Each intensive retreat includes: 

  • Creative Workshops

  • Vocal Coaching

  • Co-Writing

  • Live Performances

  • Recordings of Live Performances

  • Song Critiques

  • Morning Yoga

  • Healthy, Fully-Catered Meals

After attending a retreat, you’ll also receive: 

  • A signed copy of Judy’s book, “The Songwriter’s Survival Guide”

  • 3 live performance demos of the songs you co-write

Why You Should Attend

It doesn’t matter where you’re from, your age, or your how experienced you are, this retreat is built to help you take your desire to write songs into a practice you can keep with you forever.

The workshops will help you tap into your creative potential, giving you the ability to create a song better than you can imagine you were capable of. You’ll leave with a stronger voice and a clear path on what it takes to take your next step as a creative.

You’ll also leave with new, lifelong friendships and collaborators that you can work with as you continue to write after the workshop ends.

California Retreat Details

The Sequoia Retreat Center is located in Santa Cruz County - surrounded by serene redwood forest, and a 20 minute drive to the coast.

Lodging Location: 

The Sequoia Retreat Center

11445 Alba Road, Ben Lomond, CA 95005


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

  • Fresh linen and clean bedding

  • Limited parking


The retreat is very easy to get to no matter where you're traveling from.  

  • SJC (45 minute drive)

  • MRY (1 hour drive)

  • SFO (1.5 hour drive)


All retreat activities, lodging and accommodations, and meals are included in the package price. There will be a master chef on-site using locally-sourced organic produce. Travel is not included. Tax is included.

*Early Bird Package: $1695

Standard Package: $1895

*Must apply, be accepted, and pay your deposit by 09/01.

We offer no interest payment plans of up to 4 installments through PayPal. You must be paid in full before the retreat begins.

First Steps Retreat Application

Phone *
We use this information for room assignments.
Do you have any of the following skills?
What are your strengths as a writer? *
Soundcloud, YouTube, Spotify, website, etc.
Soundcloud, YouTube, Spotify, website, etc.
Soundcloud, YouTube, Spotify, website, etc.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, etc.