Jan has been the director of the Grunewald Guild’s songwriting workshop since 2006, and continues to teach two songwriting workshops at this idyllic location, in Plain, WA, in Spring and Summer.

Check out this years workshops!

Spring Songwriting WorkshopPainting with Words and Music

 Jan Krist has been teaching songwriting workshops for the past 20 years. She teaches both Spring and summer workshops annually for the Grunewald Guild in Leavenworth WA and also teaches for several other well established writers retreats including:

  • Central Ohio Folk Fest
  • Above the Bridge Songwriting Workshop in Curtis, MI
  • Cornerstone Festival’s Prairie School of Writing, IL
  • The Grunewald Guild in Plain, WA (2 hours east of Seattle)
  • Lamb’s Retreat for Songwriters in Harbor Springs, MI
  • Thumb Fest, Lexington, MI
  • Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI

Here is what some of the attendees at Jan’s workshop have had to say about their experience with Jan’s workshops:

Writing a song is a little miracle every time. How Jan manages to facilitate miracles from an entire group of songwriters is nothing short of superhuman. From seasoned songwriters to first-timers, I am always amazed at how she manages to push each of us in just the right places. Personally, the songs I have brought home from Jan’s songwriting workshops are among my favorites. Not just for the song itself, but for the laughter and camaraderie that happened alongside the miracle!” – Mandy Troxel: 

I thought I wasn’t a songwriter, but when I met Jan Krist, I discovered I was wrong! She inspires confidence in the process and in oneself, providing reassurance and good humor while pushing you to your creative limits. I found the process addictive, and have returned to her workshops quite a few times. The world has so many more good songs in it because of Jan, and I’m proud to say that a few of them are mine!” – Lindsey Hoffman 

Jan has a gift for creating community– a welcoming context in which each member is encouraged to stretch, create, and collaborate in very good company. Perhaps that’s why many folks return to make Jan’s workshop an annual part of their summer!” – Steve Cairns 

Jan Krist, has a unique way of taking the fear out of songwriting (from one who panics at the start of the process almost every time). I have seen her work with every age and skill set and I marvel every time at the songs she has helped them bring into the world. She is a consummate and patient teacher who will do whatever it takes to help you with your creative vision!” – Cheryl Branz 

“I am so so SO proud call Jan Krist my songwriting fairy godmother! More times than I can count she has sat, listened, and granted me the permission I needed to hear to create my very best.” – Emily Ann Peterson

I was stuck, feeling wordless, fearing the well was dry. Jan’s workshop provided a framework, created a safe space, and added a tool (research!) that I previously had overlooked. In the period of time allotted for one new song, I ended up with two–very different ones about different topics! I heartily recommend Jan’s Songwriting Workshops!” – Steve Eulberg

I had never been to a songwriting workshop or retreat before and I wasn’t sure I had any real talent for it, but Jan Krist was so welcoming, encouraging and inspiring that by the time I left, I felt that a new whole world of possibilities had been broken open before me. I witnessed firsthand how Jan was able to help newbies like me and at the same time help experienced song writers further hone their craft. I would highly recommend her as a teacher, workshop leader, and retreat speaker in addition to being a gifted singer/songwriter and performer herself.” – Diane Morissette

Here is a word about Jan as a workshop leader from John D Lamb of Lamb’s Retreat for Songwriters:

At Lamb’s Retreat for Songwriters I invite guest songwriters to be on staff based on their writing and performing ability. Each time Jan Krist has been on my staff she has imparted a wealth of knowledge that surely inspired a thoughtful batch of new songs from our attendees. In addition to her songwriting prowess, Jan has extensive studio recording experience. Her singing voice and guitar chops spark a fire in all of us who want to improve our game. I highly recommend Jan Krist as a facilitator and instructor for performing songwriter workshops.

Here is a word of praise for Jan’s workshop from the Guild Director emeritus Dan Oberg:

“Jan is both a consummate professional and accessible friend, who brings her immense talent and lifelong experience in songwriting and performing and makes it all a fun-filled collaborative joyride! For any experience level, Jan will teach you to fall more in love with your music.”

Songwriting Workshops

My workshops are presented with the goal of personal improvement for each writer, and renewed appreciation for the greater community of songwriters we are a part of.

The Art of the Rewrite

Title: The Art of the Rewrite (3-5 days of class time)

In this workshop we begin by asking students to write down ten new song titles for songs which they have not yet written, but wish they had in their repertoire.

The class then takes a vote on which title the person should write a song for.

Once the assignment is received we move on to a few writing exercises to prime their creative pumps. Each exercise is designed for a different purpose, and at the end of each exercise students are encouraged to read aloud, to the class, what they have written. This is a great way for us to break the ice and for students to begin to relax within the setting.

After we’ve had a break and a few moments to regroup I then begin to share thoughts and information on writing from people like Flannery O’Connor, Ann Lamott, Paul Simon, Bruce Cockburn and Randy Newman. The focus then turns to creativity and the need to give yourself permission to write freely,”All good writing really come from bad writing and great rewrites come from bad first drafts.” Ann Lamott
In the process of writing their song assignment students will be given new writing exercises, listen to different kinds of music, and learn about the value of rewriting, by rewriting the writings of their morning exercises each day. They will be given an opportunity to read their re-writes the following morning.

Once they have had time to work on their assignments, students share the first draft of the lyrics,(if possible bringing copies of the lyric for the other students to read along with ), and feedback is given in a highly supportive atmosphere.
Each student is encouraged to rewrite and to try use a thesaurus, and a rhyming dictionary as they rework their lyrics.

On the last day the song is performed for the group.


Stealing the Heart of Art


Title: Stealing the heart of Art (60 minute lecture)


Picasso said, “good artists borrow , great artists steal.” He and other artists in the visual arts do this by becoming “copyists”. By learning the techniques of the masters and imitating their styles and pallets, they train themselves to use the techniques and materials.

What we take in with the left brain becomes fodder for the right brain, the more creative side of our brain. It gets mashed around and personalized there and eventually is spit back out in a new context and form, (if we work for that and allow it because, with creativity, if you think you can or if you think you can’t… you’re right.)
We discuss the care and feeding of the creative through the act of listening, exploring, and trying to understand the messages of other artists, and their work.

We also explore the habits and philosophies of successful artists
We also talk about the role of mystery in our work.


The Practical Side of Writing

Title: The Practical Side of Writing ( 60 minute workshop)

1: “A writer is a writer all the time”, Michael Smith, writer of “the Dutchman”
Acknowledging the writer in you
2: “A writer has to write it down, you will not just remember it.” Anne Lamott
Being prepared. Practical suggestions.
3.Inspiration vs. Perspiration
it really is 10% vs 90%
4.Making space for the muse : how do other writers find the muse.
5.Tools: from computer programs to reference books.
6.Making time in a hurry / appointments with yourself.
7.Anything worth doing is worth overdoing
8.Finding the editor within, without letting him/her keep the page blank.
9.Story telling : Art v Journalism