5/17 SW´s Judith-Kate Friedman at the Washington State Nonprofit Conference!

5/17 SW´s Judith-Kate Friedman at the Washington State Nonprofit Conference!

On Tuesday, May 17th, SW’s Judith-Kate Friedman was honored to be among a distinguished set of presenters at the annual Washington State Nonprofits Conference where over 700 nonprofit and community leaders will come together to listen, learn, and explore ways that “human centered design can connect, transform programs, and advance causes.”

One of 21 other workshops, aimed at sparking creativity and enhancing skills at the conference, Judith-Kate’s Music as Innovation, Participation as Leadership, explored what the arts, improvisation, and neuroscience can teach us about restoration, empowerment, healing and collective transformation.

In an effort to help non-profit organizations solve social problems and enhance well-being for individuals, families, and entire neighborhoods, this workshop went beyond considering music’s common uses to address how community leaders can:

  1. Apply lessons from the field of creativity and cognition to achieve organizational missions and visions
  2. Integrate and use music more intentionally to support successful outcomes

Attendees were introduced to Songwriting Works’ 8 Principles of Creative Engagement – access, inclusion, originality, authenticity, respect, reciprocity, restoration and celebration – and be invited to explore hands-on the application of these principles to their real life situations and goals as non-profit leaders. Judith-Kate shared case studies and results from projects based upon the premise that all individuals – and the collective – are inherently intelligent, creative and musical. Facilitation methods that integrate consensus process, creative inquiry, improvisation, story sharing and participant leadership were also explored.

To learn more about the conference, click here.

“True Colors” Weekend April 22&23 Explores and Celebrates Intersections of Culture

“True Colors” Weekend April 22&23 Explores and Celebrates Intersections of Culture
True Colors Weekend ~ April 22nd and 23rd
Exploring and Celebrating Intersections of Culture, Identity, Ethnicity,
Race and Class through Music, Poetry, Improvisation

Quanita Louise of Nzuzu and Judith-Kate Friedman of Songwriting Works join in creative collaboration for two-related community building events.

Saturday April 22 at 7pm to 9pm: True Colors – An Interactive Concert
Physical Location
: Madrona Mindbody Institute
310 Fort Worden Way, Ft. Worden State Park, Port Townsend, WA 98368
Streaming live on the web: Concert Window  (Click here for live streaming tickets and details!)

Sunday April 23 at 3pm to 5pm: Being Curious Together About Race: A Time for Learning and Connection
Location: The Cotton Building
607 Water Street, Downtown Port Townsend, WA 98368  Fully ADA accessible.
All events are offered on a sliding scale “pay as you wish” basis with support of the Port Townsend Arts Commission

For more info, reservations by phone, or to volunteer, contact: Songwriting Works 360.385.1160 or

 Internationally acclaimed teacher, healer, singer and ritualist Quanita Louise of Nzuzu and Port Townsend-based singer, songwriter and community music-maker Judith-Kate Friedman of Songwriting Works will offer two distinct, yet related, in-depth experiences intended to engage, delight, and catalyze community on the weekend of April 22 and 23rd, 2017 in Port Townsend.

On April 22nd at 7pm, an evening concert – “True Colors” – will give an all ages audience an opportunity to participate as well as listen. The artists will share poetry, song, conversation and improvisation with each other and engage all who are present in the spontaneous creation of poems and a song on the theme of “being our full selves with each other in community.” From exploring inner landscapes and stillness, to raising our collective voices in song and exuberant celebration, the evening will open the way for fresh insights, heart-felt exchange, and deepening authenticity.

This experience will expand further on Sunday, April 23rd, at 3pm, as the two artists facilitate a community conversation entitled “Being Curious Together About Race: A Time for Learning and Connection.”

Judith-Kate puts the weekend in context:
“Creating welcoming communities is about affirming culture. As artists, we wish to bring tools to support collective inquiry and uphold freedom to express one’s identity and celebrate our differences–in terms of culture, ethnicity, race, religion and also age, ability, class, sexual orientation, etc. We’re seeing a rise in – and greater awareness of – hatred, fear, and divisiveness between all kinds of people these are all often rooted in confusions that reach back centuries. Together, we can change this. We use the arts to address what’s happening around us.”

Quanita adds: “What has our attention has really deep heart and meaning. All these can be used as portals to knowing ourselves and each other.”

Both artists create supportive environments for authentic expression, inclusion, inquiry, and social transformation. They will engage participants in a new kind of conversation: One that rises from deep-heartedness and supports individuals and communities to move from judgment to curiosity and from isolation to real connection. As stated on the event flyer: Join us to “discover what happens when we are curious together. We’ll build understanding and trust, allow fear, despair, and grief to be catalyzed in healing, and find new levels of honesty, courage, freedom and connection with each other.”

The True Colors Concert and the Being Curious Community Event are presented with support from the Port Townsend Arts Commission. Admission is open to the public and all ages are welcome. Tickets are available on a “Pay As You Wish” basis in advance (as noted on ticket links above) or at the door. Reservations are suggested.  All revenues will support event costs and the local work of Songwriting Works Educational Foundation. Volunteers are invited to help with outreach and on the days of event.  Contact: Songwriting Works at or call 360.385.1160


Quanita Louise M.A. is an international spiritual teacher, speaker, author, life coach and a personal and professional development resource dedicated to addressing embedded trauma through healing workshops, retreats, and rituals. In 2016, she presented at the NAACP National Convention on Community/Police Relations and served as the Keynote Speaker for The National Diversity Conference in Brazil. She holds a master’s degree in Organizational Management and Development with a concentration in Integral Theory. Quanita is a keeper of ancient indigenous wisdom from the Dagara Tribe of Burkina Faso, West Africa. As a water spirit, she brings the gifts of forgiveness and reconciliation—serving as a peacemaker and bridge builder to communities around the world.


Judith-Kate Friedman is a songwriter, vocalist, improviser, producer, speaker, and music catalyst. As founder of Songwriting Works™ Educational Foundation, she is internationally recognized as an innovator in music education and community building through song. On stage and off, Judith-Kate creates contexts in which people of all ages raise their unique voices together. Working in the Oral Tradition, her collaborations connect those diverse in culture, physical and cognitive health, education and economic circumstances. To date, she has co-written more than 320 original songs in collaboration with 3,400 elders, youth, and families, ages 4 to 106.

An independent 501c3 educational foundation based in Port Townsend, WA, Songwriting Works Educational Foundation (SW) is internationally recognized as an innovator in intergenerational education, creative aging, arts and wellness, and cultural equity and restoration. SW fulfills its mission to restore joy, hope, health and community by engaging neighbors across the continuum of health, age, and musical background in collectively composing and performing their own original songs. Originally founded as an artist-in-residence project in California in 1990, SW began serving North Olympic Peninsula and Salish Sea/Puget Sound communities in 2009, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Improvisation and Song Bring All Ages Together in East Jefferson County, WA

Improvisation and Song Bring All Ages Together  in East Jefferson County, WA
Instruments from around the world beckon Mountain View YMCA summer campers to play. Photo: Keeth Monta Apgar
Instruments from around the world beckon Mountain View YMCA summer campers to play. Photo: Keeth Monta Apgar

Playful rhythms, voices and melodies rang out in August as Songwriting Works (SW) brought its Summer MusicTeams™ program to three Puget Sound locations.

At the Boiler Room youth-run coffeehouse, the Jefferson County YMCA, and the Chimacum YMCA, SW’s Judith-Kate Friedman and Keeth Monta Apgar arrived with guitar, ukulele, a basket of hand percussion instruments from around the world, and an invitation to discover, explore, and refine the musical possibilities inside all of us.

Musical Discovery at the YMCA

SW Facilitator Keeth Apgar engages the group at the Chimacum YMCA
SW Facilitator Keeth Apgar engages the group at the Chimacum YMCA

Five to Twelve year olds and staff at the North Olympic Peninsula YMCA’s Mountain View site (Port Townsend) and 3rd to 7th graders at the Chimacum “Y” took each other on musical journeys improvising in solos, duets, and trios. Some were improvising for the first time ever!

Listening and discovery games like “Where’s this sound from? Where is it going?” tuned our ears and imaginations as the group, with eyes closed, listened to different hand percussion instruments, describing the sensations that arose and using them to guess where the instrument came from. Curiosity energized cooperation and musical adventure. Literacy got a boost too as we riffed on the alphabet with Dr. Seuss and sang “It Makes Me Happy (Me Hace Alegre),” an SW song in English and Spanish.

[pullquote cite=”Judith-Kate Friedman, speaking about the MusicTeams” type=”left”]”We’ve all got musical intelligence. We’re here in a failure-free zone to see what we can do together!”[/pullquote]
Other highlights from the YMCA sessions included the groups finding an equilibrium between the raucous parades in and out of focus to the deep, quiet musical reflection and communication that allowed everyone’s voice to be heard, including students with special needs and divergent attention spans in whom we were able to witness the emergence of striking creativity and contribution to the group.


A Month’s Worth of Collaboration and Song at the Boiler Roomboiler-room

The 4-week series of workshops at the Boiler Room included breath and body warm-ups, vocal technique, rhythm, improvisation and music confidence-building games, “Music Lifelines™” story and song sharing, a blues jam and a good dose of conversation about the health and cognitive benefits of music-making. On average, 16 participants collaborated each week. Some came for the full session and others drifted in for coffee and a touch of song. During the third week, the cohesion of the group hit a high point as we turned to songwriting and, together, chose to build our song around the theme of ‘being seen for who one really is.’ Suddenly, the café clamor in the background receded, ushering in resounding focus as even the sideline observers were drawn towards group creation.

The series closed with celebration as the core group polished and performed their new song “In Another Universe” at the Boiler Room’s open mic on September 1st (video below).


Many thanks to the Port Townsend Arts Commission, the North Olympic Peninsula YMCA, the Jubilation Foundation’s Fellowship Award (a program of the Tides Foundation) and individual contributors to last Spring’s “MusicTeams™ Fund” campaign who together made the success of the Summer MusicTeams possible!

Starting this Fall and flowing into 2017, SW builds upon the successes of the Summer season by bringing what we’ve learned to the Port Townsend Schools with a grant from the Washington State Arts Commission (aka Arts WA). ArtsWA_Logo

The “Songwriting Works in the Port Townsend Schools” project will have at its heart the shared vision of Arts WA and partners to make meaningful music education available to all students, regardless of age, ability, background, or cognitive situation. SW’s facilitators and teachers will team up with Port Townsend School District educators and administrators to design and implement a curriculum through which students will experience SW’s 8 principles of creative expression, learn fun “science of music facts,” and, of course, create meaningful, community-building music together. And just like with the Summer MusicTeams, the project will culminate with public celebrations, featuring performances and testimonials from the collaborations!

4/24, Re-airing of Judith-Kate Friedman’s “Songs from the Sound” Segment on “Tossed Salad” with Phil Andrus

4/24, Re-airing of Judith-Kate Friedman’s “Songs from the Sound” Segment on “Tossed Salad” with Phil Andrus

Don’t miss a “second tossing” repeat of last Friday’s “Songs from the Sound” radio show where SW’s Judith-Kate Friedman joined KPTZ’s Phil Andrus to discuss the power of song, near and far…Tune in Tuesday night (5/24) from 10:00pm-11:00pm (pacific) at 91.9 fm or listen to the live stream online at!

On the segment, Judith-Kate spoke about and shared songs that can change our lives, expand our thinking and stretch our imagination of what’s sonically, artistically, and socially possible. She followed that up with a report from last week’s Washington Nonprofits Conference, where she was honored to present her workshop on “Music as Innovation, Participation as Leadership: What the Arts, Improvisation, and Neuroscience can Teach us about Restoration, Empowerment, Healing and Collective transformation.”

Towards the end of the segment, she performed a few songs from the forthcoming Life’s a Song album. Tune in tonight for all of this and more!

Q&A Interview with SW Founder Judith-Kate

Q&A Interview with SW Founder Judith-Kate

We’re kicking off our new Q&A series with a nod to National Poetry Month as SW’s founder/director Judith-Kate Friedman and Community Relations Coordinator Sam Robinson discuss the intersection of poetry, spontaneous group creation, and SW’s Signature Songwriting Workshops!

Sam: A poem is the distillation of an individual’s memories, artistic influences, current mood, and intention. An SW-workshop composed song consists of a similar distillation, except it emanates from the group, rather than the individual. Could you comment on the similarities and differences between these two creative environments?

JK: SW’s song process is a grand improvisation that moves from conversation and inquiry….(“What should we write about today?”) to the crafting of lyric, poetry, rhythm and melody.  As participant’s thoughts are captured verbatim on the easel sheets the group sees as well as hears their individual – and soon collective –  natural rhythm, cadences, rhymes, off-rhymes and alliteration that show up.  

Sam: What role does that facilitator play in helping crystallize the thoughts, emotions, melodies, and mood of the participants?

JK: SW’s facilitators bring their love of the musicality within words and their experience crafting lyrics and poetic forms from random phrases to teach and illustrate what the group is bringing forth.  They use repetition and call and response to help the group entrain to the rhythms of keeper lines (though this also happens very organically with no prompting from a professional!).  Participants focus on elements of speech, image and emotion as facilitators read from the easel sheets and recap what’s been said in the group.  As words, images and lines are circled and phrases are spoken out loud to feel their rhythm, melodies may pop out or be invited for a great line (“Who has a melody for that?”).  Poetic aspects are addressed and learned about in the process – not so much intellectually as literally and viscerally. This way, participants in all cognitive situations and of all levels of experience are equally in-the-moment of creativity together.

Sam: Are there any poems or poets in particular that infuse your approach to workshops?

JK: While there isn’t a particular poem or poet that has influenced the Songwriting Works™ process or my approach to facilitating, poetry itself informs me all the time. The SW approach to listening involves creating a relaxed environment in which people are truly themselves, talking the way they really talk about things they care about or dream about. As they share their stories, the facilitator’s job is to show the group the beauty in the poetry of their own speech as we select “keeper lines” and build upon their images to make the lyric and find the music of the song.

See that process in action through this clip: 


All The Time

In Spring 2008, elders at Luther Manor in Wauwatosa, WI found a common theme for their first original community song: LOVE. NPR-affiliate Wisconsin Public Radio sent Lake Effect’s Sara Prince to interview SW Founder Judith-Kate Friedman and capture the story of how a love song was brought to life in an hour-long workshop.

Listen to the segment below as Judith-Kate asks participants “What does love do (for you)?” Della, one of the elders, chimes in saying “It means a song in your heart that cries out: help me, Lord, help me!” Shared and contrasting sentiments quickly give way to more reflections as the group’s words soon become lyrics. Della and others set the melody and Edwin, artist-in-resident percussionist matches their rhythm on the conga. “All The Time,” the song that results, celebrates the ever-recurring, ever-changing, and ever-mysterious topic of love in a classic blend of gospel and blues over a sensual latin groove.

Here’s a tip for celebrating love and creativity: Next time you’re with someone you care about, ask about them to share a memory of love. Listen closely for the rhythms of the words and any melody they evoke. Then experiment by humming or singing a note or two of that melody, setting words or a phrase to music. See what pleases you both. If you’ve never tried it – this is one way that great composers start songwriting. When we create music and memories with loved ones, we give love new meaning!

Songwriting Works workshop made possible with support from Ann Basting and the UWM Center for Age and Community with thanks to Beth Meyer-Arnold, Director of Adult Day Services at Luther Manor and Sara Prince of Wisconsin Public Radio’s Lake Effect.

To hear more of our music, follow us on Soundcloud.

1/7-2/28, “The Artist Within” Art of Alzheimer’s Exhibition Highlights Vibrant Artwork By Elders Living With Dementia. Songwriting Works is Featured on 1/7/16 (music) and 2/5/16 (workshop)!

1/7-2/28, “The Artist Within” Art of Alzheimer’s Exhibition Highlights Vibrant Artwork By Elders Living With Dementia. Songwriting Works is Featured on 1/7/16 (music) and 2/5/16 (workshop)!


In this first exhibition of its kind in Seattle, The Artist Within will feature surprising, delightful and inspiring art that opens hearts and minds, enabling us to see the simple truth that those who are living with dementia are still here, living with creativity, dignity, and joy.

On January 7th, Songwriting Works’ Judith-Kate Friedman will sing “Way Up in the Air” as part of the exhibit’s opening reception, between 4-6 pm.

On February 5th, songwriters Judith-Kate and Keeth Monta Apgar will bring interactive songwriting to the exhibition! In this free two-hour session, participants will tour the galleries before coming together to create an original song based upon their impressions of the artwork. No prior musical background is needed. Participants will experience the magic of collective reflection and song composition using SW’s 8 Principles of Creative Engagement – access, inclusion, originality, authenticity, respect, reciprocity, restoration and celebration.

Free and open to all, the Art of Alzheimer’s Exhibition will feature fascinating artwork by people, ages 60 to 101, who live (or lived) with dementia. Throughout the seven weeks of the exhibition, a series of activities developed in concert with community partners—catalysts for knowledge, empathy, creativity and involvement. Songwriting Works is proud to be a part of this dynamic series!

Presented in cooperation with the City of Seattle Office of Arts and Culture, the Department of Neighborhoods and 4Culture, The Artist Within will be held at City Hall’s Lobby Gallery & Anne Focke Gallery, January 7 through February 26, 2016, 600 Fourth Avenue in downtown Seattle, Monday—Friday, 7am—6pm. The Opening Reception will take place on Friday, January 7 from 4—6pm.

For more information on The Artist Within, click here.

Photo Credit: “Vista”, featured in the exhibition, The Artist Within. Courtesy of Arts of Alzheimers.

Gratitude in 2015 – a Year of Restoring Joy and Hope

Gratitude in 2015 – a Year of Restoring Joy and Hope

Music brings people to life and life to people.  With an expanded mission of restoring Joy, Hope, Health and Community through Song, Songwriting Works served 10 communities across the U.S. this year bringing workshops, training and master classes to practitioners and families. We also finished production – including a new song and video – on our long-awaited Life’s a Song album to be released in Spring 2016.

Love launched a great year for Songwriting Works as founder & director Judith-Kate Friedman and SW Board President Daniel “3D” Deardorff gave a concert of original love songs at Key City Public Theatre on Valentine’s weekend. JKDD-LoveSongs-PT2015DD-jk5The next day Abakis and J-K led a “write a love song for Port Townsend” workshop with Jefferson County neighbors.LoveSongs-Workshops-2015poster







AgingInAmerica_LogoMARCH in CHICAGO:

SW launched its new website in collaboration with Danny McEnerney of Workin’ Man Creative (and now of RockFish). Judith-Kate joined long-time colleagues Kathy Sykes of the Environmental Protection Agency, neuroscientist Peter Whitehouse, dancer Maria Genné of Kairos Alive! and Jennie Smith-Peers, director of Elders Share the Arts at the Aging in America Conference. Together they celebrated seven years of intergenerational creativity, poems, songs and performance contest inspired by Rachel Carson’s “Sense of Wonder” – the book which raised public awareness and sparked the conservation and ecology movements.  Contest winners included SW volunteer Ella Ashford, now 14, who was 11 when she composed “Me and You.” 


Aegis Close Up 2015

Edmonds Center for the Arts (ECA),   Aegis Living of Edmonds and Elderwise   partnered with SW to bring a two-day 
adventure in songwriting to people living with memory loss. Aegis partici-pants composed a rousing song about their love of music – in Norwegian, Swedish, French, English – with SW’s Keeth Monta Apgar and Judith-Kate Friedman. Much joy and a renewed sense of possibility were shared by all who attended. King and Snohomish County dementia care and arts professionals also gained new skills at SW’s “Music as an Innovation in Dementia Care” training.


Judith-Kate Friedman taught at The National Center for Creative Aging’s Professional Development Institute at the Kreeger Museum and brought insights from 25 years composing songs across the cognitive continuum to conferees of the 2nd annual “Creative Age” Conference and Leadership Exchange. J-K was honored to serve as a notetaker at the National Endowment for the Arts’ Summit on Creativity and Aging, a pre-conference for the White House Conference on Aging.

Judith-Kate Friedman was named a 2015-17 Fellow of the Jubilation Foundation whose mission is to “help individuals and organizations with an exceptional talent for helping young people feel fully alive through rhythm — as expressed in music and dance.”



* a project of the Tides Foundation

Songwriting Works used the Jubilation award to make a studio recording and video of the song “Home Town.” Composed by Jefferson Community School students (7-12 graders) along with Judith-Kate and community elders Martha E. “Marty” Richards and Bill Mawhinney “Home Town” sings of the longing for the beauty, people and peace one finds “by the sea, wondering if my home town is longing for me.” JCS graduating senior Hanna Rose Trailer sang lead and apprenticed with Judith-Kate as the song’s associate producer. Vocalist Alanna Shaladra Dailey and drummer Tomoki Sage joined Trailer, Friedman, Apgar and Mawhinney at George Rezendes’ ToolShed SoundLab for the recording. 


The crew then took in classic Port Townsend sights as filmmaker Gabe van Lelyveld of Whaleheart Productions directed the “Home Town” music video and mentored JCS student Mikayla Hemsley and SW’s Sam Robinson on 2nd and 3rd camera respectively. Filming took place at Kai Tai Lagoon, Chetzemoka Park, Fort Worden and out on the water in Joe Trailer (Hanna’s dad’s) boat. 


With “Home Town” audio files in hand, Judith-Kate spent a day with producer and multi-instrumentalist Orville Johnson “Home Town” for inclusion on SW’s long-awaited “Life’s a Song” album now scheduled for mid-2016 release with an expanded playlist of thirteen songs co-written by 200 Olympic Peninsula (WA) neighbors, ages 12 to 103, in collaboration with SW’s team of award-winning professional musicians. Inspired by the album’s themes of sea, mountains, and the joy of song in community watercolorist John Adams of Bainbridge Island, WA created the original painting “Northwest Medley,” which won SW’s “Life’s a Song” cover art contest. (See lead photo of this post.) The “Life’s a Song” album is supported in part by a Challenge America grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and our successful Kickstarter campaign. 

Judith-Kate Friedman and Rabbi Sheldon Marder marked 12 years of creative collaboration with elders of the Jewish Home San Francisco who sang their original songs based upon the Psalms to welcome the Jewish New Year.JHdedication-257


Harvest time brought SW consulting and training across the country.
October began with a dynamic week in Los Angeles: Judith-Kate Friedman presented a poster, met with research faculty from throughout the University of California system at research faculty at the UC MERCI Symposium on Music in relation to Brain Science, Medicine, & Education and sang to close the convening. She then joined Robert Atchley to share duties as Bards threading song and musical improvisation throughout the 6th International Ageing and Spirituality Conference, hosted by Front Porch and the California Lutheran Homes’ Center for Spirituality and Aging.

Consulting work was a focus as Judith-Kate conducted Master Classes and Teaching Institutes for teaching artists at Lifesongs at the Academy for the Love of Learning in Santa Fe, NM and Arts for the Aging in Washington, DC. She spoke on Intergenerational Program Design and Music-Making Access for persons living with dementia and their loved ones as the keynote at “Defining Hope,” the Alzheimer’s Association Heart of America Chapter’s annual conference in Kansas City (also see “Painting By the Window” story in November’s newsletter).

As Thanksgiving drew near SW returned to the Greenwood Senior Center in Seattle’s Phinney neighborhood to compose songs with participants living with memory loss plus family and friends. Keeth Apgar and Judith-Kate Friedman facilitated.  The song will be performed next year as part of the Art of Alzheimer’s exhibit at Seattle’s City Hall.  


Your support is always welcome. Our Giving Tuesday# campaign is on December 1st.

Or contact us about volunteering, sponsoring a Life’s a Song song e-page or event in 2016.