Creative Music Workshop

Creative Writing WorkshopJuly 27 - August 4, 2017

Nalanda Campus

Directed by Jerry Granelli and J Anthony Granelli

Creative Music Workshop is a 9-day intensive that places non-stylistic improvisation at the center of musical learning. Students discover their confidence, discernment and wakefulness through classes in creative process, ensemble, like instruments, meditation, and body-mind practices. For the last 5 days of the intensive, students and faculty present public concerts in the evening, featuring “spontaneous compositions” and works devised during the workshop. 

Faculty and Staff (alphabetical):

Rinde Eckert

Rinde Eckert, words, voice, various instruments (

Rinde Eckert is a Grammy Award Winner and Pulitzer Prize Finalist. He is a writer, composer, librettist, musician, performer and director. His Opera / New Music Theatre productions have toured throughout America and to major theater festivals in Europe and Asia. With a virtuosic command of gesture, language and song, this total theatre artist moves beyond the boundaries of what a 'play,' a 'dance piece,' an 'opera' or 'musical' might be, in the service of grappling with complex issues. Eckert describes many of his characters as "little men with big ideas whose consequences of their hubris are often disastrous." Sometimes tragic and austere, sometimes broadly comedic, entirely grounded by presence, his work is alchemical: moving from rumination and distillation to hard-won illumination, or its lack.

Janet Feder

Janet Feder, guitar (

Janet invites her listeners to explore the private, intimate landscapes she creates with her baritone guitars. She adds to her palette everyday objects as instruments that are not typically associated with music - or even sound - including toothpicks and rubber balls, bicycle inner tubes and steel ball bearings, split rings, rocks, ceramic plates and walls, egg-slicers, horsehair… and her bare hands. What defines her music, both live and recorded, is how she constructs the shapes, textures and movements of sounds to create her unique sonic universe. Feder has performed or collaborated with: Fred Frith, Nels Cline, Henry Kaiser, Bill Frisell, Elliott Sharp, Mike Keneally, Bryan Beller, Amy Denio, Mike Johnson/Thinking Plague, Susie Asado, Nikmat Hatraktor, Paolo Angeli, Wu Fei, Tatsuya Nakatani, Erin McKeown, Jane Rigler, Shoko Nagai, Satoshi Takeishi, Pauline Oliveros and poet Anne Waldman. She is also half of Denver-based duo cowhause with Colin Bricker (laptop + live electronics). Janet is faculty at the University of Colorado and Naropa University (teaching History of Rock n’ Roll, Music Composition and Music Cultures of the World among other subjects). She co-curates MediaLive, (an annual international new media festival in Boulder, Colorado) and is an artistic associate with Boulder’s Square Product Theatre.

Paul Fowler

Paul Fowler, voice, keyboards (

Sourcing materials parsed from the world’s spiritual traditions and natural beauty, Paul Fowler’s music will “work on you from the inside out” (Philadelphia Inquirer); invoking our shared human experience. Fowler draws from his regular work as a classical vocalist, jazz pianist, performer, and electronic musician to integrate old and new into “emotionally intense” (Washington Post) works which are “radiant, ghostly and shimmering” (New York Times). Fowler has performed with the San Juan Symphony, Des Moines Symphony, Syracuse Symphony, SymphoNYC and his concert music has been performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Japan’s Suntory Hall, and the National Concert Hall of Taiwan among others. At his home in Boulder, Fowler regularly collaborates with 3rd Law Dance/Theater, The Catamounts and the Ars Nova Singers. He currently chairs the music department at Naropa University.

Jerry GranelliJerry Granelli, drums (

Jerry Granelli is one of the most widely recognized and highly regarded musicians in Nova Scotia. He is a supportive community leader and mentor for musicians and artists of all ages and backgrounds. Jerry was instrumental in the establishment of the Halifax Jazz Festival (formally the Atlantic Jazz Festival), which over the past 30 years has evolved to become a Signature Event in Halifax and the largest music festival in the Maritimes. Jerry is also a founder and longstanding creative director of the Creative Music Workshop, an intensive summer program that has been a flagship education program of the Halifax Jazz Festival for the past 21 years. With a career that spans 60 years, Jerry has had the opportunity to perform with the likes of Charlie Heyden, Mose Allison, Sonny Stitt, Sly Stone, Ornette Coleman and Vince Guaraldi. Jerry has recorded over 30 albums. His prolific and genre-crossing music has been recognized by institutions such as the Junos, The Grammy Awards, the National Library of Congress Sound Archives, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He continues to have a profound influence in the cultural community in Nova Scotia and beyond.

J Granelli

J Anthony Granelli, bass (

J Anthony Granelli is a bassist, composer, and music educator. After studying at Cornish College of the Arts and CalArts, Granelli relocated to New York and was very active in the scene that flourished around the Knitting Factory in the mid-90s. He was a co-founder/assistant director of Brooklyn's School for Improvised Music as well as Jerry Granelli’s Creative Music Workshop in Halifax Nova Scotia, which just celebrated its twentieth anniversary in 2016. Granelli started Love Slave Records in 2000, which has released nine critically acclaimed records by his own bands as well as other “downtown” musical luminaries. In 2014 Granelli was the musical director and arranger for the “Love Love” project with Julian Priester at the Atlantic Jazz Festival and marked the first time the iconic record was played live in the forty years since its recording. He composed music for the Fox Searchlight motion picture “Super Troupers” with New York alt americana star Jack Grace and his composition “Fortunate Son” plays regularly on NPR as interstitial music. He currently leads his own Mr. Lucky Trio as well as Jazz/Reggae band the Gowanus Reggae and Ska Society and plays with numerous local projects in New York.

Russ Meissner

Russ Meissner, drums (

New York drummer/composer Russ Meissner is currently involved with several projects including, Jim Campilongo and Honeyfingers, the Sean Smith Quartet, the Matt Renzi Trio, the Kenny Wessel Group, the JC Sanford Quartet, the Pre-War Ponies, the Jack Grace Band and the Silos. He also co-leads a group with bassist David Ambrosio and their new album Moments in Time is out on SteepleChase Records. Russ grew up in Toronto Canada and attended William Paterson University in New Jersey where he studied with John Riley and Rufus Ried, graduating with a BA in jazz performance. As a vital part of the New York music scene, Russ has performed with diverse artists including John Abercrombie, Bill Charlap, Norah Jones, Lucy Wainwright Roche and many others. He can be heard on more than thirty albums and has performed throughout the US, Canada, Europe, Israel and Japan.

Mark Miller

Mark Miller, saxophone, shakuhachi (

 Mark Miller plays soprano and tenor saxophones, flutes and shakuhachi. He has performed and recorded with a wide variety of improvising artists including Art Lande, Tuck and Patti, David Darling, Paul McCandless, Native American flutist R. Carlos Nakai, Tibetan flutist Nawang Khechog, and poets Anne Waldman and Allen Ginsberg. His recordings with pianist Art Lande include two albums of improvised duets, and "World Without Cars," named a “top ten album of the year” by Cadence Magazine. To date he has recorded eight albums with pianist Peter Kater, including "Illumination," nominated for a Grammy Award in 2013. Miller has presented on music and improvisation at the Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education, the International Society for Improvised Music, University of Michigan, San Francisco State University, and Virginia Tech University Schools of Engineering and Music. Mark holds an M.F.A. degree in jazz performance from California Institute of the Arts and is currently a core professor in Naropa University. 

Enion Pelta

Enion Pelta-Tiller, 5-string fiddle (

Enion Pelta-Tiller was literally born listening to Stephane Grapelli and Django Reinhardt. Growing up in the richly diverse music scene of San Francisco, CA, she played in internationally touring orchestras and studied the great concertos, but continually took opportunities to hone her jazz and fiddle chops by jamming with the numerous musicians who passed through her parents home. A chance meeting with master fiddlers Darol Anger and David Balakrishan, who lived just minutes from her childhood house, helped bring Enion fully into her own as A highly creative and versatile violinist.

Enion currently performs with many string bands around the Front Range, including her own group Taarka, the adventurous Jake Schepps’ Expedition Quartet, Jayme Stone Quartet, The Railsplitters and others, and has performed with Darrel Scott, Jerry Douglas, Ron Miles, The Other Ones (members of the Grateful Dead) and other luminaries of rock, jazz and folk music. As a composer her work has been featured in the award-winning documentary “1971,” and she has arranged the music of Elephant Revival for the Colorado Symphony and Colorado Music Festival Orchestra on multiple occasions.

Enion has taught at Mark O’Connor’s Strings Conference, the American Fiddle Method Camp, other camps and workshops throughout the US and abroad, and maintains a private studio in Lyons, CO.

Anisha Rush

Anisha Rush, saxophone (

Colorado-based saxophonist and composer Anisha Rush began playing the saxophone at the age of 10 and immediately fell in love with the music.  In 2013, Anisha was chosen to be a Telluride Student All-Star from a pool of musicians from around the country.   She has been a member of The Ron Miles Group, The Boy/Girl Band lead by Art Lande, and the Colorado Jazz Group Big Band, playing with Colorado’s top players including Brad Goode, Jeff Jenkins, and Ken Walker. Anisha has shared the stage with world-class artists such as Tia Fuller, Art Lande, Brad Goode, Ken Walker, Ron Miles, Bill Frisell and Brian Blade.  In 2016, she was chosen to attend the International Association of Schools of Jazz, a week-long conference led by renowned saxophonist Dave Leibman. Anisha holds a BM in Jazz Studies from the University of Colorado at Boulder.Recently, Anisha received a grant from the Boulder County Arts Alliance through Pathways to Jazz allowing her to record her debut album. She released "Pursuit" in October of 2016, using the project as a platform to de-stigmatize mental health.  Anisha is now an active member of the Denver music scene as both bandleader and sidewoman. 

Khabu Young

Khabu Young, guitar, ukulele (

Khabu Doug Young, guitarist and composer, recently relocated to Boulder CO after 20 years in New York City as an active musician and teaching artist . He has toured the US, Canada, Europe, and India with renowned musicians such as Art Lande and Paul McCandless. He performed with various groups around NYC with Jacob Sacks, Slog, DYGG, ok|ok, Alec Haavik, Yoon Sun Choi’s E-String Band, New York Mandolin Ensemble, Kendra Shank, and Elliot Sharp in venues such as Sweet Rhythm, 55 Bar, The Stone, The Knitting Factory, Tonic, Barbes, Zebulon, Cornelia St Café, Bar Next Door, Bar4, Detour, and I-Beam Brooklyn. He plays major Jazz and Ukulele festivals abroad and in the US. Mr. Young was commissioned by the Armour Foundation to compose new works for ukulele for two consecutive years. Most recently, he was awarded a Pathways To Jazz grant through the Boulder County Arts Alliance. He is currently an adjunct professor at Naropa University.


Full Tuition (no credit): $640

            7/27-8/4: 9am-6pm (lunch from 1-2:30)

            7/31-8/4: concerts start at 7:30pm

1/2 Day Tuition (no credit): $360

            7/27-8/4: 9am-1pm 

            7/31-8/4: 7:30pm concert attendance encouraged

For Credit Tuition (up to 2 college credits, full participation required): $995 per credit

            7/27-8/4: 9am-6pm (lunch from 1-2:30)

            7/31-8/4: concerts start at 7:30pm

Housing is available. $50/night for a bed in a shared room at Snow Lion.

Register Now


Directed by Jerry Granelli and J Anthony Granelli

The Creative Music Workshop is about music. Not jazz or rock or blues or any of the thousands of genres that exist in the world — just music. More specifically, CMW is about how improvisation is at the root of all music. We believe that the fundamentals of music — the atomic elements of music — are best accessed through improvisation and the skills required to improvise.

After decades of teaching and thinking about music education we have come to realize that the fundamental skills needed to improvise are the same skills needed to perform any form of music. The practice of these skills not only makes one a better improviser but makes any style easier to operate within and master.

At CMW we relate to improvisation as "Spontaneous Composition.” This is an important distinction as it helps us to define a set of concrete concepts that are helpful and teachable. All elements of musical composition are present in improvised music: form, harmony, melody, rhythm, dynamics and orchestration.

While all composers deal with these elements while writing, our challenge as improvisers is to manage them in real time. CMW uses the following classes to teach these concepts such that students receive the information and have direct and practical applications for that information in a safe and nurturing environment.

Creative Process

Creative Process is the central principle of the CMW approach. The Creative Process class is used to introduce concepts and activities that participants use during all other aspects of the workshop. These lessons may include singing, playing pieces with specific “rules,” using movement as improvisation and discussions about concepts and issues that everyone is experiencing.

Mindfulness Practice

Students are given basic meditation instruction as a part of CMW. Each morning the group will practice mediation together and discuss questions and issues that arise from the practice. "Being in the moment" is paid a lot of lip service when talking about music. At CMW we teach it as a skill that benefits not only the music making process but the artistic mind and presence in the everyday world.

Like Instruments

Each day the workshop is broken into groups of like-instruments. While a great deal of conceptual work is done at CMW we believe that the craft of playing is also very important. This time is used to discuss technique and to work out issues that are specific to each instrument during improvisational playing.


The meeting of sound and physical movement is present in every culture. As with music we believe that improvised movement is essential and central to the human experience. CMW uses movement to unite mind and body by making the abstraction of sound physical. Issues of deeper spatial awareness and presence in the moment are taught to foster an holistic understanding of the concepts being discussed.


At CMW we take all of the information from the first part of the day and put them into practice in the Ensemble. Attention is paid not only to spontaneous composition but to all the ways improvisation can be used as a compositional device. We also look at different forms of presenting ideas to other musicians and of organizing thoughts and concepts in a clear and concise way. Finally Ensembles prepare the students for performance.


The student performances are not viewed as the completion of a process at CMW. Performance allows students to use the concepts under the unique pressures presented by a playing in front of a live audience. This is a valuable learning tool that lets students see what "working without a net" is really like. The following morning we discuss how the performance went and what issues arose for everyone.

Creative Music Workshop is a safe and nonjudgmental place in which students can learn and grow. It is our firm belief that learning is best done through experience. Our faculty provide encouragement and honest feedback, not criticism. It is our mission to make growth possible. In the end our students are our greatest teachers.