Please Join Us October 6th - 11th, 2019, in beautiful central Tennessee, for a One of a Kind Experience with Special Guests Melanie DeMore, Victor Wooten and Jon Young, as we Create Community Around Nature and Music and Celebrate The Power in Every Voice!

Photo by Charles Purvis

Genius and creativity are accessible to all of us through practices of mindfulness in nature. Join us for a weeklong exploration of the ways in which we can develop our own artistic relationship with the natural world, receiving, through all of our senses, the elements that can form a song, a poem or a story. Expressing these elements, in small groups as well as the larger village, offers the ideal scene of bringing our creative treasures forth in a supportive community of practice. The invitation is there to catch, to share and to receive from others, practicing the art of deep listening. A team of skilled facilitators will guide our journey using the renowned and highly effective 8 Shields’ mentoring model to uncover the gifts of creativity and power that lie within each of us.

At the Workshop We Will...

Photo by Charles Purvis

- Relax in the beautiful natural setting of Wooten Woods in central Tennessee (Western highland rim) 1 ¼ hours drive from Nashville Airport

- Gain wisdom from experts in music, nature connection, and using the power of your own voice

- Deepen your relationship with nature, music, and creativity through guided practices

- Practice the technologies of belonging; singing, dancing, storytelling and silence

- Share in small groups facilitated by experienced Mentors

- Enjoy delicious meals prepared onsite

- Sing songs and make music in community

- Play, share, swap stories, have fun, and spend time around the fire

How can we use our nature connection practices to unleash the genius and power that we know is present in all of us, to encourage and empower quiet voices, to embrace all forms of creative expression, to cultivate a return to village-mindedness and to undo systems of oppression that prevent full representation?

If you’re feeling the lack of connection in your life, and have a desire to shift into authentic belonging, this workshop is for you.

The world needs human beings who are alive in this way, who live in a certain relationship with the natural world, who are active and activated and protective of that relationship. Embracing this deeply human quality, we can engage our newly awakened creative abilities to face the challenges and opportunities of our time.

"A song can hold you up when there seems to be no ground beneath you” - Melanie DeMore

“To be a good musician, you have to be a good listener” - Victor Wooten

“Everybody has a story to tell, everybody has a song in their heart” - Jon Young

Photo by Charles Purvis

If Any of These Are True For You...

- You have ever heard music playing in your head and wanted to let it out!

- You have a story to tell and want to practice ancient ways of sharing and bringing it to life for others

- You long to be part of a shared experience of community and purpose

- You are carrying an old wound that’s keeping you from bringing your voice, in song or in story

- You want to have tools for building relationship with the place where you live

- You see music as an essential part of a healthy culture

- You are a community organizer looking for ways to bring people together around solutions 

- You are grateful for the creative inspiration that comes from nature

- You are a healing arts practitioner, looking for tools to connect with and metabolize trauma and grief

Photo by Charles Purvis

Photo by Charles Purvis

- You are a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle with a desire to share the world of music with a child

- You are a music teacher who wants to “play” music with your students

- You are an outdoor educator looking to add value to your programs with music and storytelling inspired by nature

- You want to be part of a culture that supports the awareness and appreciation of every individual’s authentic gifts and calling

- You have ever “felt” music alive in your body and want to feel safe and supported in letting it out

- You want to be part of a world where the endless spectrum of humanity, and our interconnectedness is celebrated 

- You are a young person eager to practice ways to share your ideas and connect with others as you create the world of your future

...This Workshop Is For You!

This is an all-ages event for anyone who is called to it and no prior experience with music or storytelling is necessary to participate. 

Join us to revive your spirit, relax, play, unwind, and immerse yourself in an intergenerational song-village connecting deeply with nature.

If you can talk you can sing, if you can walk, you can dance - Zimbabwe proverb

About Our Workshop Leaders

Melanie DeMore

Born in the Bronx, raised in Anchorage, Alaska, folks moved all five kids to San Antonio, finished school, got out of Texas, kinda got off on being the only Black folk singer in Taos, N.M, then decided to get back into the mix, took all her stuff and moved to Oakland where she’s been for the last 21 years. Every town Melanie traveled became her teacher and an opportunity to hone her craft as a songwriter, troubadour, and an emissary of tolerance, kindness, and harmony through the sound of her golden voice.

She’s traveled the world, was a founding member of the Grammy nominated vocal ensemble Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir, and is constantly amazed by her life. But nothing is closer to her heart than bringing people together wherever she is to experience the healing power of music. Whether she’s performing solo, leading stick pounding workshops, doing residencies with choirs all over the country or teaching Sound Awareness to sixth graders, baby boomers, or senior citizens, one thing is certain: her mission is to make sure you unlock the key to experiencing yourself in all your Glory and return home with the very same excitement and passion for living that she herself has. 

With a solid education in music composition, this accomplished songwriter, composer, choral conductor and former Sister of the Cloth, Melanie has a level of understanding as to the pure intention of Music that comes to only a very few in each generation. She has been called to the bedsides of both newborns and those in transition. She has chanted and toned to awaken the newcomer into this world, and soothed many a weary soul about to pass, with praises and hymns for a life well lived.

Melanie is a Master Teaching Artist in Music at the University of California, Berkeley and a Grammy-nominated recording artist, composer, conductor and vocal activist.

Currently, Melanie is Musical Director for the “Obeah Opera”, a powerful retelling of the legendary Salem witch trials from the fascinating perspective of Caribbean slave women. 

Victor Wooten

As founder of the Victor Wooten Center for Music and Nature, Victor has brought a unique blend of music and nature instruction to musicians of all ages and skill levels for nearly 20 years.

Born the youngest of five boys, he began learning to play music at the tender age of two. He started performing in nightclubs and theaters as the bassist with the family band at age five, and at age six, was on tour with his brothers opening shows for legendary soul artist Curtis Mayfield. Soon after, he was affectionately known as the 8-year-old Bass Ace, and before graduating high school, he and his brothers had shared the stage with artists such as Stephanie Mills, War, Ramsey Lewis, Frankie Beverly and Maze, Dexter Wansel, and The Temptations. 

Wooten, now a five-time Grammy winner, hit the worldwide scene in 1990 as a founding member of the super-group Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. Continuing to blaze a musical trail with the band, Victor has also become widely known for his own Grammy nominated solo recordings and tours.

Among other things, he is a loving husband and father of four, a skilled naturalist and teacher, a published author, a magician and acrobat, and has won every major award given to a bass guitarist including being voted Bassist of the Year in Bass Player Magazine's readers poll three times (the only person to win it more than once.) In 2011, Rolling Stone Magazine voted Victor one of the Top Ten Bassist of ALL TIME.

Victor’s book, The Music Lesson-A Spiritual Search for Growth Through Music, a novel about Life and Music, has been translated into multiple languages and is currently used as required reading and part of curriculums in study groups, schools, and universities, including the prestigious Berklee College of Music and Stanford.

Jon Young

Jon Young is a musician, naturalist, wildlife tracker, peacemaker, author and storyteller. As a leader in the field of nature-based community building over 30 years, Jon’s research into the impact and significance of nature on human intelligence and development has influenced tens of thousands of people worldwide.

Jon has authored and co-authored several books, including What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World (2013), and Coyote's Guide to Connecting to Nature (2007). In 2016, he received the Champion of Environmental Education Award for his innovative work, which has inspired positive developments in the field, and fostered the growth of the nature connection movement on a global level.


Nestled on the bank of the beautiful Duck River, and nearly 150 acres, Wooten Woods provides the perfect getaway location for fostering growth, located near the town of Only, Tennessee, 63 miles from Nashville. Shuttles to and from the Nashville International Airport will be provided and are included in your workshop ticket price. 


Camping is included in your workshop ticket price and there are plenty of scenic places to set up your tent. There are a limited number of indoor shared accomodations with military style cots, available for an additional cost. Whichever you choose, please remember to bring your own sleeping bag (or bedding) and pillow! 

With an average high of 73 and low of 46 in October, the weather is likely to be comfortable for camping and spending time outdoors.

A large bath house provides showers and affords privacy and comfort. Participants must supply their own towels and toiletries.

Our facilities are accessible to physically challenged persons. A wheelchair accessible bathroom and shower is also available and service dogs are welcome.

All Ages Welcome

During this week-long workshop, there will be concurrent youth programs, including separate programs for parents and caregivers with children under 3, for children ages 4 to 12 years, and for teens (13-17 years). There will also be additional programming for those who are, or are becoming, Elders. All programming follows the hours of the adult workshops. 

Photo by Charles Purvis

Youth will go out on the land with experienced mentors for a variety of age-appropriate activities and games, that will include playful learning opportunities around music and nature.

Please note that during meals, break times, evening programming (and overnight), parents and caregivers will be responsible for their children. Together, we will seek to create an inclusive family culture for the weekend, where children can feel welcome and parents and caregivers supported.

Photo by Charles Purvis

Who is this workshop for?

We welcome people of all levels of experience, whether you are new to naturalist skills and mentoring, music and or are an experienced instructor. Workshops are suitable for teachers, parents, nature enthusiasts, and anyone eager to build a more nature-centered, resilient local community.

At 8 Shields, we value diversity in all its forms and commit to actively building a community that is diverse across many dimensions, including race, sex, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, ability, culture, nationality, socioeconomic status, occupational status, education, life experience, religion, political opinion, and level of comfort and experience with the outdoors.

We commit to identifying, minimizing and removing barriers to participation in our programs.  

A portion of the proceeds from this event will be allocated to the 8 Shields Reparations Fund, lending support to Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC)-led organizations at the forefront of the movement to establish racial equity in Outdoor Education and Nature Connection.

Addressing Our Environmental Impact

We are aware that travel over long distances to this event will cause egregious carbon emissions. It is our understanding that embodying deep connections to self, nature, community, and the creativity that this workshop can evoke is a step toward personal healing and global wellness. We also encourage you to consider organizing a shared ride, or, if using air travel, offsetting your travel carbon emissions by donating to specific renewable energy projects. One organization that helps to provide carbon offset opportunities is

Photo by Charles Purvis

What to Bring

  • Camping gear (unless you’ve chosen indoor accomodations for an additional cost)

  • Sleeping bag or Bedding (all, campers or in shared indoor housing)

  • Toiletries (Please pack carefully, we are striving for a scent-free environment!)

  • Appropriate clothing and shoes (including warm layers, rain gear, and waterproof boots: be prepared to be outside part of the day, rain or shine)

  • Travel mug for tea or warm beverage of choice

  • Water bottle

  • Blanket or other cozy items for fireside and story time

  • Journal or notebook

  • Musical instruments (optional)

What to Leave at Home

  • Pets (Service Animals excepted) 
  • Alcohol - Wooten Woods Camp is alcohol free
  • Amplified music 

Cancellation/Refund Policy: Should circumstances require you to cancel your plans, refunds are available, less a 10% administration fee, until September 7, 2019.  After September 7, 2019, no refunds will be made.

Please email to inquire about limited scholarships, work trade positions or if you require accessible accommodation.

Whether or not you have experience with music or story, this workshop is for you!