An 8-week intensive course for songwriters ready to take 

their craft to the next level.

Are you struggling to access your own musical creativity on a consistent basis despite knowing the great power music has in your life?

Do you KNOW that you have songs inside you, yet the weeks go by and you never
seem to finish that album you want to write?

Do you feel down when you see others performing their own songs, knowing that you are capable but just can’t seem to connect the dots from here to there?

Have you ever felt like you just needed to “learn more theory” in order to write a good song?

Have you ever thought to yourself “I didn’t go to music school…I’m not a real musician”?
I’m here to show you that it doesn’t have to be this hard. 
You can make the music you’ve always imagined.

hi, i'm gary grundei

My music has appeared on MTV, The Discovery Channel and NPR. I’ve composed for New York Stage and Film, Ensemble Studio Theatre, the Magic Theatre, GALA Choruses, and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with Meredith Monk, Bill Pullman, Leigh Fondakowski, and Caitlyn FitzGerald.

I live in NYC with my family and I am incredibly blessed to be doing what I love full-time . . .

but it wasn't always like that for me . . .

Before I started to unlock the secrets of great songwriters and my own creativity, I was stuck. I have spent my whole life loving music and brilliant songs, but I spent part of it convinced that songwriting and composing was something that was reserved for a chosen few. And then, through a series of fortunate (and unfortunate) circumstances in my schooling and my family life, I discovered that the keys to making the music that only I could truly make were, in fact, in my pocket the whole time. And as soon as I discovered those keys, I dedicated my life to making my own music and helping other people tap into their own innate abilities to write their lives and hearts in song.

let me tell you a little about what got me here...

After years and years of study and hard work, I had built up a pretty great career as a full-time freelance musician. I did everything from music directing on cruise ships to composing music for the Tony Award-winning Denver Center for the Performing Arts. But there came a point when I realized that something was missing. I felt so honored to be helping other people make their plays and dream projects happen, but a painful thought kept coming into my mind: “None of these things is the reason you went into a career in music in the first place.”

I was feeling empty, stressed, and out of balance. I was envious of the folks I knew who were getting pretty big on the recording and touring scene because they were making music that was really meaningful to their fans. I acutely sensed how short our human lives are, and I really wanted to write songs that would be inspiring to people.

So I sat down to try and write my own song. And I hated every little idea that came out of my pen.

Every lyric was so embarrassing and cliché. I could hear echoes of kids from my childhood making fun of me as I tried to come up with decent words and melodies. I was flooded with feelings of unworthiness and self-loathing.

I tortured myself like this several times a week, but I was producing nothing but more self-critical thought. It was rapidly becoming clear that I would never be a songwriter. I would swear I was done trying…

And then I would remember how much I loved music, and I would be reminded again of this strange calling to write some songs. And so I would sit down again to write. And the first idea would come – followed by the same downward spiral into desperate inadequacy.

Then, at one point during these writing/torture sessions, I had a realization. And the realization was this: “I bet even Paul McCartney’s first song wasn’t very good.

Woah. Probably most of my favorite songwriters throughout time wrote some less than great songs at the very beginning. Boom.

So I posed a question to myself: Would I rather finish this first crappy idea for a song, or would I rather not have any finished songs, ever? What would happen if I changed my focus away from needing it to be an incredibly good song, to needing it to be just a finished draft of a song? Wouldn’t that be a worthy experiment?

I committed myself right then and there to finishing this stupid, stupid, pretentious piece of junk. And, step by step, having been liberated by the fact that I didn’t have to make it a GOOD song, just a finished song, I just… finished it.

I still didn’t actually like it, but I did feel some sense of accomplishment. I played the song for my wife at the time (now my ex), and she smiled politely and told me that I was mixing my metaphors in the song, which was absolutely true, and I should change that, but otherwise, “Good effort.”

And then, for some reason, I decided to tell one friend that I had accomplished a goal I had set out to do, which was to finish writing a song for no other purpose than to write a song. Naturally, he asked if he could hear the song, and so I played it for him. As it turned out, he liked it quite a lot, and he immediately wanted to hear it again.

I can’t tell you what joy that brought me. He was able to say a couple of things that he liked about the song and what his experience as a listener was. It was such a simple act, but it gave me enough faith to keep writing songs. And so I kept on, and I wrote more and more songs, and I started to actually like some of them.

But one of the most surprising miracles in the story happened years later, as I was going through my divorce. I was experiencing enormous grief and pain, and I did what I know to do in that kind of situation: I reached for songs. And somehow, the song that brought me the most comfort during that time was that very first song that I had written – the one I hadn’t even liked at the time. Suddenly, I found that it cracked open my heart just perfectly, mixed metaphors and all. And there’s no way, when I had started writing it so many years prior, that I could have ever known what that song would mean to me.

So I ask you: don’t you think you owe it to yourself to find out if there might be a song in you right now that’s waiting to emerge?

Let me share with you five myths about songwriting that often hold back talented musicians:

The "Gifted" Songwriter

People think that only certain songwriters have a kind of magic that they were born with–a magic that makes their extraordinary songs possible. They do. But the truth is that you have the same kind of magic within you. You have only to learn the tools to access it on a consistent basis for it to be available to you at any time.

"I'm Too Busy to Write Songs"

I guarantee you that your favorite composers and songwriters are juggling a challenging schedule with non-stop demands on their time, yet they have found a way to make time to be creative. I’ll show you how easy it is to fit songwriting effortlessly into the rest of your life.. 

"My Ideas are Stupid"

Ideas are ideas. When you learn to access your creativity on a regular basis, you realize that ideas can grow like weeds, with very little will or effort. Your only job is to place the right ideas in the right spots. Everyone has some bad ideas. If you’re not having some bad ideas, you’re probably not thinking outside the box enough.

"It's All Been Written Before"

I understand why you might think this in a cynical way, but no statement could be less true. Once you start writing from a more microscopically authentic place of feeling and storytelling, you will realize that absolutely no one that lives or has ever lived could write the songs that you are writing.

"I am Unworthy"

Oh, this is a big one and it can affect musicians of all levels on an epidemic basis. We are so accustomed to comparing ourselves to other, more successful or more skilled or more Gaga-like musicians. Learning to break out of this pattern and clarify the reason that we are on this musical path is of the utmost importance. And it imbues our every step on the path with purpose.

This LIVE 8-week workshop is designed for songwriters who are looking for some structure, accountability, individual attention, and a small group of like-minded musical peers to work alongside. In each of the 8 classes, experienced and renowned songwriter and composer Gary Grundei will guide you through writing your own original music from scratch and help you further develop those first drafts into final drafts. With a focus on lyrical and melodic exploration, Gary’s techniques in the Compose Yourself Workshop are tailored to build off of one another as the weeks progress and as you compile a new collection of your own songs. You’ll have the opportunity to find focus, work diligently, collaborate with your peers, and receive individual feedback on your creations from your instructor. 
While our Friday Afternoon Song Club offers great practices for those first drafts, Compose Yourself harbors an environment for extended creation with a growth mindset, using each week’s progress as a springboard into the next. In addition to working on brand new pieces each week, you’ll also work on pieces over the course of several weeks, some of which you will be passing along to other classmates for some long-distance collaboration! If you’re wanting to take your songwriting more seriously, Compose Yourself Workshop is a great first step. We’re cultivating loads of inspiration and motivation and can’t wait to send it your way!

here's what you get

✓ 8 live zoom calls with your cohort that are recorded so you can go back and watch them again, if desired – Saturdays, 4-5:15PM EST – May 16 to July 4, 2020

The support and feedback of a like-minded group of individuals who are on the path with you and who have many of the same challenges and victories that you do

✓ Instruction, guidance and exercises that, if you do them all, will coach you through the writing of at least 10 new songs that are uniquely yours

Individual attention and support from me

✓ The Friday Afternoon Song Club is included through July 11th, 2020 (end of CYW)

Teaching in the contemplative tradition that honors a wholistic approach to art


✓ A joyful, unique approach that invites collaboration, builds trust quickly and gives you a feeling of belonging and support that is quite unique in the online universe

Loads of tips, tricks, and techniques that you can use again and again for the rest of your songwriting career

In my classes, literally hundreds of people have made thousands of their best songs. 
I’d love for you to hear what some of my students are saying about this course:

success stories

I so appreciate how accepting, encouraging, and authentically delighted Gary is with all of his students and…their work. The way Gary set us students up to work together, support each other, and be inspired by each other was fun and brilliant.
Leisel E.
professional musician
I took Gary’s online workshop this winter and it was one of the most profoundly creatively satisfying experiences I’ve had. He fosters a very positive and supportive atmosphere.
Mark C.
professional performer
As a total beginner, this class blew my mind because I didn’t think I could write a song and I wrote several. It was so fun to follow his exercises and within minutes have super fun lyrics. It was great to be in an environment with all levels of musicians and be a part of a community of music makers. Gary is an amazing teacher and guide, it is a super loving space to experiment and express!
Macy M.
professional coach
The class was ideal for me. It presented a variety of useful techniques that help a songwriter, even someone who has never written a sing before, to produce interesting and effective first versions of songs. The course allowed me to learn “song writing basics”, and encouraged me (that is, gave me courage) to continue writing songs after the course ended. The relaxed, open, online format allows the students to overcome any feelings of embarrassment or inadequacy about writing songs and sharing them with fellow students.
Keith W.

You deserve the freedom of total creative flow!

Listen to what Sara V. has to say about the Compose Yourself Workshop:

“It was a creative and powerful environment of people just getting together and being courageous and sharing little bits of themselves which was really beautiful.”

“Gary created this environment that’s just safe and supportive and encouraging and full of love and laughter…and down-to-earth techniques also that you can use to actually do the thing you’re trying to do.”

“Throughout the course, I was actually really surprised at the number of songs we all wrote because each week there were these fun games and activities. We started writing songs right away….I was really encouraged by the amount of productivity that happened.”

“I would definitely recommend Gary’s courses….I would say if anyone’s on the fence, it’s really an investment in yourself. Invest in yourself and take Compose Yourself.”

Comparing Compose Yourself to other offerings:


$50 – $200

1-6 hrs of video lectures

Pre-recorded classes

No one pays attention to you and there’s no incentive to watch the videos or do the assignments

No individualized instruction



12-week course

Prohibitively expensive

Some attention from an instructor but in a very large impersonal institution

You’re a small fish in a big ocean


That's only $9.41 a day - for less than the price of a sandwich, you can have your songwriting dreams come true. (How does that sound?)


$800 – $1000

for 2 months, open ended


The instructor might be 16 years old (I used to do this job when I was 16)

No community, no goals, no proven curriculum


only $527

10 songs in 8 weeks!

✓ Includes all the benefits of the others, plus:

✓ Affordable

✓​ A proven curriculum and structure

✓ Unparalleled individual support on your journey by the instructor and a close-knit community

✓ Work and attend class from the comfort of your home!

frequently asked questions

Most frequent questions and answers

what should i expect out of this course?

Each 90-minute songwriting class is LIVE and led by Gary every Saturday for 8 weeks. Classwork will involve participating in writing exercises (both lyrical and melodic), sharing new creations, talking about your ideas and experiences, giving feedback to one another, and sharing your tastes and personality in class alongside your peers. Class homework will involve between 2 and 3 hours of work outside of class each week working on songs, posting those songs on the private and exclusive Compose Yourself forum, and giving warm feedback to your peers’ posts on the forum. Some of these in-class assignments and homework assignments will involve teaming up with your classmates, allowing you the chance to be inspired by one another’s musical ideas, and strengthening your collaboration skills. At the end of the course, each workshop member will select and work on a final song to be featured on our class album!

do i qualify for this?

Yes! Any and all songwriting skill levels are welcome. All that is required is a thirst to work on your songs and a willingness to be led! If you’re not comfortable on an instrument, your voice is enough, even if you don’t consider yourself to be a great singer. Your experience listening to and appreciating music will serve you as you enter into this process of finding your own songwriting voice. I wouldn’t say this with such confidence if I hadn’t seen so many people with so little experience make the most extraordinary, moving songs. Just make sure to bring your voice, something to write with, and a voice recorder (like a smart phone) to class!

how is this different from saturday afternoon song club ?

While FASC is our most popular and most affordable offering at Golden Lotus Studio, Compose Yourself offers a niche experience for individuals who want to take their songwriting more seriously, or who already do! The classes are more structured and involve multiple exercises for multiple creations. Sometimes they’re fast-paced and sometimes they allow even more time than their FASC counterparts. One of the key differences, and arguably one of the more joyful differences, is that due to the limited number of seats in each workshop, we’ll be able to get to know each other every week live on the Zoom call and on our own private forum page. There’s less anonymity and more intimacy which inevitably leads to richer community and more growth. The generated Lorem Ipsum is therefore always free from repetition, injected humour, or non-characteristic words etc.

this sounds a bit intimidating

Don’t worry! The good news is that you’re not alone; other classmates will be participating alongside you and getting out of their comfort zones too. I promise that by the end of the 8 weeks, you will be SHOCKED by how comfortable you feel with the others in the class and how any initial feelings of intimidation have reduced if not faded completely.

what if i can't make all of the classes?

If you’re just going to miss a couple of the times, no problem. All of the classes are recorded so you can just watch the recording and be caught up quickly. If the regular schedule of the class (Saturdays at 11am EST) doesn’t work for you, send me an email at and tell me what your ideal class time would be. I will be running another section of the course later in the year and I would love to put you on a waiting list to be the first to know when it’s available.

join the community now and register for compose yourself:
Saturdays, 4-5:15PM EST - May 16 to July 4, 2020

* These are unprecedented times that we are living in (due to COVID-19) and it’s bound to create chaos in a number of ways for many people. If you’re experiencing financial hardship at this time and this is the primary reason you might not be able to participate, please write to himself [at] with a pay-what-you-can proposal which we will gladly consider. We want to bring creative opportunities to as many individuals as we can, especially during these turbulent times, so please don’t hesitate to reach out.