In addition to performing concerts, Dana also is available to give workshops and lectures (always with a song or two mixed in) on a number of environmental, musical or self-empowerment topics (see partial list below). Dana has worked for over 25 years in the environmental movement. Universities often bring Dana to their campus for a daytime workshop or lecture followed by an evening concert.

Workshop Topics:

Public Speaking Workshop
With Performer & Activist Dana Lyons

If we want to work to improve our communities and our world, we have to reach out and talk to others. Some cultures encourage and nurture us as children to speak our minds in large groups of people. Some cultures humiliate and discourage us from speaking out. Most of us grew up in the latter.

Public speaking is a key element in community organizing and self-empowerment. There are tools, skills and tricks we can all practice and use to be better public spokespeople.

Dana Lyons has been working as a musician, performer, activist, and organizer for thirty years. He has worked on many environmental and social justice campaigns around the world in many cultures. In his Public Speaking Workshop he shares some basic skills and insights that can greatly improve your public speaking approach.

In the workshop we will discuss a range of skills, tools, and methods to help improve your public speaking. We will discuss how to prepare a speech, and then each participant will prepare and present a one-minute speech in order to practice some of the skills we have discussed.

Topics of Discussion:

  • Proper Use of a Microphone
  • How to Enunciate So All Can Hear and Understand You
  • How to Dress
  • Being Yourself, Being Authentic
  • Preparing Your Introduction
  • Writing Your Speech:
  • Outline, Written Speech, Use of Humor, Speaking From the Heart With No Script, Research & Referencing Your Information
  • Question & Answer Sessions: How to Handle Them
  • How to Close Your Talk

Songwriting Workshop
With Songwriter & Recording Artist Dana Lyons

Listening to Your Muse

Songwriting is magic and weird and wild and untamed. Songs come from trees, birds, the wind, boats, vacuum cleaners, dreams, and your heart. Some songs start with the music. Some start with the words. Some start with the drums. Dana Lyons shares how he writes songs and explains some of the tools and mysteries he’s observed that help in songwriting. Workshop participants and Dana will write a song together, and as time allows, look at songwriting projects of some of the workshop attendees.

 Three Approaches to Songwriting

Dana discusses three methods of songwriting:

  1. starting with the music
  2. starting with the words
  3. writing words to someone else’s music

 Dana Begins a New Song at Every Workshop

Dana writes 90% of his songs starting with the music. After singing a song or two and discussing how those songs were written, Dana breaks out the mini tape recorder and starts writing a new song on the spot, to demonstrate how he writes most of his songs.

The Workshop Writes a Song

Dana then leads the class in “speed songwriting” and the participants attempt to complete a first draft of a song that day. First, we break into small groups and come up with a list of possible themes for a song. After choosing the song theme, everyone brainstorms ideas for lyrics. Then Dana helps cobble the various lyric ideas together with some music, and voila!: A first draft of a song.

 School Workshop Participants May Perform Their Song

In schools where I’m performing at an assembly after the songwriting session, if time allows for completing a song and a bit of rehearsal, the workshop participants may perform their song at the assembly. Teachers will have a sense if this is appropriate for the class.

Making a Living as an Activist or Artist: How to Pay The Rent While Doing What You Love and Believe In
With Singer/Songwriter and Environmental & Social Justice Activist Dana Lyons

It is possible to “pay your rent” and do what you love and believe in. The method can be described in two words: low overhead.

Musician and activist Dana Lyons discusses how he and other activists and artists have made enough money to live on AND work at what they love. As time allows, some participants will share their dreams with the group and we will design an initial five-minute business plan for a possible approach to pursuing such a lifestyle.

Some points that will be discussed include:

  • Low Overhead
    Live in a group house. Drive an inexpensive used car. Shop at the thrift store for clothes. Don’t buy “stuff.” Every you don’t spend is an hour you don’t have to work, and an hour you can use for your own projects. Or an hour to just hang out and enjoy life.
  • Half Time Gig
    Work the highest paid flexible part-time gig you can find (half time for the bills, half time for you). The rest of your time you can pursue your dreams.
  • Debt
    Debt is a four-letter word. Get out of it. Debt is a form of self-enslavement greatly encouraged by the banking industry and dominant consumer culture.
  • Volunteering Can Lead to a Paid Gig
    Initially most activists and artists don’t make much money from what they do. It’s possible you never will. It’s also possible that your hard volunteer work could evolve into a paid position at a non-profit or other situation.
  • Business Plan
    To complete large projects (recording a new album, building a large sculpture, starting a non-profit, saving a hunk of endangered habitat, etc) takes a large hunk of time. You’ll need a rough plan/strategy for how to set aside your time to complete your project.
  • Mental & Physical Health
    We live in a crazy upside-down suicidal society rushing toward the abyss like a pack of doped-up lemmings drowning in a giant bowl of denial flavored Koolaid. Other than that the world is an amazingly beautiful place. Taking time to be sane and happy is critical. Go camping. Dance. Work out. Cook fine meals. We’ll discuss these and other methods of maintaining sanity and happiness.
  • Burnout
    Many dedicated activists and artists face exhaustion and burnout sometimes. We can (and must) take care of ourselves so our work can be sustainable. Naps, vacations, exercise, and going to the great outdoors are key. We’ll discuss the art of “sustainably harvesting ourselves.”
  • Community Service
    Few things in life give us more satisfaction than giving to our community. We are each blessed with some incredible gifts to share.