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2020 Dates to come!

Northwest Music Retreat is a Violin, Viola, and Cello retreat with the goal of providing string teachers and students with the tools to enhance their teaching and personal technique. Through our partnership with the Grossman Method©, we will provide a 7 day workshop for relaxation, yoga, chamber music and learning.

By using the Grossman Method© to provide an understanding of advanced techniques while incorporating a somatic understanding, participants will be able to educate their students of the different muscle groups that are used while playing. Participants will also learn ways of incorporating the Grossman Method© into traditional method literature such as the Suzuki Method. The skills learned during the retreat will give participants the tools to teach students mental-physical exercises and advanced techniques to becoming a healthy, successful musician. 

Participants of the Northwest Music Retreat will receive instruction from our faculty, participate in a conductor-less chamber ensemble, teach in masterclass settings and work within a small chamber group. These areas will allow participants to incorporate their learning in a real world setting while meeting and playing with other professionals in the classical music field.


LOCATION: 223 Battery Way Port Townsend, WA, 98368



Hal Grossman, Violin

Hal Grossman, Alexander Technique, Suzuki

Violinist, Hal Grossman has been enthusiastically acclaimed by critics and audiences alike for his “vibrant tone” and “superb technique”. Grand Award Winner of the Lima Young Artist Competition and Silver Medalist of the International Stulberg String Competition, Mr. Grossman also received First Prize Awards at the prestigious International Cleveland Quartet Competition and the National Fischoff Chamber Music Competition. His New York Debut at Carnegie Hall received exceptional reviews from the New York Times. He was invited to perform for their Royal Highnesses, Prince Charles and Princess Diana, in a CBC television and radio broadcast. Recital appearances have taken him throughout North America and Europe.

In the United States he has also been heard on National Public Radio, WQXI-New York, and WFMT-Chicago. Mr. Grossman served as the Concertmaster of the Estranach Festival Orchestra in Luxembourg, a position he has also held with the Illinois Philharmonic, the Boise Philharmonic, the Lansing Symphony and the SaginawBay Symphony Orchestra. He has been featured at the Casals (Puerto Rico), Evian (France), Orfeo (Italy), InterHarmony (Germany) music festivals and, in the continental U.S., the Aspen, Lancaster, Breckenridge, Fontana, Great Lakes, Marrowstone, Manitou, and Garth Newel music festivals.

An outgrowth of Mr. Grossman’s teaching is the development of The Grossman Method© and its course Creating the Healthy Musician, a unique teaching system that addresses musicians’ health and performance issues within the applied lesson structure. Mr. Grossman, who earned his Yoga Ed. certification in 2009, combines his knowledge of Yoga, Feldenkrais Method® and Alexander Technique to create The Grossman Method’s Creating the Healthy Musician and its workshops; No Pain, ALL GAIN: A Healthy Way to Stretch and Play and the Breathe Your Way to Better Playing. The Grossman Method© has an international presence and has been used by leading performing artists and teachers.

Mr. Grossman is Associate Professor of Violin at The University of Louisville and on the violin faculty at the Aria International Summer Music Academy and the Marrowstone Music Festival. He was formerly on the violin faculties at the Interlochen Arts Academy, Miami University and the University of Oklahoma.




Erika Burns, a native of Washington State, is a doctoral candidate at the University of Oklahoma where she studies with Hal Grossman. Ms. Burns was awarded first place in the 2014 Western Washington University Music Competition and she is an alumnus of the Aria International Summer Academy, where she performed in recital with renowned recording artist flutist Judith Mendenhall, and the Icicle Creek International Chamber Music Institute. Ms. Burns made her concert debut in 2003 with the Everett Youth Symphony and she has also performed with the Everett Symphony, the Icicle Creek Chamber Orchestra and, most recently, with the Civic Orchestra at OU in the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto. She has appeared in master classes with Midori, Charmian Gadd, and Bayla Keyes. Ms. Burns received her Master's degree in Violin Performance at OU and her Bachelor's degree at Western Washington University with Professor Walter Schwede.



Rachel Swerdlow, VIOLA


Rachel Swerdlow has been a member of the Seattle Symphony viola section since 1987. Originally from New York, she attended Juilliard’s Pre-College Division, Curtis Institute of Music and graduated with highest honors from the State University of New York at Stony Brook with a B.A. in Music History and Theory. She earned a Master's Degree in Performance from San Francisco Conservatory of Music where she also taught music history to undergraduates and coached chamber music in the school’s Prep Department. Principal teachers include Eugene Becker, John Graham, and Isadore Tinkleman. Rachel was a Fellow at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood, attended the Taos, N.M. Chamber Music School and The Quartet Program in Troy, N.Y. She served as principal viola of the Santa Rosa Symphony and the Colorado Philharmonic and is a regular participant in the Grand Teton Music Festival. She has taught viola at the Cornish College of the Arts and coached at Music Northwest, Chamber Music Madness and Yakima Music en Accion, an El Sistema program in Eastern Washington. Rachel is the founder of the Seattle Chamber Players and a co-founder of the Fulton Street Chamber Players. She has twice rafted down the Grand Canyon, playing string quartet concerts inside canyons and on the river. This season Rachel performed as a guest artist with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, running and working on her old house.


Walter Gray, Cello


Walter Gray has performed as soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States, Mexico, the Far East, and Europe, including performances in Moscow, Odessa, Zagreb, Seoul, and Tokyo. He was a founding member of the Kronos Quartet and for over five years presented hundreds of concerts including numerous world premieres. He has continued to be a new music enthusiast performing with the New Performance Group, Quake, and Music of Remembrance.

Many recordings followed which include those of John Cage, Paul Schoenfield, Jake Heggie, Chinary Ung, Paul Dresher, and Janice Giteck. As a record producer Mr. Gray has worked for the London Symphony, Seattle Symphony, North West Chamber Orchestra, New Hampshire Music Festival and numerous solo and chamber musicians.

Mr. Gray grew up in Seattle and San Francisco and is a graduate of Lowell High School. He was a member of the Seattle Youth Symphony and studied cello with Raymond Davis and Robert Sayre. He then attended the Curtis Institute of Music where his primary teachers and coaches included Orlando Cole, Eugene Lehner, Mischa Schneider, Felix Galimir, and members of the Guarneri String Quartet.

A member of the Seattle Symphony since 1979, Mr. Gray has performed as soloist with the orchestra several times. He has taught at the State University of New York at Geneseo, Mills College, Cornish College of the Arts, Western Washington University, the University of North Texas, and Seattle University. The first week of December you will find Mr. Gray working with students of Stephen Balderston at DePaul University during “Cello Slam”. In the summer he makes regular appearances at the Olympic, Marrowstone, New Hampshire, and Grand Teton Music Festivals.



Sample Schedule


8:00am - 9:00am

Morning Yoga


9:00am - 10:00am

Anatomy Training


10: 30am - 11:30am

Grossman Method Training




1:30pm- 2:30pm

Chamber Orchestra


2:30pm- 3:30pm

Individual Practice, Masterclasses and Lessons


3:30pm - 5:00pm

Chamber Music Rehearsals and Coachings


Located in the beautiful town of Port Townsend. Attendees will have the opportunity to explore the Fort Worden State Park, walk to local beaches, and much more.  

Music Retreat Washington State

Port Townsend

  • Historic Victorian Seaport with eclectic shops, wonderful restaurants, Washington roasted coffee, art galleries, a movie theater, wineries and more.
  • Explore Port Townsend's Historic sites such as the Jefferson Museum of History and Art, The Rothschild House and The Jefferson County Courthouse. 
  • Home of some of the best bow makers in the world such as Charles Espey, Ole Kanestrom and Christopher English.
Suzuki Teacher Retreat near Seattle

Housing and Facilities

  • Private Bedrooms with full to queen size beds
  • Apartment style living with full kitchen, dining and living room.
  • Beautifully reclaimed chapel for all large group activities
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Fort Worden State Park

  • Over 443 Acres of land to explore
  • Multiple beaches within 5 minutes of walking
  • Opportunities for kayaking, hiking, whale watching and opportunities to see other sea life such as dolphins, sea otters and seals.
  • Multiple restaurants on the grounds, Reveille, Cablehouse Beach Canteen and Taps

Getting to the Northwest Music Retreat

Participants are encouraged to fly into Seattle's SeaTac Airport. Once in Seattle, participants can use one of the travel methods below or any that you see fit. 

  • The Travel Washington, Dungeness Line is the most effective method of transportation from Seattle to Port Townsend. Make your reservations online, and be sure to select the Port Townsend, Haines Place Park and Ride on 12th as your drop off point. Representatives from NWMR will pick you up from this location. 
  • Greyhound provides daily runs from Seattle to Port Townsend. A combination of Seattle's Light Rail and Greyhound will bring you to Port Townsend's Greyhound station,where we will pick you up.
    Visit for more information and to reserve tickets. 
  • If you have any questions feel free to email us.


Applications for Northwest Music Retreat 2019 are currently being accepted!

Enrollment is currently limited to 16 participants to ensure opportunities for customized and personal instruction.

All applicants must be 18 years or older.

This retreat is reccomended for college students, teachers, semi-professionals and professionals.

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Financial assistance may be awarded on the basis of financial need to a limited number of participants. Check the box below to be updated as scholarships become available.


Application Fee (non-refundable): $45

Tuition: $600

Lodging: $750

Meals (Optional): $300


Payment Schedule

$45 Application fee (non-refundable) must be received on or before February 1, 2019

$500 Deposit (non-refundable) must be received on or before March 15, 2019

$800 Remaining Balance must be received on or before April 15, 2019

Please note: The Remaining Balance becomes non-refundable on April 22, 2019


Method of Payment

Check or Money Order in US dollars, made payable to LIFE Arts Inc. and mailed to: LIFE Arts Inc, 3138 Overhulse Rd. NW #164, Olympia, WA, 98502, USA.

All Major U.S credit cards are accepted. Click here to pay via credit/debit card.