The Manitoba Songwriter Challenge

Manitoba Music‘s Challenge took place over five days (June 9-14) at idyllic lake-side cabins at Falcon Trails Resort, Falcon Lake, Manitoba. This year was programmed differently with the focus being on understanding songwriting more as a career and less as a means to being an artist. We wanted to create a space to truly learn new skills, new ways of thinking about songwriting as a whole, and for the writers to broaden their creative scope in a way that will help them create a sustainable career. With this in mind, we flew in our two mentors, Heather Longstaffe and Josiah Rosen who are full-time career-writers based in Los Angeles. Beyond their one-on-one sessions with the artists, Heather and Josiah spent mealtime workshops discussing the different projects, goals, and artists that career writers are expected to write for in the writing room.

Each day, the artists were given a writing challenge, then put into writing groups which were selected based on their one-on-one meetings at the beginning of the week. At the end of each day, after dinner, the whole group would get together to hear the songs that had been written and recorded that day which was a very exciting addition to our programming.

Participants (2019)


  • Aaron Bartel
  • Erika Fowler
  • Madeleine Roger
  • Nicole Haverda
  • Rhianna Rae Saj
  • Stefanie Johnson


  • Brady Allard
  • Jason Petric
  • Liam Duncan


  • Heather Longstaff
  • Josiah Rosen

Feedback (2019)

100% of the participant feedback indicated that they were all extremely happy with being given a different challenge for each day, with all challenges being rated equally engaging. Some of the comments from the survey are:

  • “loved loved loved this, i wish we had more days to write to more briefs!!!”
  • “I felt stretched beyond my comfort zone but never panicked. The challenges also seemed diverse, had real life application, and allowed us to connect deeply with the vast majority of the group in some way.”
  • “Loved the challenges. Would have loved just 1 more day though to write with everybody!”
  • “LOVED this way of structuring it. Much more interesting to write and produce in many styles. Helpful for everyone.”
  • “That was very fun, great idea to make it practical with real pitches.”

Gallery (2019)