NGI Recipient: Tyler Barron
Session Attended: Folk Music Society of New York and others - TradMaD (2018)
What a wonderful week it was.
It started with a meandering journey down the dirt road that led to camp. Never having been to Pinewoods before, it soon became abundantly clear how it got its name; the forest was riddled with magnificent pines that upheld an evergreen canopy. When we finally arrived at the entrance after being slightly unsure we were going in the right direction, the first group of people I met greeted my partner and me with a warm and personalized welcome and even went to the length of bringing us to our cabin. We settled in quickly, unpacked our things and proceeded to the main dining area to do some exploring. Based on the initial route in and our efforts to retrace our steps back out, it was obvious that we were going to spend the upcoming week getting lost more than once given how large and windy the campus was.
TradMAD activities commenced the following days with a broad array of workshops, performances, and a few periods of free time interspersed throughout the day. Workshop topics ranged from worksongs and songs about bugs, to dancing Sean Nos and African Drumming. Each day campers and teachers took to the stage with an assortment of songs and instruments, and for the first time in my life I bore witness to the melodic and hypnotizing sounds of a hammered dulcimer. Evenings consisted of more singing and songs, which was only heighted after Pub Night and the nights that followed, along with a contra dance.
Free time allowed me to clear some headspace, which was rapidly filling up after each workshop, yet in general it allowed for myself and other campers to enjoy the lake and pond, which were divided by campus. On the days where it approached 90 degrees, lounging by or in the lake was a much-needed activity that seemed to serve as a collective reset button. What was even more magical were the times when you could still hear the camper concert while in the water, or when groups of campers gathered on the dock to sing songs as the moon rose and hung over the horizon.
As I reflect on not just the day to day, or the incredible landscape of Pinewoods, I think to all of the close connections I made. The small size of camp allowed me to make personal connections I might otherwise not have made, and it sowed the seeds of a network of people who I now look forward to visiting and growing with. I learned a collection of songs that I can carry with me and share as I enter new musical spaces, and through this I also carry with me the knowing that music and dance can bring people of all ages and interests together as it did at TradMAD. For this, and for much more, I am incredible grateful for my time at TradMAD 2018 sand the NGI Scholarship that brought me there, and I look forward to spending another summer at Pinewoods.