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NGI Recipient: Everest Witman

Session Attended: Country Dance and Song Society - Harmony of Song & Dance (2015)

This summer, I had the privilege and honor of being a recipient of the CDSS NGI scholarship, which made it possible for me to attend the Pinewoods Harmony of Song and Dance week at no expense. Being of currently limited means, I don’t think that I would have been able to experience this wonderful opportunity without PCI’s and CDSS’s generous support.

My week at Pinewoods to put it simply was complete bliss. Every single moment felt like something valuable, whether I was participating in workshops, jamming, dancing, or spending time with the incredible staff and campers. Being in complete immersion with other people who share very similar passion to myself about music and dancing was a big part of my experience at Pinewoods.

At Harmony of Song and Dance, the schedule placed big emphasis on singing. As a not already very experienced singer, I think that my week at Pinewoods significantly helped to build my capability and confidence.

In my workshops, I really enjoyed and gained a lot from working with Cindy Kallet and Pascal Gemme. With Pascal, I took French Canadian singing, and worked a lot on learning songs and singing in French. Cindy’s workshop helped introduce me to finger picked guitar styles, a contrast to the flat-picking and heavy strumming that I normally do. I felt like both of these workshops opened doors into French Canadian singing and finger picking guitar styles that I can explore further on my own.

Outside of classes and planned activities, I recall several incredibly funny moments at camp. Finn Crooks, the lifeguard at camp, jokingly told two other teenagers and myself that we needed to pass our swim test in a dress. We took her seriously, bought a dress from the clothing exchange, and spent our swim test hilariously trying to take the dress on and off each other while in the water. I also had the honor of winning the Pinewoods boot tossing competition.

All in all, Pinewoods was a wonderful experience which I feel I’ve come away from all the more enriched. Thanks again to CDSS and PCI for making me going a possibility! I really hope to return in future years.