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NGI Recipient: Miranda Weinberg

Session Attended: Country Dance and Song Society - English & American Week (2009)

Dear CDSS and Pinewoods Camp,

This summer’s English and American week was my first time at Pinewoods, and I am extremely grateful to the generous people who made my scholarship possible. I learned a lot during the week, and grew as a dancer and particularly as a musician throughout the week.

I started my days at the Advanced English session, which allowed me to focus on fine points of ECD, and learn dances outside of the repertoire I’ve grown familiar with during the few years since I was introduced to ECD. Peter Barnes’s band class helped me with my attempts to move past my background as a classical violinist and be able to play successfully for dancing as well. While I’d played for dancing during my four years at Swarthmore College, we never had time at Swarthmore class to talk about playing for dancing; Peter’s discussions and illustrations showed me some of the things I’ll need to work on to be able to play convincingly for dancing. Another part of learning to play for dancing is learning tunes, and Rick Mohr’s slow jam gave me a chance to work on learning tunes by ear, a skill that I’ve never learned. Singing madrigals afterwards was a beautiful way to enjoy singing with other people. While I only rarely had the energy left by the end of the afternoon to make it to Owen Morrison’s Irish sets, the sessions I attended left me feeling like I wouldn’t have to fake my way through the next spontaneous Kerry set I ended up dancing in.

Classes and the evening dances were valuable, and of course enjoyable, but many of my highlights of the week were spontaneous music and dance. Reading chamber music most afternoons in Ampleforth brought me back to my classical music comfort zone, but I did also notice a certain freeness in my playing, perhaps from being around and playing so much non-classical music. Grabbing people to learn tunes gave me extra time as I struggled with learning music by ear, and some of my most memorable dances happened spontaneously late at night. I look forward to dancing and playing more in the rest of my life. Many thanks to everyone who made this scholarship possible.