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NGI Recipient: Rachel Schacter

Session Attended: Country Dance and Song Society - Early Music Week (2015)

My experience at CDSS Early Music Week at Pinewoods was rewarding, refreshing, invigorating, and inspiring. When I arrived, I was nervous and tired. I was overwhelmed and didn’t know if I would meet people or live up to my own standards. However, when I arrived, I was quickly sought out by my assigned mentor, Lise, who was sweet and helpful and asked if I wanted to sit with her at dinner (which was super tasty, as was every meal). As soon as I sat down, I had a table full of new allies. After dinner, I considered not dancing, but was immediately asked to. I’m so incredibly glad I danced all week.

Especially when dancing, people were by and large sweet and engaging, and the dance music was marvelously good. I forgot that my favorite thing about dancing is feeling the weight of your partners and neighbors. It was something I looked forward to every day (perhaps every hour). Anna Rain had me enjoying dance classes as well as reevaluating how to keep my body and spirit happy and healthy during the week and in my life. I have been experiencing a transitional period in my life and have struggled with how to keep myself healthy. Since Pinewoods, I have been exercising regularly, treating myself well, staying positive, and making my own sports drinks (who knew you could learn so much at Early Music Week?) thanks to the overall environment, the dancing, and especially Anna Rain.

My only disappointment was that, because I applied and registered late in the game and didn’t make myself fully aware of just what the Accademia was, I wasn’t nearly as musically challenged as I would have liked to be during the week. However, the coursework was fun and interesting, and if I had been involved in the Accademia, I would not have been able to take the introductory viol course, which was one of the highlights for me. I have long been interested in taking up a bowed instrument, and Pinewoods with Lisa Terry was a comfortable, positive environment in which to experiment with that desire. Michael and Anney Barrett were also particularly pleasant to work with. I made and rekindled a lot of valuable musical connections that week. My own music was also embraced (I’m secretly a singer-songwriter) at skit night, which was affirming. The auction was hysterical and obviously full of love. This is a community that supports its new members as wholeheartedly as its veterans.

If it weren’t for the NGI scholarship, there is absolutely no way I would have been able to attend Early Music Week at Pinewoods, and it turns out t was exactly what I needed, and is a unique experience in a beautiful place. Thank you.