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NGI Recipient: Stacy Dickerman

Session Attended: Country Dance and Song Society - Harmony of Song and Dance (2014)

I could say I was just there for the food. But, while the food may have been one of the reasons I wanted to attend Pinewoods this past summer, it wasn’t the only reason I was there. It wasn’t even the most prominent reason. (Although, let’s be real: The food is great. Hats off to the hardworking Pinewoods kitchen crew.)

Friends in my local dance community have been encouraging me to attend Pinewoods for a few years now, but work’s been scarce, and money’s been tight, and I figured I’d wait until I had a bit of savings built back up before I committed to spending money on a week at camp.

Flash-forward to this summer: I’m 30. It’s the last year I’m eligible for the NGI scholarship. I’ve just been laid off from my academic job, which means I suddenly have free time I didn’t expect to have in July and August. I figure, “What better way to spend my time than attending a week at Pinewoods?”

I’d had my eye on Harmony Week for months. I’ve been dancing regularly for a little over five years now, and I started singing at Youth Traditional Song Weekend two years ago, so a week that combined both seemed like a perfect fit. I also had friends who attended Harmony Week last year and raved about it. (It also didn’t hurt that the staff and program looked AMAZING. When I’m looking at the schedule and can’t decide between multiple classes in every period, I know it’s going to be a great week.)

From a skills perspective, I think the most important thing I learned was exactly why I struggle with singing harmony. (Spoiler: It’s because I’m still at a place where it’s hard for me to keep track of the root note in my head. The root either gets replaced with what I’m currently singing or with what people around me are singing. Also, intervals.) However, I found that I was able to apply some of the skills from the Harmony by Ear workshop to playing music, and that was immensely satisfying. I knew where my fingers needed to go to get the interval that I wanted (even if it wasn’t always a pleasant interval).

I also want to thank Cindy Kallet and Grey Larsen for honoring my request to refer to the singers in the Harmony by Ear workshop as “high voices” and “low voices” instead of “women” and “men.” Not everyone with a high voice is a woman, and not everyone with a low voice is a man. Using inclusive language that referred to our voices, instead of our presumed genders, made me feel a lot more comfortable in that workshop.

Attending Harmony Week was a profoundly joyous and educational experience which would not have been possible without the NGI scholarship (and, bizarrely, getting laid off). Unfortunately, a letter is too short a medium to convey all of the things I learned and all of the people I connected with and all of the ridiculous things that happened over the course of the week, but I promise, if you see me around at a festival some time, ask me about my experience. I’ll talk your ear off.