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NGI Recipient: Tony  Zhou

Session Attended: Country Dance and Song Society - Early Music Week (2017)

Speaking of the beloved Early Music Week, I must speak a little about my music history, because this week at camp is threading a line all the way back to my musical origins.

Shortly after getting inspired by a stranger’s recorder babbling “Road to Lisdoonvarna” and “Swallowtail Jig”, I was fortunate to find John Tyson at my nearby community center to teach me recorders and music. John’s exquisite teaching gave me a set of elementary components to play music. His presence is monumental in my music world. I’m very grateful to him. His love for music is also remarkable to see. I will never forget that he can turn simple tunes and notes into beautiful melodies.

Along with taking John’s class, Margaret Carver was one of the few to pick up a new musical instrument after retirement. It’s amazing to see her having the courage and love for music to do that. It was she who introduced me to Pinewoods Camp and the CDSS Early Music Week. I cannot express my gratitude enough to let her know how much this opportunity has changed my music world.

Like almost everybody, I came to Pinewoods having zero idea what I was getting myself into. However, on the first night, the friendliness of people and the overwhelming fun of first time English country dance kept me up long before I could fall asleep. That may be the night I fell in love with dancing. Speaking of the music classes, my weaknesses and areas to improve were supported by Emily and the others in class. It takes this type of class to understand my shortcomings in order to become a better musician later. I appreciate that Emily did not go easy on us.

My second course was a refreshing dance class to blow away my gloomy self-reflection of musical shortcomings. This may be the best physical exercise before the much-anticipated lunch time. After each delicious lunch, the beautiful renaissance music with instrumentalists and singers is how I define Larry and Chris’ class. The impact and holiness of those renaissance titans was something I could not reproduce in my own regular group practice. Finally, there was Daphna’s class that changed my music world. I honestly never had more fun with music before her class. The international folk music she introduced to the class shocked everybody at the camp.  There’s nothing more fun than all these musicians coming together and just playing our hearts out with all different instruments on a wooden stage surrounded by forests. It’s like a festival circled around a camp fire where people dance, sing, and play music. It’s so inclusive, free, and happy. All the trouble in the world seemed to have disappeared.  In her class, I have found the music that I’ve longed to play the most.

Ever since going back to regular life, CDSS Early Music Week at Pinewoods Camp seems to be a long distant dream to me and many others. I believe we all once found our music there and now share that experience with others that have not found the joy of music. I forever thank CDSS and PCI for this dream come true.