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NGI Recipient: Bridget Whitehead

Session Attended: Country Dance and Song Society - Early Music Week (2010)

To CDSS and Pinewoods Camp,

Thank-you very much for the opportunity to attend Early Music Week at Pinewoods Camp; it was a wonderful experience that I could not have had without your generous help. Not only did it confirm my love of early music, which is quite new to me, but it brought me in contact with a great group of people from all over the world who share my love of early music and playing it together.

Everyone was welcoming and kind, and often very funny (during the talent night, especially…I also think of a yellow kayak “paddled” into the dining hall acting as both banana and gondola). Despite the spectacular talents of the participants and staff, the atmosphere was one of inclusion and encouragement. I felt inspired by the musicianship around me, and excited to explore my own musicality.

Pinewoods camp itself is an amazing place. With no excess light and noise (alright, there really was a lot of music floating around), smelly cars or cell phone chatter, I found camp a wonderful safe haven for my senses; very calming and refreshing. And how wonderful to dance in wooden pavilions amongst the trees and rhododendrons! I’m pretty particular about food and and the fantastic dining hall staff made me feel at home, except maybe for an unusual supply of really excellent homemade bread. And that staff also gave spectacular rapper sword and Morris demos. Finally, the ponds provided the best swimming experience I have ever had. Ever. Period.

When I wasn’t singing, dancing, swimming or eating well, I had the opportunity to focus on learning the bass viola da gamba. Though I’ve played string bass in the past, I’ve never received so much really helpful advice from teachers about how to play a string instrument. They were thorough and patient, and willing to set aside extra time outside of class to go over my questions or just play together. By the end of the week I felt I’d made great progress and was proud to share my accomplishments with other campers at the Friday recital. The recital, by the way, was fantastic. I had a chance to hear what everyone had been up to in all the other classes and everyone, as usual, was supportive of every group. And what a thing to hear a recorder orchestra!

Overall, camp was an amazing experience. I hope to share some of my excitement with my local community, to come back again soon, and someday to contribute to scholarship funds so other people can go and discover Pinewoods for themselves.