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NGI Recipient: Max Wareham

Session Attended: Folk Music Society of New York and others - TradMad (2019)

Firstly, I owe a great big “Thank You” to Joy Bennett and Heather Wood for selecting me as one of this year’s recipients of the NGI Scholarship to TradMad week at Pinewoods Camp. It was an enriching and transformative experience that I would not have had if it were not for this financial assistance, so– thank you!

The weather was unseasonably cool during our arrival at the beginning of the week. I felt a little overwhelmed, being a first-time camper and knowing only a few people there. Each day was a bit warmer than the last, and so too was my experience– realizing after only a few days what a profound sense of belonging I had there. Not for possessing any vast knowledge, nor for any dazzling virtuosity, but for simply being there and loving the music. TradMad is a family and if you’re there, you’re a part of it. The camp was small enough that it was easy to recognize familiar faces after a couple days, which were always greeted with a friendly smile or a “Hi, how are you?”. The instructors are people who are deeply passionate about the music they love and also about sharing it with those who are curious– a rare treasure to find both in one person. I think I speak for my peers when I say that I felt genuinely cared for and taken under the wings of several instructors throughout the week, if only for attending workshops and participating– what a rich environment in which to learn. Heather and Joy, as directors, infused in the camp a sense of tremendous fun and passion, as well as setting the tone for how to behave as responsible participants of the camp.

Pinewoods is a beautiful and magical place, indeed, the perfect location. Its tall pine trees, foot paths that meander up and down through the woods, the tranquil ponds– wandering around, one might notice that the distinctive features of the place seem to mimic the mystery and elegance of the music shared there. I was delighted to find (if I’ve done my math correctly) that the year I attended was the 100th year anniversary of the campground. I could feel it. The rumors about the food are true– it is indeed fantastic. Pub Night, too– unparalleled merriment and fun.

TradMad is place that exists for only one week of the year, but during that week it is a place of family, merriment, and the passing on of tradition. There is a remarkable, yet common, balance of the typical camper’s wealth of knowledge of a given tradition with their complete humility and friendliness. Thorough knowledge and musical talent is the norm, but never at the expense of inclusion. Everybody there belongs, whether they’re a seasoned master or just beginning their journey into traditional music or dance. I can’t wait to return. Once again, a tremendous “Thank You” to everybody involved, particularly the directors, for sharing with me such a special place and time.