English Dance Musicians Course at Early Music Week

August 15 - 22, 2015

Held during Early Music Week at Pinewoods.


Tentative Schedule

Program Director

Program Description

East of the Sun and West of the Moon:

A Week's Journey for English Country Dance Musicians

Looking to gain more confidence, ease, creative improvisation, rhythmic vitality and precision in your English country dance playing? Although attaining those qualities and skills may seem as remote as traveling to “east of the sun, west of the moon,” they are more attainable than you perhaps have thought. Come join a group of supportive fellow musicians taking some steps on that inner and outer quest to challenge your negative inner voices, develop those “chops” and play with more elan.

This session is geared toward participants who can play steadily, at dance tempo, and who are already accompanying dancing. We will work on supporting each other and ourselves, while we take risks—we’ll explore new ideas and new ways to change old, stuck patterns in our minds about our musical potential. Possible topics include: growing one’s inner conductor/theatre director, playing with more rhythmic propulsion and kinetic energy, exploring a range of tune types and musical styles, finding physical fluidity and ease in the playing, improvising with abandon, creating ensemble arrangements, developing your personal musical style, and having fun with the music. The main focus will be on growing your inner, encouraging voice and your inner listener, in order to learn to confidently give the dancers clear signals about rhythm, tempo, phrasing and dance style, as well as to sing out your own joy for the music and dance.

During the week, our larger group will break up into smaller groups, which will be encouraged to play for the class (and for dancers, as opportunities allow). If time permits, you may be offered group or solo coaching, and pianists may get some piano-focused time. As part of the course, we’ll dance, sing, play rhythm games and do other (hopefully fun) activities to connect with the group and augment the ideas. We’ll talk some about process, but we’ll keep that in the framework of allowing time to play!

Looking forward to seeing you!

-- Jacqueline Schwab, Program Director

This course will be held concurrently with Early Music Week, an exciting opportunity to be in a musician-focused environment, where others will be working on technique, period style and improvisation. This English Dance Musicians Course is designed and led by pianist Jacqueline Schwab, a founding member of Bare Necessities and an English country dance musician for over 30 years.

The class will meet with Jacqueline for 90 minutes in the morning and in smaller ensembles for the afternoon class. As part of Early Music Week, English Dance Musicians Course participants will have a chance to join one of the two graded, daily English country dance classes, to be reminded of the music from the "user's end". Early Music Week offers a number of interesting options for the rest of the afternoon (including classes and practice time), as well as dancing and concerts in the evenings. Musicians will have a few opportunities to play for dancing, including playing for “Campers’ Night” (usually in the middle of the week).


Tunes will be drawn from The Barnes Book of English Country Dance Tunes (both Volumes), available from CDSS and at the camp bookstore. You will receive a tune list (and some additional sheet music) in advance.


This course is limited to 15 participants to ensure plenty of opportunity for active participation. If it is oversubscribed on March 16, there will be a lottery of qualified applicants, with preference given to those with the most experience of playing for English dancing and who plan to attend both classes each day. Please clearly indicate if you would like to attend Early Music Week, if you do not get a space in the course. Please let us know if you might be interested in a future English Dance Musicians Week with a different focus. Scholarships are available.

Daily Schedule

7:00-7:30 Tai - Chi for all who will
7:45-8:15 Hot Breakfast served cafeteria style
8:15-8:45 Cold Breakfast Coffee/Tea available
8:30-8:50 Stretches and warm-ups for all
9:00-10:25 English Dance Musicians Course
10:45-11:45 English Country dance classes:
advanced, intermediate and beginners
11:45-12:30 Free time: Swimming, Bookstore staffed
12:30 Lunch
1:45-3:00 1st PM Class:
includes: Collegium, Medieval, Historical Dance, Accademia and Adventures on a new instrument: Bagpipe, Harp, Viol, and Recorder
3:20-4:35 English Dance Musicians Course
4:45-5:15 Tea
5:15-6:15 Free time:
Informal camper music making, Swimming, Bookstore staffed
  Music Play-in (includes singers and instrumentalists) for all levels:
sit side-by-side (next to a more advanced player/singer) if you wish
6:30 Dinner
7:45 Faculty Lecture/Presentations
8:15 English Country Dancing for ALL
9:45 Special Events:
madrigal sing, skit night, auction, parties