Please visit the CDSS Responds to COVID-19 page in the Resource Portal for all the information on staying connected during the pandemic.

CDSS staff, members, and friends meeting via ZoomIn June 2018, CDSS began a new Web Chat series to support organizers of dance, music, and song communities across the continent and beyond. For each Web Chat, a pertinent topic is chosen and guest organizers from communities having success with that topic are invited to share their valuable experiences and suggestions (Q&A included).

Save the date for the next Web Chat:

Let's Talk About Reentry, Part 3: An MD Discusses Vaccines, and We Discuss Our Sector’s Needs

Monday, March 1, 2021
7:00-8:30 PM Eastern

Join us for the third installment of the "Let's Talk About Reentry" Web Chat series, featuring presentations and discussions about how the pandemic has altered our communities' needs and how we can best prepare for returning to in-person dancing, singing, and music-making.

Register online by February 25. This Web Chat is for dance, music, and song organizers.

Soon after you register, Zoom will send you a confirmation email with your own personal link. You’ll need this info for joining the Web Chat! To keep track of it, we recommend saving the email and/or creating a calendar event.

Please share this invitation with your organizing friends! Questions? Contact

Singing and Playing Music in REAL TIME!
An online discussion for organizers of song communities and open bands

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Members of the Sacred Harp group FaSoLa Philadelphia (PA) and the Phoenix (AZ) Traditional Music & Dance Society joined us for this conversation. During this Web Chat, they shared their successes with using the computer program Jamulus to enable their groups to sing and play music in real time!

We know a return to in-person singing and jamming is on the horizon, but it will still take some time before it’s safe to gather in groups. Find out how these groups have tackled the challenge of creating online real-time song and music sessions. 

Let’s Talk About Reentry: Working Together Now for a Strong Return to Dancing

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

So much of what we love is on hold or shifting to online formats. But there will be a time when we dance together again. And there is work we can be doing during this down time to ensure a joyful and fulfilling return to the dance floor! In this second installment of the Let’s Talk About Reentry series, we talked about our evolving expectations for reentry, the changes we need to prepare for, and the important role organizers can play in preparing our communities for a bright future.

Supporting Song Communities Across the Continent

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Many organizers of song communities are finding creative ways to keep your community engaged and connected during the pandemic. In this Web Chat, we heard from organizers about experiences that are working well in their song groups. We featured a few guest speakers and took time for Q&A, open conversation, and breakout rooms.

Let’s Talk About Reentry: Recommendations and Q&A for Organizers

July 8, 2020

This Web Chat was hosted by Katy German, CDSS Executive Director.

We addressed the BIG questions on organizers’ minds: How can we keep our communities safe in a pandemic? When can we dance and sing in the same place again? What does it mean to be a dance/music/song organizer when we can’t be together?

We were joined by several guests who provided their perspectives, including a dancing MD, a COVID contact tracer, a professional freelance musician, and music, dance, and song organizers from far and wide. We also included time for Q&A and open conversations in breakout rooms.

Yes we CAN keep in touch!
Connecting Our Communities During the Pandemic

April 29, 2020

This exciting Web Chat connected 135 music, dance, and song organizers from far and wide! We’ve started a new online resource to share many of the creative ideas contributed by these communities. We invite all groups to submit entries describing your experiences to help us build these global connections!

Diversifying Income: Thinking Outside the Money Basket

February 12, 2020

Connecting Community Sing Organizers

October 16, 2019

Building Safe Dance Communities

July 11, 2019

Family/Community Dance Organizers Unite!

April 4, 2019

Increasing Youth Involvement

January 16, 2019

Creating a Thriving Open Band

September 20, 2018

Boosting AttenDANCE

June 21, 2018

  • PowerPoint Slides
  • Video Recording (also embedded to the right) - Note: We didn't capture the beginning of the chat. The recording begins with Jo Mortland of Chicago Barn Dance Company speaking.

Because the beginning of the Web Chat wasn't captured, we're offering the entire narrative from our first guest speaker on this page.

us mapTo serve our mission of encouraging thriving local communities throughout the continent of North America, CDSS recently undertook a study in order to learn how to best support local traditional music, dance, and song organizers in Canada. View the report of that study.

Following closely upon the release of Canadian study, we conducted a follow-up survey of organizers in the US. The primary purpose of the second survey was to learn about the current challenges and needs of local organizers who are CDSS members (group Affiliate or individual/family). A subset of the Canadian survey questions were used for the US survey to determine whether the Canadian findings resonated with US organizers, and where there might variation.

While there were a few differences, the similarities were dramatic. For instance, as with the Canadian organizers, US organizers are currently most concerned with issues around attendance.

Both studies included questions about the types of supports organizers would find most helpful. We are now taking action on a number of these findings in order to strengthen our support of local organizers as we believe local organizers are truly essential to fostering the communities of dance, music, and song traditions that we collectively value.

us tdms survey report covClick here for the full survey report

canada map vectorstock 1605047To serve our mission of encouraging thriving local communities throughout the continent of North America, CDSS undertook a study to learn how to best support local traditional music, dance, and song organizers in Canada. The study focused on local organizers as they are essential to fostering the communities of dance, music, and song traditions that we collectively value.

Whether it be Newfoundland traditional song, Métis step dance, or northern fiddle traditions - every folk tradition is culturally significant. They reflect the shared values and heritage and help to define a sense of identity and belonging. Shared among all of these traditions is the impact they have on individuals, the wider community, and society. Often, there is commonality between organizers of different traditions. For instance, organizers of a Cape Breton traditional square dance, contra dance in British Columbia, or a veillée de danse Québécoise often do similar work, share similar challenges and could benefit from similar supports. Thus, by sharing across traditions, we create more vibrant and resilient communities for all. CDSS hopes that this study is not only helpful for our work and for local organizers but that it is also useful to other umbrella arts organizations. We plan to take action on common interests that have arisen through the study and we will look at ways to address particular interests where we can, often in partnership with others.

POTD2 organizersAttendees from both Canada and the United States at Puttin' On the Dance 2 in Ottawa, Ontario in March 2015The report has two sections. The first ten pages contains the main report while the following 40 pages present the findings of each survey question for those who want to delve deeper into the findings. The report describes who is organizing what throughout Canada. It also goes into depth regarding the strengths and successes of various groups, the challenges that organizers face, and the supports organizers currently need. One particular survey question (question 34 in the appendices) is particularly inspiring as it highlights organizers' impressions of how TDMS positively impacts individuals, communities, and the wider society.

CDSS Canada Organizer Survey Report FINAL EN cov smClick here for the full survey report in English





CDSS Canada Organizer Survey Report FINAL Francais cov smCliquez ici pour le rapport d'enquête complet en français




Follow-up Survey of Organizers in the United States

We are launching a follow-up survey of U.S. traditional dance, music, and song organizers. If you are a U.S. organizer, we would love to hear from you. Follow this link for the survey and fill it out by April 13th.

New Organizer E-News

CDSS is launching a new CDSS email-news specifically for organizers. We will send out occasional e-blasts with resources and stories meant to connect, support, and inspire organizers. You can join the email list here.

Passport to Joy


Our Passport to Joy! program was a huge success! Throughout 2015 you brought your passport to all the great places you danced. You filled its pages with stickers, each representing an amazing memory. But, how can you share the joy now? And wasn’t there supposed to be something about prizes…?

What Did You Do and Where Did You Go?

passportsubmitbuttonThere is indeed some more to come. For this to happen, we need to learn about your “Passport to Joy!” experiences. So…

    1.    Send us a list of Passport Destinations you attended with dates and a final count. Please submit this list by Saturday, April 30th.
    2.    If you want, you can also send photos (of you dancing or smiling, or those Destinations you found, or some or all of your passport pages).
    3.    We’d love to hear any passport-related stories you’d like to share.
    4.    If you traveled a great distance to a Passport Destination, send us those coordinates.

Please do not send us your actual, physical Passport to Joy! We do not really have a way to process them, and – more importantly – you get to keep it as a memento of your CDSS Centennial year.


Yes, there will be entertaining prizes for:

    •    The passport with the greatest number of destinations
    •    Any passport with a whopping 40 stickers or more
    •    The passport holder who reports traveling the greatest distance
    •    Plus two entrants chosen at random. So send us your list - any passport can win a prize!

Prizes will be awarded and announced in May 2016 based on submissions received by April 30th, so send us your info ASAP. In the case of close or ambiguous information, we reserve the right to give out additional prizes.

Stories and photos we receive will become part of this page. Spread the Joy!

Submit your information by clicking the Passport Submission Form button at the top of this page.

If you prefer, you can email your info to And if for some reason you can't fill out the form or email us, send your info via US mail to:

CDSS Passports
116 Pleasant Street, Suite 345
Easthampton, MA 01027-2759

Links to other Forums

The Forum Extension will be on this page.

A Message from Executive Director Katy German

member directoryDear Friends,

We owe you a status update on the CDSS online Member Directory. As you know, 2017 was a year of big transitions for CDSS. Both the Executive Director and Business Manager positions were vacated in January, and then our Director of Communications retired in June. Interim support was quickly put in place, search and hiring processes ensued, and the top priorities became maintaining quality programming and ensuring the financial integrity of the organization while we identified the right candidates for the open leadership positions. Those things were done very well, and I am exceedingly proud of the staff for their role in carrying the organization forward during that time. Because of their stewardship and the exceptional work of the CDSS board, we are once again in a high-functioning place. 

Unfortunately, the shift in priorities last year meant that we fell behind on some things. Restocking our store inventory, closing communication loops, and maintaining our online Member Directory are the biggest examples of this. We know that our members and supporters have felt the impact of these shortcomings and it weighs heavily on us. Right now we are working very hard to get those things remedied. We have invested new energy into the store and placed orders to build up our supply of popular items. We’ve been catching up on communications and are ready to provide better customer service again. The Member Directory, however, has a more complex solution and requires time.

The major hold up on the Member Directory has to do with the fact that we are in the midst of a data migration and having to choreograph that carefully. Section by section, function by function, we are moving our business out of the old system and into the new one. Camp registration needed to be prioritized at the beginning of this year and that’s where migration and design work has been focused these first couple of months. The Member Directory work will come later in the year. It’s tricky work, because the Directory must sync with updates to member contact information, and we want to honor people’s privacy preferences. That’s what we will be working on soon. We have established a focused Directory Action Team, and will continue to update you on our progress.

In the meantime, you can help us out A LOT by logging into your account here! Ensuring now that you can login will significantly streamline our efforts and help us get the Member Directory back online. If you have not logged onto your CDSS account since August 17, 2017, please note that your login information has changed. Most of you received an email from us on 8/17/17 containing your new login and instructions for logging on. You might still have it! If you encounter difficulties logging on and no longer have or didn't get that email, we are ready to assist you.

Thank you for your patience and ongoing support. We want to build a Member Directory that works for you!

Warm regards,


Katy German

Three people singing to guitar accompanimentCDSS Song of the Month

Community and traditional song in the 21st century

Join us each month in song!

CDSS designated 2016 our Year of Song. We chose it for two reasons: to honor the start of Cecil Sharp and Maud Karpeles’ prolific folk song collecting in southern Appalachia (1916-1918), and to look at how song serves CDSS's mission. This examination also begins a cycle of focusing on one or two genres at a time, as we identify community needs and allow for better use of our resources.

Our Song of the Month feature has been so well received that we decided to make it a permanent part of the website. You'll find an archive of these songs below as well as new ones being posted in the months to come.

CDSS’s song traditions are based primarily in the English and Anglo-American traditions — folk songs, ballads, sea shanties, rounds, songs with choruses. We also include spirituals, work songs, country harmony, African call and response, shape note and gospel, contemporary a cappella, and new arrangements of traditional songs. Our special emphasis is on community singing.

Lorraine Hammond, CDSS Board member and Song Task Group Chair, spearheaded our Year of Song efforts and oversaw 2016’s song selections. Judy Cook took on that role in 2017 and continues to contribute each month, with help from Lorraine. Our thanks to them both.

Happy singing!

Note: Many of these old songs should be looked at as "fairy tales for adults" in that they often address very strong, and sometimes scary, subject matter. They allow us to deal with difficult situations and emotions with the distance afforded by putting it in a song. They are cautionary tales, and had their use as such.

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