Youth Trad Song: A New Weekend in January to Focus on Youth Involvement in Traditional Song

by Nicole Singer

Almost a year ago to the day Nicole Singer marched up to me in her red cowgirl boots at Youth Dance Weekend and told me all about her dream of a youth focused weekend dedicated entirely to traditional singing. Lo and behold, she assembled a committee and that dream came true. I am enormously impressed and look forward to seeing this event enjoy wild success. Thanks Nicole for keeping the “song” in CDSS and the rest of the world.  — Mary Wesley, CDSS Youth Intern

Sitting up until the early morning hours trading songs with a group of dancers last September, I wondered why young singers didn’t have a weekend to call their own. Almost a year later, the first Youth Traditional Song Weekend (YTS) is coming soon! Based largely on the Youth Dance Weekend model, YTS aims to provide a weekend of learning, listening, community-building, and enthusiastic singing to young and young-at-heart attendees alike.

Many people in the traditional dance community know the story of Youth Dance Weekend (YDW): a dance weekend specifically aimed at promoting leadership and skill development among younger dancers. The weekend is also a whole lot of fun!

The idea for YTS was born last year at YDW. As part of the late-night festivities, a bunch of dancers gathered for an informal song swap in the dining hall. I was impressed by how many people came to sing with us, and at the talent and enthusiasm of the group. Here was a group of people who I had only known as dancers, hanging out and having fun—not dancing, but singing. This late-night song session made me realize that there were a lot of young people who loved to sing, though I’d seen very few young people at traditional singing events. I figured that there must be a lot of young people out there who would love to get involved in traditional singing, but didn’t know how to do so, or felt isolated by being one of only a few young people in their singing community.

In late 2011, I gathered a small group of young traditional singers and formed a committee to plan for the first Youth Traditional Song Weekend. The YTS Committee hopes that the weekend will bring singers together to share ideas and strengthen youth involvement in traditional singing communities.

The weekend will feature skill-building workshops, performance opportunities, mentorship opportunities from skilled staff, and plenty of time to just have fun and sing!

YTS will take place in Charlton, MA from January 11th to 13th, 2013. Registration opened October 1st! The whole YTS committee is excited to bring together an intergenerational community of singers to learn from and support each other. YTS also has three super talented singers on staff for our first year: Ian Robb, an expat English singer, “writer of old songs” and member of the harmony trio Finest Kind; Ken Schatz, specializing in chanteys, worksongs and gospel, and the host of New York City’s Exceedingly Good Song Night session; and New England balladeer and fiddler Lissa Schneckenberger.

For more information, visit our website or check us out on Facebook at We’d love to see you there!

Youth Trad Song is supported in part by the New Leaders, Good Leaders fund of the Country Dance and Song Society, the Folk Song Society of Greater Boston, NEFFA and generous donations from the folk song community.