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29 November 2015

YTV essay by Deb Hartshorn

Deb is Dana’s Mom and an early educator from Shelburne

I write about YTV as an extremely grateful parent of a young person who has benefited immeasurably from her involvement, tutelage and the friendships formed in the Young Tradition Vermont organization.

Dana is an 18 year old folk piano and accordion player, who is now intricately involved in the dance and folk world while attending college in Maine. She remains a integral member of the Young Tradition Vermont Touring Group, via Skype and school vacations, as the group prepares for an exciting cultural exchange trip to Ireland in April 2016.

Dana’s introduction into the folk world began in 3rd grade, while she watched an older piano player play in an after school folk group with Pete Sutherland and was encouraged to try and play along.

This is what happens in YTV!  Everyone is encouraged to try to play along, listening by ear and picking up the music naturally, as it has always been passed down. Everyone is welcomed and encouraged with patience and gentle kindness.  I can’t think of a more positive experience!

Just seeing Mark and Young Tradition Vermont volunteers offering the Instrument Petting Zoo to eager young children (and adults!) is an event worth witnessing!  Where else are children actually encouraged to pick up and try REAL musical instruments in an open and welcoming way? They don’t need formal instruction. They don’t need to start with “Lesson One”. They just need to pick something up and see what it can do…and they DO!  I love watching this.  Exploration at its finest.  Future musicians in the making!!

In 7th grade, some of those same children who played together in 3rd grade decided to form a teen contra dance band….and that was it for Dana— A new world opened; a world full of youth dancers and musicians from all over New England, New York, Quebec and even England, after touring in Northumberland, England with the YTV Touring Group in 2014.

Mark opens up his workshops and monthly Fiddlehead practices to anyone who wants to come, and all ages learn new tunes from professional musicians, eager to pass along their love of traditional music.  Mark mentored Dana as the Fiddlehead piano player, and offered her opportunities to play in halls, churches and fairs all over the area, as well as play for children in the hospital.  The youth musicians gained incredible skill and confidence with this wonderful experience, allowing them to branch off into a successful band.

YTV continues to support and encourage the teens, as it connects young musicians from all over the world to play together and share their musical and dance traditions.  YTV is very involved with the different cultural communities in Burlington, giving the youth the gift of encouragement, confidence and exposure to share their worlds with us all.  Everyone benefits from this musical exchange and YTV is always at the forefront!

YTV opened and expanded Dana’s world into something she could never have dreamed of! The adults have been incredibly positive and encouraging and the friendships are life-long.  YTV focuses on what is good and nurturing for young people and this comes across clearly in everything YTV is involved with.

I am forever thankful for the gifts this organization has given my daughter and encourage you to become involved in any way that you can.