Last October I attended my third CMN conference, the first time it was a drivable distance from New York City. Sharing the ride meant sharing stories and songs, and the four hours flew by. I was looking forward to reuniting with friends, meeting new friends, and attaching faces to the names I have seen on the forum. Every year the same tireless volunteers are back at work, and I am always so grateful for their dedication.
The busy check-in keeps me distracted until dinner, and that first meal feels tricky. I overthink it every time. Should I find and sit with people I know or seek out new friends? I wonder if others also feel this initial awkwardness. I know the tension will ease up, because it always does.
Sure enough, within hours, I am skipping down the line barefoot to the sound of our pickup dance band, instructed by our expert caller. After community dancing, I am exhausted from laughing. The ice is broken and now it’s all about time management. I am determined to make it through Saturday night’s Round Robin, which will be a first for me. I have no trouble sleeping.
Saturday I learn about rhythm with Randy Sauer, YouTube with Alina Celeste, and how to create children’s books from songs with Devin Walker. Ideas stream through my head faster than I can take notes, and I marvel at the generosity of the presenters. I am already planning how I will use what I’ve learned in my own work. During the membership meeting, I join my fellow Fundraising Committee members to report on the year, and we sing our thanks to the membership with a parody of a 1987 (founding year) Whitney Houston song. The membership makes CMN’s thirtieth anniversary a real birthday party with generous contributions to the “cake” and a special matching gift from Sally Rogers’s brother, whom Sally calls on the phone while on stage!
The keynote is inspiring, with lots of opportunity to sing along with Ken Whiteley. I remember to tweet as instructed (#cmnsings2017), and am rewarded with a response from my Canadian cousin now working in China, who notices I am tweeting about a hometown favorite son. We take a moment later to catch up.
I sign up for the Round-Robin and take in the wonderful showcase of talent. It’s a full day, and I pack my guitar to head back to my room, but not before David Perry stops me to fulfill my wish for an original caricature. What a great souvenir! Now, with art and guitar in hand, I pass by the open door of a circle of singers who beckon me to join. It looks like a tight squeeze, but Joanie Calem scooches over to make room for me on her chair—a welcome gesture I cannot resist. We sing old rock and roll songs. I can hardly believe I am still up! Saturday quickly becomes Sunday. After a quick nap, the celebration continues as we honor Sally Rogers and her contributions to children’s music as the 2017 Magic Penny Award recipient.
It’s a full and wonderful weekend, and I didn’t even mention the rainbow that appeared in the sky on Saturday, but then again, why would that stand out against all the magic and love that was shared in Hyannis?
Conference photos by Kayte Deioma