For the second Friday in a row, it was BART to the airport, a delayed flight and luggage you bring to the plane, put on a little green tag and leave it on a cart in the runway. A short flight—two hours to San Antonio—wait in the hallway and pick up your green-tag bag. So direct and efficient. Why can’t we do this with all flights?
Off into the San Antonio airport past lots of military in their camouflage uniforms. Do they think we can’t see them? Weren’t those things made for the jungle? Off to the hotel and up bright and early next morning for a full-day workshop on American music. Big topic for a mere six hours, but we managed to dance a playparty, play some classic children’s games, sing folk songs from Appalachia, Minnesota, the Georgia Sea Islands and of course, the Tex-Mex classic, De Colores, play some jazz blues, see some of the classic Youtube clips from the old movies that have become my passion to get to the children and finish with an Emily Dickinson poem I set to music—“If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain. If I can ease one life the aching, or cool one pain, or help one fainting robin, unto his nest again, I shall not live in vain.” A good reminder for the importance of our daily work as teachers and timely for Texas, which like everywhere, is suffering from cutbacks in schools. To their credit, music teachers haven’t be fired yet, just given more kids per class.
For any faithful reader, I can’t bear to put you through my oohs and aahs about how great it is to just play with a roomful of strangers, but this perhaps had a special resonance because there were some 120 people there, lots of men, great spirited responses to the material, wonderful humor (when I talked about how music was included in Plato’s Akademia, the very source of the word “academic,” a woman some ten years my senior quipped, “That’s true! I taught there!”) and pin-drop silence in the serious parts. And in the land of Rick Perry, may I report that the crowd was more diverse than any San Francisco Orff workshop. People of all colors, ages, class, sexual persuasion, religion, including one person who said her Buddhist spiritual teacher is a drag queen.
Post-workshop to River Walk, which I’m sure is partly responsible for San Antonio being the most touristed city in Texas. I suppose one could just call it all a tourist trap, but the fact is it’s simply beautiful. Lovely architecture, fountains, waterfalls, lush trees, the murmur of the flowing river and the buzz of people out walking, mariachi bands warming up to serenade the diners. Temperature down to 94, but okay in the shade, sit outside at the Iron Cactus restaurant sipping margaritas and awaiting yet more Tex-Mex cuisine. Convivial conversation, great food and the margaritas weren’t bad either.
Back to the hotel and a night-time swim in the hotel pool, soak in the hot tub, wake up call for 5:15 am and back to San Francisco. Make an appearance at the school Walkathon in Golden Gate Park and then on to the school for a rehearsal of the World Music Festival. Last week we played a Bulgarian dance tune with my bagpipe, Chinese guzheng, South Indian mrindagam, North Indian tabla and Orff instruments. As I said to the group, I’m sure that in the history of the world that this particular combination of instruments has never played this piece before. Today, we’ll work on some music from Kyrgyzstan, Burkina Faso and medieval Spain.
I never want to stop doing this work.