The day that began with this morning’s entry at rooster crow is drawing to a close with a replay of the U.S. / Germany World Cup game on the TV screen in the airport lounge. It was a long bus ride that included a short ferry trip, chatting with the women with their incredible wares on their heads while waiting for the boat, a man pounding fufu, the Volta River flowing by. Fun games on the bus— the kind where you have to guess a pattern and usually look for something quite complicated only to discover the simple key. (Things like “I like coffee, but not tea. Kittens, but not cats. Jazz but not blues.” Get it? It’s all about double letters.) Very nice vibe with these folks that have been around each other 24/7 for some two weeks and still enjoying each other. Closing my eyes to nap, I heard the murmur of conversation like a gentle flowing music and it was lovely.
Finally we arrived at the Lincoln International School, stretched our legs, had a little lunch with salad! Then the Orff instruments in a big circle on an outdoor verandah and the chance to apply things we learned on the 21 Ghanaian xylophones (gyils) to the Orff instruments. Fascinating how the buzzing sound of the gyils, at first harsh to Western ears, became the norm and the Orff instruments sounded a bit wimpy with their “pure” tone. But still, it sounds pretty good and helped everyone understand how to adopt and adapt. This whole phenomenon of the grandparents of the Orff instruments coming full circle as the latter play the former’s music, is an entry in itself. Not now.
14 kids came, James and I led them in some xylophone improvisation and they did well.
No fancy tricks, no complicated sequence, just plunk your hands down and search for the secret song inside the xylophones. How will they know they’ve found it? Simple. By listening. And then their mind needs to click in and try to remember any patterns that have emerged. Easy as that— explore with your hands, listen with your ear, remember and keep shaping with your mind. The kids get it— and some good music emerges. But because it’s so simple— like those punch lines in the bus games— we miss it and come up with national standards and core curriculums.
And so it came time for the closing circle. Lovely, short sharings about people’s key moments and profound experiences and lots of tears flowing. I delivered most of mine in a high incomprehensible voice because the occasion was too large for me. Tying together my legacy with my first African-American Orff teacher, Avon Gillespie, to meeting SK and Kofi and all the myriad threads that tied me to Africa, these two weeks were like the kente cloth of my life’s mission, weaving them all together into a glorious and colorful pattern. Each day was extraordinary on multiple levels and words simply fall short. Nothing to say but “Akpfe!” and offer my gratitude to all who made the first Orff-Afrique Course— which is to say everyone who came and everyone who welcomed us—the resounding success it was. Hope and healing is restored to our broken world and how lucky that I got to be a part of it!