Thursday, July 24, 2014

Make 'Em Laugh!


I'm in the midst of the power and beauty of the Jazz Course, carried along by the music, the stories and the thrilling moments in the class from these 20 soulful teachers. Yesterday, my Pentatonics jazz group played for the kids and other Orff teachers on campus, so happy to be opening the door to this music to the children in company with these fabulous musicians. Thrilled when 4-year old Carter sang the first verse to Jeepers Creepers, when two kids came up to lead When You're Smilin', when these young kids listened in rapt silence to Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child, drawn in by Joshi Marshall’s always remarkable opening on sax.

And speaking of that song, today took the Jazz class to the Jewish Home for the Aged and somewhere in the middle of sharing music with the folks at the other end of life’s journey, I suddenly missed my Mom sitting at my right, ached for another chance to kiss her cheek at the end of the song and watch her face as the music sent her to a heaven on earth. But so it is, the bitter comes with the sweet and sweet it was to watch Cyril sing in his 95-year old dramatic way Buddy Can You Spare a Dime and Fran bring the house to a quiet lull with Embraceable You and loving the Jazz Class improvising a train around the folks while we sang Chattanooga Choo Choo— well, isn’t that a fine way to end the day?

When the smoke clears, I want to write a Blog prompted by a T-shirt I saw on Facebook—“Keep Orff weird.” It has become so tame and domesticated and pruned to a bare branch with no fragrance or color. So while showing some “Youtube greatest jazz-related clips” to the group and watching Donald O’Connor throw himself down to the floor and spin around laughing and jump into walls in what is truly a singular piece of divine madness, I couldn’t help but think, “That’s what I want!! Let’s have some Orff classes like that!!”

Come to think of it, just about all the clips had a touch of divine lunacy— Harpo Marx cavorting with his wild eyes playing the pennywhistle, Gene Kelly singin' in the rain, Whitey's Lindy Hoppers throwing their partner over their heads, the Nicholas Brothers leaping up and sliding down giant staircases. Crazy!! Who does things like that? And with such joy and abandon and yes, humor, a quality of humor different from Hangover I, II or III and one we’re perhaps losing.

Well, no more to say now, got to plan tomorrow’s classes and think about how to keep the sparks of divine madness lit to see if they catch fire. 

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