Some one was complaining about STEM on Facebook (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), the new acronym for the education that will insure a bright and beautiful future. I have high respect for each of those fields, but really? Is that all? Sounds like a dry and abstract education leading to a life of tidy facts, numbers, computer programs and sturdy bridges. Okay as far as it goes, but does it go far enough?
“No,” was the answer of the counter-reformers, so they snuck in an A, invited Art to a party that apparently didn’t really want it on the guest list. So there is the A in STEAM, trying to blend in, but mostly sitting off in the corner peeling the salt off pretzels to make into an aesthetic design on the counter-top or put inside a container to make a shaker. “What are you doing there?” says the S or T or E or M, and then backs away swiftly, “Oh, isn’t that interesting? Now if you’ll excuse me…”
So in a Facebook clever retort, I suggested our own acronym—AAAH! Standing for:
ARTS, ARTS, ARTS, and HUMOR! Yeah, I know it’s polarizing to make yet another exclusive club and a world with Arts alone might almost be as boring as the STEM party, not to mention the fact that I couldn’t write about it on a computer or get over the bridge to my music workshop. If it wasn’t so late at night, I could probably conjure up an acronym for EVERYTHING, but since I began the AAAH movement ten minutes ago, I might as well see it through.
The fact is again I’m having way more fun than any one human being deserves teaching jazz to over 50 enthusiastic, imaginative, energetic, dynamic and musical Thai folks in Bangkok, many of whom have never been to a jazz workshop nor to an Orff workshop. Yet in two mere days, they’re swingin’ and stepping’ and put on a fabulous multi-media version of Night Train using my new lyrics from a 2008 Bangkok visit—Sky Train. The body and spirit are exclaiming "Aaah!" the kind we say lowering into a hot, soothing bath or suddenly struck by the beauty of a sunset. And all with a smile. What saves us from being an insufferable group of self-conscious artists discussing their work is Humor. While working beyond the edge of our imagined capacity, the tone is light and often downright hilarious and that’s why we can get so much done— all systems open full throttle to receive and process information. A lifetime of Arts and Humor cultivated by years of artistic and humorous schooling— not a bad way to shape a life.
Straight from the seven hour workshop to a delicious dinner with the Thai Orff Board to a jazz club (I got to sit in on one tune!) and back to my room at 11:00 pm. Yes, definitely tired enough to sleep now, but energized all day by the AAAH! Experience.
All the above is true, but prophetic to post it on April Fool’s Day. May we indeed be wholly foolish and foolishly holy!