Yet another glorious day in Australia, this at the Santa Sabina School in Sydney. One of those classes where a 4th grader exclaimed at the end that she didn’t want to go to recess and the high school students led to jazz on violins, xylophones and voice noticed that it was “exciting to see how each step unfolded, engaging and fun.” Australia is one of the few places I’ve been that has compulsory (and elective) general music in high school and once again, the Orff approach properly understood has so much to offer. After classes, some deep reflection with the observing teachers and I’m convinced that I can communicate more of what I hope to teach to teachers by having them observe a class then simply do a workshop. And of course, both together is a powerful combination. At the end of the matter, it’s not the great material, clever techniques and seamless process of development that counts the most (though all of that is worthy), but the multiple strategies to engage students, help them feel in five seconds that you’re interested in them and have something fun and challenging to offer them, notice them immediately when they’re disconnected and start making overtures to gently move through their resistance.
After the last class, I finally had the supreme good sense to venture out into the world instead of hole up in my hotel room. Took a train into Sydney to Circular Quay and the familiar territory of my previous trips in 1994, 1996, 2002. The ’96 trip was particularly memorable since I came for a long time with my whole family and walking these familiar paths by the Opera House and Botanical Gardens, a poem began to emerge. And here it is:
So happy to pass through again,
To tread where I once trod.
Twenty time around the sun,
I’ve followed the same god.
The children who walked by my side,
Now grown and far away.
The shoes worn through with countless steps
That walked me to today.
The Harbor Bridge and Opera House
Still looming large and strong.
The days brim-filled with music,
With poetry and song.
I walk alone, yet by my side,
Fair company I keep.
The seeds I’ve sown that bore rich fruit,
Whose pleasures I now reap.
I count the blessings and the gifts
Bestowed by unknown gods.
The chance to pass through yet again,
To tread where once I trod.