People my age are talking about their bucket list, but mine isn’t the Pyramids or Galapagos or the Casbah (though truth be told, I haven’t seen any of those and would be interested). One of them I didn’t even know about until the opportunity came up today was to teach a Big Band Jazz Tune and the Lindy Hop to Ghanaian kids from 6 years old to 21. That’s what I did today and it was ten thousand times more remarkable then seeing some ancient mummies entombed.
I started with singing the parts, then going through some basic Lindy Hop steps, then playing piano (keyboard) for them to dance with a partner and then inviting the brass players to find all the parts on their instruments. I always say as an Orff teacher that the deep tissue work of this process is to connect the ear, the voice and the hand and then the budding young musician is not just learning technique on a particular instrument in a particular style, but singing what they hear, hearing what they sing, playing what they hear and sing—on any instrument. Once they’re oriented with minimal technique and an idea of how to produce a scale, off they go.
And off they went indeed! Trumpets and trombones found the parts quickly, I directed from the piano, my friend Jim Owen worked with a circle of drummers on trap set and congas, the dancers came up close to the instruments and off we went. The joint was jumpin’! Count Basie would have been proud. A fitting end to a most extraordinary two weeks, with only dinner, a closing session and an all-night bus ride ahead. I’ll probably be in Spain when I resume the storyline, still smiling from the echoes of the miracles I’ve witnessed here, with the bounce of the Lindy Hop still with me.
Folks, it doesn’t get any better than this.