Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Message from Maria


The jazz work continues to unfold with fun, ferocity and freedom and isn’t that the point?
I care not so much about cultivating expert jazz musicians or merely understanding the harmonic structures and rhythmic qualities of an extraordinary music, but care deeply about what it can uncover of the human spirit. At any age. But particularly important are the young children, whose have been given to our care and who we owe the height and depth of our intelligence and nurturing capabilities. Our job is simple: to unleash and cultivate their powers, to elongate their vision, to feed their mental and physical vigor, to train their elegant and expressive bodies, to strengthen their independent will and determination so that they are spiritually free. Then when their school life is finished, they are prepared to accept and responsibly use the gift of democratic freedom that our country has been slowly trying to create and preserve.

But because families and churches and schools and media culture fail to do so, we have created a population unworthy of freedom’s demands. A population that has chosen a man who consistently lies and cheats and encourages and forgives others around him to do the same, a population that has become more and more accepting of the most serious transgressions (Don Jr.’s admissions?) that a mere 50 years ago would have the police at the doorstep to lock them away.

We have to work with who we have, but for far too many people over 40 or even 30 or 20, it is too late. We need to turn our attention to the young ones and finally do the work the world requires, right here, right now, starting in the schools. The preschool teacher can and should be the most powerful person on the planet, creating a life that teaches true freedom for the wee ones so that they can blossom into that elusive model citizen. Almost a century ago, Maria Montessori neatly summarized the whole deal. Pay attention:

“How can we speak of Democracy or Freedom when from the very beginning of life we mold the child to undergo tyranny, to obey a dictator? How can we expect democracy when we
have reared slaves?

Real freedom begins at the beginning of life, not at the adult stage. These people who have been diminished in their powers, made short-sighted, devitalized by mental fatigue, whose bodies have become distorted, whose wills have been broken by elders who say: “your will must disappear and mine prevail!”—how can we expect them, when school-life is finished, to accept and use the rights of freedom?” *

The antidote? To give young children what I suggested above:

To unleash and cultivate their powers, to elongate their vision, to feed their mental and physical vigor, to train their elegant and expressive bodies, to strengthen their independent will and determination so that they are spiritually free. Then when their school life is finished, they are prepared to accept and responsibly use the gift of democratic freedom that our country has been slowly trying to create and preserve.

And remember that though jazz rightly taught is just one of the many strategies to cultivate those powers, it is an important one and not to be neglected. And so I turn to tomorrow, Jazz Course, Day 3.

* From Maria Montessori’s Education for a New World. Boldface mine.

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