Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Destiny's Driver


I love the way this work (teaching music via the Orff approach) provokes questions. Often unanswerable questions, or at least, not easily answerable. Because a good Orff class demands the impossible—equal ease in diverse human faculties and skills—everyone hits a wall or ten or rattles a locked door frustrated that they can’t enter. And at the same time, each discovers the door that opens automatically the moment they approach and then slams shut on the person behind them.

How we respond to those openings and closings says a lot about who we are and who we might become. If we feel defeated by the walls or too sassy and proud about the openings, we might find ourselves stuck and unable to take the simplest steps to becoming larger than we are. And let’s face it—we’re all smaller than we might be. In today’s class, we felt the unique contours of music from Ireland, Uganda, China, Bolivia, the black South, Slovenia, jazz and each (to paraphrase Emerson) unlocked another faculty of Soul. We struggled with demanding body percussion, searched for the right scale on the recorder, soloed on the blues and at each step of the way, could have been paralyzed by that horrid “You’re not good enough” voice in our ear. But buoyed up the our fellow folks struggling with their own quest for mastery, a kind enough teacher not out to shame or blame us (that’s me!) and swept up in the energy of the music itself, we all came through the other side of our doubts and had a rollicking good time.

Talking about this issue of the doors that open and the doors that close with one of the students, I found myself saying, “That’s what’s driving our destiny. We shape our life around our absolutely unique set of skills and non-skills and find the work that fits the way we’re put together."

That is, if we’re lucky. I suspect some prefer to be sad, bitter or angry about that they can or can’t do and/or sad, bitter or angry that the world had nothing to offer them that made sense for their way of being. But for those willing to persevere and keep knocking until the door is finally opened—or have the wisdom to give up and try another door—I believe the world does respond.

It certainly has for me.

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