“And so we make our lives by what we love.” —John Cage
Every day in this Orff training is a life wholly lived. In my Level III, we travel the world without a passport, feel fully the excitement, newness, familiarity of getting out of town to see with new eyes and hear with new ears and feel with our old childlike sense of wonder. Carried on the sounds of Indonesian angklung, Bulgarian bagpipe, Ghana xylophone and more, finding surprising voices inside that can sing with new power, dancing through bamboo poles and slapping knees and thighs, each piece of music brings us so much deeper into the dizzying beauty of multiple worlds than any tour bus or camera constantly clicking ever can. And all of this in company with folks that now feel like long-time next-door neighbors, even as they come from Switzerland, Spain, Finland, Turkey, Mexico, Canada, Venezuela, Brazil, Colombia, South Africa, Hong Kong, China, Thailand and the U.S.A. It’s remarkable how much life can be lived in the intensity of our 90-minute journeys. And how much life can be loved.
From the 90-minute wholly inhabited worlds to the 24-hour cycles of multiple journeys to the 12 days we come together, there are rhythms and sub-rhythms and longer cycles to it all. Each day has a name and we are never quite the same tomorrow as we were yesterday. This week for example began with the Sunday night movie, Singing in the Rain, the Monday re-gathering after a weekend with whales, kayaks and the Laundromat, Sofia’s always heart-opening evening choral session. Tuesday was the Level III catharsis as 39 people showed their teacher-self and each unfailingly beautiful. We ended with a hug line with all the teachers, a chance to re-connect and thank and be praised by their tour leaders from Levels I and II. Wednesday was the always fabulous Untalent Show and it delivered as they all do with the astounding breadth and depth of people’s music and dance selves fully revealed. Last night was the sharing, the day where all the relaxed process tightens up and tensions mount and tempers begin to flare—we have to get a show ready!! The real life of the music teacher and the other end, the glory of accomplishment. It was spectacular, which the dictionary defines as “beautiful in a dramatic and eye-catching (and ear-catching!) way.”
The final piece was the always riveting Level III movement piece put together by our resident genius teacher Christa Coogan who has the knack of evoking movement from the students themselves and then helping to shape it into coherent form. This year’s theme was John Cage and one piece began with quotes from that interesting fellow. And amongst the many that caught my ear was the one above—“And so we make our lives by what we love.”
Yes indeed. The privilege to both teach in and lead this course is my testimony to everything I have grown to love given physical shape and form. And you might also say “And so we shape our love by what we live.” The two have intertwined in a way I could only dimly imagine when my teacher Avon Gillespie tapped me on the shoulder and beckoned me to follow him down this path. And then to keep going long after he turned off of it. There simply is no quantity of thanks sufficient for this gift. Except for the easy determination to keep the work he started in nearby Monterey back in 1983 going. And that I have done.
This morning, the closing circle with box of Kleenex in the center, the journey Level III will take through the birth canal of some 70 singing teachers, One final spiral song that Avon bequeathed to us “In living fully one finds peace.” Yes, and also love and also one makes peace through the pieces we play and one creates love by living fully the life we make. Hugs and tears awake and then we go home and do laundry and pay bills. On to breakfast.