Today I observed some 19 music lessons given by my 39 Level III Orff students. May I say that once again—as they have been the last decade or so—they were magnificent? Each student taught in the full splendor of their character, with humor, tenderness, explosive vitality and/ or simple warmth at their side. Each worked hard to create an enticing beginning, to move the lesson forward with a connected middle and to reach the climax of a satisfying end—all within 16 minutes. Imagination was fully present, mastery was reached through fun, the body and voice spoke more than the words. Working with a partner, they seamlessly passed the baton back and forth and crossed the finish line in a blaze of glory.
If only all teachers, music or otherwise, could experience this, witness this, aspire to this. How happy the children would be! How transformed the school would be from a dull factory production line to a mixture of a temple, jazz club and dance hall. How pleased the teachers would be to be gifted each day with the chance to teach like this. How refreshed the culture would be with students graduating with their sense of wonder intact, their feeling of being welcomed and valued and seen firmly in place, their astonishment that the hidden beauty they carry was asked to be brought out into the open and was praised and admired. How hopeful would we feel for the future knowing that these future citizens would be making the decisions that might reject the strip malls, widen the radio stations, refuse injustice and the lying schemes of self-serving politicians, make ample space for the arts in schools artfully taught.
May I report that for those who feel cynical and hopeless and discouraged that the 100 plus people gathered here are living the life some of us have dreamed of, with deep connection and exchange between the 25 countries represented, with great joy and happiness and a circle of support that will catch us when we fall, guided by faculty who have been described by one student as “roundly skilled, unfailingly kind, moving transparently between their teaching personas and socializing with students, transmitting deep insights into developing the simplest of musical materials into works of ornate beauty, and navigating the complex creative and artistic personalities of participants from so many varied cultures with equanimity and humor.” Granted, it’s a two-week Utopia with ample food and shelter and no one competing for resources. But it shows that kindness and beauty and complexity and simplicity and artistry and humor are not only possible, but real and tangible and present every day of our short time together. That’s important for people to know.
Three days left and more miracles and laughter and many copious tears await. And I look forward to it all.