After the opening remarks shared in the last post, I invited my colleagues James and Sofia to come from the audience to join me to represent the perpetual present of our mutual work and passion for over 25 years. I invited my friend Pam Hetrick to share with me the presence of the past and my teacher Avon, as she and I shared three years of Level Training with him back in 1983-85. And I invited Tom Pierre and Aaron Williams, two rising bright stars in the Orff firmament to represent the future. I then invited my fellow recipients and their friends and colleagues to join me out on the floor in an inner circle and invited that 800 folks in chairs to get up and circle around us in concentric circles. This was the move to the kind of intimacy the occasion called for and simply having us all so close and connected was exactly what was needed.
Then we explored vowels as the carriers of emotion, from the wondrous “ah” to the teasing “ooo” to the to the whiney “eee” to the surprising “oh” and more. From there, to a simple two-part Estonian melody based on those sounds. Now with one hand on our neighbor’s back to feel the vibrations of the voice, now swaying in a gentle ¾ time, now humming the melody while I spoke the following words:
Matter is energy. Everything in this world vibrates. Sound is vibration that you can hear and music is vibrations that are organized. When the outside vibrations of music touch the inside vibrations in our bodies, it creates motion in our muscles, breath and nerves and that motion makes us feel e-motion. When we say that something moves us or this piece of music (or art or poetry or dance or sunset, what have you) touches us, is moving, we are speaking about what actually happens in our bodies. If we sing music with a group of people, we are connected vibration to vibration, we are all joined together as one vibrating body.
That helps us feel that we, all of us, are worthy to be welcomed, to feel like we belong, to learn that we’re one small part of something larger than just us and that that larger thing is beautiful. And since vibrations never ask us about our religion or economic class or ethnic identity or gender, we can learn that none of those things should ever be used as barriers to keep us apart. When people try to convince us that these things matter and we should only accept these people and not those, it’s probably because they never felt the beauty of being part of this big vibration.
Do what you must to limit the damage such people can do, protect the children from their assaults. But don’t forget to invite them to sing with you. If they can have even one moment of feeling the splendor of being part of that grand vibration, I believe they would not need to put others down to make themselves feel big. They just might begin to realize that all that armor they built around their heart, that locked chest they thought they needed to protect their tender vulnerability, just might open a bit in the company of other vulnerable people gathered in a circle like this feeling the beautiful vibrations of our collective voices.
And please, let’s all remember ourselves that we will get angry with our friends and carry strange ideas about other people or groups of people and that it’s almost impossible to live every moment in this loving vibration. But that’s the direction we should also lean toward. Remember this beautiful moment we shared here when you feel disconnected—from yourself or your work or your family or your friends. It’s there for you when you need it. And we all need it. Now more than ever.
And they we bent down and lay our head on the back of our neighbor to hear their voice amplified in their bones. The song ended, we took a large breath and it was done.