Tuesday, March 1, 2011

All of Me

Why do we work so hard at what we love, sacrifice what’s needed to follow our passion? One answer: to prepare ourselves for how we will be needed in this world. After a weekend workshop with both local teachers and ex-pats working at International Schools, I’m back with kids again and happy to be so. I’m working hard—four 90 minutes classes a day—and today in particular used just about everything I’ve worked so hard to try to master and understand. The day began with a radio interview, then folk dancing and folk songs with the younger ones, an elementary class that began with Guido di Arrezo and the origin of solfege and ended with kids playing Charlie Parker’s My Little Suede Shoes, songs, games and dances from Ghana, Zimbabwe and South Africa with middle school, the history of jazz lecture with live piano examples and select You-tube clips for high school and then an two-hour evening lecture for parents and teachers titled “Why Music Matters” that blended brain research, anthropology, videos of my SF School students playing music and talking about it, the current state of affairs in American education and key sociological trends and ended with a solo piano version of Embraceable You. To paraphrase the old jazz standard: “All of me, why not use all of me?” and these last two days did.

Meanwhile, all of this is on Discovery Bay on Lantau Island, a place that could be described as “Disneyland without the death penalty (see Singapore entry).” No cars on this part of the island, just buses that cost 50 cents, golf carts and bicycles. It is pristine clean, safe, kid-friendly, beaches looking out to the other Hong Kong islands (including a real Disneyland with nightly fireworks visible from here), hills behind the uniform high-rise apartments inviting walks on the ridges that I haven’t had time to take. Mostly an ex-pat community combined with some locals. A little like that movie Pleasantville. There are no hotels (yet) on this part of the island, so I’m staying in a room at the school itself. Tonight I’ll take the ferry into “downtown Hong Kong.”

Today is the last day of teaching on this marvelous five-week tour and some mixed feelings about returning to San Francisco with 40-degree temperatures, working on my taxes and facing the backlog of busy-work I’ve managed to avoid traveling. But of course, it will be a pleasure to re-connect with friends and family, eat some fresh vegetables, cook my own meals, get on my bike again (the difficulty of exercise a major drawback in this travel) and maybe even go to a movie. Eight days at home and then off I go again to Salzburg. Never a dull moment. Meanwhile, off to teach seven more classes with the kids.

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