Sunday, December 16, 2012

July at Christmas

Got my traveling music teacher hat on again and it’s the straw kind that keeps out the sun. I left San Francisco in jeans, hiking boots and fleece vest, reluctant to forego the cozy winter Christmas scene, but now write this barefoot in shorts and hey, that’s not such a bad thing! I love the summer and instead of Christmas in July, I’m getting July at Christmas. Good deal!

Of course, such gifts don’t come for free. My price was 26 straight hours of travel, the 9 from New York to Rio de Janeiro in a middle seat. But grateful for unlimited movies and Hope Springs, Going the Distance and the Bourne Legacy helped keep me occupied. That and marking up with red pen the Kinko’s copy of my new book (or books). Maybe it’s just my long history with print, but these blogs on the printed page feel different to me than on the screen. And more than once, they came across as something I’d like to read. A good litmus test for an author.

I arrived in Porto Alegre in the south of Brazil, met my contact and while waiting for my ride, had a rough hour trying to keep up convivial conversation with only a few hours of airplane sleep behind me. When my driver and her friend came, they graciously let me stretch out in the back seat while they drove the hour or so north to Caxias do Sul.

A two-hour nap in the hotel and then off to teach on Friday night. I entered the room and was astounded to see that over half of the 40 people attending were men! Very rare in the Orff world. And 90% of them were young teachers or students having their virgin Orff experience. That's an amazing moment for an Orff teacher. I told them:

“I'm going to open the door to this remarkable world and some of you will recognize the house that you’re destined to live in. Others will come in and join in the merrymaking, enjoy a beer and leave. Some may even feel they came to the wrong party. Whichever one is true for you is fine. I’ll do my best to be a gracious host and make you feel comfortable, well-fed and happy to be here.”

And off we went. Two days later, with affectionate hugs and wet eyes, we said goodbye to each other with some 20 more songs, dances and pieces to help us navigate through both the stormy seas and idyllic lakes of this precious life. We left the room carrying the echoes of the energy, laughter, love, deep quiet and exuberant exultation we generated.

After I deliver my promised notes, I have an evening and a morning to wander this town and get a feeling for where I am beyond the room of music teachers. That traveling reporter hat I’ll save to put on for tomorrow.

With sunglasses on.

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