Thursday, July 11, 2013

What's on TV?

I love what I do. Everything about it. I love teaching kids, I love teaching adults, I love teaching music, I love teaching. I love it when everything that I’ve taken the time to think about and investigate and practice proves useful in a teaching situation. Like yesterday.

In the 3rd day of my Madrid Jazz Course, I began by introducing a new pattern in our intricate body percussion piece, made powerful by a booming wood floor and the precision of the 32 people playing. From there a game about shooing turkeys, a rhyme for 3-year olds and ending the session by playing the blues Bags ‘n’ Trane. The leap from the preschool game and rhyme to a cool minor blues may not seem obvious to the casual reader, but it made perfect sense in the class.

The next 90-minute session was the music theory class we all wish we had, one that actual connected the sophisticated mathematical patterns of functional harmony with real music. We learned the main characters of a jazz standard and then learned their particular relationships by playing the old chestnut Moonglow. After lunch, it was Jumpin’ at the Woodside with Count Basie on Orff instruments, then Lindy Hopping, such as I do it. I’m no Frankie Manning, but I can hold my own Messin’ Around, Peckin’ and Suzy Q’in. At least for a few more years!

The last session began with the appearance of my nervously-awaited pen pal (see last entry). In she came and joined us in the circle for a little pattin’ Juba and a Head and Shoulders clap play. We moved over to the xylophones and she tried out her first piece with us and did a lovely job. When the class was over, we went to the piano and had a little blues piano lesson, just as I promised in our postcards.

But after about 20 minutes, it was time for me to give a lecture in Spanish titled The Secret of Music Education. I told three “secrets,” the first simply having faith that everyone is musical. To prove it, I invited six people to come improvise xylophones in front of the 90 folks gathered there. One was my pen pal (I’m keeping her name private), one the husband of an Orff teacher, one the mother of an Orff teacher and one a man who has been in charge of the business side of the Madrid Orff course for over a decade, but had never played a single note on an Orff instrument. Off they went and Kaching!— first secret proved. (The other two I’ll save for another blog.)

By the end of the lecture, I had been at the workshop site for 12 hours, much of it spent teaching. We took my new/old friend home and I just loved every moment of conversation with her. She was super-sweet and engaging and interesting and interested in the work she was witnessing, but it was a little hard to read whether it meant much to her to finally meet me. As we dropped her off, I said goodbye and promised her more postcards and just as she was about to go through the door, she turned and asked if she could come back tomorrow. That was a good sign!

And come back she did. After a day of classes in Latin jazz and beyond, she came and saw a review of all the games and songs we had done the past four days and seemed simply delighted by it all. We then had another short piano lesson and it was time for my colleague Sofia to show a video of the school Holiday play. Another farewell to my friend and by the time we dropped everyone off and had dinner, it was 10:00. Fourth day in a row of working about 7 hours straight and out for 12 plus hours.

And so we come to the title. It’s all wonderful, but I am ready to plop in front of a TV and be entertained. I turned it on and there was a Western with Anthony Quinn dubbed in Spanish. It will do. 

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