Saturday, August 3, 2013

Graceful Arches

Let me confess from the get go— I have no idea what I’m about to write about here. Usually I have an experience or a title that invites all the words that follow. But tonight, I have neither— just the need to take advantage of a rare moment of solitude and to write my signature on August as I head into summer’s last month. And so off I go into the void of the blank page, with word following word.

Well, it’s not entirely true that I don’t have anything to report. It’s been an extraordinary— though also quite familiar— week at the SF International Orff Course in the Carmel Valley. Beautiful classes with beautiful people in a beautiful setting making beautiful music. One of the better talks I’ve given on Thursday night, combining pedagogical reflection, music history, piano performance and a comic shtick— vaudeville inside of a scholarly lecture, storytelling alongside concert piano. The usual hilarious banter with my inspired colleagues, most of us together for these two weeks for over a decade and relishing each other’s company with so much pleasure. The usual convergence of folks from all around the globe—Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, Germany, Spain, Finland, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore. Taiwan, Japan and more—co-creating the world to come where music, dance, games, laughter and creativity are the common language, the lingua franca that sings equally the differences and commonalities. (A particularly weird connection today as we Skyped our Ghanaian friend Kofi in Vancouver while another Skyped Alba in Spain and we put the two computers face-to-face so they could say hi to each other! And both of them, course graduates, wishing they could be back here with us.)

Today was a “day off,” begun at the nearby Laundromat with colleagues James and Sofia and I meeting to discuss our future incarnations of shared joy— the upcoming school year, our newly launched Intern Program, the Body Music and World Music Festivals in November, our joint schedules giving workshops throughout the year, a proposed Orff/African music course in Ghana next June and so on. When we finally arrive at each gathering, the rewards are enormous, but the work necessary for planning is relentless, demanding and at times, exhausting.

But we managed to rush off with the gang to go whale watching in Montery Bay and how good that felt to let business fly away in the ocean air and watch the graceful arches of whales breaking the water’s surface, the patterns of sea birds whirling overhead and diving into the ocean head-first, the antics of the seals. It was a San Francisco summer day, ie, overcast and chilly, but fun nonetheless. Then back on to dry land and an early dinner of fish and chips on the water’s edge. One more day to catch up on work and let work fall away, ending with a possible movie in the “barn” where we gather tomorrow night—East of Eden, rented from the local video store and projected on the big screen. Got some popcorn at Trader Joe’s in Monterey and ready to roll.

And so August rides in on the backs of humpbacked whales spouting their presence and showing off their grace. It’s a good way to begin.

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