Why do people go around measuring life with a measuring tape? Why do they poke and prod each thing to see if it measures up to some idea they have about things and miss the essential nature of the thing itself? Why do they look at the number on the tape instead of the thing itself? Why do some of these people teach children and care more about measuring them then knowing and loving them? Why do some of these people teach music and care more about quarter notes then profound beauty?
At the end of two most marvelous days with 30 intelligent, sensitive, funny, warm and musical teachers, a time of revelation (one person’s first blues’ xylophone solo!), of reminders about what’s important (find a way to love each child, even if it takes eleven years!), of reflection (why are we here? And what are we doing?), we ended with a lovely Estonian song that traveled the full range of human emotion through vibrating vowel sounds and ended with us singing ears on our neighbor’s backbone, feeling the vibrations as he or she sang.
My closing words were reminders that life is vibration and music is vibration and in addition to the way music teaches kids about things— about history and science and patterned math and poetic language and social connection and emotional opening, it also is the thing itself, the direct vibration vibrating the strings of our soul with no intermediary needed. As such, we hold the power to change the human heart, body and mind through the art and science of crafted vibration. We are the caretakers of the souls of children and if there is a more worthy job than that, I’d like to know about it.
In the face of this marvelous time together, I’m reading the latest nonsense from the U.S. of A. about assessing children, the same old tired chopping up their wholeness into commodities to be label, packaged, bought and sold at the shopping mall of American education. It hurts my heart. Come on, people! Throw away the damn measuring tape and sing with the child, be lifted up together into the stratosphere of exultation or go down in the vale of grief to emerge healed by tears! Art is that which “thaws the frozen sea within us” (Kafka), the ax that cuts through our fears and timidity, the explosion that bursts our hearts wide open! Teach to the edge of your passion and if your passion has dried up to the point where you don’t notice contrived crap or walk around with your tape measuring all that is insignificant, please take up accounting or some such career. If you’re not willing to live art in every fiber of your being, then don’t teach it!
Meanwhile, thanks to all the Taiwanese Orff teachers, Taipei American School kids and international school teachers I had the pleasure to work with this past week. If we are to caretake children’s souls, we need to take care of our own and each other's. And that we did.
On to Hong Kong!