As I will someday articulate more clearly in my book awaiting the time to write it, just about all of life can be understood, articulated and lived in musical terms. For example, the idea of meter in music, the grouping of beats that create the different feelings of a waltz or a march or wild Bulgarian dance piece, is commonly known as an essential in music study and commonly felt in the body of the listener. But simply grouping beats in mathematical arrangements falls far short of musicality. Within each grouping, there is a hierarchy of weight that gives a different character to each beat in the group, a weight best understood and felt by dancing and feeling the differences in the body.
For example, in a waltz, the first beat in the group, the downbeat, has a greater weight then the other two. The large gravitational fall as you step that first beat or conduct with a downward gesture announces itself in no uncertain terms. Called the crusis, it releases energy, which is then carried forward by the next beat, the metacrusis. The metacrusis then reaches a crisis of how far it can go and is suspended up in the air with the upbeat preparing for the next crusis—the anacrusis. Like a ball suspended at the height of the bounce, the anacrusis falls into the waiting arms of the next crusis.
And so here it is, the end of September. The big crusis of starting school in late August, putting my shoulder to the heavy wheel of 9 months of teaching ahead, has now reached the metacrusis, the follow-through on those initial efforts and all systems now rolling along. I’m in the groove of the schedule and delightfully so. Four weeks after our summer’s end reunion, the kids and I are so happy each class and looking forward to the next.
The 5-year olds have mastered five contra dances and connected by similarities between them and delighted by the differences, they really get where they are in time and space, how the forms work and can release themselves fully to the pleasure of swingin’ their partner.
The 4th grade has accomplished two multi-media pieces, a jazz poem with a blues groove and a Lithiuanian song about a rooster. They’ve spoken and sung, played parts on recorder and xylophone, created dances with their partner and with both pieces, had one group play for the other group dancing and then switch. Such musicality, such kinesthetic joy, such festive community!
Each of the 8th grade groups has performed a jazz blues, understanding how the bass, drums, chords, melodies, improvising scales and form works and now have begun their journey into jazz standards with Stompin’ at the Savoy and Louise. In listening class, they’ve begun the grand adventure of connecting the dots between Robert Johnson and the Rolling Stones, between Scott Joplin and everything pop radio throws at them today.
Meanwhile, in singing time, it’s the great Train Song Extravaganza after the Welcome songs, California songs and Cowboy song themes. Such gusto in the singing, such a sense of togetherness when 100 kids sing together every day, such an opening door into history and geography and language arts and structured patterns of songs, not to mention a repertoire that will appear as needed around some future campfire, sickbed, party or alum reunion.
So the Metacrusis Train is a ‘rollin’ and it’s a fine feeling. So happy to have climbed aboard.