According to the calendar, I’m 66 years old today. Inside it’s a different story, but math has its own version of truth. I’ll be spending the day finishing my Jazz Course and what could be better?
Meanwhile, the double digit made me think about the other five times I lived them and I discovered that each was actually a pretty significant year. Probably not interesting to anyone but me, but note the following:
11 years old—Took my first international trip to Toronto. Went to my first 7th grade make-out party and kissed Susan Herman. Listened to the new-on-the-scene group called the Beatles and heard my first jazz album, Time Out, with the Dave Brubeck quartet.
International travel, jazz, some rock (but no more make-out parties) informed the rest of my life.
22—First trip to Europe with the Antioch College Chorus (also the year I graduated college). Kept my first journal. Moved to San Francisco. Went to my first Zen meditation retreat with Joshu Sasaki Roshi down at Mt. Baldy Zen Center.
Now Europe is almost a second home, I still keep a journal, still live in San Francisco and still practice Zen meditation.
33—First presentation at AOSA (American Orff Schulwerk) National Conference and also NAJE (National Association of Jazz Educators). Arranged my first jazz pieces for Orff instruments (Step Back Baby), met Keith Terry, made a cassette tape of the kids music at my school titled Play, Sing and Dance. Second daughter Talia born.
I’ve gone to every AOSA Conference since that year (33!) and present at about 20 of them, continue to work on Jazz elementary Education and still include Step Back Baby in my jazz courses. Keith Terry’s body percussion work was not only essential for my rhythmic development, but thanks partly to my efforts, is now a known part of body percussion practice in Orff Associations worldwide. Play, Sing and Dance became the title of the best-selling (in the Orff world) book I wrote about this teaching approach. Talia not only treated me to dinner last night, but is my colleague at school!
44—Presented in Australia, taught and performed with the adult Orff performing group Xephyr at the International Orff Symposium in Salzburg, sharing it with the Spanish group Ocho por Uno that included Sofia Lopez-Ibor. Gave my first Orff lecture at another symposium in University of St. Thomas.
Just returned to Australia last year and the Xephyr group was an important experiment in adult performance Orff-style. Sofia came to teach at The SF School the year after and remains a brilliant colleague who continues to inspire me. And now I give a lecture every year at our summer course.
55—Helped create and performed in a meeting of body music groups with Keith Terry at the next Symposium in Salzburg (what was to be the last Xephyr performance). That year I taught in Brazil, China, Spain, Finland, Scotland, Australia and at the Toronto National Conference—five continents represented. Published my 7th book, The ABC’s of Education.
The continued development of body percussion, the international teaching, the writing of books, all now established parts of my life.
So now the $64,000 ($66,000?) question: What will 66 bring? Well, my Pentatonics Jazz Group has a gig on the main stage of SF Jazz next May, so that’s encouraging. More books beg to be written, but as of now, no time set aside for it. More international teaching on my calendar and the obvious question of retirement from the SF School.