As with the Brazilians, so deeply impressed by the Colombians’ reflections about our five days together. They spoke about things like “music being the expression of the soul of the world” instead of “how does this fulfill the national standards or align with the 26 steps of the education-fad-du-jour?” They noticed that the foundation of my way of teaching comes from love and goes toward love. And from the things they said and the looks on their faces and the feelings I felt in the room each moment of our five days together, I believe we indeed set a lot of love free in that room and thoroughly enjoyed the sense of belonging, of feeling safe, welcomed and valued. And now was the time to bring these lessons and feelings back to the children.
There was much gratitude coming my way, but I kept sending it back. It’s no effort to have the opportunity to share the things I love and in fact, the honor, the gratitude for the opportunity, is mine. It did make me think a bit about the nature of that love, which seems to come down to three things:
• Love for the chosen craft, in this case, music. Music that brings so much joy, that awakens so much emotion, that uses so much of the complex creatures we human beings are.
• Love for the children. They’re the ones who taught me how to live more vitally, be more expressive, maintain wonder and curiosity, keep a crazy sense of humor and remember to astonish myself occasionally with an unexpected insight or act of kindness. In teaching adult workshops, people feel that love from the way I talk about the kids I teach in particular and kids in general. And they also feel my love for the child inside of their adult bodies and minds.
• Love for the craft of teaching. My delight in starting at point A and step-by-step, holding their hand through an adventure filled with unexpected twists and turns until they arrive at Point Z—an exquisite piece of music well played, sung and/or danced. My constant search for new and surprising and imaginative ways to reveal the lesson’s plan, to take them somewhere interesting.
And so ended some ten days of sharing this extraordinary music called jazz, a music that was born from grief and deep sorrow mixed with unabashed joy and triumph. A music of affirmation, of shouting “Yes!” to life and love and the unlimited possibility of the human spirit. Louis Armstrong ended so many songs with “Oh, yeah” and in the same spirit, I end my workshops with “Uh-huh! Oh, yeah! All right! Once more!” But for now, “That’s all!”
Two weeks of family time and lazy summer days and walks on the beach await and I greet them with open arms.