If I lived in Germany, I would be retired. Not by choice, but by law. And that would be such a shame, because I would have missed today’s classes with the 8th graders, the 5-year olds and the Middle School kids Ghana-and-beyond rehearsal for our show this Sunday. One of the 8th grade classes might have been one of the best I’ve ever taught and the 5-years were simply astounding in what they accomplished and how much fun they had accomplishing it. The Ghana rehearsals affirmed everything I care about in music education, that sense of cultivating the kind of musicians you want to jam with as peers and that’s exactly what we’re doing. And though the schedule and responsibilities and amount of preparation required, presence in the class required, reflection after the class to determine next steps is insane beyond any reasonable standard and particularly so for an old guy like me, I finish each day wholly energized and refreshed by the music, by the comradery, by the sheer fun of it all.
None of this was possible my first 30 or so years of teaching. I had my share of fun and inspired classes, but nothing at this level of control, mastery and expertise. And with both a monster repertoire, a clear and consistent process of drawing music out, an undiminished love for teaching and kids and students of all ages, I’ve reached that place where I can teach anyone, anywhere, anytime and happily so. Call me and tell me you need me to teach 80 people in 5 minutes and I’m there, ready to go. The fruits of my labors are perpetually ripe and unfailingly delicious. No pride in that statement, simply the gratitude of having been chosen for the right work and the good luck of unrelenting opportunities to do that work.
When it comes to health care, the competence and morality of the President, gun control laws, affordable education, welcoming of and care for refugees, ability to look their past straight in the eye and work to make it unrepeatable, I would chose Germany hands down over my home country. But the 65-year old mandatory retirement age just doesn’t work for me. I’m just warming up!