“To be alive to hear this song is a victory…” –West African saying
So unlike other performers who have a fabulous show and then the union workers swoop in and clear and clean the stage and other folks take care of other business while the performer heads off with adoring fans, the music teacher’s job is something different. When I arrived at 8 am yesterday morning after the breathtaking Holiday Shows, my colleague Sofia had already been at school for an hour folding, sorting, packing and even washing 15 tubs of costumes. In between moving the instruments back into the music room and breaking down the rented stage and clearing out space in the storage room, I helped a bit with costumes until 10:15, when it was time to drive with the Interns to our annual ice-skating with the kids.
Well, that was fun, as always, but had to rush back in time to have a five-minute lunch before getting the 8th graders ready for their performance of St. George and the Dragon, two groups and each did a great job. After that, 10 minutes to re-arrange the room and get the songsheets for the final Elementary/Middle Holiday Sing, some 15 songs of the Holidays and 200 kids filling the air with such beauty, joy, exuberance and happiness. Ended as we always do with “Angels We Have Heard on High,” bringing them down to Earth and making the Glorias come alive with the glorious feeling of a community of kids and adults singing as if Washington DC did not exist and that peace on Earth and good will to all is indeed possible, right here, right now, in this moment.
No sooner had the echoes of the last notes died down than I rushed to the music room with the weeping Interns to carry the costume boxes across the street to storage. Just in time for the Holiday Staff White Elephant Party. Another festive tradition, though this year not as much stealing as usual. Now it was 5 pm and our exhausted music staff and Interns had to plan what to do before our 8pm show we were going to across the Bay. After five different plans, we split up, I took a group to grab a bite to eat and then brave the rush hour trip over the bridge and lo and behold, the parking gods were with us and we were in our seats for my 31st Annual California Revels Show and the Interns’ first. It held up and like so much this Fall, given an extra sparkle because I could share it with my enthusiastic new friends seeing it with the fresh wonder of a first-time participant.
Then across the bridge, take my passengers home and arrive at my own house at midnight, 16 hours after I first arrived at school. And then tomorrow morning, off to my Workshop at SF Jazz with my Pentatonics Jazz Band, then a shopping for our annual Christmas caroling party and a final evening dinner with Interns closing out our remarkable 4 months together with appreciations, blessings and gratitude. Never a dull moment!
And here’s the good news. I didn’t injure myself ice skating. I didn’t suddenly come down with a cold (knock, knock, knock on wood). I slept through the night and awoke happy and energetic. I have a relaxed week ahead and then the grandkids come. The Fall at school was simply magnificent, such pleasure in each and every class, such love for the children I teach, the delightful and the “difficult,” such happiness sharing it with the Interns, such flavor and nutrition in the fruits of my long 43-year labor and looking forward to the harvests to come. Such gratitude that I am simply still here, still up and walking, alive and breathing to partake of it all—the good, the bad and the ugly, the sublime and the unbearable, the mountain heights and swampy depths.
And that, my friends, is a victory indeed.