The three to five day workshop is an interesting format. Enough time to taste and savor the variety of dishes the Orff banquet offers, but far from enough time to learn how to cook the dishes. And isn’t it interesting that the word “course” used to describe such a training is also a word used for the dinner table? The parallels are everywhere.
First off, the Orff workshop demands that you try and taste each dish for yourself. Not merely read a menu looking at someone’s Powerpoint or listening to their lecture. How would you ever know the tastes and textures of what you want to serve the children if you haven’t eaten them yourself? More and more, I’m seeing people sitting on the side trying to give their machine the experience, which is about equivalent to walking around at the restaurant snapping photos of people’s dishes.
Next is sheer variety of the Orff course—or rather courses. Appetizers, entrees, side dishes, desserts, the full spectrum from savory to sweet, textures from smooth to crunchy. The Orff meal is never just meat and potatoes. Body percussion, chant, speech, song, movement, dance, percussion instruments, Orff ensemble, recorder, drama—it’s a dizzying array of expanded definitions of music circling around on the Lazy Susan tray.
And then the international nature of the cuisine. In this last course in Shanghai, we tasted musical treats from Ghana, the U.S., Chile, Slovenia, Estonia, Germany, Turkey, Azerbhaijan, Philippines, Japan and of course, China. As mentioned, there was a special buzz in the air when the group was invited to share from their own heritage, but there also was a thoughtful chewing over of the new tastes of the Azerbaijan Phrygian/ Aeolian mode, the Turkish 5/4 meter, the Ghana beat-passing game and drumming polyrhythms, the swing and syncopation of jazz, to name but a few. There’s not a doubt in my mind that all cultures are present in the human psyche and each one properly tasted, awakens another faculty of the human soul. And whether I’m physically teaching in China or Colombia or Finland or South Africa, my approach is the same— to bring some of the big wide world together inside a small room and let her rock.
And so ended the second course of my 5-week 7-course adventure. It was a most delicious banquet indeed!