Some people write novels, some people paint pictures, some people compose pieces and some people invent aps. Me, I create an ephemeral fleeting world called the Orff workshop, complete with a birth, life and death—or at least a farewell. It starts from a group of people gathered in anticipation, a little nervous about what is to come and curious about what it holds in store for them and willing, without much choice in the matter, to deliver themselves wholly to a world that I create. With their participation and non-verbal feedback, of course.
I myself don’t know precisely how that world will look, but I enter the matter confident that it will include lightness, laughter, thoughtful and profound silences, dynamic and soul-stirring music, a human connection rare in the workaday world and yet more. It is a world that, like music, is resplendent with meaning because everything we do and everything we say connects to the next needed tone or word or activity and for the moment at least, makes a kind of sense also rare in the chaos of the 9 to 5.
Secret thoughts and feelings will be affirmed and lived out loud, some thoughts and feelings will shake us up and challenge our business as usual, some will require some thoughtful chewing to be digested later down the line. Our doubts and insecurities will have their moments in the sun, but the joyful support of the group will help sweep them away to the corners where they belong.
Things will march steadily along toward some distance cadence, gathering momentum and a building happiness as the body relaxes into jumping into things ahead of the mind and proves itself trustworthy. The now habitual videos at the end bring the children, who have been faintly present the whole time, into full view and confirm that the dream of an education that lets children be children while raising them toward an authentic adulthood is real and palpable and possible. And then the closing song, often in a tightly knit and intimate spiral, gathers the entire majesty of the previous days into its final tones and vibrations and tears put the proper punctuation marks on the end of the story. For this time. Always the hope and promise of more chapters to come.
And those chapters may or may not be equally world-shaking, but they will never be precisely this world that just ended. Because like all things with integrity, the gathering of these particular people in this particular place at this particular time is a once-in-a-lifetime event and to be savored as such. For me as a teacher, creating world after world after world and bidding each farewell, it’s not easy to remember the details. A few moments stand out like the thunderous and prolonged farewell applause at the end of the Spanish Course in an old monastery in Santander, the Lindy Hop dance with Mom Dusdi in Thailand, the Boom Chick a Boom circle with a little girl in the center in a recent Oregon workshop, the 2008 Jazz Course playing for my Mom.
But perhaps remembering each is not the point. The blessing of getting to do them and the good fortune to use every talent I worked hard to develop to create “the change I want to see in the world” is more than enough. At the end of the Chinese year, deep bows to Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou for the chance to be with you. On to Thailand!