Saturday, July 21, 2018

Clapping My Hands




Today I’ll take my last malaria pill. There are two more scoops of almond butter left in the Trader Joe’s jar I brought with me five weeks ago. 10 rice cakes I bought at the Spanish health food store and a small box of McVite’s digestive biscuits I bought at a gas station in Ghana. My computer has some 150 photos and videos it didn’t have back in mid-June, my suitcases have more room having sold some CD’s and Orff-Afrique T-shirts and my blog has some 30 more posts trying to capture a bit of the glory of my time in Ghana and Spain. I'll be coming home with new songs, new rhythms, new teaching ideas, new skills—the Flossing dance (thanks, Maria!), a card trick (thanks, Promise!), kushka shaking chops. And many old thoughts given new twists and affirmations and stories to back them up.

Last night I had dinner with five of the marvelous teachers I had the good fortune to teach in the San Francisco Orff Levels, spanning from 2006 to 2017. What fun to tell the stories of the times we shared, evoke the people we had the good fortune to share it with and the places where our paths crossed! What pleasure to feel these former students as colleagues taking the baton and moving it further down the path, adding their own particular form of genius while keeping the spirit intact. The same feeling I had two years ago when I co-taught with five other students-turned-colleagues in Madrid. The future of Orff in Spain is in more than capable hands, but it saddens me that I can’t feel the same—yet— in the good old U.S. of A.  Except for my fellow Pentatonics band members carrying the Orff-Jazz banner further down the field, it’s hard for me to name the Americans poised to take over in a way that makes me feel confident that the spirit Avon handed down to me will continue in the work of…well, who?

Meanwhile, I’m coming home again, though it’s clear that indeed my home is everywhere. As I’ve said many times before, it’s sometimes hard for me in San Francisco to imagine who to ask to go to the movies, but in my travels, I’m surrounded by people I know and enjoy so much and am happy to call my friends. My hotel rooms are home minus a piano, my airplane seat my little monk’s cell or private movie theater, my workshop rooms and holding hands in a circle with a group of strangers soon not to be a constant home where I feel more wholly myself than just about anywhere else. I have been part of four different communities in five weeks—50 Orff-Afrique folks, 50 Body Music Festival folks, 30 Jazz Course folks, 45 Barcelona Orff Course folks, such pleasure in hanging out and reuniting with some 75 people I already knew and liked and another 75 I began to get to know a bit. It’s an unusual life, to be sure, but what more could one ask for than good people, good work, good places and pretty good money as well? I’m lucky and I know it and (think the song here) I’m clapping my hands. I’m happy and I know it and according to the Facebook photos, my face does surely show it and hey, I get paid for clapping my hands!

My ill-fated (in terms of low numbers and last-minute drop-outs) Jazz Course back in my SF School music room awaits me on Monday and I suspect I’ll wonder why I got so upset when it will be so satisfying to work with a small group. Then the annual Orff Course/ Camp in Hidden Valley, reuniting with folks that have lived and loved this work together for some 20 years and in the case of my colleague Rick Layton, 28 years! Then comes the family time at Lake Michigan and sharing sun, sand, sea and sky with my wife, daughters and grandchildren. Another face of summer. Followed by another Jazz Course in Toronto.

May all flights arrive safely, the movies be good, my seatmates be thin, the SF fog disperse. I return with the glories of Ghana and Spain still vibrating and echoing in my soul, my hope in hopeless times strengthened, my gratitude increased yet again and my ability to feel blessed and offer blessings grown stronger. Akpé ka ka ka and mil gracias a todos!


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