Monday, August 12, 2019

Beyond Teaching

Teaching Orff courses as I do is like a storm on the ocean. The waves are breaking and churning up the sand below. These intense two weeks ended as they should, with thunderous, crashing final chords followed by tender moments of silence interrupted by the sniffles of 100 people weeping. Believe me, people in these courses get exactly what they need in terms of great material to bring to their students, inspired ideas as to how to develop it and new music and movement skills and understanding that improve their own artistic expression. 

But that’s just a start. They also forge lifelong-friendships and connections with those they’ve played, sung and danced with far beyond the norm. The vertical transmission from teacher to student is powerful and meaningful, but the horizontal connections between students is equally a part of the experience. Sometimes I feel, as in New Orleans, that I was the host of an ongoing party interrupted by classes! Though the classes themselves were part of the party and the after-hours party part of the classes. 

Then there’s the deep healing that is real and palpable. People discovering they are more musical than their mean childhood music teacher told them, people feeling that that hole of non-belonging in their soul was finally filled and that the frozen parts of themselves were flowing again, lubricated by day after day of tears. Really, we could charge more money for the combination of therapy and spiritual retreat, but that would cheapen it. This way, everyone gets more than they thought they signed up for and that’s a pleasure.

“Beyond teaching” means that all of this is part and parcel of the kind of education our
kids deserve beyond the skills and facts. But it also means that though that churning ocean dug up lots of ideas and thoughts that deserve to be set down here, I am finally on a serious vacation, combining real beach time with grandkid bonding. I’m coaching Zadie through her Solitaire game, Malik is building with legos and they’re both wearing the shirts I bought them in New Orleans (see photo). Training them to make the right kind of trouble in this world, side by side. 

A summer’s day awaits us, the beckoning lake, the walk up the dune, possible Drive-in Movie tonight. Time for me to take a real break from teaching (6 days) before school starts up again. Let the teaching insights lie unspoken—goodness knows between these blogposts, articles, books and lectures, I’ve said more than enough! The world will go on just fine without it. Off to the lake!

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