Back a mere four weeks ago, I still had hopes that my scheduled March 21stSaturday Orff workshop could happen. Silly me! I postponed it until May 2nd, thinking that surely by then this would be over. Silly me! Then I thought of postponing it again until June, but I had enough of the silly me’s by then. Time for plan B and a different lemonade recipe from the endless supply of lemons on the supermarket shelves where the toilet paper used to be. And so I wrote this note to my workshop mailing list and so I share it with you.
Here is our moment. Everything that the Orff approach tries to nourish and nurture— connection, compassion, community, flexible thinking, imaginative response, disciplined practice and more—is what the Corona Crisis is calling us all to rise to. Here we are, bushwhacking through the unmarked path of online teaching while also figuring out how to negotiate a new hunkered-down lifestyle, filled with challenges but also opportunities. Now we can finally master Chopin’s Fantasie Impromptu on piano, learn clawhammer banjo from Youtube lessons, learn how to sing 200 songs from the Great American Songbook! Listen to the collected works of Miles Davis or all of Haydn’s 106 Symphonies, read all of Mary Oliver’s poems, Shakespeare’s plays or all 9 books by Doug Goodkin. (HA! HA!). Get out that Thai cooking book, take one last listen to your cassette tape collection, finally learn that new language you always meant to speak. The possibilities are endless!
It’s also a good time, as Winston Churchill once remarked, to “eat my own words and find them very tasty.” The idea of Orff Schulwerk training online always seemed to me an impossible idea that I would tie myself to a xylophone to shut down in protest. And yes, the work in the physical world of three-dimensions in a place with a circle of live bodies and voices independent of anything that must be plugged in is, and always will be, the real deal. Irreplaceable. Necessary. Life-changing. Unforgettable. The real deal.
And yet… when one door is closed, another must open if we are to keep our passion, curiosity and deep need to still stay connected alive and well. And so in the last month, I have given several online courses, in addition to crafted many lessons for my kids, both “live” Zoom sessions and videos and assignments sent out, and lo and behold, it helps! I’ve figured out a lot about what works and how and what sometimes works even better (recorder class with the capacity to mute and unmute!).
And so, this Spring’s workshop will be online. I’ll miss holding hands in a circle, playing, singing and dancing together in real time, sharing food at lunchtime, but even if the virtual lemon juice is artificial, we’ll make it as tasty and refreshing as we can. See you on the screen!