I’m far from a great singer and my guitar skills are rudimentary, but I never feel more at home than leading a Singing Time with a group of people. Any age. Any size. Any situation.
From the daily Singing Time in my beloved music room at The San Francisco School to the gathering in the park today with 20 alum kids and teachers from all different eras to the Jewish Home last Friday (though that sadly still is “singing” without singing—piano playing only), I simply love to lead singing with a group of people. There are moments in our life when we are most wholly ourselves, when all the community of selves we carry within us join and merge into one unmistakable wholly authentic self that is ours and ours alone. And thus, becomes everybody’s.
Of course, re-singing the songs that joined the school alums that came together today has a special resonance, evoking that more innocent time when we all were forging a safe and joyful haven of childhood and the songs became the soundtrack to a yet larger sense of welcome and belonging. There were kids who graduated three years ago up to those that graduated thirty years ago and some songs one group knew and not the other and vice-versa. But many that they all knew in common because I was the common thread.
We sang for over two hours on a cold, foggy SF day and ending with a contra dance. Interesting to me that some of the most fun songs to do are the ones I do with preschool with motions and challenging canonic sequences. Some of the alum “kids” were there with their kids and it was fun to see the repertoire being passed on. Many had come on either regularly or occasionally to the online Alum Sing I led once a month throughout the year, but what a pleasure to actually hear the songs being sung! And in canon! One of the kids who I had just met asked me at the end, “Are we going to do this again?” His Mom happened to be visiting from New Mexico, so it wouldn’t be easy to arrange, but the bigger point was—well, he liked it enough to ask that question. The kind of comment from a kid that reminds you why you do what you do.
I keep telling myself that my interests are broad and my projects are many. Unlike the monoculture farmer, the diversity in my garden protects me from irreparable loss. I can go without playing piano, without writing a blogpost, without teaching a music class to kids, without teaching an Orff workshop and still enjoy the day. And yes, without group singing as well. But today was a reminder that some part of me—perhaps the best part—needs to continually renew this kind of joyful sharing.
Want to organize such a gathering? Give me a call—I’m in!