Thursday, August 5, 2021

Proper Proportion

There are a lot of happy people this evening at Hidden Valley Music Seminar. Having just shared performances summarizing some of their experience these past two weeks in Levels I, II and III, they passed through the mild anxiety of public performance and came out shining, each Level and each piece within each Level a stunning piece of art running the full range of expression from whimsical, zany, profound, dynamic, touching and more adjectives than this sentence can hold. And unlike the trauma of childhood piano recitals, it was the group effort that really sang out, the kind in which each person was necessary to the other and it was the merging of their unique skills that brought it all together. 


It would be tempting to say that every minute of every day in this intense 12 day gathering of music and dance has been happy. But of course we know that this could never be. 60 people living in close quarters is ripe ground for some kind of conflict, from mild annoyance to explosive frustration. It’s simply the law of the human condition. Now add to that people coming face to face with all the shortcomings that inevitably arise when you see that your neighbor can dance more effortlessly than you, your partner is playing lightning-speed recorder while you’re struggling with Hot Cross Buns, the hot drummers are flashing their virtuosity around while you’re still working on keeping a steady beat. And because the Orff approach asks for an impossible range of skills in so many areas, everyone—including the teachers— is destined to hit some kind of wall. 


And then there’s all the social doubts. You like this one, but he seems to like that one. Those people went out to eat and somehow forgot to invite you. You need some space and your roommate needs to talk. There’s no end of opportunity for some level of conflict.


The music doesn’t give you a free pass from it all or effortlessly solve things simply by singing a song, but it does keep things in proper proportion and offer its healing balm many times over. Not only the joy and connection of singing, playing and dancing together, but the added bonus of actively creating something together. 


And so tomorrow it comes to its final chord. Looking back, there have been tensions resolved and unresolved, but tonight, the hard-earned chords blended seamlessly and people left the theater so happy, smiling, hugging and yes, continuing to gather to sing. The big problem with the conflict we see in America is not the conflict itself, but the unnatural proportion of it that’s beyond the grasp of the normal highs and lows of human interaction. Conflict we will always have, but if kept within the proper boundaries, it is resolvable, healable, solvable, understandable, livable.


And so there are a lot of happy, happy people here tonight at Hidden Valley Music Seminar. 


And I am one of them. 

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