Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Back at the Table

“We all sit down sometime to a banquet of consequences.”

-      Robert Louis Stevenson


I always imagined three reasons to retire:


1. I wasn’t enjoying the kids anymore and they weren’t enjoying me.

2. I couldn’t get up from the floor.

3. I got a better offer.


In fact, none of the three were my reasons for actually retiring. Mostly it was based on giving more time and energy to my work outside of school while I still had health and vigor, alongside the sense that if a better offer were to come, I would have to close one door before another would open. 


Of course, no dramatic doors have opened. Wynton Marsalis has not called yet to put me in charge of the Lincoln Center Jazz Children’s Program, there are no sponsored tours of my Pentatonics jazz band and Terry Gross has not invited me for an interview to speak about what inspired education looks like. But while waiting for the phones to ring, I’ve taught many satisfying online jazz classes, continued my writing and publishing work, walked and biked more than ever before and so on and so on. 


But most gratifying of all is the way mentoring a fellow Orff teacher has brought me back to teaching classes with kids and last week, I subbed three days with 5th graders (1 or 2 classes a day) and this week, subbed three days at the school’s lower school, kindergarten, 1st and 3rd graders, five classes a day. I suspected I’d be as comfortable with the younger ones as the older and still had the stamina for five classes, but you never know until you know and now I know. I do. 


So with six days of subbing this past week, I felt like I’ve left the pandemic cafeteria where I ate alone in the corner and rejoined the banquet table that I know and love best— making music, singing and dancing with children of all ages. The consequences of my life’s work are simple and delightful — the kids make me happy and I make them happy. 


Who could ask for anything more? Pass the gravy, please. 


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