“This is what you will write about today,” a mosquito buzz-whispered in my ear at 4 am.
So I could mention the blessed absence of this annoying bug in San Francisco— and northern Michigan too— and how rare their appearance. Or write a piece on “Mosquitoes— God’s worst creation. What was She thinking?” Or muse about mosquitoes, black flies, bees at picnics and poison oak as reminders that though the world is perfect as it is, it could stand a little improvement.
But it’s August 31st, most kids are back in school, most summer cottages closed up and airports filled with returning vacationers and September marks the turn to Fall, the return to work, the New Year that is more New Year than the New Year. Here in San Francisco, the fog is scheduled to depart and our sunniest season to arrive. We mark it with local Festivals— Opera in the Park, Comedy in the Park, the SF Mime Troupe performances in the park, the new Season at SF Jazz and the Symphony and Cal Performances, all ritual markers that we look forward to year after year. It marks the beginning of a new cycle of workshops for the local Orff Chapter, the one on September 17th, the first live one in ten years.
Up until the pandemic, it also meant the announcement of my three Saturday workshops at The San Francisco School for the year ahead—usually September, January and March— that I have been doing since 1976. How I loved those workshops! Not only did I get to teach in the same music room where I taught kids, but because many of the same people attended, I need to keep the topics varied and interesting. Here is where I stretched a dynamic way to teach music to kids into realms where few music teachers have dared to tread. Some of my workshop titles from over the years:
• Modern Jazz and Modern Education
• The Intelligence of the Hand
• From Mali to Monk
• For the Ancestors
• The Ellington Effect
• Gender Issues and Music Education
• Myth, Ritual & Orff Schulwerk
• Celebrations Orff Schulwerk Style
• Sing, Sing, Sing
• Multiple Intelligences in Orff Schulwerk
• Math and Music
• Orality, Literacy and Orff Schulwerk
• Building Community Through Music and Dance
• Assessment in the Music Classroom
• From Bach to Bird
• Tell me a Story: Drama and Storytelling
• Education, Art and Neuroscience
• The Humanitarian Musician
And so on. This is where I cut my teeth exploring the larger dimensions of this work, with an ever-shifting community of local teachers who I mostly knew. For over 44 years. My last workshop was on January 4th, 2020 with a title: Music from Five Continents and then— well, you know what happened.
As far away as 15 years before I retired, I spoke to the head of School about guaranteeing me use of the music room to continue these workshops. It was never formally granted and between the pandemic and the lack of clarity with the current admin about my future relationship with the school, I still don’t know if this is in option. Now that things are opening, I hope to request it. After all those years of memorable and ground-breaking gatherings in that room (now named the Doug Goodkin Music Room), how sweet it would be to come together there again with a new crop of local teachers (and hopefully, some of the die-hards) to teach again in that sacred space. Wish me luck.
So though my mosquito language skills are elementary, it seems that this is what it was whispering to me to write about.