I celebrated my daughter’s 42nd birthday by having a marvelous day. I would have been happy to share it all with her, but she is in Portland and I’m in San Francisco, so the best we can do is celebrate by each doing what makes us happy. That I did, starting with a lovely walk with five men in the Men’s Group to the new Tunnel Top park with its panoramic view that sweeps from the Golden Gate bridge to the round dome of the Palace of Fine Arts with downtown in the distance. We walked, talked and lunched and then off I went to a 7th grade class that I co-taught with colleague and mentee Yari at CDS across from Dolores Park. With some time to spare, walked around that park with its different view of downtown.
From there, to the Jewish Home where I flagged some 40 tunes from the 850 Classical Melodies book with chord changes and played them non-stop with Javier on clarinet. He is such a fine sight-reader, he had no trouble— even with pieces he was hearing for the first time— getting them to sing so brightly on his instrument. I’d play through once with him listening and following the notes and then when he came in, the music was lifted ten feet higher.
Going through the book in order, it felt like a perfectly planned repertoire that offered the needed contrasts to strum all the strings in the human harp of the heart. Contrasting tempos, meters, keys, major and minor tonalities, styles and more that brought a hush amongst the 30 plus seniors listening with razor-sharp attention and a tangible silence, as if each note was precisely what they needs to hear in that moment to break the chains of time-ticking mortality.
And so my perseverance to plumb the depths of music even as no performing career beckoned me, to share the fruits of my patient efforts with young people just beginning their journey through organized sound and old people who need to hear the comfort of music they both knew and loved and music they never heard, but could feel the full power of emotion each note invoked. To enter that magnificent house of music through multiple perspectives— kids through song, chant, body percussion, dance, xylophones, ukuleles, stories and more, the adults through the range of rhythms, melodies, harmonies, forms, timbres and textures. Patience, perseverance and perspective have all paid off and the returns keep coming in.
Speaking of patience, driving home I passed the Pumpkin Patch which was open for business. In September! There ought to be a law. Halloween needs to wait for October, Thanksgiving for November, Christmas and assorted Winter Holidays for December.
Meanwhile, I can think of no better way to celebrate the closing of September than once again thanking my first-born daughter for entering our lives and continuing to be the near-perfect human being we predicted the moment we held her. Happy birthday, Kerala!