“A place for everything. Everything in its place,” said Maria Montessori and the place for the Orff Schulwerk is an empty space large enough to fit a circle of live human beings, preferably with a wooden dance floor under their feet and a lovely view out the window. That’s where all the magic has taken place in my four decades of teaching like this, a magic so potent that it even manages to appear in echo-ey gymnasiums, carpeted hotel conference rooms, classrooms with desks shoved off to the side.
The two years of trying to move it all onto two-dimensional gridded squares on screens was doomed to failure, though even here, something might arise that had my voice catch mid-sentence as I felt the tears rising or a well-placed sentence evoked a laughter that was contagious even in its electronic delivery. But this venue clearly was not and will never be the place for the real deal of teaching vibration to vibration.
But the Zoom reunion after two weeks of intensive playing, singing and dancing—and laughing and crying and hugging— together is a fine place to re-connect with those forged communities flung far and wide when the summer course ends. And so 18 of the 24 Level III students met on-screen yesterday, these beautiful souls from throughout the U.S., Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Spain, Catalonia, Thailand and Iran who had the great pleasure of seeing each other’s beautiful smiling faces again, with me hosting from the actual Carmel Valley site where all that magic happened. It was simply glorious.
Each gave a short report on their teaching this past month and how the course influenced it and I cannot adequately convey the immense satisfaction that what we did in those two weeks made a profound difference. People talked about the material they used that their kids were loving, their new ways of approaching the material so that it flowed more musically, their increased capacity to handle the creative chaos of kids happily inventing, their new tendency to be more playful in their teaching, their research into their own musical heritage, their own creative work in composing new material, their honest sharing that they’re still digesting and thinking about and investigating more the deep layers of this profound pedagogy. As if that weren’t enough, the collective sense that they carry each other with them into the classroom, still feeling the echo of the love that was generated in that short time together. Not just the two weeks of last summer, but for many, their time together in Level II and Level I, mostly in the pre-pandemic times.
Often, in the last class of Level III, I send them off with a “Have a nice life!” But now, both with Zoom and my increased post-retirement time to actually visit some of the local folks teaching in their schools, there is the possibility of following the echo of our work together beyond that summer gathering. At the end of our hour or so of sharing, folks eagerly suggested, “Let’s do this again!” And why not? Check in with each other every couple of months to see what new glories have unfolded. And thank you, Zoom, for that.
Sorry to miss the six that couldn’t make it, but look at these happy faces! Our cups runneth over.