“There’s a place for us, somewhere a place for us.” – Somewhere by Leonard Bernstein
A few weeks ago, I saw on Twitter a link to a documentary titled “Teachers and Teaching” that featured the great Leonard Bernstein. As I am not only a teacher but a huge fan of his musical works, I had to view it.
While he spent a great deal of time talking about the teachers that impacted his musical growth, there was one part that stood out to me. Early in the video, Bernstein stated that his parents refused to pay for his private lessons on the piano. In order to pay for his own lessons, he began teaching lessons to children that were younger than him. He goes on to share how this helped him grow as a musician. Along with this, he stated, “When I teach, I learn. When I learn, I teach”.
Yesterday, I couldn’t help but recall these words. Almost every grade had a lesson that involved working in small groups to compose. While the students worked, I traveled from group to group. In every group, I discovered countless examples proving Bernstein’s statement to be true. The children are not just students. They are music teachers guiding each other on their musical journey. By taking on the roles of the student and the teacher, they are discovering that there is “a place for us” in music.