During last night’s run, a song I was unfamiliar with came on my Spotify playlist. The voice was familiar, but it took me a minute to bring the vocalist’s name to my lips…Lana Del Ray. As I listened, a face popped into my mind and I smiled, thinking of the now-graduated student who had brought her music to my attention. CF was a most ardent supporter of Lana and I can thank him for exposing me to her. He also introduced me to one of my now favorite high school movies, Easy A, a movie he said I had to watch because I reminded him so much in voice, mannerism and appearance, of the main character played by Emma Stone. Nice kid, right?
I started thinking about other students who have shared themselves and their enthusiasms with me over the years. I realized that, after working with thousands of kids for close to twenty years, the ones who left the greatest impression upon me, are the ones who taught me something. The students I will always remember are those who opened a door and invited me to peek into their worlds, generally through music.
There was CL who I will always immediately think of when I hear Voodoo Chile, picturing him on a semi-dark stage, eyes shut, playing his guitar as the audience of students gathered before him saw him in a profoundly different and new way. JF was the student who I looked to for help when I received an iPod and was completely clueless about what to do with it. I brought my humble little iPod Nano to him and he took it home and loaded it up with music both familiar and new to me, impressing me with the breadth of his musical collection. How could you ever forget the person who brought Ornette Coleman into your world?
RS was one of those kids that I ran into at a show or two. I knew I had passed muster when he came to me one day and started talking music. He turned me on to M. Ward and his related projects, She & Him and Monsters of Folk. We almost ran into each other a while back in Palm Springs and I know the day will come when we’ll both be in the same audience again. DC taught me about Amy Winehouse and encouraged me to get onboard the retro R&B train, a move I’ve never regretted. SE schooled me about Mumford & Sons and the Silversun Pickups and gave me, through her own experiences, a chance to look back at my high school years through a different prism.
There are days at school when I feel weighed down by my role as library cop, days when I feel as if all I do is correct behavior and enforce rules. A nighttime run, plugged into a playlist, gives me a much-needed opportunity to reflect on some of the more positive interactions I’ve had with students, the opportunities I’ve had to learn from them. So many students, so many bands, so much music, so much learned. So very privileged.