“Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without.” Confucius, The Book of Rites
In 1980, I went away to college at the University of Redlands as a music performance major. In order to make ends meet and as part of my financial aid package, I was required to find an on-campus work study job. I was fortunate enough to land a sweet deal of a job in the listening room of the university library. My job was to shelve the music albums by artist, composer or genre of music. During my two hour shift, I had the luxury of being able to complete my music theory homework and enjoyed the time listening to my favorite musical theater cast albums. It was also my responsibility to assist other students with finding music they wanted to listen to, and help them with checking it out. Students were required to write their signature to take albums from the listening room with them.
One evening, a gentle, handsome young man was spending time in the listening room inquiring about the university’s collection of jazz albums. I found the album he wanted to borrow, and was surprised when he wrote his signature to see his name. He had written the name of the late jazz and standards balladeer (and one of my favorite musical artists), “Nat King Cole”. Startled, I asked if that was actually his name. It turned out he was Kelly Cole, the son of Nat King Cole, and the brother of the singer Natalie Cole. I was star struck and once I had gotten past my initial infatuation with being close to pop music royalty, we enjoyed a nice conversation about favorite jazz artists and compositions. Kelly thanked me for helping him, and went on his way. He never returned to the listening room again when I was there. I was grateful for the pleasant conversation we had had, and for the work study opportunity I was given in the library’s listening room.
Share a variety of musical genres with your students. Expose them to the music of your youth, the music you enjoyed listening to growing up. Share with them the music you enjoy now. Listening to music together, talking about how it makes you feel and moving to it are incredible ways to build community and form positive relationships with your students.