Thursday, April 19, 2012

Music Was It: Young Leonard Bernstein by Susan Goldman Rubin


Music really was it!!  From a very young age, Leonard Bernstein was obsessed with music.  At 2 years old, Lenny would cry to hear “Moynik!” which was his word for music.  Music Was It: Young Leonard Bernstein is a nonfiction account that chronicles one of the most successful musicians of the 20th century.  Throughout the book, the focus is always on Lenny’s love of music and how he would do whatever it took to have a career in music, even if it meant disappointing his father whose biggest goal was to have his son take over the family’s business.  Lenny persevered, and by always keeping his attention on his passion, he ended up living a very successful life with a career that he loved.

The book does not have complicated jargon or language, which makes is easy for students to understand what is occurring in the subject’s life.  The author does her best to build up certain events in the subject’s life to make the book exciting, as there are not many overly dramatic events Lenny’s life.  The book has the same flow throughout it, which can be a bit dry and might bore students if they have to read big sections of it at a time.  A great feature of the book is that the back of it has a section with several biographies and pictures of the various people in the book which is a good reference for readers. 

If students had to read a nonfiction book for an assignment, this would be a great choice as it is very informative and simple.  This book would also be an excellent resource if students had to complete a research paper on an inspirational person.  I don’t know if many students would just pick this book off the shelf to read for pleasure, but if students did read it (or were assigned to read it) I think it would have a good impact on students.  Some students would be able to connect to having such a passion for something in life, whether it is an extra-cirricular activity, a sport, or a future career goal.  Students could also make a connection to wanting to do something different in their lives than what their parents want for them, or simply feeling like they disagree with their parents about everything.  Leonard Bernstein entered the Army's draft for World War II, but was not accepted because of a medical condition, which made him feel like he was not doing his proper duty for his country.  Connections could be made to this aspect too, as many high school students decide if the Army is a future path for them, or if they should go to college, or attend technical school, or begin working, to name a few options.  Bernstein’s family is also Jewish, so World War II had a great impact on his family, and classroom discussions or journal assignments could be done regarding the impact of war in various ways.  A great message for students to retain from the book is that, if you believe in yourself and devote time and energy to your passions in life, even if there are dissenters to your plans, you can persevere and achieve your life goals.

1 comment:

Susan said...

This would also be an awesome book for music students to read (even just excerpts) when performing a composition or musical composed by Bernstein.