By Mark Hallum
The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus made a stop at Holy Cross High School at last week to introduce students to techniques in music and video production as part of their Come Together NYC Tour.
Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) sponsored the educational event, which found students engaging and learning with a facility not readily available in their school or at home. Founded by Executive Director Brian Rothschild and Yoko Ono Lennon almost two decades ago, The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus is a non-profit 501(c)(3) which goes to where the youth are to keep the John Lennon legacy alive.
The day at Holy Cross at 26-20 Francis Lewis Blvd. was filled with music and learning as well as donations to the school from Tour Bus in the form of an electric guitar, keyboard and other state-of-the-art production equipment. Holy Cross was also awarded a $1,000 check made out for “peace.”
The Tour Bus pulled its signature move Sept. 29and formed the students into a giant human peace sign in the baseball field.
The bus introduces many students to the work of John Lennon and Yoko Ono as musicians and as peace activists and how they used their art and celebrity to focus attention on peace. Activism is also a talking point for each visit, but is far from the main objective, according to Rothschild.
“The real mission of the bus is providing students with the resources and the tools to come up with their own ideas, to realize their own vision for what they want to produce,” he said.
Rothschild was an artist with Atlantic Records in the 1980s, but later switched to music management and worked with music groups such as the Fugees. Eventually, he crossed paths with Ono, who expressed interest in his concept of a mobile studio.
Three technicians work and live on the bus about 10 months out of the year and are the main instructors for the program, which spends one day with a group of students of varying experience.
Vallone said he fell in love with the project when he first heard about it and allocated funds to bring it to his district.
“When we first saw this, we said this would be a perfect opportunity to bring this type of experience out here to northeast Queens. So this is really to me like the first step, because even the students didn’t know what to expect, and now that they know they have a whole musical studio or a live broadcast booth. They could put together a whole production right here. Who knows what they’re actually going to do,” Vallone said.
The councilman said he wants to bring the The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus to his district more often in the future, and a Holy Cross spokeswoman said the school is putting together an effort to have the non-profit make a return in the spring.
Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hilcrest) also sponsored the John Lennon bus for a visit to PS/MS 200 in Electchester.
“Our students must have opportunities to express their creativity while honing new digital skills and the Lennon Bus provides kids a chance to do just that,” said Lancman. “I’m pleased to support organizations that empower our students, and I’m looking forward to seeing—and hearing—the students’ new skills.”
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall