"We teach best what we most need to learn."
I don't recall exactly when I first heard that expression. But the wisdom of it has walloped me more times than I can count. When was the last time you were teaching something, formally or otherwise, and suddenly realized you were the ideal student for the lesson you were imparting?
Recently, just prior to playing a recording of Just My Imagination in a music course, I heard myself rapturously describing the simplicity of that old Temptations song. As I spoke, it became clear to me: Simple pop songs were my gateway into music almost sixty years ago. I may have grown as a listener and musician over the years but misplacing my appreciation for simplicity is just foolish. I love music unequivocally. If any snobbery interferes with my passion, I risk missing out. I can value complexity in music without requiring it. Equally important: Making complexity a prerequisite for enjoyment is pretentious and stupid.
Evolving to love jazz and songs from the Great American Songbook as much as I do rock n' roll and simple pop gems like The Rose or Just My Imagination has been a gift. As I spoke to the participants in my class of the joy songs like those can unfailingly deliver - because they are heartfelt and simple - the words opening this post came to me unbidden.