Like Bernstein, saxophonist Kenneth Radnofsky has also contemplated the question of what teaching means and why some of us take on this mission of teaching. He believes some of it has to do with how one's artistic development has been influenced and guided. When asked to reminisce about his early years, he recalls, "my parents were a big influence, of course. In addition to helping me be me, I also had the example of my father, who was the first president of our temple, singing in temple, and my mother playing the organ. Both were amateur players, but they did it. They practiced the art and made music. And then of course there was Bernstein."
Bernstein - the name comes up often in a conversation with Radnofsky. One of the most recognizable names in twentieth-century music, Leonard Bernstein is considered to be one of America's greatest performer/teachers. Bernstein (1918-1991), a protégé of Boston Symphony conductor Serge Koussevitzky, earned renown as an innovative conductor of the New York Philharmonic, as a popular and prolific composer, and as a passionate teacher of music. "I never knew Leonard Bernstein," observes Radnofsky, "but he was an important teacher of mine. I saw him, even played for his birthday celebration at Tanglewood with the Boston Symphony. I play Symphonic Dances from West Side Story frequently - or at least as frequently as concert saxophonists work. I didn't know Leonard Bernstein, yet I felt I knew him from Young People's Concerts that I watched on television while I was growing up. They're now available on video, everybody should watch them. I was introduced to music not just because of the substance of the music he presented, but because of the style of Leonard Bernstein. He spoke to us kids and empowered us. He made us think!"
"In an era when Soupy Sales had a dumb show in which he asked kids watching to send him a dollar (and kids did), I remember Leonard Bernstein spoke to us. He asked us, 'why do we call it classical music?' He talked about the other words we could use to name it, but stopped short and told us we could come up with a better word, and invited us to write him! And he didn't ask us to send a dollar."
"Leonard Bernstein didn't merely promote listening
for a great many of us. He transcended that. He made us want to be involved.
He wanted us to be part of the Art - to be like him. We wanted to do
it. We wanted to be the music. He was our role model, our "music
man.' This was our calling - to be Bernstein (not to honor just a man)
but, to be music, to make music and be involved, to make music an important
part of life for others as well as ourselves."
Radnofsky studied with a series of private teachers, each in his own way having a formative impact on the young, developing artist. "My later influences were my private teachers Jeff Lerner and Joe Allard, the junior high music director Terry Anderson who offered a kind word, Duncan Hale, who gave me my first lesson, and Moreland and Clyde Roller, who continue to be my inspiration and teachers today. Clyde Roller is 85 now. He was my college music director at the University of Houston and has been at Interlochen for over four decades. (He was my daughter's music director one year there.) They're both superb musicians, committed to young people. They're great people." Inspiration does not only come from music teachers. "My wife has been a major influence in my teaching. My own children," says Radnofsky, "are my inspiration. They remind me to be patient and caring with them as I carry on those same ideals with my students."