A GREAT TEACHER MOVES ON: BARRY HARRIS (1929-2021)

The pianist / composer / educator / shepherd Barry Harris, who just left this temporal plane a few days shy of his ninety-second birthday, understood many things deeply. But one of the finest was his unspoken acceptance of his role as teacher and guide — not to one classroom of students, but to thousands. He knew — without words, but by embodying it — that a great teacher’s goal is to show their students how to be themselves teachers, in their own particular fashion, continuing to teach others as they learn themselves.

Photograph by Melanie Futorian.

I didn’t have the good fortune to know Barry, to visit one of his classes, to commune with him: I think I came along late in his time, where he might have told me he had better things to do than to sit and talk about himself. But I know those who drank from the Harris springs and came away transformed and inspired, and when his name came up in conversation, their faces gleamed with love and wonder and appreciation.

There is no better tribute I can offer than Heleen Schuttevaer’s loving short film, THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF BARRY HARRIS, which premiered in December 2020:

Ordinarily, I would say of such a person, “Barry Harris has become music,” but that would be an impudence: he always was and will continue to be. We are so fortunate to have lived in his world.

May your happiness increase!

2 responses to “A GREAT TEACHER MOVES ON: BARRY HARRIS (1929-2021)

  1. Damn

  2. Rest in Peace Barry Harris – Long let your spirit live between the notes.

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