The John Lennon Educational Bus Tour was created by Brian Rothschild and Lennon’s life partner Yoko Ono. Rothschild says it’s a non-profit mobile recording studio that provides young people with free hands on opportunities to record.
“Original music, songs, videos, short films, documentaries, and live stream events. This our twenty-first year in the United States. There’s another Lennon Bus in Europe that we started in 2013 with Yoko as well. It’s out about ten and a half months a year. There are three crew members that live aboard each bus and a professional driver,” Rothschild said. With the help of a lot of celebrity artists we are able to introduce young people to career paths and opportunities they may not have had the chance to receive.”
Justin Rossman is a senior at Robert F. Kennedy Community High School in Flushing. A poet, with an appreciation for the arts.
“I think it’s a great program. Especially for kids to be engaged in the arts. My school is not as artsy. We don’t have a lot of arts and music programs. This is a great opportunity for kids to express themselves,” Rossman said.
Rob McMann, a music teacher at Hudson High School of Learning Technologies in Chelsea. He says the Lennon Bus program has been a great partner with the school.
“We work with the John Lennon Tour Bus. They come in and do an afterschool songwriting program,” said McCann. “We worked with them for the first-time last year. The facility is amazing, a state-of-the-art recording studio. They helped our kids write an amazing original song and shot a cool video for it. They donated a bunch of instruments. It is really a great partnership.
The Lennon Bus initiative is promoting student activism in its 21st year. An unusual setting outside of city hall in lower Manhattan. A bed with white pillows and sheets is on the ground just a few yards from the city hall steps. A recreation of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Bed-In for Peace protests against war.
Students sing and hold hand written Hair Peace, Bed Peace signs. City officials in suits look out of place. But New York City councilman Daniel Dromm doesn’t feel out of place. He’s a former New York Public Schools teacher.
“Giving an opportunity like this to kids today in this era and time sends a great message that art and music matters. But also, I think there’s a whole social studies lesson. When you look back to the 60’s when John and Yoko did the original bed-in and the tumultuous time we were in then with Vietnam, you can compare it to things that are happening around the world today. You have a whole lot of lessons you can learn from participating in this event today.
What would the bed-in protest be without one of its original participants? Yoko Ono was there with a little help from her friends, Beatles drummer Ringo Starr and Academy Award winning actor Jeff Bridges.
“It’s a great celebration and great to be in New York. Where else should it be? John and Yoko spent a lot of time here. This was there town. Now we’re here celebrating love and peace, the bus with the kids that get to benefit from this all over the world,” Starr said.
“Just remember that we are creating the world and the next world too. Give peace a chance. Love and peace, we are all creating it,” Ono said.
After a month in New York City, a trip Down Under is likely. A new John Lennon Educational Bus is being built in Australia.