Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Witness Excellent Teaching

I've talked about Brian, before, here. But last week Tal had his last violin day of the year with Brian, and I want to celebrate that, as well as give you all the opportunity to see really excellent non-coercive teaching in practice.

Brian Hoover is a virtuoso teacher. Not because he 'trains' people to be virtuosos, but precisely because he doesn't. Brian listens.

What you will witness in the 1/2 hour video below is Brian's extraordinary patience, flexibility, openness, and compassion. This is the definition, to me, of a good teacher. He acknowledges that teaching is not a one-way flow of information, but that it is a conversation, with acceptance and response being key to learning. In just 20 or 30 weeks (45 minutes/week), Brian has taught Tali many fundamental (conventional and unconventional) music skills, but above all he has become his friend.

Each class is a compassionate conversation between two people, through music. Beyond conventional musical theory, my son has learned to express himself, to hear music, to be open to ideas presented, that he has a valuable voice, and that the universe is available to him to create, to love, and to celebrate. And all of this happened while Brian honoured Tali's desire to hold his violin upright on his feet, and to never 'practice'!

Taliesin plays when he wants to, how he wants to, and he goes to his excellent teacher for inspiration, to learn about life, and for friendship.

Tali is very quiet. He prefers not to talk, if possible, until he has known somebody for quite a while. During the first few sessions with Brian, he was pretty quiet; he lightly fluttered the bow across the strings and mumbled a few words when absolutely required. He did the bare minimum. Then one day he played with volume. Volume! 

Exclaimed Brian, "Well - that's a different sound than usual!"

"Yes," Tali replied, through lowered lashes and a screen of long hair. "My violin found his voice again." 

Thank you, Brian, for your beautiful gift to us and to the world.


  1. I haven't got time to watch the entire video, but does Tal hold his violin the "proper way", or with his feet? I think it's so neat and unique that he has his own way of doing things! And that he has a mentor who supports this, too.

  2. Yes, Tal mostly holds his violin with his feet. Sometimes he plays it on his lap, mountain-dulcimer-style, and sometimes just standing on the floor like a cello, but normally in his feet. His mentor has even tried to join him in unique ways of holding, but mostly reverts to the shoulder/chin hold because it's really hard to get used to bowing in the opposite direction!

    Yes, it's just wonderful to have a mentor so open and flexible. It is a big part of what makes this such a wonderful experience for Tal.

  3. The last shot of the paper violin kind of choked me up!

    Magnificent teacher and student. I love the part where Tali gets pumped up near the end -- something to do with sabre-toothed tigers!



Your comment will appear after it is approved. This can take a while!