Thursday, 1 December 2016

I Admire A Teacher

It's afternoon, already after dark, and I'm sitting in the corner of a small music room.  I keep my coat on, though it's warm.  The radiator's providing a background swish of moving water. 

I'm pretending to be passing through, waiting to take my son home, popping in to sit in on the end of his lesson, but in reality, I've arrived far too early and I'm audience. The teacher knows this, and is kind: extends the allotted time into evening.

What I see, what I hear is this: a teacher giving of himself, of his years of accumulated technical skill and musicianship, boundless in his generosity.  He's passing on wisdom, understanding, compassion, diligence, and all this across several decades to my young son who sits, guitar propped classically on his left knee, as they chat in-between playing.

This talking is as much as the practice in these lessons.  I watch them draw meaning out of their age-differences, their common passion, their acknowledgement of what joins and separates them. For now they're discussing the various means of plucking the strings in order to achieve the warmth needed for Villa Lobos.

This is a master class.  I'm watching what it is to teach by drawing out the knowledge of what makes truth beautiful from all that's available: the music itself, the instrument, his own experience and expertise and my son's unique and forming understanding of the world.  And he does this with the tender authority of one who knows himself and his art, who desires above all that his pupil finds as much joy in its pursuit as he does.


  1. I think I know who this is and this is exactly how he taught me too. A beautiful post!

  2. Yes, it's him! Thanks Jane. Of course, you are much missed, but thank you for the introduction.

    1. I'm so glad that it's working out! He gave me a lot. He inspired me when I first met him when I was the same age as your No. 1 son and I have never forgotten my lessons with him, where I learned so much more than just the notes! (Also-I can hear that radiator right now!)