A Must Read for Violin Teachers!
This new book on violin pedagogy, "1 Teaches 2 Learn," should be on the bookshelf of every violin teacher and anyone who is simply considering being a violin teacher. Let me correct that: It should be on the bookshelf of every teacher, regardless of their
chosen subject, and while I’m at it, of every parent, too. "1 Teaches 2 Learn" is in two parts. The first is Eloise Hellyer’s comprehensive investigation of what it takes to be an effective violin teacher, from big-vision principles, like what it means to
be creative or how to communicate musical ideas, all the way down to nitty-gritty issues, like how to practice efficiently and how to deal with a practice-resistant child. Hellyer, herself an accomplished violin teacher, challenges the reader the same way
she proposes to challenge students: by asking tough questions, making you think, forcing you to reevaluate previously held assumptions. Even with those notions with which one might disagree, she is doing what a first-rate teacher does: actively engaging you,
creating a forum for constructive thought and intelligent response. In other words, making you listen. In a nutshell, Hellyer makes the strong case that a violin teacher should not be teaching an instrument; a violin teacher should be teaching a student. On
the surface that might seem to be a subtle, almost inconsequential distinction, but the more one makes one’s way through the book, the more profound the difference grows. The student-teacher relationship is paramount; it is a synergy in which outcomes, whether
they’re positive or negative, affect both parties. The second part of "1 Teaches 2 Learn" is a compendium of interviews, mostly of world-class violinists like Gil Shaham, Shmuel Ashkenazi, Robert Mann, Gidon Kremer, and Salvatore Accardo, all of whom provide
ample corroboration for many of Hellyer’s first part contentions. Hellyer, a persistent, perceptive interviewer, draws out a continuous stream of nuggets of wisdom from these giants of the violin world. There is a lot of valuable, behind-the-scenes insight
told in stories that range from the humorous to the heartbreaking. What one learns is that there is an almost limitless diversity of ways to play the violin and understand music, but there are certain universal common denominators: the vital importance of
the first teacher, the critical role of the parents, the conscientious discipline necessary to master technique, and perhaps most of all, the almost desperate commitment to communicate a profound message to the listener that can be expressed in no other way
than through music. Either part of "1 Teaches 2 Learn" would be an invaluable addition to violin pedagogy. Put together, it is a book that will resonate for generations to come.