I’m not a yeller. I’m not a drill sergeant-type of teacher.
It’s one of those aspects of my teaching that is both a strength and a weakness. I’m not going to intimidate, harass, browbeat and otherwise manipulate a student into practicing a certain amount or a certain way. People don’t leave my studio in tears, or needing a shot of Scotch (as I’ve been told was not infrequently the case with the late Harvey Shapiro, who taught for decades at Juilliard; he’s supply the Scotch himself, the story goes, which was kind of him).
Some people need a drill sergeant in their lives, cello or otherwise. Sometimes I think I could have benefited from one along the way. I love to explore, to encourage, to empower, to help someone achieve her or his goals; I just am not going to do it by yelling at or otherwise eviscerating a student. Teaching by fear is just not in me.
A colleague and I were talking at dinner. She’s a magnificent artist; she, too, doesn’t yell at her students. An accompanist/coach who works with a lot of her students says that the kids might do more if they were yelled at from time to time. Like me, she just can’t bring herself to do it.
I’ve never quite understood students who want to be browbeaten and develop a slavish devotion to their browbeating teachers. Luckily, there are plenty of young cellists out there who like having a friendly teacher, and do well with one.