I have always liked Terry Gilliam’s films. Who among us has not seen at least one of them? “The Life of Brian,” “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” “The Fisher King,” “Brazil,” “The Time Bandits,” “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus,” among others, as well as his most recent, “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.” So I decided to read his autobiography, his “pre posthumous autobiography,” to be exact,* in which he makes two maddeningly** brief references to his musical education. That’s right, our hero studied the piano (he still plays), the French horn and sang in the church choir. He even mentioned that he went without Christmas presents for two years as a youth to help pay for his piano – rather notable in itself.
However, I was particularly struck in his story by the amount he had of what seemed like luck, but was undoubtedly caused, if you read carefully, in no small amount by his amazing drive and the self-discipline which fuels it, both developed at an early age.
So, yet again, my devious and ever present violin teacher mind, perennially searching for more ammunition to motivate our students and their parents to practice, got the better of me and I couldn’t help but wonder what effect his music education had on his career and success as a filmmaker.
So I decided to ask him…
Even though he is almost 78, there is no other way to describe him other than bubbly. He has an infectious giggle, makes jokes continuously and has irrepressible energy – exactly what you would expect from the public persona of an ex-Python. You could almost forget who he is and the enormity of his accomplishments until you ask him a serious question and then everything changes. I think his answers to my questions here below are interesting enough to share with all you music teachers, parents and students who may read this. Continue reading