Dean Tower teaches violin to just about anybody.
“My oldest student was 87, but I try not to take much younger than six years old,” he says, the corners of his lips turning up in a wry smile. As to why, well, kids younger than six just get too distracted.
Tower himself was seven when he started playing. And he’s played ever since.
Through a serendipitous turn of events, “there was a note that came home from school offering lessons after school. My Mom and Dad thought it was a cool idea and my Dad had a violin that he had played for a year, so away I went.”
Like many kids, it wasn’t all love.
“I followed the usual progression of really liking it, then I hated it for a few years.”
Fortunately, he’s back to really liking it again. In fact, Tower likes music so much he got his bachelor’s degree in music education and has been teaching violin for 13 years, the past nine of them here in Whitehorse.
Tower taught out of his home until Steve’s Music Store closed and he started filling a need that emerged, to rent violins. From there, people needed strings and it just snowballed. Tower tested the waters by doing the festival circuit, setting up a tent, selling instruments and having fun along the way.
Finally, Dean’s Strings and Music Supplies materialized into a downtown Whitehorse storefront, almost a year ago, on Feb. 1, 2008. He shares the filled-to-bursting upstairs space with Bearpaw Music & Gifts and teaches out of a spacious room downstairs.
Opening his store has moved his teaching space out of his home. “It was a definite bonus. It’s a nice room down there and I get back an extra room in my house.”
Tower takes up space in an easy and relaxed way, smiling and adjusting limbs as he speaks. Reflected in his movement is his teaching philosophy.
“I kinda personalize it for people. I use Suzuki-method books. I don’t really use the technique, but I have a bunch of fiddle books, too. It’s kinda whatever people want,” adds Tower.
One young student, madly in love with Madonna and trying to describe her favourite song, got a quick rendition of the possibilities of playing Papa Don’t Preach, on violin. Eyes widening, she covered her awe by announcing, with the scorn that only a six year old can muster, that it didn’t sound exactly like the recording.
As for performing himself, Tower laughed a self-conscious laugh as he said he can do anything but solos. “I get all jumpy. I’m not very good at that. But I like playing with other people.”
To contact Tower, regarding violin lessons, call 633-5999.