The Music Teacher (Hardcover)

By Barbara Hall

Algonquin Books, 9781565124639, 292pp.

Publication Date: February 10, 2009

List Price: 22.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.

March 2009 Indie Next List

“Barbara Hall's story of a teacher and a violin prodigy is told with wit and resonance?for those musical or not. This would make a great book club read.”
— Dana Brigham, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA
View the List


In The Music Teacher, a penetrating and richly entertaining look into the heart and mind of a woman who has failed both as an artist and as a wife, Barbara Hall, award-winning creator and writer of such hit television series as Judging Amy and Joan of Arcadia, tells the story of a violinist who has accepted the limitations of her talent and looks for the casual satisfaction of trying to instill her passion for music in others. She gets more than she bargains for, however, when a young girl named Hallie enters her life. For here at last is the real thing: someone with the talent and potential to be truly great. In her drive to shape this young girl into the artist the teacher could never be, she makes one terrible mistake. As a result she is forced to reevaluate her whole life and come to terms with her future.

Hall has crafted a thoroughly engrossing novel that examines the pitfalls of failure and holds up a mirror to the face of a culture that places success and achievement above all else.

About the Author

In addition to Judging Amy and Joan of Arcadia, Barbara Hall has written for the television series Northern Exposure, I'll Fly Away, Moonlighting, and Hill Street Blues, among others. She is also the author of eight previous novels, five of them for young adults. She lives in Los Angeles.

Praise For The Music Teacher

A “deeply felt meditation. . . .[Hall] presents music as a glorious metaphor for an approach to life.” –Kirkus

— More

 “It’s High Fidelity for the orchestra set in this slim, assured drama.”—Publishers Weekly

— Boston Globe

"This keenly observed and piercing character study of a complex, haunted woman grappling with the disappointments in her life and reevaluating her own ambitions should resonate with readers long after the final page is turned."—Booklist

— Christian Science Monitor

“Hall’s spare prose is a fitting accompaniment for the life of a lonely musician, but when Pearl muses about her craft, the words sing.”—More magazine

— Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“In this brief, brilliant portrait of a complicated and not altogether likable woman, [Barbara Hall] writes with remarkable insight about the power of music, the burden of an artistic gift, the pitfalls of teaching, the pain of failure, and the possibility of love, among many things.”—Boston Globe

— PopMatters

“[A] witty, downbeat new novel.” –Christian Science Monitor

— Columbus Dispatch

“[The Music Teacher] is an exploration of the role and limits of a teacher, the burden and mystery of talent, and more than anything, the idea of what music truly is. . . Pearl's thoughts are worth pondering, and her attitude and her discussions about talent aren't soon forgotten.”-- Minneapolis Star Tribune

— Sacramento Book Review

“Hall writes beautifully about musical talent, both possessing it and the moral imperative to develop it. Her discourses on the violin are, to coin a phrase, ‘Alex Rossian’ in their beauty. . . [The Music Teacher is] a lovely, lyrical look at a world few non-musicians are privileged to enter.”--PopMatters

— Charleston Post & Courier

“The story of a teacher and a violin prodigy is told with wit and resonance – for those musical or not. This would make a great book-club read."—Columbus Dispatch

“[Barbara Hall] is an amazing writer and this reviewer found it difficult to put The Music Teacher down. . . Hall writes with such conviction that her readers could believe every word she wrote. You can see the faces of Pearl , Hallie, and Hallie’s aunt and uncle in her vivid detail. The Music Teacher will bring out the long forgotten musician in all of us.” --Sacramento Book Review

The Music Teacher drew pre-publication comparisons to Nick Hornby’s “High Fidelity.” Hall’s wry humor and pop music meditations likely will appeal to a similar audience. . . The Music Teacher is its own novel, though, one as much about teacher student boundaries and compromised ambition as it is about music, or even love.” –The Charleston Post and Courier