A Scattering of Seeds: The Creation of Canada
Episodes Search Site Map The Series Partners White Pine White Pine Home

The Music Teacher
Directed by Patricia Fogliato


In 1919, Chilean composer, concert pianist and orchestra conductor arrives on invitation with his family in Canada to teach at Toronto's Hambourg Conservatory, now known as the famed Royal Conservatory of Music. The film chronicles the life and musical career of Alberto Guerrero (and the burgeoning world of classical music in Canada), who eventually becomes music teacher to some of Canada's greatest pianists, include the late Glenn Gould.


  • The difference between a refugee and an immigrant
  • What makes a teacher "great"
  • The development of culture in a young country


  • Junta
  • Royal Conservatory of Music
  • Glenn Gould
  • Mentor
  • Reign of Terror


  • To appreciate the passion and love some people have for their art
  • To appreciate the musical legacy Guerrero has left this country
  • To learn about one of Guerrero's greatest students, Glenn Gould


  1. How did Alberto Guerrero first come to North America?
  2. What brought him to Toronto?
  3. What was the classical music scene like in Toronto when he arrived?
  4. How did the Royal Conservatory of Music develop?
  5. What do some of Guerrero's students say about him?
  6. What influence did Guerrero have on Glenn Gould?
  7. What made Glenn Gould and his music special?
  8. What are some idiosyncratic similarities shared by Guerrero and Gould?
  9. What would you say would be Guerrero's greatest accomplishment?


1) Glen Gould is considered one of the world's greatest interpreters of Bach. He is also considered a genius and eccentric. Read about Glen Gould, then listen to some of his Bach CDs (including the Brandenburg Concerto). Write a 500-word essay about what you hear and feel when you listen to Gould play. Based on some of your readings about him and his work, do you think he brings something different, something special to his music?

2) Alberto Guerrero was considered a great teacher, who inspired his students. Think of a teacher who has been inspiration in your own life, and write about him or her. Include what it is that made this person so special to you (and vise versa), and how their teaching has had a positive affect on your life. Please give serious consideration to sending or giving a copy of this essay to the teacher. What could be a greater gift in return for what you have received!

3) Alberto Guerrero was a very demanding of his music students. Many of us have had teachers like him who have asked us to practice our instrument, do homework, or work at something more than we have wanted to. Sometimes we quit taking lessons or going to a class, or doing a sport because of the demands, yet sometimes are commitment remains strong. Write a short story about a student at battle with his/her teacher (and family, if you choose), over work assignments or commitment to a sport/instrument/class, etc. Use plenty of dialogue to discuss what the battle is really about, how the dispute eventually gets resolved, and who "wins" and who "loses."

4) Many of the Chilean refugees who came to Canada in the 1970s were young university students or professionals. Because of their political beliefs and protests against the country's military dictator who came into power through a military coup, their lives became endangered and they had to flee. Do some research on the now very elderly former military dictator Augusto Pinochet, who has been charged for his "crimes against human rights" during the 1970s. Describe what some of his crimes were (including 'disappearances') and decide if you were a judge, whether you would bring him to court for his actions, and if so, whether or not he should be punished for his treatment of political dissenters.

5) Many young people who want to become "great" at something (like ballet, piano, swimming, hockey, gymnastics, etc.), often choose to devote their lives to it. Spending up to 6 or 8 hours a day "practicing," they often have to give up doing the things other children do, like playing, spending time with friends and family, or just "goofing off." Pretend you are an adult who has devoted his/her life to __________ (you choose). Write two 250 word essays about the choice you made. One essay will explain why your choice was the right one, and how it has affected you positively. The other essay will explain why your choice was the wrong one, and how it has affected you negatively. Share your thoughts with your class, and open up a discussion about how to achieve success at something while at the same time leading a "sane" "balanced" life.

Top of page.