For a former Empress page boy-turned brilliant Harvard professor, it all started with his dad and a piano
CanWest News Service
Saturday, July 05, 2003
Psychology professor Brian Little, who grew up in Oak Bay, is one of the most popular teachers at Harvard University.
It’s a sunny Friday morning at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel and the man voted a favourite professor by this year’s graduating class at Harvard University seems happy to be home. Brian Little, 62, will be wearing a sweltering, blue and gold doctoral gown later in the day for his class reunion at the University of Victoria. But right now the former Empress hotel page boy looks cool and relaxed in shorts and a golf shirt, a patio umbrella overhead, the ocean stretching out behind him.
“This is home,” he says. “It really is home.”
He grew up just steps from here in the house his father built with his own hands — “everything except the electrical work” — the house where his family gathered around the piano each night, singing and laughing.
A family photo of Brian Little when he was six years old.
It was there, perhaps, that the young performer first emerged. Brian Little, boy soprano, began singing on stage at age two and, even though puberty eventually stole his voice and left him with an “utterly mediocre baritone,” he’s still wowing university crowds all these years later.
His children have a theory about his teaching, he says. “They say it’s my way of singing.”
There is more to it than that, of course. There’s an immigrant father’s belief in the power of education; a young man’s delight at scientific discovery; and the dedication of a born introvert, who, every day, goes against his nature to connect with his students.