What is the best compliment you have ever gotten?

February 27, 2007 at 09:03 PM · Having a degree in music education and having a child who shows a huge amount of musical talent has been challenging over the last few years. I started to question myself "am I doing the right thing?" "Am I too pushy? not pushing enough etc"

A couple of weeks ago, I was at my daughter's orchestra rehearsal when another older violin player said to her "I wish that I had a musical mom" I about laughed when I saw that she was serious... I told my daughter to "tell it like it really is".. this was her oportunity to stick it to mom, you know.. but she didn't

The girl went on to tell me that she had asked her mother to listen to a concerto that she had been working on and she had told her "no, she was too busy." I told her to "Come over to Jodi's house, I love to hear anything musical"

When I approached my daughter about it later.. she told me that perhaps the student had some questions that needed to be answered at home instead of waiting for the next lesson. My daughter also went on to say that it is nice to have someone to help her with her practicing.

What have been some comments or compliments that have kept you going in your playing or your career?

My goal is that ten years from now my daughter will still have love for the violin... and her mother... : )


Replies (59)

February 28, 2007 at 04:28 AM · My teacher today said my ear is really good :-)

February 28, 2007 at 04:30 AM · outer or inner ear?:)

February 28, 2007 at 04:49 AM · Greetings,

>My teacher today said my ear is really good

You mean it didn`t pee on the carpet?



February 28, 2007 at 05:07 AM · Doesn't it depend on WHO gave you the compliments rather than what you’ve received? “Not too bad!” is utter by my next-door neighbor (who doesn’t listen to music) means he is being nice to me. But if I heard this from, say Zakhar Bron, after I played for him, boy, I can just die!:^)

February 28, 2007 at 05:43 AM · ...when I recognized the overdone vibrato of a supposedly prominent string player quite innocently. The person did, nearly pee on the floor Buri.

stuck in Buggtussel eh?

February 28, 2007 at 06:00 AM · I think one of my most flattering was a couple of summers ago. I was playing the first movement of the Lalo with one of my old teachers playing piano. I had practically self-taught myself the entire movement (this was the first time playing it for my old teacher)....and when I was getting ready to drive home, one of her neighbors drove past, and screamed out her car "YOUR MUSIC IS BEAUTIFUL!!"

That and my Mom tells people I was never squeaky and sickly sounding like they show early players on television, she says I always sounded decent and she liked to listen to me practice! :) She could be exaggerating, but all the same!

February 28, 2007 at 06:03 AM · Greetings,

I once played a rather mediocre recital somewhere out in a rice field. There were kids running in and out and an old lady lying on something halfway between a stretcher and a wheel chair wearing an oxygen mask and wheezing loudly throughout. After the gig an old man came up to me and said it was his wife and thta she was completelyly paralysed by a stroke. He said she hadnt been out of the house for years but they live next door to the hall so they came for some reason. He said it wa sthe first time his wife had been happy in many years.



February 28, 2007 at 06:15 AM · al - ku --

Well, I didn't fall over once so I think my inner ear, my balance is good, plus I think my hear for notes?

February 28, 2007 at 09:19 AM · I experience a warm fuzzy when people come up to me and praise my violin. They say things like, "My, that violin of yours makes such a beautiful, interesting sound. I love hearing it".

I get compliments from knowledgable players, too, but I especially like the ones from those who think it is basically the violin 'with the nice tone' that makes the tone. Flattery is automatically excluded from the equation.

February 28, 2007 at 09:48 AM · I haven't received my best compliment yet.

February 28, 2007 at 09:57 AM · Emily, that is exactly right!

The best gig is yet to come.

February 28, 2007 at 01:52 PM · Jodi - Just curious, how old was this other kid? Sometimes, what kids say about their parents are quite distorted. My daughter's violin teacher said something similar once, how her mother never cared much about her violin, didn't want to drive her to this or that. A great pianist chimed in agreeing that her mother didn't do anything for her piano, either. They were both top-notch musicians from toppest conservatories in the US. I don't know anything about their respective family, but I decided that it is safe not to believe what they said. Mom and Dad didn't care but they got in the most difficult institutions to get in? It could be something else, kids asking more than what would be good for them and parents setting up the boundary in response. Or kids remembering NO's better than YES's. I am not necessarily saying that's the case here.


February 28, 2007 at 02:58 PM · The compliment you DON'T want was the one given by Brahms to a viola player who asked if the Master liked the tempo of one of his quartets the violist's group just played. Brahms said, "Yes, especially yours."

:) Sandy

February 28, 2007 at 04:07 PM · Best musical compliment I ever got was after a performance of Trovatore. I had sung Manrico and this lady came up and said,"I hope you won't be insulted but you remind me more of Jussi Bjoerling than anyone I ever heard."

February 28, 2007 at 07:40 PM · The student was a junior in high school. I have had conversations with her mother. It's not that she doesn't care about her playing, I think she doesn't care much for classical music perhaps or maybe she just caught her on a bad day.

I just thought it was interesting that someone would want a musical mom... my daughter and I struggle at practice times. I am trying to allow her more control and to use me as a resourse instead of the "breathing down the neck" approach

February 28, 2007 at 07:55 PM · Compliments are dangerous. They can give us a false sense of our own ability if misinterpreted and taken too literally. The person who mentioned something about it mattering who the compliment came from is right on. If I get a compliment from my Grandma, it's because she loves me and genuinely thinks I'm the best in the world (are as good as the best) but when I receive a compliment from a teacher who rarely utters a word of "greatness" in regards to my ability, then I know that I've done something right and done it well.

February 28, 2007 at 09:16 PM · Some crazy kids asked me for my autograph once after a concert of a band I was in when I was a kid. That's weird. I was thinking why do you want that? But it's a good compliment I guess; nobody has impressed me enough to want their autograph :)

Lots of other compliments and put downs of various types.

February 28, 2007 at 09:46 PM · my best compliment would have to be when I played at church on Christmas and my grandma and neighbor cried. Its not really a compliment but in a way i guess it is.

February 28, 2007 at 09:56 PM · Thanks, Jodi. That is interesting. At that age, one would think they'll try to shut moms out.


February 28, 2007 at 10:56 PM · Just be there for them... Kids don't need your flattery. All they need is your love and support.

Be very sensitive though -- a gift should be nurtured as much as possible, until you are ready to let him/her give it to the world.


March 1, 2007 at 01:40 AM · "Well that didn't suck as much as usual." from my wife after practice one evening.

Sigh, wives - can't live with 'em, can't shoot 'em.*


* Relax it's just a joke. I love her dearly - most of the time.

March 1, 2007 at 07:10 AM · Also my best christmas present.After my students christmas rtecital I was approached by a member of the audience who was the family practitioner of one of my students.This student was 14 when he started the violin one and a half years ago and has made amazing progress.This quick progress meant that he could also participate in the string orchestra which also does a fair bit of travelling and exchanges with other European music schools.The student was also born without a sternum which has made the quality of his childhood rather different form others.Playing the violin is not one of the things that he should be doing.However the family dactor came to me after the recital and told me how playing the violin had completely chamged his life and from being very introvert he was now a normal happy teenager ,had found a group of like minded friends in orchestra and had a goal and pupose to his life.The real compliment goes to Buri,thanks to his many posts on body stucture and function I have become more kmowlegable on looking at each persons skeleton and stance.Thanks Buri!

March 1, 2007 at 11:47 AM · I think my best compliment was after a music exam performance and my teacher came back stage and shook hands with me, (and kissed me on the cheeks - European style). I started crying because of all the emotional stress and relief. He said I had played very well and he couldn't wipe the smile off his face. My teacher is very careful with his compliments and does not give very many, but when he does give them he is very genuine about it.

March 1, 2007 at 12:24 PM · Most recently I think my best compliment was when a woman who heard me play in church told me that the piece I had played had been very meaningful to her late husband and listening to it had brought him back to her.

But, somewhat selfishly, I still remember a compliment that I got from the conductor in Youth Orchestra my senior year in high school. We were playing Beethoven's Eroica. I was in the back of the firsts, in a disappointing seat, but the music was worth it. I started learning that piece by listening to it every morning and evening. I played my part along with it. I just loved it, and I think it was the first symphony that I really lived and breathed in a new way.

One rehearsal not long before the concert, the orchestra as a whole was struggling and the conductor was a little frustrated. I forget who the comment was directed at, maybe the entire orchestra, but he said something like "you guys really have to practice more and learn your parts at home. There are some people, like Karen Allendoerfer, who are getting every note!" I hadn't realized he noticed me at all there in the back of the firsts--but he had. And he was right, I was getting every note, not something that could have been said of me with every piece. I will always love Beethoven's Eroica, but not just for that. The love came first, the compliment was a little icing on the cake.

March 1, 2007 at 01:42 PM · Janet - a touching story. Congratulations on the very good job you did, and Buri, would you please stand up?


March 1, 2007 at 04:25 PM · The greatest compliment I ever received was in 1999 back stage in St. Petersburg, Russia. I had just finished performing the Mendelssohn. A woman found her way back stage (minimal security), grabbed my hand and kissed it, tears streaming down her face. I didn't understand a word she said, except for "Spacibo".

That is the greatest compliment I remember.

March 1, 2007 at 07:03 PM · I ran into a former colleague a few years ago. 'Where's your violin case? You always walk around with that thing' he noted. 'I quit' i told him.

He smiled and shook my hand.

Dunno if that counts as a compliment...but hey.

March 1, 2007 at 07:11 PM · Two "complements" stand out, both within the last few months. I played the Bach double with my teacher in her studio. After we finished, but as I was PUTTING THE VIOLIN AWAY, she said, "bravo." Hmmmm.

The other was fairly recently. I was checking out a new theater's acoustics. with hammering and sawing all around me I walked around and played. Some of the workmen stopped to listen. After I finished one guy yelled to his workmen in the back, "hey, Gregg, he sounds better than your hammering." Whew, the public finally realized I sound better than a hammer. Things are indeed looking up. LOL

March 1, 2007 at 07:39 PM · Having revived an old Russian Mandolin found on EBay, I proceeded to learn music notation and how to play a song on it.

Several months later, I played this song for the old Neighbor on his porch. (He could play any kind of music on the pipe or electronic organ).

As I finished, I asked, "How was that??"

His comment was one word, "Close".

March 1, 2007 at 09:28 PM · I have been blessed with many great, warm compliments in my soon 31 years of violin playing! Like:

"Mr. Ferreira, among so many talented great violinists of our time, has a rare quality, which I do admire. The fact that he does not take for granted the "built in" tone quality of the instrument and he is also able to project a beautiful, golden tone; this quality should be noticed in our epoch, in which speed, volume and technical abilities prime above interpreting music..." Tom Bourne

The Village Voice, NYC

But the latest one I received came from Laurie, our editor from V.com!

"You play it like honey, very nice."

I had a difficult day today, so that did touch my heart... and make my day!

I’m sure many professional violinists like me, married, children, mortgage, bills, bills and more bills, sometimes feel the pressure has I sometimes do, especially on the first of every month like today March 1, 2007.

Thank you Laurie, your words did touch my heart,


March 2, 2007 at 05:42 AM · the best compliment i got was the first 'good' to come out of my teacher's mouth after two years of 'fine.'

March 2, 2007 at 05:56 AM · "My dog must think you smell pretty good."

March 2, 2007 at 01:10 PM · After I moved house three years ago, my old next door neighbour told me she missed hearing me play. This might be a statement about her new neighbours, but I lap up all the compliments I can get.

March 2, 2007 at 04:00 PM · Peter, I just listened to your Meditation, and I agree with Laurie. You DO play it like honey. You were born for this. Thanks for sharing your beautiful music.

There are too many counterfeits for beauty in this world that we tend to buy into. The only defense? Give more joy, give more beauty. So, thanks.

The best compliment I ever recieved? Little first graders saying "Play it again! One more time!"

March 2, 2007 at 08:00 PM · Peter, I, too, was listening to your meditation when my wife came in from another room. I turned the volume down and she said leave it up. That's a gorgeous tone. I agree.

She also wants to know what violin you are playing.

Good job,


March 2, 2007 at 08:41 PM · Thank you all for the great complements...

My violin is an early 1800’s Jon. Bapt. Schweitzer violin (German).

Best regards,


March 2, 2007 at 09:29 PM · My sister (who's 41) came to my last recital, which was right after my one year anniversary of studying the violin (this past November). After my 2 minutes of fame, she said to me "You don't suck as bad as I thought you would have."

March 3, 2007 at 01:31 AM · Long story short,

I was attending a festival that had some middle eastern drumming / dancing featured. I happened to have my violin, and after MUCH persuasion on their part, pulled it out and started "jamming" with fifteen tribal drummers (quite a jump from my normal gig in an orchestra). I was terrified, as this was NOT my normal playing atmosphere, and I really didn't know what I was doing. In the middle of my playing, one member of the group grabbed me by the arm and pulled me to the front in order to project out to the crowd better. Not a verbal compliment, but as they say, actions speak louder than words...That was nice.

Also, I was performing as a violin soloist in a musical theater production. After the show, a gentleman came up to where I was sitting by the stage and literally stumbled over himself in his rush to compliment my playing (stage manager had to run to his rescue and pick him up off the floor...poor guy). I was humbled and extremely aware of the fact that I most definitely didn't deserve quite that much praise, but if felt good, nonetheless.


Laura Russ

March 3, 2007 at 04:37 PM · A conductor once told me I had perfect hands.

Now if only the compliment was something that I had achieved with hard work.....

March 4, 2007 at 07:27 PM · I cant decide between two.

1) my violin teacher smiled. I've been always been yelled at and screamed at and almost, hit (I think. He was so mad and plucked my G string so hard that it almost broke or something)

2) this woman was passing by (I was practicing) and she was watching me and then fell on the floor and right then, she told me I sounded beautiful... (i guess her butt didn't hurt.)

March 4, 2007 at 07:41 PM · If a teacher did that to my violin there would be some serious issues discussed right there and then. There is no cause for that kind of behavior. Find another teacher.

March 5, 2007 at 01:15 AM · At my senior recital a few years ago, I played Mendelssohn, but I didn't linger at all because I thought I had done horribly (we're our own worst critic, as we've all heard). I didn't find out until later that I had received a standing ovation and that there were calls for an encore. Needless to say, I was already peeling out of the parking lot at that point. :)

In similar situation at a recent university competition, my teacher told me later that the panel thought I had a very strong technique and was wondering who I was and why I wasn't a performance major.

And I don't understand why, but my bow seems to get a lot more compliments than my violin, and some even think that it 'outranks' my violin. I guess I'll take what I can get.

March 5, 2007 at 02:46 AM · When I was in Malaysia living with my family, I had a new violin teacher coming to my house for lesson. When he bagan to play for the first time, some of my family came downstairs to witness. They later told me they thought they were hearing a CD.

4 years later, I'm now living in a flat in Melbourne. Sometimes last year, my downstairs neighbour saw me carrying my violin case and asked what it was. I told him and asked how come he didn't hear me practise every evening. He said he thought it was a CD.

March 5, 2007 at 03:19 AM · My biggest compliment is when otherwise disinterested people stop what they are doing to listen to my playing, and smile.

Second best is being invited to jam with musicians I admire.

March 5, 2007 at 11:18 PM · My Mother, before she passed away, gave me a wonderful compliment that I will always remember. She was a very intelligent, artistic, thoughtful person, and a well-known painter. I know she wouldn't have said it unless it was true:

"You have a very special gift. You can make people happy".

March 6, 2007 at 10:05 AM · The most life-changing compliment I may have ever gotten came from my dad. He said, "You are smart and capable enough, you can be anything you put your mind to. You could be a musician, doctor, artist, engineer, anything. And whatever you choose, we'll support it."

Thanks, Daddy.

March 6, 2007 at 10:45 AM · I have three which always stick in my mind

I frequently get the comment that "I don't like the violin much but you've just changed my mind" which is a very nice one. Also when I played some solo bach and sarasate at a competition when I was very small the adjudicator said "with the bach you had us eating out of your hand and the last part of the zigeunerwiesen is the best that I personally have heard, live or otherwise. A performer and performance of much stature"

But once when I had played some bach for my teacher she said "there's not much I can say about that fugue....Grumiaux plays it a little slower and Milstein does this bit differently but yours is so well thought out that I don't want you to change anything, you really are putting so much detail in.....what do you want to play next?" In her saying that to me about my bach was maybe the biggest boost to my confidence ever as I am cripplingly self-critical about my playing...but I'm starting to understand how to free myself.

Finally I played a slot in a concert where I did two Paganini caprices and a solo bach mvmnt and the guest speaker who was after me said "I think we can all agree that we have been in the presence of a genius" and his subsequent speech was changed because of 10 mins of me playing ( I had to be told he said this though because I had by then run off!). Honestly though ALL compliments about my playing I enjoy and I always appraently greet them with surprise (im told!).........I'm always surprised how muchpeople enjoy listening to music, it seems that the memory of the performance touches people more than the performance itself because when I heard Ida Haendel play she played wonderfully but it became truly special once th eoncert had finished, I found that a very interesting experience

Mr Ferreira! I have to say that the massenet that you have put on the site is wonderful and HONESTLY the "best" I have heard (as far as best can be applied to violin playing!) the voice really sings and is a joy!

March 8, 2007 at 03:15 PM · As several people have said, it's important to consider the source of the compliment. That said, I have a few favorites from very different sources. From my teacher (who is not overly generous with praise, and has been known to say to me, "Sweetie, it's not that you're a stupid person, it's just that you approach music in a manner that is stupid."):

"Sweetie, don't you dare even dream of being discouraged, because I am so happy with the work you've been doing."

"You have grown as much as a musician and as a person as any student I have ever taught."

And then a rather different sort of compliment. My grandfather is a very critical person -- not the typical grandfather-ly-type who lavishes his grandchildren with praise and hugs and kisses! Once when I was a kid, practicing at home, he was visiting us. He came into the room where I was playing and listened for a while. Suddenly he interrupted my practicing - "Can I just tell you something?" Since he has a lot of experience in music, I braced myself for the usual criticism. But I looked over at him, and he was CRYING. My Mom - his daughter - told me she had never seen tears in his eyes in her life. He told me there was something special about how I played. So... maybe not in the league of my teacher's compliments, but meaningful nonetheless.

March 9, 2007 at 08:55 AM · "you're not as bad as you were"

"good...I might not tell you to quit"

"wow, that actually sounded like violin"

"I new you could play like a Russian if you tried"

"your technique reminds me of Heifetz"

March 9, 2007 at 08:12 PM · Played Wieniawski 2 1st mvt to Shmuel Ashkenasi and he said I played very well in tune, that drew gasps from the spectators as he normally slagged everyone off for intonation. Played Franck next year and he said, with tears in his eyes, "Beautiful!", don't know which was the better compliment. Or maybe he was picking the least offensive things he could find.

March 9, 2007 at 08:39 PM ·

May 2, 2007 at 01:11 AM · Interesting, so many of the posts reflect a sort of backhanded compliment. What makes it so hard for folks to say, "Good job"? In that spirit, the two compliments I would like to share:

Most recently, when I purchased my new bow:

"You hold the bow well" from a self-proclaimed hypercritical Russian violin maker (This compliment launched me happily back into practicing after so many years away. Yes, the dearth of compliments make the ones that come very sweet indeed)

1982: a nod and a smile from my college conductor, infamous for being mean, (and later propelled to local fame with an excellent musical group) during a performance of the Jupiter Symphony when I nailed every single note in the last movement as a second violinist

May 2, 2007 at 03:34 AM · Andras Cardenas once told me I played in tune...

May 2, 2007 at 04:23 AM · I like this thread for self-esteem purposes. I think I'll go find this when I'm feeling down sometime:) The best compliment I've ever received was during an orchestra rehearsal last year. I was playing concertmaster of one of my conservatory's orchestras, and we were performing Shostakovich's 9th symphony later that week. Maxim Shostakovich(Shostakovich's son) was in town for another performance and our conductor persuaded him to come to one of our rehearsals to coach us. Now, Maxim Shostakovich happens to be a complete lunatic of a person and a conductor. He has been known for having incredible temper tantrums and saying some pretty cruel things to people. Shostakovich(Dmitri) is one of my favorite composers as well. Therefore, I was terrified to play the relatively difficult solo in the first movement of the symphony for Maxim. At the end of our rehearsal and coaching(which was him conducting the last mvt.), he shook my hand and before I could even get the words, "how was the solo?" out of my mouth, he said: "Solo was perfect. Bravo." I'll never forget that.

May 2, 2007 at 04:32 AM · The most recent one is my Russian violin teacher told me that she was impressed that I could play Kreisler's Praeludium and Allegro so well. She is hard to please and hardly ever praised my playing. A few lessons before that comment,she had laughed and laughed and said my playing sounded like circus. I guess the circus violin is still presentable:)

May 3, 2007 at 03:01 AM · Josh, well done and very cool!


May 3, 2007 at 03:28 AM · I had the grandma of a student of mine tell me how handsome I am. That was the first time I ever blushed in public. I had a co-worker tell me I'm hot, too. I think there's a blindness epidemic goin on 'round these parts.

May 3, 2007 at 04:21 AM · Adding to what I posted Feb. 27th,

I just recently had my senior recital. People came out not only complimenting me on my dress, but told me they literally cried...the person recording it said he'd master mine and my boyfriend's for a 2 for 1 deal he was so impressed. I was also told by several people that they thought the intonation was extremely solid and one studio member said it was perfect (I know it was far from that but I appreciated it all the same) and people were still complimenting me 3 days after! My boyfriend and I both also received a standing ovation, which was a surprise to me...I've never had that before in a recital or small performance!!

Sometimes I've been doubtful of how I am as a violinist and performer, being just an ed major and always feeling guilty for not practicing more... so I felt overjoyed to feel like a real musician!!

And I agree, this is a good thread to keep people's confidences up :) It's nice to read about positive sides rather than just criticisms.

May 3, 2007 at 04:20 AM · Best compliment ever?

"You may be too smart to be a violin teacher."

Said to me by the principal of an elementary school who seemed to be surprised that I could talk at all, let alone have anything intelligent to say.

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