What is the best compliment you ever received on your playing?

November 2, 2012 at 04:52 PM · Last month I played a tune for my teacher during a lesson. I had worked on it especially hard in practice and expressed my disappointment when he found an opportunity for me to improve. I was thrilled when he replied, "There's always room for improvement, but you showed moments of brilliance in that performance".

"Moments of brilliance" - wow! That made my day for certain. Heck, I'm still happy about it, though I doubt I've repeated the effort since.

What are some of the more uplifting comments you have received?


November 2, 2012 at 05:30 PM · I recently began improv violin lessons, and my intonation issues were pretty significant. With classical music, intonation was always a potential issue, but would improve thru practice of the piece. Improvisation doesnt provide that luxury. I changed my thumb position, moving it further up, thus forcing my fingers to be more on their tips, plus alot of work on scales. That yielded the comment of "that was the best between lesson improvement in intonation I've ever heard". From a teacher/performer with at least 20 years of experience.

November 2, 2012 at 05:45 PM · "if you practice, you can play really really good..."

November 2, 2012 at 07:23 PM · After a recital an audience member said, "I just loved the Debussy Sonata. It was so relaxing that I fell asleep during the performance."

November 2, 2012 at 07:40 PM · Teacher: "If we'd met forty years earlier, you could have become (...)". (She is in her thirties).

November 2, 2012 at 08:56 PM · A very simple silence and a huge grin on my teachers face said enough for me to be supplied with happiness for a week. x)

November 2, 2012 at 09:19 PM · Bart, lol how cute!

My teacher once said of me playing some chords "wow, they are so beautiful, it's just as if it was me playing..."

I bursted out laughing...

But considering all the respect I have for my teacher and the wondeful tradition she carries (and how much she values her background herself), it was pretty flattering :)

November 2, 2012 at 10:06 PM · "You make that instrument sing!"

November 2, 2012 at 10:07 PM · When I played the Meditation in April and one of my private teachers friends who is a seasoned professional told me two weeks ago how wonderful I played. I felt honored :)

OH and when Rami Solomonow complimented my playing recently :D

P.S (Edit) must add, can't STAND autocorrect!!

November 2, 2012 at 11:07 PM · This isn't a compliment but it's one of the most memorable things anyone's ever said to me. I played for Roman Nodel in a masterclass and he told me that my Shostakovich scherzo was "too much! Like a gorilla on steroids!". At the time I thought it was funny and I must have accidentally smiled because he glared at me like that was the wrong response to have. Maybe he wasn't glaring, I don't know. His eyes look in COMPLETELY different directions like a chameleon's and his expression is difficult to interpret.

November 3, 2012 at 01:11 AM · "Wow! That time you almost kept up with the rest of us."

November 3, 2012 at 09:48 AM · "How many years have you been playing?"

"Two months"


November 3, 2012 at 01:21 PM · Some of my really prized memories are of feedback given, not directly to me, but to a third party. During my teens, a friend of the family told Mom, "Oh, Jane, I'll bet you just sit around and listen."

Mom replied, "It's tempting."

November 3, 2012 at 01:29 PM · "You almost played in tune, good job!"

November 3, 2012 at 02:21 PM · "You don't have a classical accent", from several of my favorite top-flight fiddle players.

November 3, 2012 at 03:30 PM · Once when trying to play a cello - thought I was doing pretty good for a rank beginner:

"You sound like a cow"

November 3, 2012 at 03:51 PM · Teacher: "If we fix your rhythm and intonation issues you could play just about anything".

Ok so some pretty big IFs but I was over the moon...

November 3, 2012 at 11:31 PM · "You are a masterclass nightmare..."

***Puzzled looks from everybody

"...because you play so well. I have no idea what to say."

This was after playing Bartok 2nd concerto. That made my week :D

November 4, 2012 at 09:38 AM · Lotte Hammerschlag Bamberger, who played in the Busch quartet, said I was a good Mozart player. Another remark by David Nadien, when I was studying with him, seemed to be a compliment. I had changed the fingering at first in Francescatti's edition of a Beethoven sonata, but then stuck with Francescatti's fingerings. Nadien asked me why I hadn't continued to use my own fingerings. I said that I decided to use Francescatti's fingerings because he was a much better musician than I. Nadien replied, "I wouldn't be so sure about that." I was sure he said that to set me up. If I believed him, he would certainly say something like, "You don't really think I meant it, do you?" So I just didn't react. A few months later, I heard a recording of Francescatti, and some of his playing actually made no musical sense. Then I realized Nadien hadn't been kidding. It turns out that he hated Francescatti's playing. Later, when he especially hated what I was doing, he would hiss, "You sound like Francescatti!" Charles Johnston

November 4, 2012 at 11:53 AM · There are three remarks that have stayed in my memory, that I try to remember in times when I get very uncomfortable about my playing.

The first was Ivry Gitlis, commenting something about that I have a "truly lovely sound with a very expressive vibrato".

The second, being abroad, a German-speaking lady came to me after a concert and started saying (I got this translated since I know no German") something like "it was totally magical, me and my husband were sitting completely stunned by your angelic playing and could barely breath" (etc).

This however, has been well compensated by a bigger number of snarky comments lately :) (And the usual silence from other performers at the same concerts.)

November 4, 2012 at 11:59 AM · "You sound like a violinist now"

November 4, 2012 at 03:06 PM · 1. "You sound like Fritz Kreisler!" - a negative comment received from the coach of a HIP ensemble

2. Our dog moving closer to hear me practicing

November 4, 2012 at 11:27 PM · Grizzled session veteran:

"Hmm - you were terrible when you started but I'm beginning to think you might just make a half-useful fiddler someday"

November 8, 2012 at 06:38 PM · Good post. Well at one of my lessons we were playing a duet and at the end he said "wow you were a little sharp but boy you were really moving and swaying with the music, good stuff"

Hey not a full compliment, but I'll take it. :)

November 8, 2012 at 06:50 PM · I got a kick out of the fact that the last 2 time I've played with one of my chamber music friends, he asked if I've been taking lessons.

November 8, 2012 at 08:47 PM · I remember reading a story that the violist in a quartet that was playing a Brahms quartet came up to Brahms (who was in the audience) after the concert and started trying to butter him up. Brahms (who hated that sort of thing) finally found a chance to respond when the violist asked, "Tell me, did you like the tempo?" Brahms answered, "Yes, especially yours."

November 9, 2012 at 11:49 AM · I studied under a very, very strict teacher. Being an older student did not buy me any immunity from his criticism...he was an equal opportunity critic and all of his students got a full dose at each lesson.

But one day, he said,"Yes. That was satisfactory."

I thought I would drop my teeth. It was a "wow" moment.

--Ann Marie

November 9, 2012 at 08:25 PM · "That could have been worse" was the highest praise typically awarded by a violin professor I studied with.

Once you had finally nailed it, instead of congratulating you on your hard work he would assign your next piece, more or less without comment.

November 9, 2012 at 08:41 PM · By any chance, was he British, Richard? I'd guess from up north...

November 9, 2012 at 08:52 PM · The greatest compliment I once overheard was: "there is only one Milstein, there is only one David Oistrakh and there is only one..." I can't imagine something more true and motivating being said to a violinist. Wasn't to me, but to someone I know.

November 9, 2012 at 09:12 PM · Elise, he is French. He would bring one of those hotel bells to the string juries at the end of the term. When he'd heard enough playing, he'd ring his bell with a smile. This did not help his reputation, especially with the students playing viola, cello, and bass.

Once I figured out that what my fellow students perceived as seriousness was just a facade, he and I started having a lot of fun in my lessons. We have both moved to different cities, but we still write and visit each other. I never would have expected him to become a lifelong friend.

November 10, 2012 at 12:42 AM · My private teacher rarely remarks her students.

She learned that I, as a 15 year old knows all these famous violinists such as Milstein, Heifetz, Oistrakh and a few more to name. She said that Friedman used to play at her college often.

One day when I was playing the Bach double concerto I had a moment of musical brilliance, when everything falls together and you don't even read the notes you actually feel what Bach was conveying.

She said "Wow, just wow. I never knew that you had such brilliance in you. You sound like a mix of Heifetz and Oistrakh, with such intensity and a perfect interpretation."

Whenever I have bad days I just listen to that in my head.

November 11, 2012 at 01:25 PM · I was playing and singing at a pub the other night and received a nice compliment from another guitarist. He said I was a true talent. So that was nice, Yah for beer, it does help a bit. So I am recording the songs I played that night, here's one of them.


November 11, 2012 at 06:06 PM · I was once told I had "good tonation". I don't know whether it meant a good tone or good intonation.

December 7, 2012 at 02:22 PM · "There were many things wrong, but I didn't interrupt: I enjoyed listening too much."

December 9, 2012 at 12:17 PM · the conductor of the string orchestra I play in called me out in front of the whole orchestra and said "You've really come a long way!" Of course, when I first joined the orchestra I could barely read and sat through most rehearsals like a deer in the headlights, but this really meant a lot.

December 10, 2012 at 02:22 AM · I don't tend to pay too much attention as I have had it at both ends of the spectrum, but on the positive side, this from the director of a concert series where I performed the complete Brahms Sonatas earlier in 2012: "You made me forget that a violin can actually be played out of tune!"

I will never forget this one.


December 10, 2012 at 05:53 AM · During a lesson my old teacher said he could tell I had been practicing. . . After a concert someone came up to me and was all but speechless, managing to mumble a "Thank You."

December 10, 2012 at 12:18 PM · Christian - thats priceless. I bet you had to think hard how you actually played out of tune successfully!

Of course the purist will find umpteen ways to prove that the violin is always played out of tune (depending of course on the method of intonation and what 'in tune' means at that moment).

December 10, 2012 at 12:34 PM · Hi Elise,

His intent was to say that I didn't play anything out of tune apparently, and I was touched not only by the fact that I could do it, but that someone would notice and take time to compliment me about it.


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