Opinion on TED Talk

April 22, 2017 at 07:54 PM · Hey Guys,

Recently, I watched this TED talk which I was kind of interested (for the lack of a better word) by.

The link:


I'm interested in knowing you're opinion on this matter.



Replies (31)

April 22, 2017 at 08:09 PM · I find your post odd, because the TEDx video you present contradicted your opinion that "teacher knows what is best for you" quite clearly when the teacher admitted that he was wrong in underestimating his student's ability to play that piece upon hearing her play it.

Do you now disagree with that teacher that the student is able to play that piece?

In my opinion, the teacher rarely knows what's best for you, because they're not you, and are human, but they should certainly be respected for their knowledge and experience. However, it's your own task to learn and discover, and if you've not heavily engaged your own mind in the process, you've taken the wrong approach.

April 22, 2017 at 08:14 PM · This student mentions in the video that she had done this piece previously, before her new teacher took her technique back to basics. Looking at her other videos, this is a student who has studied very seriously -- her videos show a Cho-Liang Lin masterclass when she was very young, for instance, and her current videos show the Colburn School. (She also mentions her teacher. Henry Gronnier is on the Colburn faculty.)

It appears that she did the Mendelssohn Concerto and Zigeunerweisen at least two years before this Scherzo-Tarantelle dispute with her teacher. That's not a student going for a stretch much bigger than they're ready to tackle. That's a student that wants to do a piece that's maybe slightly tougher than their teacher wants them to have at the moment -- and for that matter, a student playing something that they'd already learned, if perhaps not to the more exacting standards of their current teacher. It had very little potential to do them any harm beyond perhaps wasting some practice time.

April 24, 2017 at 04:07 PM · Well, I understand the teacher, if not his methods. Cassiel obviously has talent and works hard, with a real soloist's tone, but their are frequent intonation issues in the motifs across the strings which just shouldn't happen at this level.

However it is never, never our job to discoourage or bore a student. Cassiel's faults could be corrected by carefully targeted practice plans, keeping the very many good points intact.

April 24, 2017 at 05:59 PM · For some students, yours truly included, there is nothing more motivating than being told that you can't do something you have set your heart on. Maybe she is just one like those, and if so, she should be thankful to her teacher.

April 24, 2017 at 07:39 PM · My opinion? Well, she is much much better than me (and much younger to boot), but...it is badly out of tune! My dream piece (there was an earlier thread) is precisely this piece, but it will remain a dream for me. I feel quite confident that it will become a reality for her at some point, but not in this video. On a positive note, her sound is very clear, her bowing is very clean.

April 24, 2017 at 08:37 PM · I also noticed the intonation issue, and parts of the performance were on the not-so-clean side.

Seems very ironic, playing a piece on TEDx to make a point, while not having the piece perfectly under the fingers (really kills.the point, IMHO). :D

April 24, 2017 at 08:54 PM · Here's her performance with piano: LINK

April 24, 2017 at 08:58 PM · She is very young. It may make her feel empowered that she could prove her teacher wrong. In cultures, such as Chinese, this could be considered as being arrogant and immature. Not that you have to accept everything your teacher tells you, but you are better off being a bit humble and learn what your teacher wants to show you. You can show your stuff in a way other than directly contradicting the teacher and going public about it.

April 24, 2017 at 10:22 PM · The student-teacher conflict creates a storyline. Without it, we would just have someone using a TED talk as an excuse for a violin performance. I do think it's a bit disrespectful towards the teacher though.

April 24, 2017 at 10:53 PM ·

Trying to play advance pieces with intermediate technique is like raising your voice at someone, who speaks a different language than you, to get them to understand what you are trying to say.

April 25, 2017 at 03:24 AM · She doesn't have intermediate technique, and the piece isn't too hard for her, but she should not be performing it at this stage of preparation. It's badly out of tune, and frankly that piece is not that hard to play in tune. I wonder about her practice technique.

April 25, 2017 at 09:09 AM · I'm not particularly impressed by the performance, nor by other pieces she put on Youtube. It's time for her, perhaps, to focus on developing a tone and style that makes it pleasant for the listener to hear her play - I'm talking about beauty, rather than speed. Two or three inches more on that skirt wouldn't hurt either.

Her Ted talk with its teenage self-righteousness doesn't augur well.

April 25, 2017 at 11:41 AM · Tough crowd here, myself included I suppose for my reaction to the OP.

Cassiel McEvoy's performance isn't perfect, and anyone here should be able to recognize that if not every layperson, but that doesn't invalidate the purported point of her presentation that the teacher may not be right and the student can exceed their expectations -- that point was clearly made by the teacher's own admission.

If we had been as critical of intonation when making the masses of recordings already published which have that problem, I would have had many more recordings I could listen to and enjoy and not feel that I have to avoid for fear of tonal corruption.

I'm somewhat impressed by the level of criticism of her intonation though -- if such standards are maintained, we should have a general improvement in the quality of student performances, let alone professional ones and published recordings; hopefully together with less reliance on vibrato to attempt to hide the problem. I know that there's been a significant general improvement over time, but if anyone thinks that all current recordings or performances in major halls have perfect intonation, they're wrong.

April 25, 2017 at 01:56 PM · I would have liked to have heard from the teacher.

April 25, 2017 at 02:59 PM · We're not talking about slightly imperfect intonation here. We're talking about "this student isn't practicing attentively enough", or at least "this student isn't prepared to play this piece at full tempo yet".

I disagree slightly with Mary Ellen on this. The intonation itself isn't that difficult on this piece, at least in the sense of knowing what the right pitches should be -- but it does require careful practice to make sure that every shift is precise.

I've personally found that a slightly-too-fast tempo can take it from controlled to a frantic scramble, too. I made a hash out of it at a student recital at one point, sufficient to prompt a, "What happened?" from my teacher at the end of the recital. ;-)

April 25, 2017 at 05:42 PM · I didn't say that the intonation didn't require careful practice. My point was that to perform it so badly out of tune indicated a *lack* of careful practicing. Sorry if I wasn't clearer.

Nobody is talking about perfect intonation, either. The general expected level of intonation has in fact risen significantly over that of previous generations but people are still human and still make slips. However the performance under discussion doesn't have a few slips; it has systemically sloppy intonation. That's different from the occasional slip one can hear in a live performance from even the very best.

April 25, 2017 at 05:57 PM · To the OP:

What is your opinion?

April 25, 2017 at 06:58 PM · I'm with Yixi.

This is a microcosm of TED talks to me. People said I couldn't, but I did! Take that, haters!

I would bet her teacher had good reasons for his side of the story, but at least she conquered the Weenie-ow-ski.

Kids, revenge is a dish best served in-tune!

April 25, 2017 at 07:13 PM · I wasn't talking about intonation in terms of pitch, but just the relentlessness of her tone. It's not pleasant to listen to, not here and in other youtube performances.

Coupled with the revengey nature of this presentation that is rather worrisome.

April 25, 2017 at 07:27 PM · I agree with Yixi here.

And, she should not have named her teacher's name.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with "going back to the basics". The basics are the foundation of everything - and who knows what basics they were working on anyway...

April 25, 2017 at 08:08 PM · Well, she CAN play it. Not without a lot of room to improve (as mentioned above), but if that was the only question, she answered it accurately.

What is interesting to me is that it isn't necessarily the fastest runs that gave her the most problems. That suggests that it's more of a concentration and listening problem than a purely gymnastic one.

April 26, 2017 at 02:02 AM · I don't think it was that bad. Sounds like she needs to do some slow practice.

April 26, 2017 at 02:15 AM · Her previous performance with piano sounded much better to me to be honest

April 26, 2017 at 05:02 AM · If you Google her, you'll pretty much instantly see who her teacher is anyway, from lists of prizewinning students and so forth. No harm mentioning him.

April 26, 2017 at 08:15 AM · TED talk? Speaking quite franklin ...

April 26, 2017 at 11:18 AM · She appears to be a very strong and involved student in her high school as well

April 26, 2017 at 11:53 AM · I didn't watch the video, but if she went on a TED talk and talked down her teacher, naming him in the process, I think that's rude. Is the TED stage the aspiring violinist's version of "Rate My Professors?" Where will she go now? Who will want to be her next teacher?

April 26, 2017 at 12:04 PM · We are probably going a bit overboard now. She is really the type of student we need more of them. She did not really intend to be mean or negative. As Jason wrote above, she just tried to give an intro, a storyline, instead of just playing (it would not be much of a "talk" then, would it!) So, OK, it is an ambitious teenager giving a high-school TEDx (note the x) talk. It takes guts in the first place to give such a "talk". So I take no issue with the talk itself as it comes over a bit negatively, she definitely did not intend it in that way. Call it teenager naivety. But this is a violin forum and, in retrospect, her teacher was actually right because she has not (yet) been trained to pay attention to being in tune.

April 26, 2017 at 12:15 PM · That works for me, Jean.

April 27, 2017 at 03:32 AM · Personally I wasn't a fan of her attitude towards the situation nor the performance, but everything else I've heard her play/read about her makes her look like a rather fantastic and hard working young girl. Maybe just a little naive sometimes, but who isn't

April 27, 2017 at 05:15 PM · While it did sound like her performance was a bit rough, I don't see a problem with her determination to prove her teacher wrong. Some teachers use this as a tactic. Auer famously said this to Mischa Elman regarding the Tchaikovsky Concerto, and he ended up playing it very well shortly thereafter.

And even if the teacher means it, they are only human, and aren't immune from being wrong sometimes, just like the rest of us. I'd take a student like this any day over one who never practices.

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