In high school I tried to master a challenging section in Chopin's second scherzo. Week after week I hoped I was ready to move on – no such luck. My piano teacher kept harping endlessly. I finally broke down, and she stopped the lesson. When I'd recovered I asked: Why are you so hard on me?

She said because I know you're better than that. My piano teacher asked if I thought she taught other students the same way she taught me, and my reaction was: probably not. She said I was right, and that with all of her students she would only focus on the things each one can correct.


I realized if someone is hard on you because they know you can be better, you shouldn't worry. Poking and prodding requires effort and passion, when it would be so easy for teachers to sit back, smile and say “great job!”

No. You should be worried when you execute a half-hearted attempt but the people around you smile, pat you on the back and say “great job!”