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Why Your Teacher's Playing Always Sounds Better Than Yours...

Zlata Brouwer

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Published: August 15, 2014 at 10:45 AM [UTC]

Isn’t it sometimes frustrating that your teacher’s playing always sounds better than yours?

My colleague Clara (who I met at a ‘Yoga for musicians’ course) is also a violin teacher and suggested me to make this video. She says students ask her all the time why they can’t play like her and why her playing always sounds better. Of course it’s a great compliment for a teacher, but for a hard working student it can be frustrating.

There are a couple for reasons why your teacher’s playing always sounds better than yours... (after that I will explain why it’s in your advantage)

  • Lot of students focus on the left hand technique and being able to play the piece they like as soon and as fast as possible. They focus on ‘hitting the right notes’. As they are in a rush, they might want to skip those boring bowing technique exercises. A lot of tone improvement comes from improving your right hand technique, your bowing technique. Your teacher has probably spent many hours on this herself.

  • Your teacher has probably been playing for many more hours and many more years than you. Besides that your teacher has had a professional education, where one has to play many hours a day. One day of conservatory practicing is over a week on ‘recreative’ practicing. Imagine you practice half an hour a day averagely, you will reach a conservatory day in one or two weeks.

  • Is your teacher more talented than you? Most of the things are trainable and can be learned, but a small portion is in talent.

  • Your teacher has taken more music education: more years of lessons and also non-violin lessons, like music history, ear training and theory. These non-violin lessons also make you a better violinist. When you understand music better, you will play the violin better.

  • How do you practice? In a conservatory study you practice very results focussed and develop your technique very fast. When practicing means for you playing some pieces you like, that’s perfectly fine. You play for fun. However your technique will develop faster when focussed on specifically developing yourself technically and musically than just playing through some fun stuff.

  • What is the difference in quality of your teacher’s violin or viola and bow and yours? This contributes to the sound. In my lessons I often play on my student’s instrument, so they can hear how my playing sounds on their instrument.

You shouldn’t be frustrated about your teacher always playing better than you...

Your teacher will always be some steps further than you are. Why? Because otherwise he or she wouldn’t be your teacher. Your teacher has to be a couple of steps further to be able to be your teacher. If your teacher’s playing would be the same as your playing, you would share a music stand in an orchestra. Always choose a teacher who can play better than you. Otherwise there not so much to teach :).

How is it possible that your teacher plays that difficult piece on your music stand beautifully without practicing? Well, remember your teacher has more students and perhaps they play the same piece you do. Perhaps your teacher has practiced the piece in the past. Your teacher is most of the times very familiar with the pieces and books you play. If the piece is totally new to the teacher, he or she might have played something similar in the past. Your teacher is definitely not playing ‘out of the blue’.

I hope to have taken away some frustration you might have had and convinced you that it is an advantage for you that your teacher plays better. If your teacher doesn’t play better, it’s perhaps time to look for another teacher :).

Is this useful to you? Please let me know in the comments below!



PS: Do you have questions or struggles on violin or viola playing? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to and I might dedicate a Violin Lounge TV episode to answering your question!

From Jo Parker
Posted on August 15, 2014 at 9:58 PM
thank you, very nice blog, but I am totally 'shocked' that there is people who ask themselves why their teacher always sounds better! I should well hope so if not why is he/she your teacher???? LOL :)

as for my teacher, he's been playing in excess of 50 years in his life, is a talented man who picked up the violin very quickly, was given a scolarship and studied under a pupil of Leopold Auer. I WILL NEVER be as good as he is, but I am so happy and feel so privileged that he is sharing his knowledge with me and took me under his wing :)

From N.A. Mohr
Posted on August 17, 2014 at 3:15 PM
Thanks! Your blog nicely consolidates and confirms what I already

I always get a kick out of just how good my teacher sounds when she it. I can also appreciated all the work it took to get there...

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