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This article is dedicated to Nikolaos Smirnakis, eminent professor of piano in Singapore.

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To cut to the chase, the one you already have or will have; this is your perfect teacher —end of article. Go back to practising. Just kidding; go have a coffee or watch a film on TV, or something.

“Perfect teacher…” What an excuse for not accepting responsibility in life…

  • “Oh, my teacher is this. My teacher is that. My teacher is the other thing!”
  • “Oh, I cannot become a great pianist because I don’t have a good chemistry with my teacher.”
  • “If only my teacher got down to my level… I could have become a virtuoso by Easter.”

…and the nonsense, continues. 

Imagine you where living in a remote island and only one piano teacher was available. What would you do? Would you keep moaning on the social media that your teacher is horrible? Or would make do with whatever you have at your disposal at the time? You know the answer, of course.

I’m sick and tired of people who keep blaming the others for their own incapacities and predispositions? (Guilty, your honour!). Did Horowitz blamed his teachers that they couldn’t help him? No. Would he have blamed them had he not become a giant of the piano? Errrm… I don’t know. Possibly, because he is human after all, and humans possess an incredible talent in managing to excuse all their faults and dubious actions of past times. 

So, stop saying to your fellow musicians/colleagues/classmates/family members that your poor teacher is not the perfect fit to accommodate your “geniusness”. A teacher that, in all probability since he is a piano teacher, had his own life issues and difficulties growing up and tried his best in becoming a respectable professional. Why you do that to him? Because, he certainly isn’t perfect. No one is. 

Stop blaming your teacher. 

And start blaming… nobody. Just kidding! The only person who is responsible for your actions is —almost always— YOU! So yes, psychologists didn’t get it always right: Of course, it’s not always your fault what happens to you but sometimes IT IS your fault, and you have to do something about it, and you have to become responsible. It’s very comforting to always fall back on well trodden roads of excuses and stereotypical ready-made sayings. But. 

“So, what shall I do?” You may ask. “Shall I keep confronting my teacher’s tyrannical pedagogical incapacity? Should I leave my incredible talent in his hands?” 

Well, I don’t know; what I know though is that you will miraculously find your next teacher adequate. How is that possible? So, one poor-soul teacher is bad and now another is great. Really? Come ooonnn.

There is no perfect teacher and never was. Behind this cliché expression hides another cliché notion in life; that one must do the best they can with the tools they possess at any given time. 

Your teacher is great! Now give him a break. Learn from his mistakes when his pedagogy misfiring on you. His is a human being after all. I doubt he started teaching the piano to destroy a talent or become a music dictator of sorts. His noble ideals always followed him, and maybe he destroyed you somewhere, but undoubtedly lifted you somewhere else. 

Stop blaming you teacher. 

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© Copyright Nikos Kokkinis 1st of September 2019

Many thanks to Michał Parzuchowski for his inspired image used in this article. View his work below:

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