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Classical Music/social interaction of musicians


Hi Stephen,

My question is not really related to music theory or performance, but to the social aspect of music--how music students and teachers interact with each other.  

When I was in a conservatory more than a decade ago, bottom students were normally despised and labeled as "weak" in my native language. I had never experienced that in high school or elementary, and while I was initially pursuing a different nonmusical degree.

There are only four grades (or marks) in my conservatory. Let's say excellent students get 5 stars, and weak students should get at least 2 stars to pass. A weak student is someone who only gets or barely gets 2 stars. They are allowed to get 1 star only once or twice, but not in a row. Otherwise, they are disqualified as piano majors.

Let's say John Doe switches teacher, and Professor X doesn't know how the student plays the instrument. She would ask her colleagues (teachers or other students) who have seen John Doe play during the exams and recitals, and they would tell her, "Ah, he's weak".

Another professor would say, "my student So-and-So is too weak, I will ask him to find another teacher next semester".

I have two questions:

1. Have you also experienced that in your conservatory wherein underachieving students are despised and labeled as "weak"? If other terms are used, please tell me.
(But maybe not because all students accepted in your school might be excellent.)

2. I found it strange that piano teachers in our conservatory are called professors because the late Rosina Lhevinne of Juilliard School was addressed as madame. If she had taught in our conservatory, she would have been addressed as Prof. Lhevinne. What title do you use for music teachers (piano, violin, etc.) in your conservatory?

Thank you for your time reading and I look forward to your response.

Best regards,

Hi john
I studied at the RAM in London. I really don't remember students being officially labeled but the appointment of teacher by the institution really reflected what the "official "thinking was. Some teachers were clearly not as desirable or prestigious as others. A student studying with X would be considered more gifted than someone studying with Y. It was all fairly obvious and very unfair.
I taught at the RCM and I was a professor there as is my brother but the title is really just an Honourary mark of respect. It doesn't really mean anything and anyone who insists on being addressed as such, I would consider a pompous conceited ass.

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Stephen Levine


I can answer most questions about any kind of classical music but with special emphasis on the violin, it's, repertoire and technique. I can also help with orchestral and chamber music.


I was a professional violinist in one of the London orchestras for 25 years I also coached chamber music and played in film and tv studios. My career encompassed 17th music to 20th century music, from symphonic through chamber music to opera,

L.R.A.M.(Licentiate of the Royal Academy of Music) A.R.A.M.(Associate of ther Royal Academy of Music) A.R.C.M.(Associate of the Royal College of Music)

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