Gregor Piatigorsky once had great difficulty with a certain pupil. No matter how many times he played a piece himself, the young man failed to replicate it. In fact, far from making progress, he seemed to be regressing. One day it dawned on Piatigorsky that he might be intimidating his student by performing the pieces too well himself. Sure enough, as he began to make deliberate mistakes, the student's performance began to improve.

For several weeks Piatigorsky continued the ruse, even taking a perverse pleasure in playing as badly as he pleased, and eventually attended the young man's graduation. He performed brilliantly. As Piatigorsky made his way through the crowd of well-wishers to offer his congratulations, he was amused to overhear someone ask the new graduate what he thought of the great cellist. "As a teacher he is excellent," the young man replied. "But as a cellist, lousy!"

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