The first time I met my current university violin professor, I was totally nervous! Here I was, feeling like a small town nobody and one of the best violinists in my country was about to listen to scales and repertoire that I’ve only been practicing for about a week. I was expecting him to be like an old time, hard core, makes students cry type of a teacher. But, he was totally the opposite! There are times when he is strict, but 75% of the time he is down to earth, funny, and super caring for his students.
I think the important thing to remember is that, no matter what their reputation is, all teachers are human. They have families to care for, and other hobbies, just like you. They also can have good days and bad days. If you happen to schedule a lesson when they are in a bad mood, that’s not your fault. At the end of the day, all teachers want is to see you improve. It’s ok to feel nervous at first, because you don’t know what to expect from them or how they will go about critiquing you. They could be a bit nervous about teaching you for the first time too! He or she doesn’t know how you will react to their criticisms, or if you will completely understand the first way they explain something, or get confused or frustrated easily, or if you will even practice before your next lesson. But, these feelings should go away quickly for both of you. Your teacher should be your rock; the one person who you can confide in about your struggles and the first person to cheer on your victories. Playing for your teacher isn’t like playing for a mass audience. It’s playing for your best buddy. If it doesn’t feel that way over time, then perhaps you haven’t yet found the best teacher for you. And that’s ok too, everyone has their own learning style and teaching style. It’s just a matter of finding the best fit.