First of all, your jury, while quite under your best level of playing at present, did show some big improvements in important areas, especially more natural use of your body and in overall musicality of approach. Of course, I knew as you were playing that you were very uncomfortable internally and that the mistakes were getting you rattled. However, contrary to what you said, your sound was not bad except for some harshness at the beginning . . . .
Internal feelings not withstanding, your jury was from an expressive point of view quite decent and ALL of the faculty noted a fine improvement in overall artistry over their previous impressions of your playing. . . . These people are all good musicians, [name redacted], and I don’t think they would lie to you; you can read the jury sheets and they are all very complimentary. . . .
You are right in having high standards, wanting only the best level for yourself. You are also partially right in being disappointed with your showing today and in knowing that you cannot claim a professional level of public performance with these kinds of mistakes. You must keep in mind, though, where you are pianistically at the moment and also that the players in the school who are consistently free of errors slave away at the instrument six hours a day or more at present and have done so for many years prior to coming into the school. You have not focused so single-mindedly on the piano, although you have cultivated other areas in compensation--intellect, general musical knowledge and artistic creativity. There is plenty of good stuff to build upon. . . . There will be successes such as your first master class performance and disappointments too. Expect a bumpy ride as a matter of course. It will take a tremendous amount of will for you to succeed at this. The important thing is to stay centered--treat both success and failure as the impostors that they really are. . . .
Your email is very soul searching and thoughtful, but I think there is a simpler explanation to what happened today. It is not so much that you played the wrong repertoire or are on the wrong path (although mindless practicing is obviously bad and more mental practicing indeed is an important piece of the puzzle for you). My feeling at present is that you simply need more experience performing to get used to nervous pressure. Just get up and do it. Your hyper-active mind can be your enemy--I would advise you not to overanalyze situations like this. And of course, we will roll up our sleeves and figure out what repertoire and technique you must do now to make you a stronger player.
. . . Above all, don’t let any one uncomfortable performance stop you. It is only one performance. If you played this same jury again tomorrow, there would be a good chance that you would ace it. You know what your real level is at present and more experience will narrow the gap between intention and result.I admire this teacher's balance between encouragement and discipline. He's not likely to let his sensitive but driven young charge fall into either discouragement or complacency.