As I read comments by new piano students on the internet, I realized that most people cannot hear the faults in their playing. It can be about unneveness, lack of legato, articulation issues, lack of good tone and good sustain, or balance between the voices, or lack of good time.
I can hear these problems in other people's playing. I can hear it in myself. Well, now I can. Then it made me think of the years when I couldn't hear it. Just to prove the point, I listen to some old recordings and just as I thought, I was flabbergasted at how bad I sounded. It sounded ok at the time.
So this is the biggest challenge to any new player. You must try to listen to those faults. If you don't find any, then clearly your development is at a standstill. I'm sure now that there's a whole lot I can't hear yet and I have to work at finding those faults. I'm sure they'll be tied to exactness in time as that's really hardest to hear. Yet I know that when a pro player plays, that tightness in the time is really noticeable.
The good news is that ONCE you hear your faults, you will now be equipped to dispose of those faults so you can't hear them anymore again. This is a neverending process and this is actually the guide on how to practice. It is about making a list of faults and cleaning it off the list.
Until I figure I sound like Keith Jarrett then there is absolutely no chance that I'm doing anything well. It may be good to pat the ego but it does nothing to developing our skills.
Sometimes we can't hear the faults until our teacher brings it up. That's the essential part about a teacher. I think it is often misconstrued what a teacher's role is. I remember my teacher always identifying some fault to work on. He doesn't bring more than 1 or 2 up (though he hears 100 problems). This is good. It keeps one focused.
I'm not actively getting lessons right now so I have to act honest with myself to find my faults. I always post my music on the internet and invite comments of all kinds. If I can't hear a fault, someone can and if they do, I've just made progress. It's foolish to involve the ego.
Then again, I really want to be good. So I'm driven to search for perfection. Anyway, this kind of information would have really been important when I was just starting. No one told me this. So early on my focus was to "sound good". Instead, I should have been actively looking for problems since it has to be there.
Recently, people have posted that I sound "pro". Well, I can hear that that is not the case. So that's good. I will be on my way to improving then.
If you can't hear your faults, you need to worry.
But if you hear TOO MANY faults, then you ought to back up a bit. LOL. You're out of your range.