The (open) A is not a freebie. You have to play it like it’s a “real” note! So that covers my right hand! Earlier this hear, I was exhorted: “your open strings do not mean your left hand goes on vacation”.
Actually, my current teacher is quite skilled at giving critical feedback in a precise and helpful way. Still, I think it takes a great deal of patience for him to only criticize the areas that are appropriate for my level of development. He’ll tell me that a piece sounds good, because the piece is as good as it is going to get at my current level of technique, and that further improvement will only come after new technique has been learned.