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How Does One Find A Job As A Violin Teacher ?

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Published: January 1, 2014 at 1:33 AM [UTC]

I am in my senior year in undergrad. My degree is the Bachelor of Arts in Music with a concentration in violin studies. My goal is to be a violin teacher. I plan to go to graduate school to receive a master's in education (this is gradually becoming a preference for employers). I am experiencing a great amount of anxiety and fear about job prospects. I live in Augusta, Georgia, but I want to move to New York city. Throughout my time in college I have wrestled with the idea of quitting music and getting myself together and choose a more 'reasonable' path to a career. I have thought about the medical field, the business field, etc. When I hear of people who have studied medicine or business and landed good jobs, I kick myself in the teeth for not making things easier for myself by choosing a more lucrative degree instead of music. Sometimes I feel like such an idiot, but I cannot give up on my dream. The violin is my passion and I have wanted to be a violin teacher since the age of twelve. I cannot think of anything else that I would like to do besides teaching violin. My goal is also to teach violin to blind people. I want to have a comfortable life with a good career, but at the same time I don't want to be an old woman sitting back thinking about my life and regretting that I did not have the guts to go after my dream. I am single and have no children, so I am free to move anywhere and do anything I want. I am a late bloomer, thirty-four and really want to do this before it is too late. I am so afraid and confused. Does anyone have advice on how to acquire a job as a violin teacher in public or private schools and on how to build a student base for private studio teaching in a new city (or anywhere)?

From Gene Wie
Posted on January 1, 2014 at 10:28 AM
Some questions to answer first:

1. What is your highest level of competency as a performer?
2. What age range of students are you interested in teaching?
3. What ability levels of students do you ultimately want to teach?
4. What training in string pedagogy and/or music development programs beyond your degree program do you plan to undertake?

There is a huge diversity in students out there, and one of the most disappointing things that we see happen is that kids quit not because they can't learn to play and enjoy music, it's because they don't mesh with their primary instructor and the teacher doesn't realize it. We are all different teachers, and we're not capable of meeting the needs of every student that walks through the door.

Beyond teaching on your own, cultivating a support network of colleagues that you can refer students to (and vice versa) will be critical.

Posted on January 1, 2014 at 3:10 PM
"When I hear of people who have studied medicine or business and landed good jobs, I kick myself in the teeth for not making things easier"

I do not think the path to medicine would necessarily be 'easier' for you or for anyone. You are an undergraduate. As you are in the US you would not even have started yet as in the US medicine is a graduate degree so you would still be in the stage of fulfilling pre-requisite courses while simultaneously trying to do research, get volunteer hours, earn the highest GPA possible, study and take the MCAT. Plenty of people who are not science majors enter, including when I was in med school an ex-professional cello player. She took a year of classes in chemistry math and physics to enter. If you really feel that path would be easier its still right there.

But lets also think of what lays ahead of you. 1 more year to finish undergrad, (lets assume, although unlikely, you either have or could complete all med school requirements in that time, already have research or medical oriented volunteer work as well, and could take prepare for a take the MCAT and score well) so you get straight into med school at 35. You then have 4 years to study and memorize like crazy. That may mean your single status won't likely change much in those 4 years. And then you graduate having also studied for, in addition to your medical school classes, the 4 national medical certification exams which let you practice. You would be 39. At which point you still aren't qualified to practice, you still have to do a residency of at minimum 3 years, most are 4-5, and most come with every 3rd or 4th day on call, so forget your life outside of medicine for that period too, and if you were to enter a surgical area it could 7-9years, or if a medical specialty it would be on average 5-6 years. So you would be at the youngest 42 when you finished and thats if you go into the least renumerative areas of general medicine when you graduate. Sure you earn more but you'll also have the $250,000 debt you built up in medical school plus the loans for living you had to take due to the lack of wages for all those years. If you decide to do a specialty you could be 48 by time you graduate, or even older if you also decide to do a fellowship or two, which is not as uncommon as you may think. And even on graduating few doctors lives are sitting sipping cocktails on a beach. Most of us work hard, not just helping patients who want help, but helping homeless people and drunks and violent child abusing criminals, working long days filled with more and more paperwork every year, patients angry that their insurance costs more and covers less, heart breaking situations where husbands lose wives and parents lose children, all under the spectre of government oversight and at the threat of being sued and often the cases are frivolous but even if the case is dismissed you have to justify and document about it every single time you renew license or move.

My point in the above is not that medicine is terrible. It is just that all things are terrible. Just as all things can be wonderful. Its all about how you feel and think about it. I love my job and wouldn't change jobs for the world, despite all the challenges I face in it, but grass elsewhere is often greener to people. If you are passionate about music, do it. If you are not, do something else. Just expect the something else to have its own baggage.

From Lydia Leong
Posted on January 2, 2014 at 4:04 PM
In this economy, nothing is guaranteed. The most popular undergrad major these days in the generic "business", which unfortunately is often no more useful than a generic bachelor's degree in one of the liberal arts. At least with music, you have a well-defined skill set, even if it's not a particularly well-paid one.

For any profession, you want to build up your experience while you're still in school. That means that you should be gigging (or volunteering) regularly, and you should be getting as much teaching experience as possible(preferably paid, but volunteer if you can't get it otherwise).

From Tom Holzman
Posted on January 2, 2014 at 6:35 PM
Do you currently teach violin to some extent? If so, think about how you got those jobs. That will give you some clues as to what is required.

There are plenty of people on this forum who have started teaching in places where they did not have previous contacts. They can advise you. One thing to remember is that everyone wants to be in New York City. There is lots of opportunity, but realistically, it is probably a difficult place to start from scratch if you are not an exceptionally good and known performer.

Good luck! I am sure you will get lots of good advice from other v.commers who have been there and done that.

From marjory lange
Posted on January 3, 2014 at 1:30 AM
Have you spoken to your teacher? to other faculty members?
Granted, university teachers are not always the best sources for information about the 'real world' (I can say that: I'm one of them) but they may have connections, or know someone who knows someone.

Sometimes if move to a new place, you need to become known as a good reliable performer before you'll get people asking if you teach: that's often the slowest way. Finding an established studio or cooperative might be swifter.

Since you are willing to go anywhere, maybe selecting where you want to live should come first? Hard as it can be to establish as a teacher, it's harder still to RE-establish once you have gotten roots down, so finding where you want to spend significant time could be an initial guide.

Some of the questions you'll want to ask yourself: do you want to perform? if 'yes,' some smaller, more isolated communities may be out. If 'no,' then you might want to consider a smaller town, where you could be the only game in town.
Do you see yourself also trying to establish a string orchestra program (either in or out of a school system)? that answer will also guide you.

Do you want to join an established program or forge your own?

See the sorts of things you need to at least 'taste' for yourself before you can start building?

Good success to you.

From Stephen Brivati
Posted on January 3, 2014 at 7:49 AM
what interested me about this post is that you said `your goal is to teach violin to blind people.` That is quite specific and rather different to the usual blogs of this type. Working on the assumption there is some reason why you have this somewhat unusual goal which you are not mentioning I was wondering if this is very much part of the solution. If that really is your goal then find out about it. What do you actually know about blindness/people? Firsthand experience of some kind? How about blind violinists? They exist and might be contactable. One from Japan called watanabe is quite famous if I recall correctly. How about other blind musicians (not only Stevie Wonder!) How do they do it? What are their needs? Is their a music therapy course at a reputable college specializing in this field? If not why not?????
Are you really only limiting yourself to blind people or how about handicapped people in general?
Perhaps you need to arm yourself with this kind of information too and then a way forward may become clearer.
Whatever the case, if you were put on the planet specifically to help blind people this is your calling and there is no need to feel afraid. But it might help to read a book called `feel the Fear and Do it Anyway.`
Best of Luck,

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