From Brian Sura
Posted July 7, 2005 at 06:16 AM
Reason I'm askin is because I've had a job at Redner's (a local grocery store) for 2 weeks now pushing carts, and its hard work. I mean just yesterday I got screamed at for not keeping the carts even, and that was the best part of my day. I get paid $5.75 an hour. For the last 4 days I've played 2 hours each day and very hard because I want a job playing the violin.
When I start to feel like I need a brake from the violin I do 20 pushups and remind myself what work is like. lol (It works though)
Is there a job I can get with my violin?
- Played for 5 years
- Have a Paseold violin (It sounds really good)
- Can do vabrato (Getting decsent at it)
- Am willing to do anything like memorize 100 songs for a job. (I have no songs memorized)
- Am not the best looking guy but now that its summer (I got a tan).
- Please help
You callin me a troll ERICA. I guess trolls work their ass off all day pushing big carts up a big hill. And until you are forced to work in 90 degree weather with long jeans on and a black shirt, (yes I said black) then you can't call me a troll! I'd say a few other things but since this is like a violin website and its all classy and such I'm going to say just 1 more thing. Have a nice day!
And I can't play my violin in front of the grocery store... Was that a joke?
Trolls post things like "Yo I've played for 5 years, can't name a single song, couldn't be bothered with learning the names of composers who write for the instrument I play, I can't spell, and I'm completely adverse to physical labor - tell me how to make easy money."
It's a subtle difference, but there it is.
My mom said "Memorize a few good songs and let people here them, then you could get wedding jobs". I'm going to look for that book 100 most common tunes. I'm still open to suggestions for how to get a job
Well right now I can't cuz its raining lol. But is that legal to play your violin on the grocery stores property? And have you ever actually tried this?
Once you get underway, it's good to always carry around a few business cards and perhaps set them next to the tip basket...that way you might acquire more gigs.
Let me know if I can help you out any more.
Playing violin requires more than having a tan, try learning to spell vibrato correctly before you give up the day job.
This is possibly the most inane post ever to be witnessed in this otherwise safe haven for violinists. Im with Emil on this one, you really hit the nail on the head my friend.
Yo yo ma ho......
I say, get a teacher, if you don't already have one, and he or she will train you and guide you. Also, as you start playing more, build up your network of acquaintances who may call on your services later!
PS. I've never busked before, but I so want to someday! It sounds exilharating!
Some here are having a difficult time understanding where you are coming from----5 years playing and not knowing what "chamber music" is sounds odd to many who have played 5 years under the tutelage of aa classically trained teacher. If you have played on your own, or in some non-classical setting then that makes sense--please elaborate.
So, can you fill us in a bit? How old are you, how did you start out, what do you mean by "played 5 years" etc.
In terms of learning what is going on.....you live near Wilkes-Barre, yes? There is a Wilkes-Barre Community Orchestra, and there is a lot of folk music in the area (Endless Mountain Folk festival for instance), as well as some clubs that host groups including folk groups....you should observe what is going on--hear others playing etc--
I understand...I played in the school orchestra from 4th grade through H.S. and I always loved music--including classical. But I really do not have the ability to name who wrote a piece of classical music, with a few exceptions. IT is not the same as remembering a pop song....I know what you mean--you "keep your head down" as it were, doing what the teacher says etc.
I wish I had poked my head up sooner---after 20 years without playing, I wonder what would have happened if I had looked out into the world of the violin more when I was your age. I lost interest because there were so many other good things going on, and the orchestra was just another Pachabel recital......
If only I had known or thought of all the other cool stuff I could have done.....
I also did not realize that I really could be spontaneous with the violin--I had been so accustomed to having to play someone else's music, that I really did not think I had the ability to make my own. Now I realize that this was a mistake: improvisation--direct musical expression--is the soul of playing for me now--and I think if I had discovered it back then I would have kept up with it.
So go out into the world, learn what is there (there is a lot!) and by all means experiment--make up tunes--start on a g major or an e minor or whatever and just improvise...
Also listen to others---lots of good samples out there on the NET for free---to listen to some cool non-standard stuff, see Terry King, Graham Clark, Yurodivy Quintet.....lots of others but these have been on top of my mind lately...
Bill gave you some great advice. There's a whole lot you can experience on the violin (I love playing all kinds of music, including and not only Classical). And defintely get involved, if you can, with what you're playing. I mean, my teacher used to make me look up information on the composer I was currently working on and give her a mini report. (I used to hate those assignments!) But I am soooo glad I did it now. There's so much fascinating information out there about composers and their works and lives (they were people just like us, you know, with life experiences, etc.).
In answer to your questions, I've been playing for fifteen years; some might call me a late starter (I was 10, and I started in the public school "orchestra" for the first two years, then went under the instruction of private teachers for the remaining years.) I started out 'cuz my parents made me! =) But I eventually straightened out and taking it seriously...
Anyway, chamber music is music written for any small ensemble. Typical of this music can be string quartets (2 violins, viola, and cello), and string trios (1 violin, viola, cello OR 2 violins and cello). But, really, chamber music can be for just about any set-up of instruments as long as the parts are generally equal in importance, and as long as the group is relatively small.
I really enjoy chamber music because everyone's part is as important as the others', and there's real team work involved.
I think you should focus on learning and improving your skills as much as you can. Thinking of the violin as a way to get money is not a good motivation. You should do it because you want to play well.
Well there is no doubt I like the violin. When I'm alone I kind of move with the music I'm playing or tap my foot. But I have a friend who started piano lessons same time as I started violin, and he makes like 20 grand a year playing the organ for like 3 differ churches. Thats what got me all hyper on this. lol
Organ and Piano are very different beasts than violin, viola or cello when it comes to making a living, though. Most churches need an organist, or at least someone who can make passable noise on one. Since many also have choirs but can only afford one person, it's more likely that a pianist will be directing the choir rather than having a singer play the organ. As a non-piano-playing singer, I've definitely run into that road block before.
Many people that make their living with music end up teaching -- it provides a regular income, which is essential to those basic needs like food, clothing and housing. They are possibly in two or three different professional orchestras, or have professional chamber groups that concertize and/or play for private events like parties and weddings. During the summer, you can get pretty regular wedding/party gigs, but it'll take at least three years to become well enough known for that to happen.
Around here, if you want to make your living by performing, you'd better be willing to travel. There are ample opportunities, but they're all from 1 to 4 hours distant, by car. The better musicians up here typically go to New York City or Boston several days per week (a 4-hour car trip each way), or teach at schools that are anywhere from an hour to three hours away.
I have, for now, decided *not* to make my entire living as a professional violinist -- it's too much work! It may be that when I've saved up some more money and am in a position to spend it, I'll give it a try, but for now I'm just working on doing enough teaching and performing to pay off my new violin! :)
And do you like take a bow at the end of each peice or what?
"As for taking a bow, it's ok if they're clappin. It's gotta be a response to clappin."
What kind of music is responsive to clapping?
And as far as bringing a hat, I'd rather just use my case as you suggested. So what I just leave it open and play next to my case, (and mabye put like a few dollars in there so people know what to do lol.
Ya, Flee market is a good idea I think, people are carrying lots of spare change and dollars. Though most people at flee markets are not exactly wealthy enough to give money. I go there every week and I never saw a rich lady walking her prized poodle there lol.
Now, I could be wrong about you, of course. On average, most violinists spend about 10 years developing their abilities before they reach a level of playing that is pasable in all respects. Not every passage requires vibrato. For Baroque music, this is especially becoming a trend that I like. Musical taste can only be learned over time.
Best of luck!
Music Suggestions: Learn Bach's Solo Partitas; Pagannini Caprices; Mozart Violin Concerto Passages ; Vivaldi Violin concertos ; The overture to the Nutcracker suite is a great little piece to work on high notes... The list never ends =D. All violinists have played so much music that sometimes their fingers know more about the music than their brains do!
If you don't know where to start still, get yourself a copy of Bach's Violin Concerto in A minor and start practicing that. The music almost never stops, so you can perform it solo quite nicely.
somehow i see hopping from pushing carts in grocery store to becoming a performing artist with 5 years of no prior experience a bit of a leap, do you? there got to be some jobs in between, right?
in fact the way you write reminds me of Hemingway, especially with the mention of the tan. ever thought about becoming a writer?
Musicians who are serious about a career may wish to Google "The Facts About Orchestras" by The International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM). Brian may be more grounded than others who practice long hours are willing to believe.
Brian, go contact your local musician's union, your AFM. Do a search on the Internet or talk to your musician's union. If you don't have one in your town, go to the next biggest city in your region and make an appointment. Not all towns rely on musical union labor, but there always is good advice and good people floating around at such places. Also join your local community orchestra to gain experience as a reader and to meet the local professionals in your area.
The hardest thing for a starting violinist to do is learn the trade. Mind you, Brian, there are plenty of experienced classical violinists who fall flat on their faces in the nonclassical arena - I see it all the time. The way I got around it was to find mentors who functioned in those field and learn from them. If you can follow guys on the job, you'll learn more that way than you ever will from here or any classical teacher. Once again, try your AFM for contacts that may lead to more contacts.
If you really want to succeed as a nonclassical violinist, Brian, then you have to educate yourself in ALL styles of music. You'll have to learn how to improvise over chords, and you'll have to know what songs people like. Hint: listen to the oldies and pop radio stations regularly (I'm deficient on the latter because I'm not into today's music as much, but I get by). Start to learn JAZZ. Without the fluency in chords and chord charts, you will be shut off to more than 50% of your earning potential.
The #1 thing needed to survive in the nonclassical world is the humility to learn anything from anybody. You'll be learning new tricks every day on the job, no matter how experienced you are. Start now, stay humble, but don't let people who don't work the field like the ones here discourage you or give you utterly useless advice that's meant to break you down. And #2 is the ability to read and improvise on lead sheets in fake books. WAAAAYYYY down on the list is one's presumed ability in classical violin. This is because the skills acquired in classical violin don't cross over into the popular music world on more than a superficial level.
Your goal is very attainable, Brian. E-mail me if you want more real world advice playing the things you're working on (audiences LOVE Godfather and Titanic, far more than they do Sarasate or Paganini or orchestral excerpts).
how many years do you think brian need to remember all the pieces he has played in the past 5 years?
First of all, Brian is NOT going to rehash all the songs from his 1st 5 years. Other than Twinkle and a few other pop classical standards, audiences would rather hear Brian play pop songs in gigs. Thus he's going to have to learn completely new skills and repertoire anyway, even if he had played classical violin for 30 years.
Second, asking me about a set number of years to build up a nonclassical repertoire is just as unrealistic as asking any classical violin teacher how many years it takes to learn classical repertoire. How much Brian learns depends on the needs of the job and how much he intends to work. If he's doing 2 hours daily, that's pretty good. I perform regularly with plenty of professional classical and nonclassical violinists who do far less than that daily and play quite well in gigs.
Brian will be learning a new field, which is akin to learning a completely new language. The only way to successfully learn this field is to throw oneself into the fire and do it. Apprenticeship is the way to go, and Brian needs to look in the right places. The learning process will be challenging, but no more difficult than learning any other trade if Brian keeps applying himself the way he is.
just because you did it and doing it well does not at all mean anyone interested can do it. i think leno is funny and will miss him when he retires, should i make a go for his job? not trying to kill brian's dream, but you must have solid fundamentals first and foremost. i wasn't really asking him to recap his prior 5 years...if you do not remember what you have played, yo, we've got a problem. this is violin playing for money that we are talking about, not valet parking, man.
don't get me wrong at all that i am downplaying your style of profession,,,in fact i am upplaying it because opportunities like what you have is very very rare. in similar circumstances, it is much more common to see a pianist instead, or a pianist/singer or even a guitar player. you have to be an exceptional entertainer to have or be a part of a violin themed show.
when brian listed his vibrato as a virtue, i quivered.
Most of the professional classical violinists that I work with, symphonic and otherwise, CAN'T play a lot of things from memory. In fact, quite a few of them I know can't play ANYTHING from memory. That's because they read extremely well, at least from classical scores and not chord charts. There isn't a call for them to play stuff without memorization, so they don't bother with memorizing things. The select few who do remember a lot of things get hired more and for more challenging jobs.
Brian needs to learn a whole new set of fundamentals for his career as a nonclassical violinist. What people don't realize is that no amount of classical training can give that to you. Nonclassical violin has its own skills, and those are acquired by going into the field and figuring out what your deficiencies are. For example, if you train Irish fiddle you probably will NOT be able to cross over into cajun or bluegrass without re-learning the fundamentals of the idiom. Let the needs of the field dictate your immediate direction.
Since every nonclassical career is different, what one learns in one career doesn't work for others. For all I know, my advice to seek the AFM out would fail. One 90 year old veteran violinist of phenomenal ability I knew had tremendous problems with the Local 202 in NY - he found out years after he left from a Union player in a Florida retirement orchestra who told him that he was kept out of work in NYC because he was better than everybody.
One has to be exceptional at violin to succeed in any field as a professional, yes. But that doesn't mean that one starts out as a prodigy. I'm actually the exception to the rule, having trained in conservatory. Most of my colleagues who are quite successful started out just like Brian did - at the bottom. I started out at the bottom too and climbed my way up by being flexible and adapting myself to the needs of my field. That involves a lot of falling on one's face - it's unavoidable and even NECESSARY.
The thing I like about the nonclassical violin world is that it doesn't matter what your background is or what you look like. If you can play, you'll work. Even if people block you, they can't block you from having a job at all if you don't allow them to.
But Classical teachers don't seem to have any contacts in fiddling and so we just tread water. Besides, he likes his teacher a lot and she has supported his interests even though they are outside her training. I guess he has the best classical teacher in the world when you get down to it. One who recognizes and supports him even though he doesn't fit the pattern.
this is not a case of conflict in style, but readiness to razzle and dazzle. you have to be good to play good popular music.
keep the shopping cart shift. start playing for free. contact your local salvation army and stand next to the bell guy. find receptive audience in your local nursing home. get the feeling.
In the case of freelance music, bravado and desire are all one needs to get started. Without both, one is immediately destined for failure in the nonclassical violin world. It takes a strong but humble ego to get out there day after day and admit that one can never stop learning. Brian has those traits, so he'll do fine if he stays positive and adopts a go-getter attitude. Nobody is going to hand anyone anything in the nonclassical violin world. How far one goes depends entirely on how much bravado (often faked) one has.
One thing I learned right away: If you want to be a pro in the freelance world, NEVER give it away for free. Even if you work for only $25 (been there done that), one should always command value for his efforts. Besides, playing for free when one should be paid undercuts one's own career and those of colleagues in terms of perception. If people feel that they can get you without paying you, then they won't pay you. The only time I play for free nowadays is for and with close friends.
Then again, I shouldn't complain. I was playing a gig for the City of Glendale that was literally on the street despite the good money for 2 hours of work. Cars were driving by, pedestrians were strolling through the streets, and I was out there in all black with my violins practicing my repertoire for $$$. I played in a local restaurant there, and a lovely old lady gave me a ring of cubic zirconium as a thank-you for reminding her of her deceased cousin who died at the hand of the Nazis! That single item probably is worth more than the entire sum of ALL the tip money I've accumulated over the last 4 years I've lived in Phoenix!
The only time busking is legal is when the city and businesses agree to allow a musician to perform under a specific written contract. Otherwise such impromptu performances can have the violinist asked to move away for reasons of impeding business traffic or causing a noise disturbance.
Thus DON'T play in front of the grocery store, Brian - not unless you secure written permission from the store manager.
None of this is meant to be harsh-just realistic. Perhaps we should start a thread about members' first work experiences (music and non-music) to help further enlighten you about about how you get from where you are now to where you want to be.
This is why people like Brian shouldn't listen to people who don't play nonclassical violin at all, let alone for a living.
Yes, some places have laws that prohibit public music or restrict it or create a cartel.
Many other places have no such rules.
A kid playing on the sidewalk is not going to get thrown in jail.
My son has played on the sidewalks in quite a few towns and never once been told to leave, cease and desist, etc.
Better to play out and apologize. Remember, it is always easier to get forgiveness than permission.
You know, probably the thing that affected me most as a little kid was seeing Soldotna, AK resident "Hobo Jim" playing on street corners in my little town three or four times, first when I was maybe 10 years old. He's my lifelong spiritual underpinning and guiding light. If he'd waited for Frankfort to get back to him about his "busking license" I would have gotten shortchanged. He didn't have a hitchhiking license either.
It's not really all that hard. Find a couple of people in your school orchestra who are also interested in making money and form a quartet or a trio with them. Get a set of wedding music parts from a music store or from sharmusic.com. Find a way to get your name out.. make fliers, business cards, advertise. If you pool together your money it won't be all that hard. Learn the heck out of Pachelbel's Canon (you might not know what I'm talking about but you'd recognize it if you heard it) because everybody and their brother will ask you to play that piece.
I guess the most important thing is that you have to find other people and work together with them towards your goal. If you're not a serious player, chacnes are you probably aren't experienced enough to do it on your own. Busking for tips with your friends will help you learn to play better as a group, and to perform in front of people without getting nervous. Sometimes in high school we busked at the local airport... try a place like that.
And Patricia's right - don't complain about the heat! I spent a few summers in Pennsylvania when I was a kid, and I KNOW it isn't hot. Come to the Deep South, and you'll find out what hot is. ;)
for 50 cents, I'll play you a song:
for a dollar I won't.
I did 'very' well--lots of dollars.
I do appreciate but don't particulary like the assertive reccomendations/comments.
"A person is not as good as they treat their colleagues but only as they treat the least among us" -Judge Marylin Millan
I once was a mighty fiddler
I was concertmaster of my high school orchestra
Played four solos at one concert!
That should count for SOMETHING, dammit!
the shoe store...
References available upon request
Anyway, I'm thinking of a couple of friends of mine. One was a guy named Richard who earned a very good living over a 15 year period playing on street corners in NYC back in the 60's and 70's. He just started doing it one day when he was short of cash. The first day he did so well that the next day he set up (with his violin case open for donations) in front of the Daily News building. Pretty soon a crowd gathered, a reporter came out to see what was happening and the next day there was a big article in the paper. And he didn't stop for 15 years. Well, Brian, I know what he would tell you. "Go for it" Play whatever music you know. If you want to correspond with him contact me privately for his e-mail address.
Another friend of mine, Steve, has made his full time living for 30 years playing strolling violin and other non-classical gigs -- weddings, parties, etc. He too got started with just a couple of tunes in his repertoire plus lots of personality and chutzpah. I can give you his e-mail address too.
Anyway, Kevin is right on -- you will learn as you go, you will carve your own path, and for the most part, the skills of a classical violinist are not necessary, (although, in any case, you should keep building your violinistic skills. Also your musical skills in both the classical and non-classical areas.)
Best of luck.
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