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Violin Career options?

Life in general: I was recently talking to my violin teacher about this subject.

From Richard Hellinger
Posted June 1, 2006 at 03:38 AM

I was recently talking to my violin teacher about college degrees in violin and I am interested in Preformance in Violin. Could someone tell me what kind of jobs are open for people with this degree?
Thanks,
Richard.
~*~Violins Make the World go Round~*~

From Marty Dalton
Posted on June 1, 2006 at 03:53 AM
I guess Preformance is better than Postformance.
From Stephen Brivati
Posted on June 1, 2006 at 04:53 AM
Greetings,
Marty, why do you keep rabbiting on about cheese?
Cheers,
Buri
From Kevin Huang
Posted on June 1, 2006 at 05:07 AM
You're from what we silly Long Island/NYC folk call "upstate New York", Richard Hellinger.

The kinds of opportunities available to you in upstate New York are different than those in a big city. I used to live in Albany/Schenectady, but I moved away to Phoenix specifically to take advantage of the greater opportunities.

One thing that Phoenix has that upstate New York doesn't have is a thriving tourist business. Almost all of the venues I've worked, with the exception of the Phoenix Symphony, are heavily patronized by what Phoenicians call "snowbirds" or people that live in cold weather climates that come to visit or live in Phoenix during the winter. We have some really big resorts that employ plenty of musicians for corporate events, weddings, and private parties. Many of my friends make their entire living playing only those types of corporate gigs. We also have dinner theatre type shows like Organ Stop Pizza and Broadway Palms and many other shows where patrons come in, have a dinner, and then enjoy a good show. The nonclassical scene is strong here and the movie thing is just starting to get off the ground. Basically there's more professional music going on in Phoenix than there was in upstate NY, and that's why so many of my fellow musicians here are actually transplanted upstate New Yorkers!

I'm not saying move to Phoenix, Richard Hellinger. I'm just saying that I was in your shoes once. Your bio indicates that you've got good potential to go far in the music business, but you've got to understand that music is more location driven than people realize. That doesn't mean that you might not catch on where you live, it just requires a different set of skills. Where you work determines what kind of work you do.

For me, it has been vastly better to be a small fish in a big pond than a big fish in a small pond.

From Richard Hellinger
Posted on June 2, 2006 at 02:00 AM
Yes I agree with you kevin, I def. Dont plan on living in Shortsville the rest of my life (a town with a pop. of 2000) and playing for the volunteer Orchestra I do now. But I was told that that the RPO would be a good shot after College. I am just worried that when I do get my preformance degree that I wont have a steady job, I was wondering if a college might hire me with a preformance degree, for teaching, without a education degree.
From Kevin Huang
Posted on June 2, 2006 at 04:09 AM
For those that don't know what RPO stands for, the "RPO" is the "Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra".

That's a tough orchestra to get into, as it's in the same town as the Eastman school. One has to be a real violin zinger with a resume to match to get into that orchestra, and the competition is extraordinary for any violin positions there. You'll be competing against seasoned pros, many of whom are top level violinists on the internation stage. I'm not saying that you couldn't compete with them, I'm just saying that any internationally famous violinist of the highest caliber would be competing for a section violin spot against other violinists just as good and as famous as he is.

It's really hard in music to determine what your career path will be after your education ends. I know people who've completely bypassed school and are now successful full-time pros. I also know people who have multiple music degrees that were not able to find their niche. Without being discouraging, I'm suggesting that you stay active as a student in the world of gigs and opportunities. What you do in school has a direct impact on what you do once it's over.

From Richard Hellinger
Posted on June 2, 2006 at 07:12 PM
Yes I know it is incredibly hard to get into, but luckly I have an amazing teacher that plays in the Orchestra. Also if you check out my Bio you would see that I have incredibly ambitous goals :)
From Laura Yeh
Posted on June 2, 2006 at 09:08 PM
The key to a good career is good marketing/business skills. Of course you also need good musicianship skills, but I know of plenty of fabulous players who don't have the greatest careers because they lack the business skills. Music schools these days really should have some kind of required 101 class for the business side of music. Even conservatories might consider it as being able to promote yourself and appear professional is important no matter your career path in music. I wish I'd had some training in that area instead of having to figure it all out myself.
As for a music education degree, the only reason you'd want that is if you want to teach in public school. It may be the right path for some, but it certainly is not the right path if you want more time to practice and develop your skills. The people I knew in college who were ed majors had to take a bunch of extra classes and learn several extra instruments. They never had more than 2 hours a day free to practice their own instrument.
You can certainly teach privately or in a college prep program with a performance degree. If you want to teach at teh college level, these days you should either win a major competition and/or have a DMA in performance. Even then it's hard to get those jobs unless you're happy at a small school in a small town. I'd say that the most versitile degree is a performance degree, but then it depends on your goals.
-Laura
From Dallin Creswell
Posted on June 2, 2006 at 09:27 PM
RPO:

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra
Really Pro Orchestra :-)

All probably more difficult to get in than your RPO...

From Dallin Creswell
Posted on June 2, 2006 at 09:30 PM
I should probably read all the posts before responding ;-)
From Richard Hellinger
Posted on June 2, 2006 at 09:33 PM
lol it is ok :)
From sharon lee
Posted on June 3, 2006 at 01:05 AM
laura, that's an excellent post.
music schools often forget to emphasize the importance of business skills! the one course that my school created for this was abandoned after its trial year. i think that was one of the most helpful classes to my career besides chambermusic/lessons.

also, richard, having your teacher in an orchestra will do very little for you getting into that orchestra, unless your teacher is principal, or behind the screen, or has telepathic powers.

From Richard Hellinger
Posted on June 3, 2006 at 01:20 PM
I know that It wont help me get into the orchestra, The way I look at that is that she is in the orchestra and she knows what level I will have to be at. She also knows how to train me for what the orchestra is looking for.
~*~Violins Make the World go Round~*~
From Kevin Huang
Posted on June 3, 2006 at 01:23 PM
No Richard, sharon is right.

Orchestras are notoriously fickle in their audition requirements. Just because you play up to the standard of one judge doesn't mean that you play up to the standard of another. Remember that the conductor is involved too, and often he's not a violinist and has specific needs in mind.

I don't know if you know the reputation of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Dallin Creswell, but it's definitely a top tier international organization. I don't know if Ilya Kaler is still the concertmaster, but he's as great a violinist as anybody could ask for to sit in any top orchestral position. Just because those other groups are more well known to you doesn't mean that they're more well regarded or harder to get into. In fact, my guess is that it's harder to impress Ilya Kaler than it is to impress just about any other concertmaster in the world. Remember that he's a guy that's won practically every competition that exists, including Tchaikovsky and Paganini contests. Then again, those other groups might indeed be harder to get into that the RPO.

Orchestral judging comes down to the individual taste of the people doing the judging. You can play a totally "perfect" audition that leaves one judge raving while another judge thinks that such playing is totally unacceptable for the orchestra. I'm sure that if you have an orchestral audition with 100 people, 99 of them would be fine candidates for the slot based on playing alone. Selecting which one of the 99 to keep is the hard part and is based more on luck and fortune than people realize.

From sharon lee
Posted on June 3, 2006 at 02:15 PM
mr.kaler is now on faculty at depaul unviersity's school of music in chicago.
and i heard somewhere that the average violinist does 19 auditions before they win a job. something to keep in mind.
From Richard Hellinger
Posted on June 4, 2006 at 02:42 AM
Thanks for all the help!:)

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