I've been extremely fascinated with music in general my entire life. I come from a very musical family possessing great talent on both sides. I dabbled with a vast array of different instruments in my childhood, playing everything from my grandmothers baby grand piano to my uncles guitar, accordions, Irish flutes, and everything in between. The thing is I never had a single lesson, not even informally with my family or anything. I simply picked up instruments and learned to play them fairly well within a matter of minutes. I didn't have a clue how to read music or know anything in regards to music theory or classical technique. I don't know how I'm able to do this but I always could, it's like a gift I have or something.
I was about seven years old when my cousin started playing the viola for middle school and I thought it was really awesome but wanted to be a bit different so I decided I wanted to learn the violin. I talked my parents into renting me a violin from the local music store and began to play around with it. Within minutes I managed to teach myself basic songs and was playing relatively fast Irish fiddle tunes within a week. I wanted some sort of direction to help me learn better and it just so happened that my martial arts instructor at the time played the violin in high school and played professionally at weddings and such. He offered to give me lessons for really cheap and so I did. I took a half hour lesson once a week from him for a few months off and on. I learned to sight read but young me quickly became bored with the classical music I was playing and instead wanted to play Charlie Daniels songs and the like . After maybe 3 months or so my schedule became too busy with school and other things so I had to stop violin lessons any which wasn't a huge deal as I was somewhat disinterested at that point but I still played casually on my own for pleasure.
My uncle has a locally popular band that plays traditional Celtic music and I began to play more and more with them at family gatherings and even played with them on stage on occasion. I kept this sort of casual playing (taking out the fiddle every once in awhile when I feel like playing) for a number of years.
Fast forward a few years and my cousin talked me into joining the orchestra freshman year at the local public high school. It had a really reputable music program and was particularly well known for its strings department. I began to take lessons by the man who ran the entire program, taught the strings classes, conducted the orchestra, etc. as it was a requirement of his. He listened to me play and began to devote special attention to developing my skill, often focusing on me over other students. With some corrections to my technique and a few lessons on music theory and reading I was able to sight read intermediate to slightly advanced pieces with relative ease and surpassed many of the seniors who had been taking lessons their whole lives in the orchestra. He said I had the potential to be the best violinist to ever come through the school system and that I would be first chair , as well as do great in competitions, etc.
I loved the orchestra and thoroughly enjoyed playing with so many people as that was something new to me. Well about halfway through my freshman year I ended up transferring to a small Catholic school for other reasons and had to leave behind the strings program and everything associated with it (All State, our local orchestra, etc). My new school had virtually nothing whatsoever in the way of a music program and although I really wished I could stay at the school with the strings program it wasn't possible at the time, so I just went on with my academic career and sort of forgot about it in time. I still played for leisure and messed around with a variety of instruments but never seriously attempted to better my skill since I left the program.
Now I am 18 and a freshman in college and as I've grow older I now greatly appreciate the complexities of classical music and the playing and theory associated with it. I would love nothing more than to become a skilled and possibly world class violinist and/or play professionally in an orchestra. I would 100% be willing to put in the time and hard work inevitably necessary to do so IF it's even within the realm of possibility. Obviously it's very late in life compared to others and an overwhelming majority if not all of the candidates for Juilliard and other such schools were first chair in Allstate or similar programs and have even played with real orchestras. I obviously did not have this same opportunity to gain this practical experience. My question to any professional violinists on this forum is do you think it would even be remotely possible for me to be accepted to a school like Juilliard after I earn my BSA if I devoted an excessive amount of time to attain the level necessary? I'm perfectly willing to pay for extensive private lessons and practice obsessively for as long as it takes so it's not a question of whether I'm willing or not rather if it's even remotely possible. Or am I simply out of luck for starting too late in the game?
I do have the advantage of having a lot of natural talent and a pretty solid foundation in technique so it's not like I'm starting from scratch. I can still read music and play songs and scales very fast without thinking about it and still play for fun on a regular basis. I am obsessed with music and instruments and would love to realistically pursue this dream of a career doing what I love but I want to know if it's even worth devoting time, money, and effort to do so first, all circumstances considered. Any input is greatly appreciated.
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