I'm currently a sophomore in college studying violin performance. I love what I do but my family doesn't. I picked music as my major pretty late (the summer before I started college) but I'm doing well and my professor is happy with my progress and has allowed me to stay on the performance track. My big problem, and the most damaging to my confidence has been my family's lack of enthusiasm about what I've chosen. My parents haven't voiced an opinion beyond do what makes you happy, but my grandparents on both sides have voiced concerns about my financial future. They often ask me why I didn't choose to go into something more financially stable and secure like engineering or medicine because of how smart I am (I did well on the ACT and graduated valedictorian of my high school). I feel like my parents don't care about what I do and that my grandparents flat out disapprove. Any advice?
Edit: I am on full academic and orchestral scholarships for college.
Your parents and grandparents have a point. It is totally normal and wholesome for them to be concerned about your financial security as you enter adulthood and become independent. Especially if they're footing the bill for your education, because they want to make a good investment. You may have engineering or medicine as your Plan B, but who will fund your transition to those careers if a pro career in violin doesn't work out? Those are programs where you'd be doing college basically all over again.
I see you are violin performance/music business. What are your goals? What do you see yourself doing in five years? Getting a job in a professional orchestra can be very difficult even for graduates of top tier conservatories. Arts administration is a reasonable field that (in my opinion) could use a lot more good people than are currently working in it.
You're an adult now. Given that your parents are probably supporting you financially, and would like you to be happy, you do not need their approval of what you are doing with your life. Similarly, your grandparents should butt out. Subject, of course, to the assumption that once you finish college, you are going to be financially independent -- rather than asking them for financial help because your music career doesn't provide a good enough living.
It's great to be getting your education on a full scholarship, so that is a big plus!
Thank you all for the advice. That's exactly why I posted here so I could hear from people that have experienced similar things or can tell me things from a different perspective. We're currently on break at my school so I'm going to be spending the next few days really thinking things over and trying to figure out a solid plan for the future that I can really believe in. Thanks again.
As long as you don't come back after college asking them to bail you out, it's your life & your choice. It's also a good idea to acknowledge the chances of anyone (including yourself) having a successful career in this field. Not assuming anything about your playing, just saying your parents & grandparents would probably like to know you are aware of the reality, for their own peace of mind.
I think it's worth thinking about the spectrum of options available to you, rather than thinking about it in more black-and-white, music-vs-lucrative-career fashion. The line between amateur and professional is sometimes blurry. My city has a thriving community of performers who don't primarily make their living from performing -- and many big cities do.
"And conversely, I've met teachers who went to fourth-rate music schools, graduated playing intermediate-level repertoire (think Thais, Dvorak Sonatina, etc.) on a marginal and technically-shaky foundation, and nevertheless maintain busy teaching studios"
Heck, I know high school students who make $100s with weddings. Not enough to live on, but pretty good as a second income stream.
Mary Ellen wrote, "and you need to live in a city with a critical mass of people who have the disposable income ..."
Cities where a lot of parents have disposable income often don't need good public-school strings programs in order to drive an industry for private lessons, by the way. Around here (DC metro), it seems like most of the kids taking private lessons on the violin are starting at age 3 or 4 or 5. (And that's at $70 for a 30-minute private Suzuki lesson, much of the time.)
Keep the scholarship, throw out the parents... OK, just kidding.
You're only young once, and you have scholarship support so that you can "chase the dream" so-to-speak. Don't squander it! :)
First, here's hoping that you can shed the need for parental/grandparental approval, because that way lies madness. If you were good at school and are good at music, you have options, as long as you don't preliminarily shut some of them down.
Pursuing your dream of violin performance will never again be as easy (comparatively speaking) as it is now. I pursued a degree in fine arts and never regretted it. My professional arts career only lasted 10 years (no thanks to the market crash), after which I successfully entered a corporate profession.
Krista is right. Everyone always focuses on the immediate practicality of something, and not necessarily the long lasting intrinsic value that the choice will have. And since you have a scholarship, who cares? Have fun with it and be practical later :) Life is pretty darn long, and if you only ever focus on what makes financial sense then you'll have more trouble seeking happiness.
Jeff, others have given you very good practical advices already. I would like you to think about what does parents' approval mean to you? When, why, and to what extent these approvals are necessary, if at all? What are you prepared to go through if you decide to go ahead regardless what they want of you?
Erik: My research into the cost of Suzuki 30 or 45-minute violin lessons for young beginners here taught me that they are staggeringly expensive -- very nearly the cost of one-hour lessons from non-Suzuki teachers. But it does support a community of teachers who can afford to live here. :-)
Is it possible that the Suzuki teachers are also the ones with pedigree, reputation, experience, and track-record? (Not that this would necessarily be a coincidence.)
The mention of the disapproval of the grandparents suggests to me that one of Jeff's parents is possibly still trapped pleasing his or her parents in turn. In that case maybe the apple isn't falling very far from the tree. It's understandable.
Jeff is so lucky to have parents say "do what makes you happy". You just can't underestimate the power of such parental support. They are Jeff's parents, grandparents are not. I grew up in an extended family. I would get all sorts of directions from my grandmother, aunties, uncles on top of my parents all the time. It was a really powerful moment when realized that among all the voices, mine is unique and can't be confused by others. :)
I think the OP's high school and test achievements are to be applauded.
The very fact that you are concerned about the lack of your family's approval is a testament of its importance to you. Unless you pursue a psychotherapy to see what, if anything, can get changed in that area, you will have that shadow following you all the way to the Carnegie Hall.
Many good suggestions and advice given. Since you are on scholarship, I too think it is a good option as other suggested to have a plan B, and to tailor your curriculum as much as practical to give you a good start and shorten the duration it might take to enable that plan B if it were to become desirable. You can then explain to your parents/grand parents how you feel about taking the opportunity that is offered to you to pursue a career in music through that scholarship, realizing that there would never be such opportunity again, and if all fails, at least you would live your life knowing that you gave it a good try. Since plan B would already be in the making, it wouldn't set you off all that much in the long run. The skills and knowledge you are acquiring in the music profession should be enough in theory to at least enable you to subsidize plan B to an extent. In other word show that you acknowledge their valid concerns for your well being and that you are not ignoring their advice, and give them a warm fuzzy feeling that you don't intent in milking their retirement savings, which is probably on their mind (it would if I were them).