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Krista Moyer

It's the journey, not the destination.

June 10, 2013 at 5:19 PM

When asked to quantify where I am in my study of the violin, I invariably categorize myself as a beginner. On hearing that, my teacher corrected me and stated that I was an intermediate student. I disagree. Having just begun the first song in Suzuki book 3, not yet shifting, no vibrato, and still having to go through the mnemonics I learned to remember the written notes back from when I was six years old and playing the piano, I definitely feel as if I have much more to learn before I can play at what I consider the intermediate level.

I know it is a matter of semantics. It doesn’t matter what I call myself because I can only play as well as I do at this moment. If I were to stay frozen at this level of education forever, there are so many more pieces that I would never be able to attempt than the ones that I can. That is why I feel as if I can only say I am a beginner. It doesn’t bother me to be a beginner. Truly it doesn’t. Why that would cause concern in anyone else is a mystery.

Here’s the thing – I don’t know where music is going to take me yet. Very few people at this juncture do. I won’t be able to quit my day job to play professionally. That simply isn’t economically sensible for my situation. And why would I when there are scores of extraordinarily talented young people for whom that is their passion? I think I might like to play in an ensemble someday. For that, I need to be good enough to play the music without dragging down the group. Hopefully I will figure out what “good enough” means when I get there. In the meantime, I will enjoy the journey, regardless of where I am along the way.

From Tom Holzman
Posted on June 10, 2013 at 6:40 PM
You are an amateur violinist before anything else. The more exact gradations only really matter, if at all, if you are seeking to be part of a chamber or orchestral group, and you or the others need to decide whether you will be a good fit. So, the main thing is simply to make progress, play whatever you can, have fun, and enjoy the journey. The rest is beside the point. Good luck!
From Laura Mozena
Posted on June 11, 2013 at 3:02 PM
In my opinion the terms "beginner", "intermediate" and "advanced" are all relative to the situation and the atmosphere. In my on personal teaching studio you would most definitely be "intermediate" because my most advanced student is in Suzuki book 6. However, if you were placed suddenly in the New York Philharmonic you would be an "early beginner" get my drift? So my advice is to make a list of goals to achieve that will help you attain your end goal "playing in an ensemble" (if I am correct). Some of those might include:

Shifting to at least 5th position
Site Reading

And then keep in mind that even the most professional musician will always have room for improvement. :-) Enjoy the ride.


From Krista Moyer
Posted on June 13, 2013 at 5:54 PM
Tom, I like the term amateur. It's descriptive, and not restrictive. Thanks! The designation of amateur suits me nicely.

Laura, your point is well made. I expect that is probably the frame of reference employed by my instructor, whereas I was considering the bigger picture (reference your latter comment regarding the philharmonic). In these terms, he and I are likely both referring to the same thing, albeit with differing parameters.

I think that developing short term goals as you suggested would be a good way to quantify my progress. I'm an analyst. We love to quantify things. :-) And I like your list of short term goals:

Shifting to at least 5th position
Sight Reading

These are definitely achievable and quantifiable. Plus, having this spelled out makes my listy mclistmaker side very happy. I appreciate your input.

Thanks to both of you!

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