I want to become a Professional Violinist but..

August 13, 2007 at 06:01 AM · Like the title says I want to become a professional violinist, or find a career in music. However I'm only 15, I don't take private lessons, and I started kind of "late" compared to all the other professionals. I started at around the 5th grade. I play in my high school orchestra. I can shift to 3rd position and am learning how to shift to 5th right now. Well after lurking around it seems as if its impossible to become a professional violinist as I am now. Anyone want to come shed some light on me? =)

Replies (24)

August 13, 2007 at 06:12 AM · Starting in the 5th grade is not too late if you want to become a professional musician.However it is of the utmost importance to find a good private teacher and to commit yourself to studying everyday (there are lots of helpful threads on this subject.

August 13, 2007 at 07:39 AM · What you have posted tells us very little of your chances at doing anything well. Having not seen nor heard you, for all I know you could be anywhere from freaking brilliant to completely tone deaf. (How's that for a completeley unhelpful answer?)

The only reason I'm putting it that way is to help you understand that whatever advice you get from this website, no one can truly understand your circumstance better than you and your teacher. Even then, you never know what hand you'll get dealt in life.

In all sincerity, I wish the best for you and your pursuits.

August 13, 2007 at 08:09 AM · you can do it. you just have to want it. i know...i've been there. i started when i was 16.5

listen to as many great violinists as you can, all day :) jasha, toscha, misha, fritzy, szeryng, etcetcetc

make as many connections as you can

August 13, 2007 at 08:31 AM · Obviously, at least always let music be part of your active pursuits. And there are many levels of professional to pursue.

August 13, 2007 at 08:19 PM · It depends how hard you work and how much you want it. If you really want to become a professional, your best bet would be to start private lessons right now, and practice several hours a day... I am 16, and my teacher requires a minimum of 2 hours and 40 minutes (10 minutes for each year that I am old) because as she puts it, she teaches students that are considering becoming professionals, or have decided they want to be professionals. Keep in mind that many kids your age have played the violin with private lessons for years, and have been practicing 2-3+ hours on a daily basis, so if you want to become professional you'll be playing a big game of catch-up. If you think about it numberwise, even if you doubled your practice time to 4-6 hours, you would still have a lot more catching up to do.


I am actually considered quite behind myself. I'm finishing up on the Bruch (which fellow violinists of my teacher's studio have even told me is too easy for my age in my teacher's studio). I also have not finished Kreutzer, and I am oh so behind on Carl Flesch. Oh well. Oh yeah, I started in the fourth grade, so I sorta feel ya.

Good luck! :)

August 13, 2007 at 08:49 PM · I really don't think 15 is impossible, if you are already "wired" to be a string player. Just realize that you are behind and will have to play catch-up for a number of years, but if you are dedicated it could happen. What you might want to do is try to get to a major music camp, even to visit, and see what others you age are doing at 15. At a place like Meadowmount or Encore, you'll see 12-year-olds practicing 4 hours a day and performing Sibelius from memory. Most serious students your age are starting romantic concertos, Bach solo sonatas, and difficult showpieces. The question is whether you will be ready to play a music school audition in just 3 years on such material.

August 13, 2007 at 08:47 PM ·

August 13, 2007 at 08:49 PM · A teacher of mine urged me to plan for my future...to envision where I would be five years from the present moment, and devote the majority of my energies into achieving that goal.

His major point was not to just work blindly towards a specific objective, but to spend the time to figure out what one actually has to accomplish to reach that goal, and then "stick to the plan" over that duration of time.

If you mean a professional violinist as in performing in a major symphony orchestra, there's not a lot of ambiguity there in terms of skills. If that's where you want to end up past age 22-25, then I'm sure any teacher can inform you as to what you need to be able to do to be successful in that profession. Whether you will be able to learn those skills within the time-frame you have is really up to you!

It isn't impossible...people do amazing things with the right motivation. :)

August 13, 2007 at 09:02 PM · Oh! and another note - if you're in high school, start looking for colleges. E-mail professors and universities. Finding a university teacher that you think will be able to help you achieve your goals can be help immensely. You'll have 4 years (at least) in college to really improve your skills and technique. Plus, making connections in college can really help you land an audition, form a chamber group, or establish clientele to play for. Sometimes, it takes hard work + interpersonal connections. So if you're serious, researching colleges might be a good idea too.

August 13, 2007 at 11:05 PM · It's possible. The real key is to get that GOOD teacher. Find someone that is very involved and proven to be an excellent teacher.

I was one of those that was a big fish in a little pond throughout grade school, and no idea what the "real music world" was like until I hit the university. The school I went to wasn't the most competitive musically, however it had an amazing violin instructor that changed my perspective and understanding of the violin. I literally went from back of the second violins to concertmaster by my second year there. And I retained my concertmaster position until I graduated three years later.

If you have the passion and the talent, you can do it with the right instruction and practice technique.

Good luck,


August 14, 2007 at 04:48 AM · Pretty much, as time goes on you will realize that even if you have some *talent*, it won't get you anywhere. Nobody can live off talent unless you are Paganini himself! Personally, I always thought that my talent was good, always.. until my lesson today. My teacher told me I can play, she says, "you can play anything I put on your music stand!" And she then said quietly, "but your talent won't get you anywhere." I have heard it before, but its true. Don't only get a good teacher, practice. PRACTICE PRACTICE. Practice until you curse so loud that you almost break you violin. All of us go through the frustrating part of violin playing. Unfortunately the way it works, is, you have to practice you a$$ off now while you're young and then later in life you can 'enjoy' what you do.


August 14, 2007 at 05:02 AM · I think I was about that during that time (and I didn't get very far) but I didn't have motivation. All I know is I practiced far too much in 10th grade, but it was definitely good.

Find a good teacher and work on as many etudes as you can. :D

August 15, 2007 at 01:34 AM · Kevin, I have not read all (or many) of the responses, but I started late in my 37th year of life and my teacher tells me that she sees no reason why I will not be able to cut it as a professional violinist come 6-10 years of study, and she ought to know as she is a professional in an orchestra here in Minnesota. My teacher has told me that she belives I have the talent, and determination (which all who want to succeed will need in abundance, regardless of their natural ability). But, like I always tell others, I believe that if I am able to one day do this then so could anyone else, especially someone 23 years my junior!

Currently, the goal my teacher and I have set for myself is to be playing in a community orchestra in 1 year, to hold private recitals in another year and when my kids have grown (which is basically in about 10 years) to seek a professional position (I'd consider it sooner, but practically-speaking, it makes more sense to wait until my kids have grown).

Currently, I commit 3 hrs per day to the violin, the bulk of that time being for practice and the remainder devoted to theory. To some this may not sound like a lot, but believe me to a husband and father of two young children with a very demanding full-time occupation it is quite a lot. And, quality counts for much more than quantity. In fact, in my opinion some practice too much for their own good. You've got to live life, too. After all, what is it one brings to their music but life's experiences? And these are only to be gained from living a portion of life outside of the practice room. I guess what I am saying is, do not obsess over the number of hours practiced. Strive to seek balance, as in all things.

Best of all wishes in your endeavor!

August 15, 2007 at 02:37 AM · All this emphasis on getting a good teacher. True, you need a teacher that will work well with you. But you might not necessarily get along with the best teacher in your area. Find a teacher that you can work well with, and stick with them.

But also, realise that having a good teacher is no use unless you know how to work. Check out Practiceopedia for a great book on how to practice, and how to practice efficiently. If you're going to want to catch up, you're going to need to practice effectively and efficiently. It's no use practising 6 hours a day, if most of that time is wasted on things that aren't of any use to you. There's some great tips in that book on how to really get the most out of your practice sessions, and also how to practice when your body can't play any more (e.g. listening to recordings, studying the score, studying theory etc).

Also, start setting yourself goals that get progressively shorter and shorter. Eg, if you'd normally be able to get a piece to concert standard in 3 months, Set yourself a deadline of 2 months for your next piece. Even if you've still got 3 months to the concert. If you can start working and preparing your pieces quicker, you'll be learning quicker and starting to catch up where you're behind.

And keep at it. When you've got the time, stick in some massive Marathon practice sessions (like, a week of 6 hours a day), if you've got the commitment, and the passion, you'll get there. This is coming from someone who is behind, is catching up, and hoping to get there. So you're not alone!

August 15, 2007 at 12:19 PM · Kevin,

I think having a good teacher is essential, as others have suggested. There's a plethora of information available out there (books, internet, etc.) but I would strongly suggest that you don't go into this by yourself, not at this stage of your development anyway.

It's probably also too soon for you to make the decision about being a professional violinist. Work for a few years intensely with a good teacher and you will know before long if it is going to be your life's work.

I wish you the best.


August 5, 2008 at 01:05 PM · i have one thing to say and that is dont let the fact that you are behind put you off i am not behind but i still get put off and put down by people who think that they are fantastic and superior when infact they are not just ignore them and carry on regardless of what they say we will both get what we want in the end

August 5, 2008 at 03:21 PM · I am going to say something controversial: if you want to be a professional violinist, I would only do it if you are able to get a full scholarship to a conservatory or other major school of music/flagship state school. I've said it before and I'll say again that the job market for violinists is, practically speaking, nonexistent. Just one example: The Columbus Symphony just folded, leaving that many more fine musicians looking for work.

Many people like to give the quintessentially American can-do advice of "rah rah! you can do it! Never give up! Anything is possible if you just practice enough!" It's the kind of stuff you see crowding the bookshelf in the self-help section of Barnes and Noble. The dark side of the self-help movement is that should people fail to make it in an almost impossible career like entertainment, they end up blaming themselves. Sometimes things are possible, and sometimes the odds are very long. Do not go into music with blinders on.

August 9, 2008 at 01:09 AM · Scott, that's an interesting assumption to make about the Columbus Symphony, considering that there are other orchestras that are in the black. How are they doing it? Are their communities that different?

Perhaps (and keep in mind, I don't know these people, so I will stop short of making accusations of mismanagement) old-fashioned thinking was the culprit. Sometimes I see in the industry a real reluctance to innovate...like a frog that sits comfortably in the pot, not realizing the water is starting to boil. It's very frustrating.

...Also, I've said before and will say again that Meadowmount is not necessarily the standard by which everyone should be measured.

August 9, 2008 at 01:16 AM · Nicole,

I'm not sure what assumption you're referring to, but someone at the festival I'm playing in right now said they're folding. If I have bad info I apologize. My point was simply that anyone graduating is competing not just against former classmates but with legions of seasoned professionals.

Actually I do think that places like Meadowmount are good for comparison. String players considering a career, especially those who may be the big fish back home in their small pond, need to see how others their age are performing at the national level--that is the competition they will be facing for jobs later on.

I've seen lots of kids in my area who were shocked to discover when they went off to conservatory that they were no longer top gun.

August 9, 2008 at 01:46 AM · I don't believe in having to start young to become a professional, true you may be able to attain it easier but how many professional people out there are there in other fields and they didn't start when they were 8 years of age.

Its just absurd and over done to be honest from the way I see it. Relax man, your 15 just practise to your hearts content and keep your mind open for other opportunities to, you can't just expect one thing to go off it all has to go into careful consideration.

All you have to do is push yourself.

August 10, 2008 at 01:29 AM · If you have a creative/inventive mind, you'll be able to find many things to do with music, other than just playing in an orchestra.

August 10, 2008 at 02:08 AM · Yup, if your friends are keen musicians them selves, try work with them and have fun - you never know if anything big happens out of that but keep trying.

August 10, 2008 at 06:14 PM · The greatest electric guitarplayer in the world according to many and the greatest trombonist have one thing in common and that is that they didnĀ“t touch their instrument untill they were 17 years old

I am talking about Allan Holdsworth and Christian Lindberg

I believe that Allan never had a guitarlesson in his life actually

if it feels right for you to learn to play the violin on your own do it.

August 12, 2008 at 09:49 AM · Like others have said if you want it enough you will be able to do it. I didn't decide i wanted to play the violin seriously until i was 16. Through hard work im now hopefully going to do a masters at music college. You just have to really want it and put in the hours. Asking around to find a good teacher is really important, they need to be a good teacher but you also need to click with them.

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