Discouraged Violin Performance Major--about to call it quits!

September 26, 2007 at 07:18 PM · Hello everyone! I'm a 2nd year college student studying music education with a concentration on violin. I have a dear friend who is currently a violin performance major and she has been going through a rough patch recently. She sustained a pretty bad playing injury in her neck and back for which she is seeing a physical therapist about, but recently she has been talking about quitting completely. She is a more than qualified performance major and has a lot of potential...but her heart isn't in it right now. Is there anything I can do to encourage her to stay in the program?

Thanks for all of your suggestions...I am very grateful for your advice!

Replies (20)

September 26, 2007 at 07:30 PM · This probably isn't what you want to hear, but maybe you SHOULDN'T encourage her to stay in the program.

The life of a professional musician can be mighty tough. For many people, no matter how talented, making music a wonderful hobby can be the right move. If I had it to do over, I definitely would find a different way to pay the rent.

September 26, 2007 at 07:27 PM · Having reached that level, her adviser would be the best place to start. If it is just burnout and frustration from injuries, she may need to get some performance counseling to see her way through--as in therapy for her frustration.

Now, if it's one of those life changes that she has to work through, she needs her friends and family most to help her feel her way through.

She might as one direction, switch focus on her program both in respect of the injuries and to shake things up a little?

September 26, 2007 at 08:13 PM · As a dear friend, probably your best role is to serve as a sounding board for her as she tries to figure out what she wants. This is probably not easy for her, as she has probably lived her life quite focused on her future career as a musician. However, it is not uncommon for college students to change their focus; 80% change their major once. This results from getting out in the world and seeing more of it. Ultimately, she needs to talk to an academic advisor or someone with the expertise to help her make career decisions, but she also needs to talk to her friends about how she feels. Good luck to you and her.

September 27, 2007 at 05:04 AM · Sometimes, all a friend needs is a good ear. Almost everyone has doubts about what they do in life... sometimes people decide to quit and sometimes they make it through the rough patches. I've had more than my share and I've come close as well- and my friends encouragement is what kept me going. Just let her know that you believe she has the talent and ability to make it BUT that you would support whatever decision she makes. If switching majors is what she really wants and needs to do, she's going to need to be reminded that she has people supporting and loving her no matter what. Sometimes that's all someone needs to hear- to know that people will support her decisions no matter what. It makes you feel like you have more options and less like you are "trapped".

You're a wonderful friend for doing this and wanting to be there for your friend. :)

September 27, 2007 at 05:15 AM · can I ask what type of injury?

What were her goals and aspirations BEFORE the injury. I ask because I think it is just time to sit down and figure out where the person is.

Making a career as a musician is hard. It takes hard work and luck. Very few people ever make it to the big time as a soloist. Many are depressed by the fact that they can never make it that high and become bitter. Others figure out ways to make a living in music and still others find things associated with music.

(by the way, I study medicine now, so that is why I want to know the injury)

September 27, 2007 at 04:04 PM · You weren't really clear about why she wants to quit--is it because of the injury entirely? Or did she have a bad performance?

September 29, 2007 at 06:08 PM · Thanks for all of your responses...they are very helpful!

As for why she wants to quit...the stress is really getting to her and since she has a herniated disk in her neck she can't play without pain. She feels like she isn't improving her technique because she can't play for long periods of time.

Thanks again for your input!

September 30, 2007 at 07:43 PM · I actually know who you are talking about, and I have found her to be a fun, kind, awesome person.

She was my standpartner last year in our orchestra, and she took a break after she suffered her injury. When she came back, I remember she sometimes had to stop playing because her neck hurt so much. I remember she told me she was thinking of switching her major.

You obviously know her a lot better than I do, but I think that if she truly wants to quit, it is her decision to make, no matter how painful it is. She is smart, and she will figure out what is best for her and for the rest of her life. :D

September 30, 2007 at 11:15 PM · Actually you're thinking of someone else although I know who you are talking about too! The person you are thinking of did indeed change her major.

October 1, 2007 at 02:18 AM · Haha, really? Wow! Neck problems must abound at your school!

Okay, I thought she had changed her major, but I wasn't sure.

Well, I hope your other friend figures out what she wants to do, and she's really lucky to have supportive friends like you! :D

October 1, 2007 at 03:12 AM · Is she playin pro football or somethin? nah just kidding. But you should tell her that injuries are just a part of a violinists life. Well for those who play for 30 hours in 24 hours. Just tell her that she needs to maybe take time off from the violin. Well she could still play some but she doesn't have to practice so much. Many pros take time off from practicing 12 hours a day. Sometimes they just play for fun to relax.

October 2, 2007 at 02:05 PM · Starting a performance career is like preparing for a launch of a rocket... everything has to be just right, or you should scrub the mission. Taking off with one or more engines not working is just not an option, not if you want to make it happily into orbit! So if your friend is having weird injury problems and generally feeling bad about the violin, she should take some time away from it- perhaps major in something else. Plenty of folks have done that and then more than made up for the time by coming back to it with less baggage and angst. So if she's not enjoying it, she should stop because even people who have no injuries, are practicing a lot, love what they are doing, and have great teachers STILL often don't make it in music.

Also, she might really enjoy the feeling of studying a subject or being in a field in which there's the EXPECTATION that you will succeed. I mean, nobody in accounting school or engineering school or even gets told that if they work really hard, have talent, spend a lot of money on lessons, and are lucky, they MIGHT get a job that pays a living wage!

Good luck to your friend!

October 2, 2007 at 02:15 PM · By the way, my performance career was a complete failure- so bad in fact that now I am FORCED to teach lovely young kids at a public school and privately, COMPELLED to live in a nice part of Washington, DC,NO LONGER ALLOWED the fun of trying to make ends meet between gigs, and CONSTRAINED to living my life during normal waking hours... such a terrible fate for a performer! Seriously, though, by deciding NOT to make my money as a performer, I opened up all kinds of possibilities for other things AND I actually do get to perform quite a bit. So also tell your friend that there's more than one way to skin a cat... .unless she's an animal activist or something, then choose another metaphor.

October 2, 2007 at 02:40 PM · howard, no offense and to go along with your humor, you probably sucked so bad that to have an inner struggle to be or not to be has never been an issue. you have high IQ to come to terms with your low VQ:)

meanwhile, seriously, there are many devoted students of music who truthfully think they have a good fighting chance. they take it more as a matter of fate than choice.

October 2, 2007 at 02:39 PM · Well, I was engaging in a bit of hyperbole... but as an undergraduate at Eastman, I had similar doubts and a bout of injury my sophomore year. I also thought I had a fighting chance, so I fought, the opponent being mostly myself. My point is, having to fight like that is not a good way to develop as an artist, a person or a professional. I think it inevitably leads to disappointment and lack of a job, or worse. In my case, none of this resolved itself until long after I left "serious" performing and started doing other things. Only then did it dawn on me that my experience didn't have to be that way at all, and in fact along the way, I had experiences that were very nuturing in which I grew immensely as a violinist, and that should have taught me the difference. Unfortunately though, most music schools, Eastman included, are meat grinders that destroy rather than nurture talent, despite the best efforts of dedicated teachers, administrators and students. I don't really know why this is the case since the same folks go to summer festivals that are manifestly NOT like that. I don't know why the relaxed and beautiful attitude that's encouraged in the summer doesn't carry over into the work that's done during the year...

So, it's from that experience that I said what I said, not from a lack of fighting spirit or from being so far out of it that I just can't possibly understand the dedication of someone like the poster's "friend".

October 2, 2007 at 03:00 PM · Oh, and no offense taken.. :)

October 2, 2007 at 03:12 PM · howard, you just have to forgive my underestimation of your VQ but glad to see your IQ and EQ saved the day:)

October 2, 2007 at 03:58 PM · Not to mention my GQ... hahah

October 2, 2007 at 10:44 PM · thankfully we didn`t get to FQ

October 3, 2007 at 02:58 PM · or LQ!

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