I want to become a professinal.

August 22, 2008 at 11:52 PM · I am 15, and have been playing since 8th grade, ( i'm in tenth now )... And I want to make my career in music. I do take private lessons, but she has me in between suzuki 3 and 4, And those come so easily to me, I just practice them enough to where they're memorized. She doesnt want me to learn the "hard" pieces yet, but i do it anyway without her knowing.

I listen to recordings of professionals like Janine Jansen, Joshua Bell, and Hilary Hahn, and this really helps playing.

I have tought and continue to teach myself the Bruch Concerto, the Sibelius, Mozart, Elgar. The lark ascending, and many other pieces.

I can shift to 7th position. So with me only playing for two years, are my dreams unreachable?

Replies (55)

August 23, 2008 at 12:35 AM · I'd say you're wanting to jump the gun. In my humble opine.

A few things don't add up in your post......

Firstly, there is a difference between having something memorized, technically perfect, and making an artistic or beautiful statement of something.

2ndly, Sibelius and Elgar Concerti for instance are many many magnitudes of difficulty higher than anything in any of the Suzuki books (and yes I do mean that), they also both go to the end of the fingerboard (7th position doesn't cut it). Bruch is still several steps beyond. The Mozart concerti themselves, don't come into the Suzuki books until Books 9 & 10. For perspective.

3rdly, depending on your course of work so far-those above works (Bruch, Sibelius, and Elgar) are contingent upon having perfect intonation; excellent technical foundations in Flesch 3 and Galamian 4 octave scales and arpeggios; fluent doublestop scales (8vas, 3rds, 6ths, fingered octaves, and tenths) and arpeggios (in octaves).....as well as well grounded etude/caprice work (Kreutzer, Dont, Rode, Gavinies, and a bit of Paganini).....often these areas get neglected in Suzuki Method until much later on (I generalize, and every teacher is different-some try to work them in, others do not). Anything short of the above-and looking at major standard concerti and standard rep will only cause frustration.

As far as your aspirations-it depends on what you put in, and where you want to end up. You have an a tremendous amount of ground to make up for a playing job. There are a plethora of different jobs in music to be had-it depends on what exactly you want to do. There are of course playing jobs, there are teaching jobs, there are retail jobs etc etc.

I can't diagnose your playing over the internet. I will say, that hiding what you are doing from your teacher is not a good or wise thing to do.

August 23, 2008 at 12:47 AM · I have recorded Bach Sonata no.1 and Partitas 1 and 2, and will upload some of them if i get a chance, I'm extremely busy, and am starting school on monday.

I can enterpret some pieces much easier than others, and some are very difficult for me at a techichal perspective... With The Lark Ascending, I learned the piece and memorized within 3 days. Pieces like the Elgar Concerto 3rd movement are easier for me than the Bruch 2nd movement.

I pay very close detail to intonation; The only time my intonation gets a little off is in 5th position, and i'm not sure because it's only that postion and 1-4 are fine as well as 6 and 7th.

I have studied the Kruetzer caprices, but i do not want to attempt Paganini yet.

I really am dedicated and I loved how last year in orchestra i was at the middle of second violins at the first of the year, and i was principal first violin.

I do work hard, and I'm not one of those people who's parents made them play at 5, Wish i was!

August 23, 2008 at 01:10 AM · Consider my eyebrows raised.

Bruch is a walk in the park in comparison to Elgar, in every way shape and form....which has artificial harmonics, ricochet bowing, double stops left and right etc. The 2 aren't even within 10 leagues of difficulty of one another. Elgar is light years ahead of anything in the Suzuki books--it is seldom recorded, and more seldom taught, as it is such a monster.

If you're so good-why do you waste your money and your Suzuki teachers time, by putting in the bare minimum of work on the Suzuki books? If you can actually play Elgar (with good rhythm, perfect intonation, and artistry), you can sight-read anything in the Suzuki Books.

I repeat. Something does not add up my friend.

August 23, 2008 at 01:08 AM · Paul,

There is no one here that can assess whether or not you are capable of making a living playing the violin. What you will have to do is contact someone other than your teacher, a neutral party, who can see where you are. This should be someone with broad professional experience, such as a conservatory teacher or concertmaster. They can at least say where you are in your age group, and whether you really have professional fingers.

The main problem with predicting professional success is that while a musician must have many qualities--physical, mental and emotional--they are not called into play at once but later in his studies. One may, for instance, be great at memorizing and have great intonation, but can't sight read. Or the musician may have absolutely everything but a beautiful vibrato. Or they may have a great technique but not have the stomach for the stage and may choke on auditions. The problem is, you will not know the answer to some of these questions until you have reached a higher level.


August 23, 2008 at 01:51 AM · You need to tell us what your dream is. If it is to be a top tier international soloist, you are unlikely to reach it or violinist in a top tier orch, you are unlikely to reach it. There are almost no cases of violinists who started after the age of nine reaching those positions (and certainly none who made the top tier of international soloists). There are previous threads on this issue. You could certainly make a living as a violinist teaching and doing gigs staring at the age you started, however. Good luck!

August 23, 2008 at 01:53 AM · I will be doing that... I am going to apply to the 2009 Symposium at Julliard.

I really want to go to a music school like

Curtis or Julliard or another good program.

And to Marc:

I dont believe that i'm wasting my time with the "suzuki teacher"... I believe that there are many holes in my violin education. I dont know about over tones and complex harmonics, just basic harmonics and drones and double stops and that types...

August 23, 2008 at 02:20 AM · I agree, Marc.

Hilary Hahn started at age 3.

She started learning the Sibelius at sixteen.

Thirteen years worth of hard work stuffed into two?

I think you are getting in too deep for your level, but yet again, I have never heard you play before.

I would try to ease myself into the standard repertoire. Book 3 and four stuff isn't too bad for somebody who's been in the game for two years.

Good luck with your dream!

August 23, 2008 at 02:48 AM · I know that some of you may think i'm making it up but i'm not... I am only through the first two pages of the sibelius and it's coming very slow for me... But i wish to proove all those wrong who think it's impossible to make it unless you've been playing since age 4 and all of that...

But I do have a question... There's a girl who has been playing since 5, and she's in suzuki 4, and I am at exactly her level, She has perfect intonation, can play all scales and is ConcertMaster ( I was her stand partner this last year )... Can you tell me what you think that says about my playing... I just want to know what people think

August 23, 2008 at 05:50 AM · You are doing a great job with your playing! Keep up the great work. But be careful about choosing and then building your career in life.

I believe it was Nate (or someone here) who made the joke, "What's the difference between a large pizza and a musician? I large pizza can feed a family of four."

You can do it, but look at what it takes to be a professional for a living.

Some random examples of professionals in the U.S. (I quickly found on the Internet): The Principal Second Violinist of the St. Louis Symphony has a Bachelor's Degree from Eastman and a Masters from New England Conservatory. One of the violinists (without a chair) at the symphony has a degree from Tokyo University and another from Juilliard. The Concertmaster of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra studied at both Curtis and Juillard. Another violinist (without a chair) at that orchestra studied at Harvard, NEC and Indiana. The Associate Concertmaster of the Chicago Symphony studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music and Julliard, where his teachers were the great Ivan Galamian and Dorothy DeLay. Another violinist (without a chair) at at that symphony studied at Indiana (and along the way had Galamian as a teacher) and teaches at Northwestern.

Of course, good players can come from many different places. Just realize what it takes.

Good playing!

August 23, 2008 at 03:20 AM · Well Paul,

I do apologize if I have come off rough and unbelieving, but your rate of advancement does sound fishy. I simply mean that as a statement of fact. As Michael pointed out--we all have to take our own paths to reach the standards of the repertoire--and that is usually much longer than a 2 year endeavour to say the least.

Sibelius *should* be going slow. It is usually something that most students learn late in conservatory or in graduate work. It is not only technically and musically demanding--it is very chromatic and difficult to hear pitch center. In my graduate work-I've learned it and other great concerti....then again, I know my Flesch, my Galamian, my etudes, my caprices, my double stopped scales, my Sonatas/Partitas--all inside/out. And I have the pedagogical knowledge to know where and what my limits are currently. There is a great deal of learning and subtlety necessary to the great concerti--and they should only be undertaken when all the fundamental aspects are in a state of mastery.

Currently I'm contemplating the Elgar as part of my (future) DMA, as a matter of fact. That is how much you're trying to bite off yourself.

As I said--the technical foundations are necessary. I am not saying it is impossible--no one here has said it would be impossible, for you to undertake Sibelius at some point. However, patience is needed. All of us have put in the work--and that is what it is, lots and lots of work (with lots of time necessary). And it goes much smoother and faster, and is so much more fun and enjoyable-when one has mastery of all the technique.

As you state a desire for high-level conservatory education, they'll want to see mastery and knowledge of many if not a majority of the etudes/caprices, scale forms I mentioned. They want an able player yes, but also someone who has all the foundations, as well as someone they'd enjoy working with personally.

I have not heard you to know the quality of your work, no one here has--and as our wise Monsieur Cole pointed out, the only one who can tell is a 3rd party who hears you.

August 23, 2008 at 03:15 AM · Thank you for all your input and information Marc. I know that looking at it from your view that it could seem difficult to believe...

I have learned 4 of the Kruetzer Caprices, but do not feel comfortable with approaching the Paganini Caprices ( that'll probably be another 2 years... )

But yes, I go about learning the concertos in a different matter. I pick the movement that seems most approachable. So with the Bruch, and Mendelssohn I chose the first movements to begin with, and moved onto the others. With the Elgar, I chose the third movement, and I havent begun to play the other two.

Like I said before I'm extremely dedicated. I've practiced 6 and a half hours today and i'm still going to fit in another hour.

August 23, 2008 at 04:24 AM · hey folks, interesting thread and interesting answers..

we all know sarah chang started at 4 and was playing difficult pieces by the age of 8, and we know of many other such prodigies (youtube is full of them)

here's an interesting video of a 5 yr old playing paganini's 24th , she started violin at age 3 (granted it is FAR from perfect, but it's still quite an accomplishment for 2 yrs of violin and age 5 at theat!! ...and it's actually not nail against chalk bad either.. it's "listenable")


her name is Eli Choi and apparently her parents didn't force her to practice... she did it of her own will

August 23, 2008 at 04:59 AM · WOW Marc you love to read yourself write huh? Jesus the kids in High School for the love of God...

August 23, 2008 at 07:34 AM · That last sentence reads pretty funny without commas and apostrophes.

August 23, 2008 at 06:57 AM · In mathematics, one counterexample is enough to disprove a general statement. I know of a man who obtained the post of principal second violin in a very prestigious Dutch orchestra, and who started at 12. He must have lots of talent, and have put in great effort.

And then there is the story about that famous pianist who auditioned at 19 for the Petersburgh Conservatory -- on percussion!

But, as to your question: we cannot judge, not having heard you play. And it would not make much difference, would it?

Why not ask your teacher?

As my own teacher would say: violin playing is not about what you play, but about how you play!

Good luck,


August 23, 2008 at 07:07 AM · Funny story about the Sibelius concerto. I recall reading from a Boston Symphony concert program that Sibelius himself was an aspiring violinist--studied it strenuously for years. However, he quit the instrument teary-eyed, in despair. I don't remember the rest of the content, but essentially it read that his violin concerto was an embodiment of all the things he wish he could have accomplished as a violinist. So, long story short, I think he wanted to share his misery in coming across something that was both beautiful and impossible. Just thought I'd share it. Cheerio.

August 23, 2008 at 12:33 PM · Wow Micheal,

You're right, the Ale doth make thine keyboard esoterically loquacious, and causeth communicative ennui. ;>)

August 23, 2008 at 12:42 PM · Many of your claims seem suspect-You've only played 4 of the Kreutzer and yet you say you can play things like Elgar? Seriously? But in your lessons you are only somewhere between Suzuki Book 3-4? And you somehow can practice over 6 hours a day while attending a regular school? Don't you have homework?

When I was a kid, I had a box of old music my parents bought at an auction. So, sure, I pulled stuff out and tried things that were too hard-that was fun and great for my sight reading, but it didn't mean I actually could "play it".

August 23, 2008 at 01:22 PM · Hi Paul

I started playing violin in 5th grade. I didn't decide until late my junior year of high school that music was what I really wanted to pursue in college. I was able to double major in music performance and education for my undergrad, and am now pursuing a master's in performance. If I can do it without practicing 6hrs a day, surely you can.

Let me also add that I had a teacher who put me into repertoire much too difficult far too soon, and it ruined me.

However, Marc has a good point. Extraordinarily talented or not, there are things that you simply cannot learn in only 2 years. Technique, interpretation, maturity... Especially if your teacher hasn't gotten you into higher-level repertoire yet. Refinement is a process that never ends, and yours has only just begun.

Finally, I wanted to add that Itzhak Perlman (I hope you know his name) firmly believes both for himself and his students that more than 5 hours a day of practice is wasted. He has found in his many years of experience that anything over 5 hours is no longer productive for the body or mind. However, Sarasate (I believe) is quoted to have said something like, "I practiced 8 hours a day for 30 years and they call me a genius." Just make sure you know your limits and don't overdo, as that can have drastic consequences.

August 23, 2008 at 01:21 PM · I don't mean to be a downer, but I'm inclined to agree with Patricia. For one thing, I'm fairly sure the pieces you mentioned go beyond 7th position. For another, I remember thinking in middle school that the Scottish Fantasy didn't sound that hard, so I went out and bought the music. Boy, was I surprised. When exactly were you planning to tell your teacher, or do you feel you don't need her? Teaching yourself everything completely on your own is taking the long, hard way, though some do it successfully. The short, easy way might not be as glorified in song, but I'll take it any day of the week.

August 23, 2008 at 01:34 PM · If you want to attend Curtis, make an appointment to have a lesson with Aaron Rosand.

August 23, 2008 at 01:54 PM · Paul,

In no way did I mean you're not up to it.

I just think it would be a good idea not to move into things that it takes somebody with years of experience to grasp, made all the harder by not getting help from your teacher.

It's like... trying to race in the Indy 500 and you're still in driver's ed.

Sorry if I upset you.

August 23, 2008 at 05:53 PM ·

August 23, 2008 at 04:40 PM · I don't think anybody came out and accused you of lying, Paul, but when things don't "add up" then we are going to at least question the wisdom of the course of action. I do believe that you've tried Sibelius and Elgar, because that's what I would have done; whether doing it, and essentially going it alone, is the best thing for you right now is another issue. Granted, some types of advice are harder to give over the internet than others and your best bet would be to actually ask a professional to make an assessment in person.

August 23, 2008 at 05:00 PM · "In mathematics, one counterexample is enough to disprove a general statement. I know of a man who obtained the post of principal second violin in a very prestigious Dutch orchestra, and who started at 12."


Music, and the planning of one's life and dreams, are not mathematics. Simply saying "well, I know of a guy who..." is really not enough. One has to be able to calculate odds, something which very few people are good at. People will, for instance, get worked up about a possible terrorist attack on NY but not think twice about texting while they're passing someone on a solid yellow line.

I today's world, one needs to have something in his/her favor in order to pursue music. Starting out with a handicap does not put the odds in one's favor of bringing home aforementioned pizza.

The fallacy of positive instances is, for most people, just that: a fallacy.

August 23, 2008 at 05:05 PM · I understand your position very well. I began violin at a very early age, but put it aside for a few years to work on the piano. A couple years ago, I decided violin was my passion and took it back up again. I had played a lot during my "break" but it took me a while to work up the chops necessary for those hard concertos. I, myself, am a junior in high school, and am only working on Mozart's third concerto. You have to understand that for the most part, you learn pieces for the technique they require, not necessarily because they are "beautiful music" (granted, that does make learning them a lot more enjoyable!).

When I jumped back into playing, I bought the sheet music for all the major concerti and started sight-reading almost all of them. I had my heart broken when my previous teacher told me that I wasn't ready for any of them. I thought that pieces like the Bruch and even the Sibelius were relatively easy at that time. I was confused for a while until I switched to my new teacher who stresses the importance of every single note in each piece. In order to truly master a concerto of any difficulty, you must play each note absolutely PERFECTLY in tune. I spend hours working on simple phrases in the Mozart concerto, yet still have not mastered them yet.

So I guess my advice would be that scales, arpeggios, and etudes will be what help you most right now. Spend most of your time on them, and work hard on what your teacher assigns in your Suzuki book. And cheer up! Someday you WILL be playing the Mendelssohn, Bruch, and Sibelius! :)

August 23, 2008 at 05:14 PM · Oops! At the end of the second paragraph, I should have only said "yet" once!

August 23, 2008 at 06:08 PM · Paul, if you are still there reading, I apologize for the fact that the rest of this post is addressed to Scott.

Scott, thank you for making me think again, but you are out of luck: I teach statistics. My point was that it is not impossible for a late starter to become a good professional violinist, (but you have to be pretty unusually gifted, and industrious too -- I forgot to make that explicit); and we are in no position to judge whether Paul is.

I believe his question to be important enough to deserve an answer in terms of facts, not just odds. So, my advice to Paul was to ask a live professional for a thorough reality check: "why not ask your teacher?" Or, if I may add, another respected professional violinist?

I still believe that that is the Thing to Do.

August 23, 2008 at 07:09 PM · Yes, I'm still here....

I dont mean to be mean in anyway- But I cant believe how much bickering there is! But that's not a nescesarilly a bad thing :)

I know that what i said before was innapropriate but I will still keep my account. I just needed to realize that it was all constructive criticism and nothing else.

So Sorry everyone!!

August 23, 2008 at 07:09 PM · I had a feeling you'd be back. We are alike in that way too. :)

August 24, 2008 at 06:40 AM · Paul, constructive criticism is exactly that: constructive. It can be difficult to read some posts without taking it personally, so if this thread gets you down, step away from the computer for a few days and think things over. I think if you are truly honest with yourself and are open to suggestions and guidance, you will go far. Please, if your teacher has given you reason to trust him/her, then follow the advice you receive during lessons. If you want to overachieve, overachieve in that direction. People who play the Sibelius concerto don't usually follow this fact about themselves with "I can play up to 7th position." This type of writing may cause people to doubt your ability.

Truth is, no one here knows how good you are, nor what you are capable of achieving. My advice is, stay grounded in reality but keep your eyes open for opportunities around you. Take advantage of your current situation to the best of your ability, work very hard, and always look for the next step forward. Who knows where it will take you.

Bottom line is, if you're playing and growing as a musician because you love to play and you love music, you won't lose out, no matter what you end up doing.

Keep your chin up! There's a lot of people here routing for you!

August 23, 2008 at 07:37 PM · Bart,

Your teaching of statistics doesn't mean you're right about this one.

As one of the first responders to this thread, I even said myself that none of us can judge Paul's suitability for a career. However, we can can make informed guesses as to the outcome: most people who make it in music have advantages of early training and extraordinary talent. Those who are missing one of these are starting behind the pack. Statistically, his chances are already lower. Here in the US, we are competing not just against Americans, but also from musicians from around the world, including China and Eastern Europe.

While you teach statistics, I am a working American musician who has a much more realistic view of the enormous difficulties facing string players looking for work. It is you who are out of luck (and out of touch) in that regard.


August 24, 2008 at 06:45 AM · The ridiculous can and does happen all the time.

August 24, 2008 at 08:18 AM · Paul,

I suspect that, if you have any measure of diligence, you'll be playing the Paganini caprices ("with good rhythm, perfect intonation, and artistry") in a year ;).

I started the violin a year later than you, and I understand where you are coming from quite well. If it means anything, I have gotten quite good (so I'm told) for the time I've been playing (that's three years, hah!).

This is a shot in the dark, but when I had been playing for two years, my bow arm was just rubbish. Your bow arm may need work - if it actually is a problem, then work on that with diligence and you'll be teh best violinist eva.

Practice intently. You have probably heard this before, but I repeat it for good measure. Six hours of practice sounds exhausting.

And please don't decide yet that you want to be a professional. You sound extremely talented and promising, so I don't doubt that you could be. However, frankly speaking, being a professional violinist sounds like it basically sucks (unless you're Hilary Hahn...or Glenn Dicterow for that matter), so I'd be constantly reevaluating if I were you. If you really want to succeed in music, then at some point you'd have to start working your butt off AND eating, breathing and sleeping music - so figure out if you're willing to do that. Attend a summer camp or two, to spend time with like minded individuals.

Anyways, cheers and best of luck, and good luck with the Sibelius. Don't stop playing it because somebody told you it was too hard for you...even if you don't know what you're doing, you'll grow into it with any luck. I don't know why you would want to play the Elgar, though, it's a ridiculously hard piece that only mutant superhumans can play. Don't take anything anybody says too seriously. Even -especially- your teacher. I'm probably going to get a lot of flak for this paragraph...


I'll stop soon, but also:

Listen to dead people. Heifetz and Oistrakh and those guys. When you're not practicing, think about music. Learn some goddamned theory! Also, there's a wonderful person on this site named Marina Fragoulis who started playing when she was 14 and is apparently doing perfectly fine these days. You may want to PM her.

Okay, I'm done listening to myself talk.

August 24, 2008 at 03:57 PM · Okay, Paul, I'm going to come clean with you and admit that I'm using this thread to vent some frustration in my own personal life. Throughout my entire high school experience on the violin, I was supported by teachers and family, and was not prepared to face the harsh criticism of college. All it took was one bout of negativity from an instructor, and I packed up my fiddle for eight years, convinced there was no place for me in the real world. This is the last thing I want to see happen to you, because what I found out when I grew up eight years later is that there's no such thing as the real world.

If you pursue the violin, you are going to have plenty of critical moments; that's almost guaranteed. You can deal with that when you get to it. I just don't think you need that sort of wake-up call from people whom have never met you and don't really know a thing about you. And the truth is, no one knows what's in your future. I've seen too many people stop themselves before they ever get started, and because of that, they never realise their full potential. If I could change something about my past it would have been to figure out how to get a tougher skin when I was in college and develop a better work ethic. Criticism is good and will make you stronger if you use it for improvement instead of an excuse.

I will repeat: the ridiculous can and does happen all the time. It's your job to be ready for it.

August 24, 2008 at 08:53 AM · Could you upload recordings of your Sibelius and Bruch concerti?

August 24, 2008 at 01:24 PM · Dear Paul,

I am not a musician, so you can take what I say with a grain of salt. I am, however, the mother of two aspiring musicians, and so I am really in the business of finding things out, observing other musicians and violin students, conversing with violin teachers and generally helping my kids choose the proper course of action.

If you are serious about the violin, you need the best teacher possible. If you know kids who have gone on to Juilliard, Cleveland Institute, etc..., find out who they studied with and see if you can get a lesson with that teacher. Also, check out the violin teachers at the local university. It sounds like you are not following your teacher's regimen, and this suggests to me that you do not really believe your teacher's slow, or less serious approach is going to do it for you. You may or may not be right.

Go to one of the big music camps. Interlochen, or even better Meadowmount or Killington. This will give you an idea of the level of the violin students beyond your school or city orchestra. My husband and I both played in our high school bands. He was first chair saxophone in the jazz band; I was principal flute in college. Neither of us was even remotely close to the level of those we know who pursued music as a career. You need to know what the pool of other aspiring musicians looks like to assess your chances. You won't get this from your school orchestra or even the All-State orchestra.

Be very serious about technique studies, and when looking for a teacher, look for one who is serious about technique studies. The Kreutzer Etudes can be learned alone, but each one is for the development of a particular skill and it is best if you have a teacher who can carefully take you through them. In addition to Kreutzer, there is Rode, Dounis, Dont, Schradiek, Gavinies, Mazas, Paganini, just to name a few. The best players do not just march through the repertoire.

I recommend that you work in a concentrated way through a formal scale method book. The two major ones are Galamian scales and arpeggi and Flesch scales. You will use the scales to work on sound, shifting, fluency, intonation and bow technique in isolation. My son's teacher requires 90 minutes of scale work a day, broken into five separate chunks, and I have observed that this teacher practices what he preaches as well. You can use the scale books many different ways, and your teacher can help you with this.

Work a lot on open strings. This is where you can concentrate on very small details in your fingers, bow hand, your bow arm etc... It is like the "Zen of violin playing". Your efforts to develop a perfect detache stroke will certainly pay off. Work on all the strokes in isolation.

My oldest son, who is auditioning this year for conservatory, told a dinner guest recently that he practiced in order to find his own sound. He said that in this competitive world, you must have an identifiable style and sound. Well before that you need to have a good sound.

A high level teacher might work with you on just the opening of a piece for half a lesson. Maybe just two or three notes. There is a way of getting the artistic details just right that is characteristic of excellent players. This is something that you should look for in your teacher and strive to do in your practicing.

Other suggestions: Form a string quartet with friends and begin to read through Haydn, Mozart ...A chamber coach is helpful for this especially at the beginning.

Work regularly with a pianist on your solo repertoire and sonatas. This will help you hear your pieces as they relate to the harmonies in the piano part, improving intonation and requiring you to get the rhythmic details right.

Take music theory at the local music school, or community college.

Once you have a teacher who believes in your ability, and is willing to try to take you to the required level, do absolutely everything your teacher suggests. You have to embrace whole-heartedly your teacher's approach to make it work for you.

A note of caution: Unfortunatley, all of this can be very expensive. Believe me! I have two who aspire to be violinists.

August 24, 2008 at 08:39 PM · ...

August 24, 2008 at 05:17 PM · Upload your Bach so we can hear you play. We're mostly teachers in here anyway, so if it's comments you want, you'll have lots.

Jenni :)

August 24, 2008 at 05:33 PM · I am one who believes that your excellent progress is possible. Last year I had a 20-something cello student who made it throough Suzuki Book 5 in 10 months of lessons (she is also a singer and clarinet/sax player and so had a musical background of over a dozen years). Unfortunately, she move away after those 10 months. Her boyfriend wh took violin lessons from me (with much less musical background) was into the middle of Suzuki book 4 (on the Vivaldi A minor concerto). Although I have based my instruction on the Suzuki books for at least the past 30 years (before that I used the methods by which I was taught) I move the students to exercises and etudes and "pieces" from other sources as I think they are appropriate for what they need to learn.

I find students (of mine) always reach a "stopping point" (she had not reached hers yet). At that point they really have to work to get past whatever the hurdle is. But once past it they can continue to zoom on to the next one.

I would think that if you are studying in Suzuki but moving way beyond it on your own, you should move to a teacher who will give you more challenging instruction.

I am not a professional musician (I consider myself to be a "professional amateur" in my retirement from a life career as a physicist) but I play a lot (I've got 8 "sets" in the next 6 days) and I know (and sometimes play with) a number of professional musicians.

It is a good idea (if you feel music must be a central part of the rest of your life) to obtain an education that will also give you a backup (and pleasant) way of earning a living.

Just for calibration - I did meet a young woman in 1973 (she was 18 at the time and she said she had only started playing violin when she was 13) who was a member of the famous Heifetz Master Class at USC. In the master class we both attended at that time, she was just one of at least 6 violinists from that USC class. She performed first and after fingered octaves and scales in 10ths, she played the entire Bruch concerto in as fine a manner as any recording I have ever heard. I think she did a couple of Paganini caprices to (all those "Heifetz kids" did).



August 24, 2008 at 06:19 PM · Hi Jenni,

I tried to upload my sonata 1, but when I get to the end and hit submit, It just exits out, I've tried it on the desktop and my laptop and it does the same thing...I'll keep trying... I have a new laptop coming in two weeks, so I'll try on it.

August 24, 2008 at 06:31 PM · Andy,

Thanks for giving me hope... Now I still think it is possible.

BTW- I play sax, trumpet and a little piano as well.

August 24, 2008 at 06:49 PM · Why do you want to be a professional?

What are the advantages? Money? Fame? More time spent on music than you could as a good, professionally skilled, amateur with a profession or other source of money outside music? The thrill(?) of performing?

In music (according to my observation) you get a lot of respect from friends and colleagues if you have a good technique and / or if you are good musician. I think that drives some school and college age students. Also I look back and think as a guy in mid-twenties, being a great heroic tenor might make it easier to get girls! Being a violin soloist is probably not quite so glamorous, but would certainly give you some status.

I see nothing wrong with any of these reasons (though people who-unlike me-are professionals will disagree with me on that). But it might take your progress forward to write down, maybe even share here on the board, the reasons in your case for wanting this career path.

August 24, 2008 at 07:05 PM · I guess you could say a little bit of all of those... Not the money, but if I was to focus all mytime on violin, I would have to make money somehow. And yes, I would get great joy of out performing in front of audiences of hundreds or thousands of people. (my biggest audience has been 2 hundred)

I'm going to have to figure out what I will do for my career, By my senior year of highschool. My school is a large school devided into 5 smaller ones. I am in medical, and am scheduled to do internships at vet clinics and medical clinics. So I need to figure out if I'm going to be a professional in the med field, or performing.

What to do....

August 24, 2008 at 08:38 PM · There seem to be many excellent amateurs among doctors.

I went through some of those feelings. Probably when you get there, it is not what you think it is. But I guess that is something everyone has to find out in his own way.

One interesting thing to take into account, and something that I had not fully appreciated when I was your age, is that some of the very best talents, including (being realistic) some who are much better than you will ever be, end up with no, or very minor careers for a complex range of reasons. And some of them are arguably better than most of the people who do have major careers. Probably most people here could name such players, who either had no career, a minimal career, or had a promising career which was cut short. The world class players who had only minor careers would make a thread on its own, albeit a controversial one. The point has been made above, I though it worth underlining.

August 25, 2008 at 01:16 AM · I'm having problems submitting my msg

Is there a word limit??

August 25, 2008 at 01:38 AM · there shouldnt be, but you can send a message thru my account if you'd like

August 25, 2008 at 01:46 AM · Well. I'll try submit two posts I guess - sorry for double posting. (I think its kind of off topic aswell!)

This is aimed @ John Birchall

I have a very deep passion for it, I would like to become a 'semi-professional' (As work from 1 career and play for fun in another), I would be very comfortable playing on the weekends for local communities, playing with my other musician friends, spending some nights to peform in the orcehstra , going into competitions and also for the sake of peforming and composing my own pieces.

August 25, 2008 at 01:52 AM · ((continued on from last post))

I would LOVE it if I could make it as far as a soloist, or play as concert master - which I am also aiming for. I do not really care how long it takes me, but I am very determined.

August 25, 2008 at 01:55 AM · This is frustrating I still can't put the full thing in - theres even more to post...

I don't mind the constant practise - I actually love it, I doubt I would burn out at all.

I am very optimisict about the voilin, in my short stay with it - my teacher was very impressed and I was very flattered when I had another teacher come up to me and said that my teacher was bragging about finally having a student with talent.

Thats all XD

Sorry about that guys!!

August 25, 2008 at 02:36 AM · There are lots of things you can do besides be a veterinarian or play violin. You could keep animals from being made into strings. Or one time I watched some guys designing a satellite. They were spinning books into the air, first long ways, then short ways, and discussing which is more stable.

August 25, 2008 at 02:44 PM · Hi Paul,

I hope my personal experience would give you some idea of what to do:

I started violin in 5th grade. About 2 years later, I made it to suzuki 5, which many people would considered a great accomplishment. I went to a music store and picked up a copy of Bruch and Mendelssohn concerti, Zigeunerweisen, etc. without letting my teacher know, and started practicing. I kindda got parts of it and not others, but I kept convincing myself that it was possible and practiced.

A couple of years after that, I was still not able to play those pieces well enough to let anyone but myself hear. At the time, my teacher had me play bach concerto no. 1 in a minor and accolay concerto no. 1 in a minor, and I thought I was a master for whom those pieces were too easy. I actually complained to my teacher once because I thought she was holding me back. But I heard some recordings of the Bach concerto by Itzhak Perlman, Hilary Hahn, etc and was shocked by how much I sucked. I realized that I still had a LOOOOOOOOOOONG way to go before I could even start skimming through Bruch and Mendelssohn. Those sheet music are sitting still in my bookcase, and I probably won't be touching them until God knows when.

My point is, what you think you are capable of is not always the truth (and maybe FAR from it), and you really need some professional advice, from an experienced teacher or performer who knows the art of violin inside out. You might hear that you suck and shouldn't become a violinist, or you might hear that you're a true genius that the world hasn't seen for years. If it turns out that you are really talented, then by all means go for it. But deciding whether you're up for the journey should be done carefully, certainly not over an internet discussion board. Hope this helps a little, and good luck!

August 25, 2008 at 06:06 PM · Amen to that, philip.

Ye, Paul. For someone who has been playing for only two years, I would seriously think about getting professional advice. No offense, but you may be thinking a bit too highly of yourself.


t worry, it happens to most of us ;).

August 25, 2008 at 06:18 PM · "She doesnt want me to learn the "hard" pieces yet, but i do it anyway without her knowing."

...not a good idea, IMHO

"Please, if your teacher has given you reason to trust him/her, then follow the advice you receive during lessons. "

...sums it up pefectly for me.

August 26, 2008 at 12:26 AM · "She doesnt want me to learn the "hard" pieces yet, but I do it anyway without her knowing."

Very bad idea. You'll develop bad habits. Be honest with your teacher.

Suzuki 4 for someone who's been playing violin for 2 years is pretty good. Relax a little. You can't get something like the Sibelius overnight. It's years and years of hard work to bring it up to performance level.

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email

Violinist.com is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music: Protect your instrument this winter

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Starling-DeLay Symposium
Starling-DeLay Symposium

Los Angeles Philharmonic
LA Phil

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Violinist.com Shopping Guide
Violinist.com Shopping Guide

ARIA International Summer Academy

Study with the Elizabeth Faidley Studio

Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Jargar Strings

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop



Los Angeles Violin Shop


String Masters

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of Violinist.com in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews.

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine