What jobs can a violinist have???

January 7, 2012 at 03:11 AM · Hi everyone,

I'm just interesting in knowing what kind of job opportunities are out there for a violinist. This may seem like a funny question but I really don't know.

Please exclude teaching, firstly that is an obvious one but secondly I don't think I'm cut out for being a teacher anyway :)

I'm especially interested in jobs that will actually allow me to play my violin, not just use musical knowledge - hope this makes sense.

Replies (30)

January 7, 2012 at 05:31 AM · Katisha,

The likely jobs for performing classical violinists are:

1. Orchestras (including opera and ballet, and touring chamber orchestras)

2. Touring chamber group

3. Touring soloist

4. Recording studio artist

5. Other (this could include Broadway-type shows, a category for which fewer and fewer string players are needed).

I know you said you wouldn't want to teach at this point, but for most people, it represents too large a chunk of income to ignore. Few freelance musicians are able to get by without it.

January 7, 2012 at 06:26 AM · Katisha, you didn't specify "classical" violinist, so you might be interested in this recent post-thread, if you missed it.

Sometimes the job requires a person with imagination (outside the box) to create it.

There are more part-time jobs available at the moment than full-time ones (even with the teaching Scott Cole rightly supports) so you might want to explore all your talents; more fun that way, anyway.

January 7, 2012 at 02:42 PM · Working at McDonalds?

January 7, 2012 at 02:45 PM · Toilet cleaner? (wink)

January 7, 2012 at 06:42 PM · Most violinists are more qualified to be waiters at a more upscale establishment like Olive Garden or Chilis rather than Mcdonalds.

January 7, 2012 at 07:06 PM · Waitress. Substitute teacher. Cashier at a variety store. Quilt shop stitcher. Summer camp baker. ...Hey, we do what we can to get by.

But seriously, if you're creative, you can also get grant money for various musical projects.

January 7, 2012 at 07:27 PM · There is absolutely no reason why a violinist cannot acquire skills and experiences and to have an enjoyable job or two outside the music world while keep playing violin at a level as high as one wants to achieve. Good violinists I know or played with are lawyers, professors, a computer engineer working for Microsoft, and some government employees.

Some of the best violinists I've met are doctors: one is a concertmaster in a professional orchestra. Another, a former student of Galamian and Heifetz, Mark Lupin, now a well-respected dermatologist in our city and still a soloist who makes international tours.

January 7, 2012 at 08:24 PM · Hi Katisha - The Australian Guide to Careers in Music indexes more than 150 sorts of music careers.

Many musicians, though, enjoy portfolio careers and live off of a number of income streams rather than seeking traditional jobs.

In the words of Isaac Stern, “To be a musician in the service of music is not a job; it is a way of life.”

January 7, 2012 at 11:33 PM · Contracting can be a very lucrative line. Depending on your local gig culture, contracting weddings/parties can bring in $50 to up or over $1000 a pop.

One of the orchestras I was in paid me to mark bowings in the string parts. That sort of (part time) job is usually farmed out to players in the orchestra. That paid well.

Other things I have done:

Office supply store clerk

College bookstore clerk

Clothing retail clerk

CD store assistant manager, hired specifically to build a classical CD section. That was awhile ago, back in grad school. I don't think there are CD stores anymore...

Department store customer service counter

Bookstore clerk

Y'all can knock waiters if you want. I've never worked in food service, but the local Big-Time Super-Expensive famous restaurant (in Birmingham, there is only one of these) has some musicians waiting tables. From what I've heard, this is a well paying gig.

Not that I eat there.

January 8, 2012 at 05:52 AM · I stand corrected, Dr. Berg.

January 8, 2012 at 06:04 AM · If I understand the OP's question correctly, she wants to know what jobs, excluding teaching and performing, allow her to play violin as part of the job description.

How about "enhanced interrogation specialist"?! (I am very qualified. :) )

Seriously, music therapist is one. Also, violin shops often hire players so they can test instruments and try out violins and bows for their customers, but they usually have other responsibilities as well.

Do string, rosin, chin rest, shoulder rest manufacturers hire violinists to test their products?

January 8, 2012 at 02:32 PM · Waiting tables used to be great money, some places anyway. Sure paid my bills for many years that way.

As far as music therapy goes, that is a specialized degree, certification required, but something a music lover might consider studying.

January 8, 2012 at 05:57 PM · I have this friend who is a naval officer and also works for the cia say that theoretically if I were interested, I could work for the CIA by talking to diplomats who came to my concerts in foreign countries and attended after concert receptions. He said you never know when you can pick up some valuable info at this type of occasion.

January 9, 2012 at 04:51 AM · ENGlISH TEACHER!

My friend Jessica is a classically trained violinist and "played" with Tim Janis (a total bastard who pantomines to his CDs; Jessica never ... NEVER ... played live with him ... but that's her story), and I'm just a newbie returned to the discipline, but we both teach freshman composition at the University of North Texas. It's just a thought. Do what you have to do for a day job and play that violin when you can!

January 9, 2012 at 04:51 AM · Oh, God. I mispelled ENGLISH! Hangs head in shame.

January 9, 2012 at 05:26 AM · ""Berg." Is that a Jewish surname? Are you not already a sayanim engaged in the act of intelligence gathering for a foreign power?"


I'm not sure what to make of this and your comment about blacks being the best tippers.


January 9, 2012 at 09:05 AM · If you can improvise a little - and I don't mean jazz improvisation - you could play with contemporary dance companies. Some have orchestras but many will use one or two musicians. Dance companies are inclined to employ people they get on with and who share similar ideas so you will not have to play virtuoso solos for your audition.

A friend of mine is playing violin and singing with a theatre company in Catalunya at the moment.

In the U.K. there is a violinist, Sylvia Hallett, who has been doing this for years, you could look at her website for ideas.

January 9, 2012 at 03:14 PM · @Nathan, you can edit your posts. If you are logged in, look for "EDIT" at the bottom of your post.

@Scott, it is full moon tonight.

January 9, 2012 at 03:21 PM · Wine demonstrator. I thought about doing this, the pay is good, and it only takes a few hours on the weekend. But I ended up having a lot of students and stuck to wine drinking.

January 9, 2012 at 03:54 PM · Ketisha,

Most violinists who are involved with music full-time do a combination of performing and teaching. If you are not interested in teaching, then you will probably need to combine your music performance with a non-musical job. For example, I am a part-time orchestral and chamber music player and work a conventional clerical job. My college degree was in a non-music field and I never wanted to be involved with music full-time. Like you, I am not interested in or cut out for teaching. I have a range of interests besides music, and I feel that my way of life allows for a more complete and balanced existence. Do you have other interests or skills outside of music? If so, you might want to find a field where you can indulge those skills, and in addition work on your musical side.

January 9, 2012 at 03:57 PM · One more thing, you might consider arts administration or working for an arts organization (for example, operations director for an orchestra, theatre, etc.)

January 9, 2012 at 03:58 PM ·

January 9, 2012 at 03:59 PM ·

January 9, 2012 at 03:59 PM ·

January 9, 2012 at 03:59 PM ·

January 9, 2012 at 05:46 PM · Basically the question seems to be how one can make a living wage doing something for which one has no directly relevant training or experience. From what I've seen there are a couple of quite popular options that haven't yet been mentioned in this thread:

(1) Homemaker (male or female)

(2) Home-school mom or dad

Whether it pays a living wage depends on a range of complicated factors contributing to your skill in finding the right life partner. But I'm told it's nice work if you can get it, because there can be time for practicing, orchestra playing, and even some other gigs like weddings.

January 9, 2012 at 06:24 PM · I really think the colleges don't prepare people for the real world! When I was doing my jazz post-graduate there were teachers I heard of in the classical department that actively discouraged students from playing any other styles than classical and the only career options were soloist, orchestra, chamber and teaching.

If you can learn some other styles and learn the essential skills of improvising, playing by ear and composing then you will have many more options open to you. Keep an open mind and be prepared to find niches. If a band offers you work and they are good musicians that are working regularly then don't turn it down no matter the style, if you want to feed your family that is!

Learn to improvise but remember it's not just about soloing, it's also about being able to improvise an accompaniment or an ad hoc part. Learn chords and learn how to pad and you will be useful!

If you want to cut your teeth with this turn up to an open mic night and offer to accompany one of the many singer-songwriters. If you are decent other singer-songwriters will approach you and ask you to play with them, some will even pay you to play with them which is what you are aiming at of course. Don't do it all for free, explain that you need to make your living this way. Some of these players will have paying gigs anyway.

Put up cards in music shops, give out cards, network.

January 11, 2012 at 05:34 AM · Christopher,

You are "on the money" with your comment about learning alternate styles, especially if you are looking at a free lance career. There are a number of schools with good jazz or early music programs.Learning to play viola as well as violin is of course a plus. Also, if you are academically inclined having the reputation of being a scholarly informed performer goes a long way.

January 11, 2012 at 09:11 PM · Get a permit and play as a street musician. You will be able to play a lot, and many times you can polish new pieces this way. I started out as a street musician when a previous job didn't work out. I am earning around 40 dollars a day for playing between an hour and two hours, and it allows me to pay the expenses I have. It is also a good opportunity to meet people who want me to play in events such as weddings, dinner parties, and birthday parties. Almost all of my students who started with me found me in the market, or downtown. Although I have now found a 'real' job (English as a foreign language teacher) I still continue playing on the streets bc it's enjoyable and extra money is always a perk.

January 11, 2012 at 09:15 PM · When I played in orchestras I found that I was a prostitute, but it still didn't pay that well ...

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