College/Experience (please help)

February 1, 2016 at 06:51 PM · I've been playing violin for 2.5 years and I'm in my freshman year of high school. I take lessons once a week and I'm currently working on playing La Folia as a solo. I want to graduate high school and go to Manhattan School of Music in NY. Do you think I'd be good enough to get in since I would have only been playing for five years at the end of high school? I'm usually first chair in my class. I've looked at the audition pieces for MSM (Bartok violin concerto, Mozart Concerto 3 4 or 5, Mendelssohn Midsummer Night's Dream, Strauss Don Juan) and I can't play them. Do you think I'll be able to play them by my 12th grade year? Do you think I'd be good enough to play in a symphony after college?

Replies (74)

February 1, 2016 at 10:16 PM · Nobody knows how you sound except your teachers. Ask them. But, you have 2 years minimum to get up to speed for requirements at MSM. I very highly doubt you could even be remotely close to the technical ability required within 2 years. But again, I nor anybody knows you except your teacher. Chat with them instead about realistic expectations. You may not want to hear what they say, but you probably do not want people who do not know anything about you saying worse things.

February 1, 2016 at 10:28 PM · If you've been playing 2.5 years and you are in your first year of high school, then you started when you were 11-ish, right? La Folia is a fine piece and important to study -- and polish -- for many reasons. But that's the beginning of Suzuki Book 6, so I would say that your rate of progress so far is good but not stellar. It doesn't extrapolate to anything near the audition list that you provided within three years. And remember those pieces cannot just be played -- they have to be played really well.

Please know that you can really enjoy the violin as a big part of your life even if you do not go to a conservatory or major in violin performance in college. Obviously you enjoy it more the better you play. So, continue to study and practice, and see how far you can take it. But you really need to have a backup plan for college in case musical performance does not materialize as a viable career option, especially if you expect that to happen on the usual schedule.

February 1, 2016 at 10:32 PM · No week on V.com is complete without someone asking a question like this. :-)

The question is not about the Manhattan School in particular (though you should note that this is a highly competitive school, so that raises the bar you have to aim for, as whatever you play for the audition needs to be played masterfully, not just at the bare minimum of competence needed to get through it). It's really about what you see as your future.

Symphony orchestra jobs are exceptionally difficult to come by -- even for people who, at your age, already have all the technical chops to play that repertoire flawlessly and are only going to refine their skills from now on.

Why not consider playing the violin as a hobby? You could join a community orchestra (where they won't pay you, but you'll probably have fun).

February 2, 2016 at 05:09 AM · It is indeed tough to know where you are without hearing you, nor do I know your circumstances ( and I am not sure why almost no one posts videos or recordings of playing to such threads ), but I must say that it is definitely not common, but certainly not unheard of for someone to start on a string instrument at the age you did and go as further than many who starter earlier. Do not allow anyone to try to discourage you on a basis of starting age alone. Examples of late starters include Rainer Küchl, recently retired concertmaster of the Vienna Philharmonic who starter at age 11 and landed the job 9 years later, Matthew Lipman who started viola ( yes viola is extremely competitive too!) at age 10 and now has an Avery Fisher Career Grant, Carter Brey who began at 12 and is now on the faculty at Curtis. There are quite a few more. For those who argue for innate talent, know that the process of becoming extremely skilled at something is a much more complex matter, which scientists still research, in which innate ability only plays a small part. You might have to make some immediate sacrifices if this is what you really see yourself doing. I would advise that the OP try to get in the biggest pond possible, practice as much and efficiently as possible, find the best teacher in your area that you can afford and who believes in you, and gain as much support from your community as you can.

February 2, 2016 at 01:20 PM · There are a few--a VERY VERY few--success stories among people who started in the 11-12 age range. But we also know the OP's trajectory; after 2.5 years of study, she is learning La Folia in Suzuki book 6. I don't want to make the OP feel bad as this is actually a respectable learning curve. But it is not a pace that will likely prepare her for a major conservatory audition in three years. I agree with both Paul and Lydia's comments.

What I think is more likely to happen if the OP is absolutely determined to make her way in music is that she will be able to gain admittance to a third-tier music department or school at a state university where if she works very hard, she might be able to advance to getting into a second-tier graduate school. But what then? There are far more conservatory and university graduates than there are available symphony orchestra jobs, and the process of getting such a job is absolutely brutal. Most likely she will be able to piece together a life of Freeway Philharmonic gigs, weddings, and private students, but the odds of winning a symphony job are low even for the students who are currently studying at Juilliard Prep.

To the OP, if you have not yet discussed your aspirations with your private teacher, you need to do so. And if you have a teacher who is willing to tell you the truth, you will eventually be grateful although it may not seem like it at the moment.

February 2, 2016 at 03:34 PM · You are at an age when incredibly rapid progress is possible. Take advantage of your summer vacations to work on progress as much as you possibly can. I can identify with this because I started cello at the beginning of my HS Sophomore year and had completed study of the Haydn D major concerto with my teacher 2 years later.

The fact that I had played the violin for 10 years before starting cello meant that there were all kinds of beginner string player issues I did not have to deal with, but still that was remarkable progress. I still don't know how I did it other than determination and 2 hours of carefully rationed practice every day. I also continued violin playing all those years and was CM of my HS orchestra for my last 3 years.

A bit more encouragement: Years ago I participated in a violin master class with a number of USC students from the Heifetz Master Class there. One of those Heifetz students was an 18 year old girl who had started violin at age 13. She gave a marvelous,concert-worthy performance of the Bruch concerto, as well all the Heifetz-required 3-octave scales in fingered octaves, tenths, etc. - and she had teeny-tiny hands about half as wide as mine.

For starters, make this your goal and work toward it and as Mary Ellen suggested, engage your teacher in it with you. It would be a big help if your teacher has the background to know what challenges lie ahead of you to reach your goal.

Andy

February 2, 2016 at 05:04 PM · The trick is to find the teacher who "believes in you" but who isn't just telling you what you want to hear because that's easier. Exactly how does a young teenager tell the difference, if even there is one?

Lieschen mentioned Carter Brey as starting at 12. According to his bio on Wikipedia, Brey started violin at 9 and switched to cello at 12. It says that he didn't decide on a performing career until he was 16. That doesn't mean he was still working out of Suzuki books. He might have waited until his level of accomplishment on the cello was overcoming other viable options. The OP is not there yet.

The problem with preparing for a career as a violinist is that it's an "all in" kind of proposition. All of your other activities and even your school work are secondary. And it's not just all-in for you, but your parents need to be fully behind you too, in terms of their time, encouragement, financial resources, etc.

February 2, 2016 at 08:58 PM · I'm also not convinced that for someone who wants to perform, especially if they want to play orchestral music, that the outcomes are significantly worse as an amateur than they are for trained pros who don't go to first-tier schools (and even some who do).

Put another way: There may be relatively little difference between the playing opportunities available to you as a well-trained amateur, versus someone who pursues professional training but isn't at the level where they could get into first-tier schools. I suspect that gets increasingly true as non-performing pros age -- they lose some of their technical chops, especially if they don't practice a lot.

I've met a lot of people who are professionally trained -- even who went to first-tier schools and had first-rate teachers there -- who ended up going to non-music top-tier grad schools in order to switch fields. So if you're an academic star and have the family resources to get an undergrad music degree that might not be useful later, and then do grad school, it's not a crazy path.

A teacher who is preparing a student for conservatory auditions should be able to articulate a specific path, with deadlines for achieving particular goals. A teacher who "believes" should have the experience of successfully sending students to such auditions and know what it takes to methodically work up to that point.

I can tell you that in my teenage years, my own teachers were methodical about equipping me with certain skills -- the repertoire for a conservatory audition, and the repertoire for a professional orchestra audition, for instance, taught over time . Even though I was already sure that I didn't want a violin career, my teachers thought it would be a good idea if I had those things as a contingency plan if I ever changed my mind. If the OP has a teacher who can't teach that kind of prep, they'll need to find one that can.

February 3, 2016 at 06:36 PM · Attending university as a music major and then switching into a non-music graduate or professional program -- I agree that's a viable path. But you do have to make careful choices about elective courses and extracurricular involvement (stuff like summer research or internships). The risk of staying on the fence between two orthogonal areas is that your competition on either side are folks who have dedicated all (or nearly all) of their talent and energy to just one area.

February 3, 2016 at 06:42 PM · Many responses are focusing on the teacher being able to fast track your studies. But the responsibility ultimately is on YOUR shoulders. You need to be working 3-4+ hours daily, 7 days a week. Practice needs to be your No. 1 priority. Are you willing to do what it takes? No one is going to do it for you, and the best teacher in the world cannot get you where you want to be IF you don't work. And it is hard work! Many people don't like hearing that.

February 3, 2016 at 07:41 PM · Why does everyone automatically trot out Carter Brey as an example of anything realistic for other late starters?

February 3, 2016 at 09:08 PM · The admin of the Facebook group The Violin Guild is a late starter, and is probably a good example of where good teaching and solid determination can get you. Five years of intense study, followed by University of Michigan undergrad, University of Arizona DMA program. His website links to a number of videos of his playing and compositions.

Open question as to whether or not he's going to win an orchestral job, but he's caught up sufficiently to be competitive against the other students in his (not top-ranked) program.

February 4, 2016 at 05:24 AM · I went to an very academic (non-music) college, and studied other materials. I then went to grad school &I post-grad for music, and now have a great orchestra job in Europe. I'd suggest that route as a better, more viable option that leaves you with more potential career options in the future. It is doable, but will require lots of work (and it's very important to work smarter, not harder, to catch up and overtake other players!)

February 4, 2016 at 05:39 AM · My guess is, though, Chris Atanasiu, is that you were already playing at a high level of competence by the time you finished high school?

February 4, 2016 at 08:12 AM · I was playing decently on violin, but not particularly well, certainly not anywhere near well enough to get into a good music school.

I switched to viola to play chamber music, and practiced a lot as I was in college. I'd have been far, far behind if I had tried to go to music school directly, and I don't think I would have learned as much. I know a number of musicians who have been very successful following similar paths.

February 4, 2016 at 08:12 AM · Also, don't get set on just going to MSM, because there are lots of great schools, including Colburn, Michigan, Mannes,Indiana,Juilliard,etc...

February 4, 2016 at 02:57 PM · Hard work is necessary but hard work is not sufficient. The problem with the "follow your dreams" crowd (not saying anyone here is part of that) is that some dreams are unattainable, and working very very hard in pursuit of an unattainable dream only makes it that much harder to achieve something else wonderful.

BTW Colburn and Juilliard are harder to get into than MSM. Indiana and Mannes are, if not necessarily harder, in the same league. I stand by my prediction that the most likely outcome for the OP is admission into a third-tier program. There are some good teachers in lower-level programs, of course, and with hard work it is possible to do some catching up. I teach in such a program myself and have a couple of ambitious students who are doing very well. But I think I may be the only person in this discussion who is actually listening to professional auditions, and you would not believe how well one must play to get any kind of fulltime job at all, and how stiff the competition is.

February 4, 2016 at 10:20 PM · Juilliard and Colburn are harder to get into, but there's also more chance of getting enough aid to really go than at MSM. There are a lot of schools out there, and I meant mainly that limiting yourself to one is going to to make it much more difficult, and that you should apply to a range of programs, fro. Those you're pretty sure you'll get into, all the way to some pretty serious reach schools, also, look for the teacher, not the school. A diploma is worthless if you've had a bad relationship with a teacher, and you've not learned enough, or been well prepared for your future because of a difficult student-teacher relationship. Many teachers in the nyc area double up on schools, and teach in various programs. Diversify!

Also, as far as professional auditions go, in Germany, 50-70% of the orchestra sits in on each and every audition, and we have at least 3-4 spots open constantly (130 people and a retirement age of 65 means we're constantly hiring). It's very hard to get a job, but there are a lot of opportunities, particularly if you look abroad. That said, there are two main challenges: 1) getting to the point where you can Play all of the audition repertoire perfectly, and 2) getting to the point where you can do it in front of a jury. Even in Germany, where there are 130 orchestras, the vast majority of music grads do not make it, so having a degree in another field, while studying with as good a teacher as possible (and taking your playing to the necessary level) is all you need to get into a graduate program. I know a number of musicians who've gone this route, and all of them have been very successful. If you can't do the musical catching up, you'll have something to fall back on.

February 5, 2016 at 01:14 PM · Chris, were you starting Suzuki Book 6 in high school?

February 5, 2016 at 03:31 PM · "Juilliard and Colburn are harder to get into, but there's also more chance of getting enough aid to really go than at MSM. "

1. You don't get offered any aid if you don't get admitted.

2. Colburn is a full ride, which means it is attracting the same applicant pool as Curtis. CURTIS.

It does nobody any favors to feed an unrealistic false hope. I don't even have to go out on a limb to say that the OP has zero chance of getting into Juilliard or its peers when she is a high school senior.

Look, I know about outliers. I was one--not a late starter, but definitely a late practicer. I consider it the miracle of my life that I was admitted to Oberlin in 1978. Under no circumstances would somebody now be admitted to Oberlin playing the way I did as a high school senior. If I were to have a student now playing at the level I did as a high school student and with a similar work ethic, I would discourage them from professional aspirations. And yet at that I was quite a bit more advanced than the OP describes herself, at the same age.

I'm not saying the OP has zero chance at a professional career. She obviously has talent and works hard. With the right teacher, she might get into a pretty good graduate school after her undergrad. But she would be wasting her time and her money if she were to start auditioning for conservatories in three years. I base this opinion on my observation of my own students' experiences as well as my experience teaching in a third tier program. My opinion of her future professional possibility of success is based on 20 years of listening to professional auditions in a mid-level US orchestra (everyone is full-time and we play extremely well but we are not paid generously).

Europe is a completely different situation with more full time orchestras per capita. In my younger years when I was still taking auditions myself and getting coaching from the concertmaster of a major US orchestra, my teacher (said concertmaster) was urging me to go to Europe because he thought I would do extremely well there (as opposed, I suppose, to the US, where I ended up with a respectable position but not a stellar one). But Europe also, as you have pointed out yourself, is extremely competitive.

February 5, 2016 at 05:32 PM · Like Mary Ellen, I see a huge difference between "then" and "now." We hear these stories of so-and-so from 1960 who went from being a plumber to an orchestral violinist or teaching violin in college or whatever. That is just not possible now.

If I were a high-schooler playing La Folia and thinking about a professional career, this is the kind of thing I would find disturbing:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78B1Gk_UdOY

Suzuki is partly or even largely responsible. He popularized the violin, and he raised the bar for everyone in terms of pedagogy. This is true even if you think his particular approach is wrong.

February 5, 2016 at 07:12 PM ·

February 5, 2016 at 08:01 PM · I'd just like to reiterate that I suggest going to school for a degree in SOMETHING ELSE!

If, however, someone is set on this path, and really wants to put in a tremendous amount of work, then in 3/4 years (given a potential year off after high school), the entrance requirements are reasonable, and not by any means an unrealistic false hope.

I know a number of people who were admitted to Juilliard/Mannes/MSM who were also late starters, but smart practicers. It is not a likely outcome, but given talent, and enough desire, THIS IS POSSIBLE.

I'd suggest trying to find faculty at these schools, (Patinka Kopec, Ann Setzer, many others as well, those are just the first two names that come to mind), and perhaps send a recording, or go to as high level summer programs as possible.

OP, There is a path to follow that can take you where you want to go. Nobody should be saying that this a career is impossible just because you started playing at 12 years old (my guess bases on your post), we do not know how you play, or how you progress! Just be conscious that you're aiming for an extremely competitive, difficult field of work. If you don't feel like you're completely, and I mean COMPLETELY committed, then it's probably not worth trying.

February 5, 2016 at 10:27 PM · I was just looking back at the OP's original post and realized: OP, you're looking at the wrong audition requirements. What you've listed is almost certainly for a graduate degree focused on orchestral performance. You want to look at the entrance requirements for the undergrad performance BM.

Not that the bar would be any lower, in terms of repertoire difficulty.

February 6, 2016 at 02:08 AM · Christian wrote "we do not know how you play, or how you progress" yay to the former, nay to the latter. 2 and a half years : around Suzuki Book 6. That trajectory is really good, but not going to suddenly propel this student into a competitive situation. How the OP plays is not a given - it could be a great La Folia that is a sign of things to come, those things are far more likely to be realised in ongoing private lessons outside of a conservatory setting than they are within. It could also be a sad La Folia.

February 6, 2016 at 04:23 PM · Sharelle, that's exactly my point. With that trajectory, if you play a very good la folia, this may be a stretch, but is feasible. If it's very rough, and full of technical issues, then perhaps it would be better to rethink the ambitions.

February 6, 2016 at 04:23 PM · Sharelle, that's exactly my point. With that trajectory, if you play a very good la folia, this may be a stretch, but is feasible. If it's very rough, and full of technical issues, then perhaps it would be better to rethink the ambitions.

February 6, 2016 at 04:23 PM · Sharelle, that's exactly my point. With that trajectory, if you play a very good la folia, this may be a stretch, but is feasible. If it's very rough, and full of technical issues, then perhaps it would be better to rethink the ambitions.

February 6, 2016 at 05:08 PM · I agree with Chris. One also has to remember that many students starting at "normal" age may not be practicing much in the beginning. Lots of 5 year olds just starting are started with just 15-30min. a day and increase very slowly from there not to mention that many are forced to even do that much by their parents. The jury is still out on whether earlier starters possess some sort of biological advantage that makes it easier for them to learn. There are of course some who are more autonomous and serious as younger beginners or have tiger parents, but I don't necessarily think that the average conservatory level student is putting in tons of time in the first few years of playing and it should be possible to make up for the lost hours given a very serious commitment.

February 6, 2016 at 05:36 PM · Jenny, I see your point as well. If one's teacher were really well informed and had sent a number of students to conservatories or if they were in a community with access to quality musical institutions, it would not be necessary to ask on a forum, which probably means they do not have access to quality training and thus probably have a slim chance of progressing quickly enough to reach the conservatory level.

February 6, 2016 at 06:29 PM · You can get highly competent teachers out in the sticks if there's a local university. The same crazy system that produces an abundance of highly-qualified people competing for a tiny number of jobs also ensures that if there's a tenure-track professorship somewhere, it probably goes to someone who is trained to a very high caliber.

Given that we're now big (as a society in the US) into not crushing the dreams of children, a teacher is highly unlikely to tell their student that their dream is unrealistic. That's what uncaring strangers on the Internet are for. :-)

February 6, 2016 at 06:47 PM ·

February 6, 2016 at 09:28 PM · "Given that we're now big (as a society in the US) into not crushing the dreams of children, a teacher is highly unlikely to tell their student that their dream is unrealistic."

**sigh** Perhaps I should get business cards printed up that say "Specializes in crushing adolescents' dreams."

I don't enjoy doing it, but I will look a student in the eye and tell them "You will not get into Oberlin," or "You do not have a future in fulltime professional music." It is not a kindness to avoid the uncomfortable truth.

It is also not a kindness to describe the absolute best-case, lowest-probability scenario to strangers on the internet as if it can be a realistic expectation. One chance out of one hundred "yes" means ninety-nine out of one hundred "no," and which group is someone more likely to belong to?

February 7, 2016 at 09:18 AM · Though they never use the term 'outlier' isn't it at the heart of the question all these young people are asking? "How can I beat the odds, how can I become the outlier?" Yes there's more competition every day (for whatever reason, it never seems to plateau.) But it's not really a kindness to just say don't do it. Some will regret not trying for the rest of their lives if they really love the idea of it. Tell it like it is, but maybe suggest what it will likely take. The real question is, 'are you willing and able to do what it takes?' Most kids are not and cannot, and with guidance they'll come to realize it for themselves. Regardless I think they might like to hear about how you, or someone you know, made it despite the odds. Apart from a lot of luck, what made the difference? The ones actually willing to do what it takes will be able to make a go of it. And should they decide to, they'd also be the ones able to switch gears and be fulfilled doing something else.

You don't necessarily need to get into a top tier school for undergrad to be trained well. Indeed many teachers at top schools (the dogmatic ones, or the natural born prodigies who've never analyzed how they themselves do it) won't know how to remediate; they 'finish' already technically developed students. A late starter needs to find a teacher who knows how to analyze the individual needs of a student, and knows how to build a solid baseline technique in short order. Learning is not linear. You don't have to follow some set curriculum to get to a level of competency. You do need to have a clear idea of what you can and can't do and why, and be shown specifically how to solve problems, learn how to learn. The teacher also should be well connected, at least enough to know of a couple of options where the student can go for undergrad and continue the work needed to get into a good masters or diploma program.

The 5 year old prodigy is not necessarily the competition for the OP. You don't need a soloistic style to get a job in an orchestra (it may even work against you, if you sound too individualistic.) And most of them are gunning for 'other' work. Orchestral skills (section strings) are highly specialized. Not everyone can do it, even if they're considered to have virtuosic ability. You need to be able to play cleanly and controlled, in tune, in time, and accurately, reflecting the markings in the score, i.e. you need to develop an ear/mind for musical detail, not individualistic interpretation. You also need a special blend of confidence and humility, or else you end up being miserable for the rest of your career (as many are.) I would suggest most people who can achieve such a level will be able to do so regardless of the age at which they start given enough time (about 5-6 years of deliberate practice, with another 4 or 5 to increase accuracy, build rep., gain experience and confidence, and learn style and general musical knowledge.) In other words, such success is largely innately determined (whether the skill is work ethic, or physical ability, or musical; hopefully you have all three.) So it's important to know if you've got the stuff, to know yourself while remaining open to possibility. But given financial feasibility, does it really hurt to try and risk failing? Yes some will be crushed by failure and might remain bitter, and others will learn from the process and move on to bigger and better things. But those who would be crushed would most likely experience the same defeat in other fields also.

It's true the student has to commit to do what it will take. But as Chris says you absolutely need a teacher who knows how to build baseline technique in a very short time, on the order of 1 to 2 years. The teacher must be able to accurately assess the individual needs of the student and know several approaches to take.

It should look something like the following for someone starting at 12 to 16 after maybe 6 mos. to a year of beginner stuff, or someone 'getting serious' in that age range:

6 mos to 1 year, depending on individual needs, on mostly technique (no ensembles or orchestras, no competitions, no gigs!, no playing at family or friend's wedding, no playing at church or school, no experimenting with favourite pieces, no goofin' around): arpeggios and scales, exercises and etudes, lots of Sevcik type material (Bytovetski, Sammons, Yost, Flesch, Sevcik Opp. 2 and 3) and Kreutzer (1-14 inclusive, plus some Kayser and Dont Op.37 if needed,) incorporating very selective rep. near the latter stages. More periods of solid technique building will likely be required, 3-6 mos. at a time (Singer, Nerini, Dounis, Kreutzer 23, 26, 33, some trill studies, Dont Op.35 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 17, some Rode, some Gavinies, some Wieniawski Op. 18; don't need Paganini at this time; most of us will never need Paganini) along with specific, technical pieces, or sections of pieces. After a baseline of technique has been achieved, build rep. along with some of the more advanced studies, revisiting basic studies and exercises as needed: Viotti and 19th C French violinist-composers, early Mozart Sonatas and Concerti, some Bach, some show pieces (Kreisler, Sarasate, Vieuxtemps, Wieniawski) introduce chamber music experience, and possibly some local competitions. Unless an accomplished student orchestra is available, orchestras should be avoided at all costs; without experienced professional coaching, they're a complete waste of time. Weekly master classes, where students can try out whatever they're working on, whether repertoire, technique, scales (thinking in keys, and playing rhythmically) in a controlled, safe environment, will be of huge benefit, as will carefully chosen summer programs, preferably with current teacher, or teacher's trusted colleagues. Theory and ear training, preferably from a private keyboard harmony teacher, should be done on top of violin lessons throughout.

One year break from an academic program after highschool, doing pure musical training is desirable, and might be necessary for some. By the end of this period, if applying to a performance program, the student should have some Bach, Mozart, and a Romantic concerto (finished first movement) such as Lalo, Vieuxtemps 5, Bruch, Barber and possibly Mendelssohn, in the pocket. This could get the student into a Manhattan type school, but the student will do better looking for the right teacher (regardless of school, usually in a 'smaller pond' where individual attention is guaranteed) with whom the work can be continued.

If applying to another major, whether in music or not, e.g. Musicology or Music History (I think Music Education should be reserved for those intending to pursue a career in it--too much work required) the student would still be on track with Viotti 22, some Mozart (early sonatas and concertos) and Bach by the end of highschool, and do several of the above Romantic concertos during undergrad, and as with performance majors, work towards several more advanced concertos (Vieutemps 4, Wieniawski 2, Saint-Saens, Prokofiev, Chausson, Goldmark, Beethoven in later years) along with the three Mozart concertos (G, and at least one of D and A), some sonatas (Beethoven, late Mozart, some Romantic sonatas) and at least 2 or 3 complete solo Bach, some show pieces (more of the above, Saint Saens, Ravel, contemporary rep., etc.) Bartok 2 would be amazing to learn but not necessary, as it's harder than the big 3; at least one of Sibelius, Tchaik, Brahms can be left for grad school or a diploma program at a good school. But again, choosing the right teacher(s) should come before the school. The student should know exactly what deficits remain and seek out teachers who can help with very specific problems. Also, a teacher known for teaching orchestral excerpts and audition prep. skills, and having a track record of training successful (winning) students should be sought. Summer camps, training orchestras should be chosen with the teacher. All of this will cost a lot of money. If an issue, consider studying in Canada, Australia, Europe, Asia(?) if you can make the right connections. Doing undergrad in Canada would probably be less than half of the cost of an American school (last year: $21,372.27 at McGill before room and board, which is $15,358.06 USD today, compared to $42,864 USD at Manhattan.)

Here's a list of skills and attributes (in no particular order) which will help. The more you have the greater your chances of becoming an outlier.

-Comfort playing in all positions (not just 1st to 5th) and with bowing, even if not yet skilled

-Advantageous body type: narrow shoulders, or long arms relative to breadth of shoulders, big hands, even length fingers, wide palms, fleshy finger tips, flexible and strong hands, strong pinky, low set clavicles and square shoulders, long upper arms, greater forward angle of shoulder blades (closer to 45 degrees than 30,) physically tough/high pain threshold

-Good health

-Mental strength: 'thick skin'/don't care what others think, have perseverance and discipline, long attention span, analytical skills and ability to focus intently, able to be dispassionate and objective, confident, don't easily get bored, have strong follow through, thrive under pressure, deal well with stress

-Musical skills: strong rhythmic sense, good musical memory, absolute pitch, relative pitch

-Physical skills: strong kinesthetics, good feel for body space and movement, quick reflexes and speed, good coordination, generally relaxed in character and composure

-Nerves of steel: low adrenaline response, steady arms and hands

-Strong support system

-Financial means

What other skills do you have? Organizational, leadership, people skills, mediatory, sales/fundraising, family connections, entrepreneurial? These come in handy if you want to parlay them into some administrative capacity, or start your own performance group or summer festival, where you become indispensable because of them, even if you're not the strongest player around. A marketing degree, or Arts Administration in undergrad could prove to be very useful, provided you have access to the teacher you need.

Of course there are no guarantees, even for those with extensive training and impeccable pedigree. But are there any real guarantees in life, besides death and taxes, and regret at having never risked and never tried?

So, Katie, can you find the teacher you need if you haven't already? Are you willing and able to do what it takes to be a contender?

February 7, 2016 at 01:09 PM ·

February 7, 2016 at 01:49 PM · If she is playing La Folia reasonably ok then the first half of Kreutzer is in reach. But if she has not done ANY studies then maybe better start with Kayser? Some of those are harder than some Kreutzers. Memorize studies? Definitely double stops, scales in sixth, thirds, and dont forget chromatic scales. She is past wohlfardt and Dont op. 20 I think. If not the deal's off.

February 7, 2016 at 02:48 PM · Liz, I was catering to OP's progress so didn't really mention earlier studies. Also keep in mind I'm thinking of students possessing some of those outlier qualities, not your average learner. For instance the student should be capable of instant pitch correction even if they don't have pitch accuracy, and only approximate contextual pitch, which implies some version of absolute pitch, even if they can't name pitches by their letter names. With that they'll be able to play one finger scales and same finger octave shifts almost instantly, and their ideal body type will preclude any discomfort going up the fingerboard. They should be able to learn all keys within about 1 week and be able to play position scales in all keys in all positions across four strings, using all fingers in about a month. Some will find this challenging and perhaps tedious, but their ambition and work ethic will see them through. In a few months, such a student should be able to navigate their way all over the fingerboard in simpler keys, if not yet with great speed or facility. Still, within 1 to 1.5 years perhaps they'd still be working from Wolfahrt to Kayser. They will be able to memorize shorter etudes almost instantly. But by the end of year 2, they will be ready for Dont Op. 37 and to start Kreutzer. They will be able to memorize any etude within about a day by this point. All the skills necessary to play the early Kreutzers would have been touched upon in simpler form in earlier etudes and exercises. And obviously the later the start-from-scratch age, the more outlier qualities they'll need in order to develop their competency. Or, they can spend more time at it, finishing their studies at say 30, rather than 25, before they go for their dream jobs.

February 7, 2016 at 03:22 PM ·

February 7, 2016 at 04:04 PM · Many valid points expressed so far... one of the important factors in success is confidence. There are still some people who think that confidence is a matter of belief or conviction. It is not. Confidence is gained through experience, by doing something well often enough, and also allowing yourself to make mistakes and learn from them. Time is of essence, not only because of processed scales, etudes and concertos, but because of experience gained through playing and performing in different settings, from solo (to your teacher and audience), chamber and orchestra music. Also, very important, and often neglected fact, is that you can not put your life on hold and devote yourself 100% to violin. Even if you formally succeed, you will have nothing to tell through your music. You need the grist for the mill, which only life can bring. This does not mean that every student who started "on time" and went trough the whole curriculum will be successful as a musician, but is a strong argument as a basic assumption of any success. On the other hand, not all musicians went through the formal education, and some of them achieved a lot. Although the odds are against you, you may be one of them. Only time will tell.

February 7, 2016 at 08:18 PM · Jeewon makes some good points but his outlined course of study leaves me exhausted. If anyone had imposed that on me at seventeen (the age I was my freshman year at Oberlin), I would have quit.

I have not ever said that the OP has no chance at a career. I actually think she does if she is willing to work very hard in whatever program she can gain admittance to (which will NOT be at the MSM or Juilliard level as an undergrad, of that I am certain) and if she understands that very, very, very few musicians simply walk out of a university or conservatory program into an orchestra job. There are a lot of excellent players who never get past the freeway philharmonic/wedding/private studio level.

The OP's question was if we thought she could be ready to audition for the Manhattan School of Music as a high school senior and the honest answer to that, from anyone with current experience teaching U.S. high schoolers and/or college students, has to be "no." The odds that she could improve so dramatically given what we know about her trajectory (which is actually quite good but it is not miraculous) to this point are so low as to be nearly nonexistent, and at any rate would require the near total sacrifice on her part of every other part of her life--family, friends, other classes. And *that* is a terrible idea, to encourage someone to put so many very important eggs into such a very small basket at such a developmentally critical time of life.

If the OP is determined on a career in music--if she cannot imagine herself happy in any other walk of life--she needs to work as hard as she can over the next few years *without* sacrificing academic success in other fields and *without* sacrificing those human relationships that give us all something to infuse our music with. And then go to the best university program she can afford and gain admittance to, which will not be one of the top schools. Of course there are excellent teachers in lower-level programs. I like to think I am one. From there she might, with hard work and the right teacher, be able to get into a graduate program at a higher level than her undergrad. And from there, she might--MIGHT--be competitive in professional auditions although she needs to understand at every step of the way that her competition is numerous and is mostly ahead of her.

If she has the necessary will to succeed in professional music, she will be spurred on, not deterred, by advice that some call negative but I call honest.

February 8, 2016 at 03:57 AM · I think when a student is contemplating a career in music, the question should be asked, "*What* is it about a career in music that attracts you?"

Does the student love practicing -- the absolute devotion of spending 4+ hours alone in a practice-room, just working on stuff they love learning? If so, how will they feel about a professional career that might not leave a lot of time for personal practice, or where they may be spending a lot of time working on music that they don't personally love? Will they be just as devoted to (and find fulfillment in) working through a difficult but tedious 2nd-violin noodly harmony part, as they are working on a concerto they adore?

Does the student love performing? Will they be as happy sitting nigh-invisibly in the back of an orchestra section, as they are playing a solo? Does that love of performance support night after night of a relentless concert schedule? Will it still feel like love when they realize they can never enjoy a weekend to themselves?

Does the student love the pure joy of music immersion? Will that love survive playing Beethoven 5 for the thousandth time? Under a conductor that everyone despises? In 90-degree heat with an energetic bee weaving its way through the violin sections?

These are the things that drive orchestral musicians that land dream jobs to become alcoholics.

February 8, 2016 at 05:08 AM · I think another question to answer is: is this the only thing I will truly be happy pursuing?

February 8, 2016 at 05:08 AM · [removed - duplicate post]

February 9, 2016 at 03:14 AM · The more I think about Jeewon's post the more I wonder whether he was simply defining what "extremely unlikely" actually means in practical terms.

February 9, 2016 at 04:28 PM · I guess I'm trying to be honest in a positive way. I think it's important to let kids go for difficult things, fail, and teach them to dust themselves off and try again, or try something else. You can't learn that stuff other than from experience, that is, by failing and realizing life is not, or need not, be over. Kids are pretty resilient, arent they? It's only when external expectations are so unreasonable and disappointment is so obviously expressed, especially when those are constant, that kids will be crushed. The ability to persevere through failure is probably one of the most important life skills a kid can pick up before reaching University, or work. It's only by realizing our limitations that we can then learn how to transcend or bypass them. I'm not a parent. I only know how difficult it is to help a child go through that pain as a teacher, so it's easy for me to say. But it's true, isn't it?

There's no way for kids to know how hard they have to work to play at a highly polished level (unless they can already do it.) There's no way anyone can know until they try it. But from my experience I know that learning need not be linear, unless a rigid curriculum makes it so. The problem with the written word is that it is linear. So when I list things, I do not intend it to be an outline, or course of study. If a student can already rip through the opening arpeggios at the beginning of the Lalo, there's no point in isolating 2-1 3rds shifts and reviewing the mechanics of releasing pressure and extending lower fingers through higher fingers, or of continuously moving the arm under the fingers, or of feeling the thumb catch at 5th and keep sliding along the side of the neck as the palm takes over from the side-of-first-finger etc. There might even be no point in doing the first movement of Lalo; better to do Vieuxtemps 5 for descending arpeggio patterns, or something. You don't just go through all of Sevcik, Yost, Sammons, etc. for the sake of it. An exercise, an etude, and repertoire is chosen judiciously according to the relevant, current needs of the student. But what exercises and etudes allow us to do is to work on a specific or a narrow skill without the distraction of music, so we can work on something in a simplified context before we apply it to a complex passage. Simplicity is even more important for basic movement skills, which require ceasing to do unnecessary actions, and building new habits, which makes up most of remedial work, or learning to move without unnecessary action in the first place.

Happiness in highschool is highly overrated. It's the age of the nerd, dontcha know? Does any teenager really know how to be happy anyways? Do any of us? And when has anyone discouraged a talented swimmer from spending 4 to 6 hours a day in the pool shriveling like a prune, 5/6 days a week? What are the chances any of them will make it to provincials, much less the Olympics? Do we discourage young athletes because of those slim chances? I think it far more important for teenagers to accomplish something they can be proud of, whether that's being on the robotics team, on student council, making a varsity team, debate team, math team, or drama club, or stage crew putting on some Shakespeare or Sondheim. The problem with music, as with swimming or tennis or dance or gymnastics, is that most high schools will not have a very high level of accomplishment in those fields. If it's just a hobby, that's fine, but if the student has ambition, it can be a hindrance. All students with the ambition to accomplish something highly skilled will need to sacrifice, but I don't see why it must be at the exclusion of family or friends. Academic achievement will depend to a large degree on academic aptitude. If a student doesn't have academic aptitude, is it better to get a bachelors from a second tier liberal arts college, or study music at a second or third tier music school with an excellent teacher and finish with a bachelors, or learn a trade at a community college, or get a job? Who can say? If a student does have the academic aptitude, I don't think grades would suffer because of time spent on an instrument, or a sport, or building a car or a robot. If kids are at school 30 hours a week and sleep for 56 hours a week, that still leaves 82 waking hours: 10 hours/day on weekdays, 16 hours on weekends. Show that to any teenager and even they will agree they actually have a lot of time on their hands. Again, I'm not a parent, so easy for me to say...

But if anyone does claim to know about happiness, it's probably those positive psychology folks. If you believe Csikszentmihalyi, when we choose to engage in accomplishing something difficult and worthwhile, we experience genuine satisfaction, we achieve "flow." He suggests that happiness is not a passive state, something that just happens to us. It's something we develop by cultivating flow in our lives. It's a by-product, not the content, of a life well lived. Rings true, but maybe there's something a little too formulaic about their reasoning. Sure Michael Jordan experienced flow. When was he not in the zone? Or Heifetz probably was flowing all the time... but how do we get there from here without getting all distracted, being defeated? We'll never know until we try, until we go practice something.

February 9, 2016 at 07:02 PM · "Happiness in high school is highly overrated." I know where you are coming from, but as the parent of a high-schooler, I would say that it depends on how happiness is defined. If it's defined exclusively in terms of needing to be popular, then I would say this indeed is very overrated. But everyone needs at least a few friends and some down time. And as far as time management, the waking hours of a teenager can get nickeled and dimed. Eating -- bathing -- household chores -- church -- homework -- it adds up.

February 11, 2016 at 05:03 PM · Yep, I'm all too familiar with the nickel and diming. But every student I've helped turn things around had, as it turned out, plenty of unused time to put towards practicing. I suspect most kids do, unless they're overscheduled. I used to get kids to do a time audit, to see the difference between planned and actual time spent in a week. I've made overscheduled kids choose what was important to them.

Sacrifice is part and parcel of 'doing what it takes.' I guess Mary Ellen is saying the opportunity cost, especially in the late teen years, is too high for someone with little chance of making a good career of it. (I've made that argument to some students who ended up playing for a hobby, those with other priorities.) And I suppose I'm suggesting no one can make that decision for the student. All we can do is lay all the cards, and sure even talk about statistics. But the problem is the numbers have nothing to say about outliers, only that they are few. And so we should include any information we know about how the outliers became professional players.

February 11, 2016 at 07:18 PM · To Frieda's criteria I would add "... won a full-time salaried orchestra seat since 1990."

February 11, 2016 at 07:22 PM · From what info I found on Rainer Küchl, it seems he begun violin at age 11(close enough to 12 ) and was concertmaster of the Vienna Philharmonic at age 20 ( see my earlier post). He was in conservatory within three years ( Vienna Music Academy ). It seems he did not start with any other instrument from what I gather and stayed with the orchestra several decades. I cannot find too many more details about his family or training.

February 11, 2016 at 07:39 PM · Sorry, didn't see your comment, Paul. Küchl definitely won his position a little earlier than that.

February 11, 2016 at 07:51 PM · Frieda, why exclude switching to viola? It's a viable option. Not any less competitive, but far less rep. to learn.

February 11, 2016 at 08:00 PM · You might want to look up Eduardo Rios. He has not won an orchestra job yet, but attends Colburn Conservatory and has won tons of competitions. He seems just as competitive for an orchestra job as any early starter.

February 11, 2016 at 08:30 PM · Yes, I agree, viola is harder to play... so you can't get away with things you can on the violin.

Daniel Kurganov, fellow v.commer, started when he was 16 (though he started piano at 6.) I don't think he has a full time orchestral position, but he certainly is very accomplished. http://www.violinist.com/discussion/response.cfm?ID=24103

Interesting entry at the bottom of that thread:

I have a college student who started at 15. He's 22 or 23 now and recently won his school's concerto competition with the first movement of the Brahms concerto. I would never have believed it possible until I worked with him.

Brahms in 7 or 8 years? Katie, forget MSM. Go study with Mary Ellen!

Here's another example of a highly successful violist who started on violin at 16 (he studied with my former teacher while doing a Musicology major) and switched to viola sometime during undergrad. He was principal violist with the Quebec Symphony in the mid 80s (is that close enough?) He's now a soloist, chamber musician and associate professor at McGill University, Canada's top music school. I remember hearing he also had a law degree, but not sure.

Some other teachers who can whip you into shape:

Paul Zafer

Jeremy Bell

Edmond Agopian

February 11, 2016 at 10:57 PM · "Brahms in 7 or 8 years? Katie, forget MSM. Go study with Mary Ellen!"

I'd forgotten about that student! Well, to be fair, he had played bass for three or four years before he switched to violin. And the jury is still out on employability since he is still in grad school. Definitely an outlier. But to the OP's point, there is absolutely no way he would've gotten into conservatory as a high school senior.

I know one professional violinist who started at age 12 and did very well (won a titled position in a mid level orchestra).

February 12, 2016 at 01:06 AM · Regardless, Brahms is Brahms is Brahms. If an early starter were able to play Brahms after 8 years, they'd be considered on the prodigy spectrum. But maybe that's the point. Or, on the other hand, maybe it goes to show that those early years don't count for much for most people.

Flipside of the coin, hard workers can achieve a lot even without going to MSM. As many have already said, what matters is finding the right teacher for your needs. I don't know if Katie is still following, but the dark side of good second tier music schools, such as MSM or Indiana, is that their teachers do a lot of recruiting (especially in Asia, for those big fat foreign student fees,) in other words, they're in it for the bottom line. I know of a student who saw her primary teacher once in first semester of freshman year, and only a few more times in second. She was being taught by the assistant, not the teacher she auditioned for. So even if you get in to one of these name schools, you may not get the attention you need unless you are a top student. The average student is there to fill the school coffers and as bums in chairs for their several orchestras. Not an isolated story. If you want to be cynical about it, you're paying a quarter million dollars to be taught by grad students, and to be used as free labour for their orchestral program.

February 12, 2016 at 04:10 AM · Indiana is second tier, in what universe?

February 12, 2016 at 04:35 AM · Indiana is a ginormous school. Sure Gingold taught there, but he was noted for teaching students of varied experience and talent. Several world class artists have studied at Indiana, but it's not as exclusive as a Curtis. It accepts students who would not be admitted at the more exclusive schools. So second tier in terms of exclusivity. And if you're a small fish, nay a teeny crustacean, in a ginormous ocean, you're easily swallowed up. Schools like Indiana swallow up huge numbers of students who would've received an equal education, but much more individual attention, elsewhere. Manhattan has Zukerman, but his program is like an exclusive school within a school. Always go for the teacher who will teach you what you need to learn, not the school.

Edit: above story is from an Indiana grad (she ended up switching teachers twice in 4 year!)

February 12, 2016 at 05:00 AM · We will have to agree to disagree. Given the caliber of the major teachers there and the artistry of the great majority of the students including those who are launching international careers, I do not think Indiana can be in any way defined as "second tier." Almost everyone I knew at Indiana has had a successful career, and I don't mean freeway philharmonic gigs or even regional orchestras--I mean Boston, San Francisco, the Royal Concertgebouw, etc. And the international students who flock to Indiana are of a very high caliber.

The fact that there are some music education and BS in music students (assuming the degree plans haven't changed in the past thirty years since I was there) who aren't headed for major careers does not bring Indiana down in status.

However (to bring this back on topic), if Indiana is to be considered a second-tier school, then I must adjust my prediction for the OP from a third-tier school to a fourth-tier school.

Edited to add that I agree that it is the teacher, not the school, that aspiring students should look at--although it is important to be at a school where you are surrounded by people who play better than you do. You don't want to be the star as a freshman. I had a wonderful teacher at Oberlin but it was hearing the older students play that was the most immediate and effective kick in the pants.

February 12, 2016 at 05:27 AM · Maybe second tier is not the best term; maybe something like large school with diverse levels or something. The above student was a performance major. I've heard similar stories regarding other students (second hand.) I also know many pros. from Indiana. Not trying to 'bring down' its status in anyway. Just saying the school might not be most suitable for everyone accepted. But look where concertmasters and section leaders study, not to mention solo track violinists. A large majority seem to be Curtis and Juilliard educated. So maybe there are top conservatories which are more exclusive than top universities, which are more diverse. What is a second tier school, then? It seems not to matter much.

February 12, 2016 at 06:44 AM · Hmmm, when I think second tier, I think of Peabody (putting on my bulletproof vest now), or some of the public universities with credible music schools--North Texas, maybe, which is a good school with good teachers but it is not Indiana. But there are nuances even within any arbitrary division of "tiers." Perhaps there should be a "1A" tier reserved for Curtis and Juilliard.

These days it seems that Rice can be very nearly as difficult to get into as Juilliard, at least on certain instruments, and we've been very happy with our recent hires of Rice grads.

February 12, 2016 at 07:28 AM · Hilary Hahn did Suzuki at Peabody :)

There's also the issue of tradition and brand name. Does the school make the students or do the students make the school? For instance Danchenko taught at Curtis for a while, now he's at Peabody (and also back at RCM here in Toronto, where he taught for a long time before being recruited to Curtis by Laredo.) Will Curtis level students now flock to Danchenko at Peabody? Or do top musicians just tend to go to the top schools? I've heard Rice has an excellent program (and mucho $$$.) But is the competition from top players or from lots and lots of very good players? Who's layering the cake?

I truly believe it doesn't really matter who teaches top players (as long as teacher has something to pass on.) They will still end up being top players. I know several concert masters who can sight read anything. And as long as anyone can remember they were always pretty much like that at every stage of development. They don't really practice the way the rest of us, even the best of the rest of us, do. Good teachers matter for those who need teachers.

February 12, 2016 at 01:10 PM · From my own experience id suggest challenging yourself with something too difficult for your current level. I started in 6th grade, played la folia in 8th, a dont and a rode etude, and then started on the Mendelssohn. It ended being one of the best decisions I've made.

Since you only have a few years to catch up, dive into the advanced repertoire and hope it works out. :-)

February 12, 2016 at 02:09 PM · "From my own experience id suggest challenging yourself with something too difficult for your current level. I started in 6th grade, played la folia in 8th, a dont and a rode etude, and then started on the Mendelssohn. It ended being one of the best decisions I've made.

Since you only have a few years to catch up, dive into the advanced repertoire and hope it works out."

PLEASE DO NOT DO THIS. Trying to play music that is too hard when you are not ready is an excellent way to develop some bad habits that can be difficult if not impossible to break. Please consult with your teacher and play the music that he or she thinks is appropriate. If you don't trust your teacher's judgment, then that is a different issue, suggesting that perhaps it is time to either look elsewhere or try to mend the relationship you have with your current teacher.

Seriously I have seen and heard the results of students who chose music on their own that they were not ready for. Often the students themselves didn't realize how badly they were playing, but anyone in the know would immediately recognize that the piece was too hard for them.

February 12, 2016 at 02:54 PM · LOL. Nobody "settles" for Rice. It's a reach school. It's been that way for quite some time.

One of my best students--who had placed extremely well in the hyper-competitive Texas All-State, and who ended up getting a large scholarship to study with a first-class teacher at a strong second-tier school--did not even pass the pre-screen tape audition for Rice. And I was present when he made his recording; I know how good it was.

February 12, 2016 at 03:03 PM · My point being that Rice and UNT are not even remotely in the same league. Rice has elevated itself--with the help of a LOT of money--pretty close to the Juilliard echelon.

The same year that my All-State star didn't get invited to audition for Rice, another of my seniors who didn't even come close to making All-State was accepted at UNT. Granted, the latter was auditioning for Music Ed, but still....

I would rank Rice with NEC, CIM, etc.

February 12, 2016 at 03:38 PM · I know a cellist who was admitted to both Juilliard and Rice, and chose Rice.

So Jude went from LaFolia to a couple of Dont etudes to the Mendelssohn. I'd sure like to hear that Mendelssohn. Or would I? That kind of hot-housing strategy works for about 0.0001% of violin students.

February 12, 2016 at 05:19 PM · Rice has Desmond Hoebig! (And lots of $$$)

Can't repeat it enough, 'settle' for the school, not the teacher. To put it another way, what you look for in a school is the right teacher for your needs. In other words, choose your teachers very carefully and go study wherever they teach. If you find a teacher who really wants to teach you, he or she will bend rules, find money, go to great lengths to have you at the school.

February 12, 2016 at 06:03 PM · I'm curious where Jude Belding is -- I'm guessing there's a story there. Mendelssohn, then what? And what has that progression led to?

As far as I can tell, performance graduates from bottom-tier schools go on to teach privately (often in music shops), and pick up gigs where they can, and often are dependent on a day job to survive. Or the day job (possibly with the help of training or grad school in a different field) becomes their real profession and music becomes a hobby. You'll run into them playing chamber music or in community orchestras or per-service orchestras.

That career-switch also seems to happen to a non-trivial number of people from second-tier or even top-tier schools. A substantial number of my childhood musical acquaintances who went to top-tier or 2nd-tier conservatories (even Juilliard) are not, twenty years post-graduation, working in music -- indeed I would say that almost all are not working in music. The ones who are still in music all won major orchestra posts right out of school, or immediately had significant performing careers.

February 12, 2016 at 06:35 PM · The same thing happens to people who major in history. Such people are not uneducated or mis-educated. They didn't necessarily waste their tuition money any more than someone who majored in physics or computer science. And history graduates are not unemployable. But only the most miniscule fraction will ever be history professors or professional, publishing, full-time historians themselves. This is true in all fields where the number of college graduates in a given field greatly outweighs the number of jobs immediately within that field. History majors can become journalists, civic leaders, business administrators, and all sorts of things. So can violinists.

February 12, 2016 at 07:01 PM · @Lydia, I played the first mvt from memory and got a 1 at solo and ensemble, learning the third mvt for state :-). After that I'll be doing Mozart 5.

February 12, 2016 at 07:24 PM · I always got a "1" at Solo and Ensemble too, and I'm working on Mozart 5 right now, but I don't think you'd want to hear it.

February 12, 2016 at 07:32 PM · I'm not saying getting a 1 means much, I just didn't know how else to say it. My teacher wouldn't have taught it to me if she didn't think I could play it well, and both of us think that I did. It might not be the best route for everyone, but it worked out well for me and I'm happy that I learned it.

February 12, 2016 at 08:35 PM · Jude, how long did it take you to learn the first movement of the Mendelssohn to a performance level?

February 12, 2016 at 09:22 PM · I started seriously looking at it at the end of August and performed it January 30th

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