starting at 18 year old and becoming a soloist, how likely?

February 29, 2016 at 02:06 AM · im 18 and i've always had a "attraction" towards music, its as if... you know... sensing the notes instead of just hearing them..

but I was never encouraged as a child to take up any instruments by my parents and right now im very furious about this but there is nothing I can do, I was taught to play very average and mundane songs on keyboard when I was young but thats it. however even though I never took up an instrument, I would always "play on my imaginary instrument" as I listened to different songs.. I would play guitar solos, pianos, drums, and all sorts of things on the air every movement led by the notes and above all when I was a child I noticed that I can "anticipate" the next note before hearing it by going with the 'feeling' of the piece.

anyway unfortunately I wasnt taught any instruments academically, but I have to explain one important thing (which I think helps in the question) I started working with the computer when I was like 5. I learned to fast type at 5.5. right now I can type on the keyboard with a speed of 150-170 on pieces that I havent practiced, I explain this because I've read in many places that ' children develop muscles and nerves to help them play different instruments if they start soon '

so back to the subject, 2.5 weeks ago for the first time ever after a lifetime(yes..), I heard this beautiful instrument called 'violin'. it was a set piece of paganini, I dont even remember who was the person playing it. all I remember is the very first note "sparked" something inside of me. I was staring, unable to breath, unable to swallow, completely mesmerized by the sound that came out of this instrument.. everything from the Piercing and Graceful high notes to the Grounding and Caressing low notes moved me. it was as if everything about this instrument was engraved something deep within me and each sound that came out of the instrument would resonate within my entire being.

I bought an electric violin 2 weeks ago (yes I made a mistake and bought an electric without even knowing that I have to get an acoustic..)

I managed to get lessons with one of the best teachers of classical music in my country (not a very good country but im getting out in 4 months so..)

so far i've managed to finish 2 books with the teacher being pleased that it was done completely right. and I've memorized 2 music theory books and got a maximum grade (not official just a test exam), im practicing around 5-8 hours every day atleast and listening to performances and studying theory the rest of the time, also she (my teacher) says Ive developed a almost and soon to be perfect pitch whatever that is (i know its related to identifying the notes but not the complete definition), i can play effortlessly on 3 fingers and trying to master the 4th

anyway, my goal is to become a good soloist and continue the violin professionally. my parents support me (financially and emotionally) and are counting on me to not give it up at all costs since they saw the 'sparkle' in my eyes.

and frankly, im so in love with the instrument and the sound/history/architecture/... everything about it that I'm 100% sure that no matter what difficulties arise, my love for it will crush the cold-feet and fears and keep me on the path.

anyway this is a well known forum for violinists so I wanted to see the opinion of people here.

what do you think? how likely is it that I can achieve my goal? any advices would be more than appreciated and any criticism as long as they are constructive ones are also appreciated.

Replies (57)

February 29, 2016 at 03:02 AM · Soloist for what? If you mean, with major orchestras and such then it's highly doubtful as a professional and rather naive to think otherwise. You've still got quite a many years to go to being able to claim a little proficiency... You can probably join some amateur groups eventually which isn't a bad thing and might be able to win a community competition when you learn major concertos.

I'll probably come off mean or rude, but I'd really advise you to go to school for something you won't be wasting your time with only to end in likely frustration.

February 29, 2016 at 04:30 AM · The music world is beautiful but also very cruel. There are many talented players out there who never get to shine, and there are people of questionable talent who get all the fame. It's great that you are passionate about playing the violin, and commendable that you have some pretty high goals.

Just remember that unless you get particularly lucky, it is a lot of work to become a soloist of renown in some major orchestra, even if you started at age 2. And it will be much harder starting at 20; the violin is an instrument that takes many years to gain proficiency and baring rare talent, decades to master. You will probably be 40 by the time you have the proficiency to go try for a role as soloist on a major orchestra, if everything goes right for you in that time. So keep in mind this will take quite some time to happen!

My advice to you would be not to put all your chips into it, always have a backup plan! Careers in music are not a sure thing for anyone.

But don't give up on playing if it brings you joy! :)

February 29, 2016 at 04:39 AM · It depends what you mean by "soloist".

If you mean the kind of person who makes their living 100% by playing concertos with orchestras and recitals -- like Itzhak Perlman or Hilary Hahn or Maxim Vengerov -- the answer is "absolutely not".

If you mean the kind of person who holds down a full-time professional orchestra job but sometimes plays recitals or the occasional concerto with orchestra (probably mostly community orchestras), the answer is "almost certainly not", but given unlimited money and time, it's probably not impossible.

If you mean the kind of person who primarily makes their living by teaching and gigging, but sometimes plays recitals or the occasional concerto with orchestra, the answer is "possible with a lot of work", especially if there aren't many violinists in the country where you live, and your parents can afford to support you indefinitely while you pursue your dreams.

Side note: Has anyone noticed the tendency for many early-career professional violinists to now describe themselves as "soloists" on their official bios, despite the fact that they don't appear to be playing either recitals or concertos for money on anything other than a very occasional (perhaps once-a-year) basis?

February 29, 2016 at 04:39 AM · If you mean what are your chances of becoming a professional soloist, I will be blunt and say "zero." You are also not going to have a career as a member of a professional orchestra, at least not in a western country. If you want to hear future professional soloists, go to Youtube and look up the Junior division winners of the Menuhin competition. If you want to hear future professional orchestra musicians, look up Juilliard Prep senior recitals, or some (not all) of the Youtube Symphony audition videos.

But I agree, do not give up playing if it brings you joy! There is a lot of music in existence today because of dedicated amateurs for whom it was written.

February 29, 2016 at 04:53 AM · There are ways for talented musicians to make money without being Perlman or Hahn. Fiddle/folk music, rock/pop music, studio musician, writer, teacher, etc. Play in bars, at festivals, small shows, busk on the street, and more. Lots of options, most of which don't have consistency, reliability, or health insurance.

February 29, 2016 at 05:03 AM · ... when I started this post there was only 1 reply.

after 1/2 hour there are many...all with better advice than I could give.

but Aaron Wildman has good advice if you decide you want to be other than a concert soloist.

February 29, 2016 at 10:57 AM · As May Ellen said in another thread, freelance gigs are more attractive at 25 than at 45 years old (let alone 65!..)

As another late starter myself, I missed the audition age-limits but my "semi-professional" life has been enriching, for myself, and I hope for others, (though not on a finacial level!)

And starting late has made me a better teacher, as I had not absorbed the basics more spontaneously in childhood.

February 29, 2016 at 11:23 AM · Out of interest Sun, what country are you in?

All the answers are coming from the US or Western Europe where there is really extensive music education and a surplus of really amazing musicians.

It's possible that your odds of making music a viable (or indeed attractive) career in another country are better than we are making out (though even so, as others have said, you have a 0 chance of competing in the global market for soloists).

February 29, 2016 at 01:09 PM · As a first time ever violin player you have gone through all of the material in two music books to your teacher's satisfaction in two weeks?


If true, then it is likely that you will indeed become a soloist in about 24 more months at the rate you are going.

February 29, 2016 at 01:54 PM · Which two books did you finish ?

Have you played on an acoustic violin yet ? I think you will be shocked at how much harder it is to play than an electric violin.

February 29, 2016 at 03:06 PM · Hi, I really appreciate all your replies

as for what I describe 'soloist' as. well I do mean the 'skill' level of professional players which some of you guys stated (the 0 chance guys) but I'm not aiming at a 'make a living out of it' type of career

because of some stuff that happened when I was a child i'm supported financially in a life-time deal.

sure I would take 'making some money' as a bonus, who doesn't like money. but Im not aiming to 'play for money' but rather 'play as top players do for money, but instead play because of the pure joy that it gives me and expressing myself through the instrument and influencing the emotions of my audience'...

I guess what I mean is, I don't care if I don't get to be famous (sure again i'll take it as a bonus) but rather, I want to achieve the skill-level of top players. the skill-level is what that is important for me, I understand you will need luck, you will need connections and all that to make into the 'scene' but all I want is a top-school to accept me just to learn from the best places and a 'mediocre, maybe a "good" (not great) orchestra scene' but the question was meant for the skill-level

what I meant was, Is it possible with my rate of advancement and long hours of practice that im doing (currently 6-7H/day) to achieve such a 'skill-level' ?

it will probably sound very very naive but I refuse to accept giving up my 'high' goal just because my chances are 0.001% (and yes even worse). because the instrument has covered my entire life in such a short notice, I literally feel anxious whenever im NOT holding a violin, I dream (if I get to sleep that is) of playing the violin since the minute I heard it.

@seraphim and brian, at first I didnt realize how fast it was and I thought the teacher was exaggerating. but yes I did finish two books, it was le violon book 1 (by mathieu creekboom) and suzuki book 1, im in middle of book 2 and my teacher told me at our last class that the flexibility in my hands and my hand frame is fine and she would start teaching me basic vibrato when we finish the 2nd book.

@chris; my nationality is norwegian. but im currently residing in middle-east because of my father's job, but im getting out in 4-5 months, so my aim is for Europe. probably between germany / uk / scandinavia


-edit; oh I almost forgot brian, i have played on my teacher's acoustic, i dont find 'playing' on it to be harder, but rather the 'sound' was just unfamiliar to me at first.

as for the hands and the feeling / technique. I dont find it different at all, it might because of the design of my electric, its 90% like an acoustic design, just no soundposts

February 29, 2016 at 03:46 PM · Nearly all violinists hoping for a "soloist" career in the first world have completed the majority technical training, and have performed as concerto soloists many times, by the age of 18. That is the age at which you are starting.

I hate to bring money into a lovely conversation about violin playing, but if you have already enough money to live on for the rest of your life (either because of your own inheritance, or because of the inheritance of your spouse) then you can do whatever the hell you want. I would say that you are unlikely, even with hard work, to get to the point where you can make a stable living in the first world by either playing or teaching the violin before you turn 30.

As others have suggested, though, your circumstances (living in the middle east, possibly having skills with multiple languages, etc.) might afford you different or earlier opportunities than one might anticipate based on typical first-world trajectories.

Maybe you could post a video of one or two of your Suzuki Book 1 pieces so that we can see whether your teacher's standards are the same as those of teachers in the first world.

February 29, 2016 at 04:32 PM · The odds of you ever playing like Perlman or Hahn or Vengerov, to use the examples I gave before, are basically zilch. It's like picking up a basketball one day and deciding that your ambition is to be Michael Jordan.

Now, if all you want to be is a professional-quality violinist -- probably the type of violinist that your teacher is, for instance -- and you're willing to practice 7 hours a day and get extremely good teaching (probably lessons at least twice a week, and more often if money and time are of no consideration), and you have nothing else you want or need to be doing with your life? A decade is probably a reasonable estimate.

I think it's often useful, when thinking about what's achievable, to look at YouTube videos of recitals being played by graduate students at non-top-tier conservatories. We're not talking about Juilliard (or even Juilliard Prep) here, but mostly schools you probably haven't heard of. Try the search "master's violin recital" on YouTube. These are people who are working really hard and are professional-track, but they are not going on to careers as professional soloists -- they are likely to teach and gig for a living when they graduate. They're going to probably play pretty well, but imperfectly.

When money is no object, you can pretty much pay for your opportunities. Look at Michael Antonello, who is an extraordinary wealthy amateur. He can basically buy himself solo appearances with small orchestras, and has hired professional orchestras to make a whole set of professional recordings. You can rent halls to give recitals and not charge anyone admission. Etc.

February 29, 2016 at 06:31 PM · It's unlikely that any violinist starting at any age will become a full-time virtuoso soloist, quite frankly.

But that doesn't mean you can enjoy your playing and shoot for the top! If you land rather short of it, you'll still reach your full potential.

February 29, 2016 at 09:28 PM · I'm still having difficulty with the two books on two weeks claim.

There are 18 songs in Suzuki Book 1 alone. So, aside from the other book, you were learning, and competently playing over a song a day? Just in Suzuki? Having just picked up a violin for the first time days before?

I'm sorry, but I'm calling "shenanagins" here.

February 29, 2016 at 09:32 PM · If you love it enough don't worry about the outcome! Practice as much as brings you joy and see where it takes you!

February 29, 2016 at 09:42 PM · @seraphim, well the thing is that the first book is a 'get-prepared' type of book, its full of exercises, right hand and left hand daily exercises, and has 3 songs which arent very hard in my opinion.

the suzuki on the other hand I was quite familiar with all of the songs. even had played half of them on my keyboard days. so you could say that I was completely in tune with the tempo and the notes. all I had to do was practice a week and a half for 7-8 hours per day for the other half. (and I play it 'acceptable' like 7 or maybe 8 times out of 10)

i cant see why it 'sounds' like a big deal. I studied 2 week before my diploma exams and got 3.6/4 on mathematics so, compared to that I really dont see any 'challenge' being brought up on such a basic level of play.

as paul deck suggested im going to record my next class (hopefully with a good quality, so that I can share it with you) p.s sorry if my failure to explain it properly before had made you think i was making it up

February 29, 2016 at 09:45 PM · Then, my hat is off to you!

My apologies.

February 29, 2016 at 09:49 PM · no worries, it was my fault for not explaining properly, thank you for taking the time and giving your replies :)

March 2, 2016 at 12:00 AM · Theoretically, if physiology is not an issue ( the jury is still out on that one ), one is financially pretty well off and has a lot of free time, one starting this late would need to surround themselves with a non-youth-culture-set of high-level teachers, institutions, and concert goers for at least 10 years. This community would have to not be obsessed with "young, hot, and prodigious" and there would need to be an interest in experimenting with and developing adult pedagogy beyond the intermediate level. You would need conservatories that were willing to take on much older students, organizations of the "old" concert artists sort, and international competitions for the 30+ range.

Unfortunately, no one well-respected in the classical music community thus far has been willing to take the plunge and go against the grain and so we continue to believe in a limited number career trajectories without considering the culture surrounding it. There are no longitudinal studies which truly immerse adults and adolescents back into the cultural experience of a child which gives them the advantages needed to succeed at complex skills and really examine how the differences in physiology influence long-term outcomes and learning styles in relation to learning musical instruments. Sun, I am glad you are happy with playing the violin in the capacity our world currently sees fit for you, given when you started. It is however time one of the powers at be took a risk.

March 2, 2016 at 03:26 AM · I'd argue that if older students were going to achieve a very high playing level despite starting late, we would see more of them win more professional orchestra auditions, which are generally blind and non-age-discriminatory.

Soloists are unicorns who succeed through a confluence of factors, many of which are not musical. Orchestra players, on the other hand, are mostly dealing with a contest of pure skill (at least to the degree that's possible when talking about an art form).

I disagree that adult pedagogy above the intermediate level isn't well-developed. There is zero reason not to teach an advanced adult exactly like you would teach a conservatory student.

An adult with the time and money to invest could go and audition for a conservatory like anyone else, I imagine. Certainly at the graduate school level there are undoubtedly older adult professionals that are returning to get a graduate degree, and it seems reasonable that an adult student playing at an equivalent level would be accepted into grad school.

It's true that some of the support system around youth music doesn't exist for adult students -- the youth symphonies, the formal pre-conservatory programs, etc. But adults have viable substitutes. Community orchestras provide the necessary orchestral experience (and some of them can be semi-pro, playing at a level that will exceed most youth symphonies). Adults can go take the music history and theory classes at a local college. And chamber music at the adult level is generally much richer than it is for youth.

In other words, I think it's difficult to argue that late starters with unlimited time and money are at a systematic disadvantage.

March 2, 2016 at 08:01 AM · So to paraphrase what everyone has been saying in all the threads about late starters asking whether they could be soloists, it seems you have a better chance at getting a date with Kate Upton.

March 2, 2016 at 10:57 AM ·

March 2, 2016 at 11:15 AM · Famous American model.

March 2, 2016 at 11:18 AM ·

March 2, 2016 at 03:03 PM · ". as for what I describe 'soloist' as. well I do mean the 'skill' level. ...but I'm not aiming at a 'make a living out of it' type of career....

because of some stuff that happened when I was a child i'm supported financially in a life-time deal....

Here is my prediction: someone who is independently wealthy and just decided to be at a soloist level at 18 will, sooner or later (probably sooner), get bored or frustrated with it, and just as suddenly take up some other exciting leisure pursuits like BASE jumping or whatever.

March 2, 2016 at 03:56 PM · Some of the best music written for strings was dedicated to and/or commissioned by accomplished, independently wealthy amateurs and connoisseurs. So I for one wish Sun Witseeker all the best and success in all goals and endeavours!

If our increasingly esoteric art form is to survive into the next century, I feel its purveyors should nurture and encourage knowledge, education and training in any way we can.

If high skill level is what is sought, as in any field, with enough resources, time, and effort, I think almost anyone can reach a high level of competency. How quickly one can achieve a high level of skill will depend on luck and aptitude.

I think we can all look to someone like Daniel, who started violin at 16, for inspiration.

March 2, 2016 at 03:57 PM · Perhaps not BASE jumping -- but he might switch to the viola.

March 2, 2016 at 04:34 PM · People can and do discover passions later on in life -- 18 is hardly ancient. Indeed, many people don't exposed to the things that they're passionate about until college, or even until they're out in the working world.

I know someone who retired in his early 30s (a tech multi-millionaire), who then decided he'd like to play the violin at a professional level. He was already an excellent amateur, though, so the delta to overcome was readily achievable.

March 2, 2016 at 04:40 PM · Does depend on how much free time you have in my view. Tend to have more free time to learn when you're young! Also, like anything, a few people are naturally gifted, but most of us just have to work hard to become reasonably okay! It's when the gifted work hard, you find they reach a level that most of us simply cannot.

March 3, 2016 at 12:47 PM · What Sun desires, as humbly stated above, seems attainable to me, granted genuine passion (which he evidently has), very good teachers along the way who won't derail said enthusiasm, and patient, intelligent practice work.

Paganini has been the muse of many great composers, for all his supposed "virtuosity for its own sake" faults that some people like to accuse him of. We owe him a lot, for better or worse, as violin writing went up to the next level with no little help from his technical demands. His legacy continues to inspire violinists to this day, as it does with the OP-the road to Paganini will be hard and likely long, but also musically exciting and hopefully personally inspiring.

March 3, 2016 at 01:10 PM · Given Sun's personal circumstances that allow him to devote his entire time to the violin, I think he might reach a professional skill level. That is, if he has enough endurance and good teachers and doesn't hurt himself: 5-8 hours of daily practice for an absolute beginner doesn't sound healthy.

March 3, 2016 at 03:07 PM · Hello everyone, once again i'd like to thank all of you for taking the time and kindly giving me your opinions.

i'm afraid that I wasn't able to properly explain myself, maybe its because of my poor choice of words.

@scott cole; I'm not wealthy because of inheritence. I was able to strike a deal of financial support back when i was a child, and neither did I "just" decide to be a soloist in a moment.

I didnt explain it in detail because I thought it had nothing to do with the conversation, but what I meant by the 'life-time deal' wasnt some kind of heritage or anything like that, infact its my own doing. I was offered a deal by one of the lesser-known companies of my country, its basically an exchange of my help in economical decisions and their financial support for all my expenses. fortunately I was able to get such a deal at a young age. so I would call it luck or being at the right place the right time.

and it took me 3 days and nights(yes I didn't sleep... I couldn't) to make the decision of committing my life completely to the violin. I evaluated everything and no matter what I did. nothing could convince my entire being to do any other decision. I got dizzy, I had insomnia, hell I almost threw up twice just because of even thinking of leaving the violin.

one of my folks friends who is a distinguished psychologist and has become a dear friend to me too, explained after taking different tests that I have indeed fell in 'love' by the meaning of the word, with the instrument. (I knew that already but I failed to mention it.. hell I cant sleep without the violin either in my arms or next to me..)

so I dont think 'base-jumping' or anything other than the sound of the violin would even remotely satisfy me :).

also dear jeewon, adalberto and johanna I think you guys understood my intention better despite my failure to explain it in detail.

and I thank you for your encouraging words and opinions.

(@johanna; "5-8 hours of daily practice doesnt sound healthy"; thank you johanna for giving me the heads up. but 5-8 hours of constant movement of the fingers is something that im really 'really' used to for a long time. so my hands have developed the proper strength for it. if you meant that in the sense of 'Practicing wrong for 5-8 hours could hurt the playing' then I would say you are right, but my teacher is monitoring the way I practice so I think it'll be fine.)

Thanks again everyone for your replies. <3

March 3, 2016 at 11:29 PM · I would not devote your life to violin at age 18. To truly live your life as a soloist, you need natural talent in abundance and you need to start young so you have mastered many of the standard concertos (Bruch, Mendelssohn, Mozart...). For you, I recommend choosing to do something else with your life. What I'd do if I were you is master all 10 Suzuki books, and memorize and completely master the last two books. The last two are the Mozart violin concertos 4 and 5, which are all good standard pieces. those two are good to perform with an orchestra. Do not hope to play the romantic concertos unitl about 9-20 years of playing.

I am a 16 year old that has been playing for 5.5 years now and am studying the Mozart violin concerto number 3 for college auditions. I probably won't be a soloist, but I have about enough time to prepare for a career involving the violin, whether a teacher or performer.

March 3, 2016 at 11:45 PM · I don't think it's necessary to wait that long before playing Romantic concertos, nor do I think it makes sense for most students to go through all Suzuki books (especially given the availability of much-superior editions of the Mozart concertos).

March 3, 2016 at 11:53 PM · BTW what is considered the easiest romantic concerto to master? I mean a standard concerto and not a student one.

March 4, 2016 at 12:34 AM · "I was offered a deal by one of the lesser-known companies of my country, its basically an exchange of my help in economical decisions and their financial support for all my expenses...."

I, and I suspect many others, have no idea what you're talking about. You have a permanent source of funds, or maybe you don't. You want to be a "soloist" but not professionally. Frankly, I don't know why anyone is bothering to answer this anymore.

March 4, 2016 at 01:08 AM · Well im sorry if you cant read the post where I described what I meant by 'soloist' which was their skill level. Not the Job

Also. Even though details into my financial situation didnt even had anything to do with the objective of the conversation I explained it for you im sorry that didnt get it.

And also if you dont want to participate in the discussion no one is forcing you. But dont discourage other people who are kindly replying to me.


P.s sorry for the tone but your post could literally make someone twice before replying to the discussion that is really helping me out.

March 4, 2016 at 02:45 AM · I agree with Scott and I'm not sure the money part makes any sense whatsoever, but I'm willing to treat this as "not unconstrained finances but enough money to do whatever you want with your life" even if it turns out that this thread is totally fake, since it is otherwise a reasonable exploration of what a late starter could possibly accomplished if time and money were not constraints.

It's generally accepted that the normal gateway to the "professional" romantic concerto repertoire is the Bruch (specifically No. 1 in G minor), although not everyone learns it first (for instance, I was taught the Mendelssohn and then a sequence of a lot of other concertos, and I never got around to the Bruch until much later in life).

March 4, 2016 at 02:54 AM · I'm with Scott.

March 4, 2016 at 03:03 AM · @lydia

Thanks! That is good news since I absolutely adore the Bruch. When I first heard the full concerto, I almost cried. It was so beautiful. EVERYONE HERE (including Scott) LISTEN TO THE BRUCH VIOLIN CONCERTO FROM START TO FINISH.

March 4, 2016 at 04:45 AM · Frankly I don't really care about the financial details, or fuzzy sounding goals (why not aim for the moon?), or the unbridled enthusiasm. I'm just interested in the process, especially if the OP is willing to document the journey.

Everyone's always quick to point out that it's highly unlikely for the average person to have prodigious ability. Well that's almost tautological. And boring.

Prodigies are playing advanced rep within a couple of years, not the average 10. Heifetz played Mendelssohn at age 6, 1 year after starting lessons. The famous Kreisler quote, 'we may as well break our fiddles across our knees' is from a performance by a 12 year old Heifetz. Midori was playing Paganini by 6, 2 years after starting and had learned most violin concertos before reaching double digits. She brought Zukerman to tears playing Bartok 2 at 10. All prodigies seem to finish their technical training by around 10 or 12 at the latest. So if you take such talent (or anything even approaching it) and boot it up in the late teens, or late adulthood, will it yield similar results? I would find it cool if it did. No pressure Sun ;)

March 4, 2016 at 07:25 AM · What Scott said.

March 4, 2016 at 10:09 AM · Jeewon thanks for your post. I'll think about recording the progress. Would be fun

Also thank you for the ecouragement AND being on subject.

March 4, 2016 at 11:57 AM · (I knew that already but I failed to mention it.. hell I cant sleep without the violin either in my arms or next to me..)

This concerns me.

I might damage it.

March 4, 2016 at 01:52 PM · haha jon, I'll be careful, it's mostly next to me, I just pluck the strings whenever I wake up and go back to sleep xD

March 4, 2016 at 05:34 PM · Your electric?

Do you keep it plugged in in bed, or not?

March 4, 2016 at 06:00 PM · not really, I only plug the headphones in when practicing at peak times, with nothing attached its sound is still quite loud because of my quiet environment.

it's not a complete silent electric, with nothing attached to it the sound is quite clear, without the 'acoustic' effect ofc.

March 5, 2016 at 03:49 PM · @Lydia: I think you make an excellent point about teaching more advanced adult students, it really should be the same. After all, many conservatory students are young adults. I also think you make a good argument for an adult starter being able to become an orchestral musician or freelancer. My post was however geared mainly toward pursuing a solo career ( I probably wasn't the most clear about that ), and for that, we must ask ourselves why no wealthier adult starters with loads of free time and passion are becoming soloists, and I suspect culture is a piece of the puzzle.

March 5, 2016 at 05:55 PM · Not being a professional soloist, I could not advise you on how to become one. But I am touched when I read how much you love the instrument. I wish you a long, happy and rewarding violin journey. Please keep us posted.

March 5, 2016 at 08:10 PM · Ms. Müller,

Being a "Professional Soloist" is so hard even for the well-trained, excellent Solo Rep musician, that many have to be content even when being only locally known and hoping for a break somewhere. I would never say it's impossible out of principle, but the chance of an adult starter being accepted as a "legitimate" soloist is so low that I'd never recommend anyone in this world, regardless evident talent, to start studying the violin so they can become the next "big" soloist-you play because you want to make music, not to become a big name or earn more money than this or that player. Even more-than-"legitimate" soloists are often ignored in the concert scene in the States (even during our "globalized" era), and these are players with really rich credentials, top tier musicianship, and excellent reputation (elsewhere, at least.)

Taking for granted this is a true story, cases in which an adult can freely devote themselves to music 100% of the time are rare, and I agree about "culture" not making it easy by adding old, unscientific facts about "stiff muscles" or adults being somehow "slower" to learn the instrument "just because." The main obstacle to progress has always been lack of free time to "catch-up" (so to speak), and a decided lack of teachers specialized to even understand that an individual could attain a high level at any age, barring major health issues.

But imagine one started at 23 with unlimited time to work, studied with excellent if not the best teachers in the world (which often does requires lots of money-an obstacle often not only for adult players), is pretty gifted, can play easily and flawlessly. Well, even THAT fortunate set of coincidences is near-impossible at the age for the aforementioned reasons, but "even if", there's no guarantee that the concert scene will be kind to this adult starter, even with the backing of strong musical figures (and the later the start, the worse it may become.)

Culture or not-and though I would like to see it happen-it may never be something we experience in our lifetime; especially considering how hard even very gifted prodigies can have it.

March 5, 2016 at 11:23 PM · I actually think that a true late starter might actually achieve some degree of media fame if they won a major competition. It's a great human story -- so-and-so discovered a passion for the violin at the age of 23, won major competition (or a big-league orchestral seat) at the age of 30, etc.

Or look at the America's Got Talent sort of stories. As a culture we LOVE older adults who emerge from nowhere to become stars.

March 5, 2016 at 11:39 PM ·

March 6, 2016 at 02:40 AM · Maybe. The mainstream media adored Susan Boyle (the older woman who sang I Dreamed a Dream in America's Got Talent, I think it was) and the general public went nuts over her in a way that they don't over tiny prodigies. The narrative is different, though.

March 6, 2016 at 02:54 AM · Britain's Got Talent 2009. She is a very Scottish lady.

March 6, 2016 at 04:19 AM · Yeah, I'm dragging this thread to the top again.

Paul Deck: "Perhaps not base jumping...but he might switch to Viola" good one! it's getting ever harder to get a good shot in at the Viola.

Bart Meijer: "But I am touched when I read how much you love the instrument"

Same here. I'll give Sun Witseeker the benefit of the doubt and say, I hope your love affair lasts.

March 6, 2016 at 09:19 PM · @Dave Thanks a lot for taking the time and saying this.

it means a lot, thanks.

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