What Do I Have To Do If I Wanna Be a Pro-Performer?

May 3, 2004 at 04:37 AM · I liked Sum-YL's thread about going pro. But if you decide going pro in performing, what do you have to do? Do you have to go to competitions all over, do you have to send tapes to people? What do people have to do?

Replies (17)

May 3, 2004 at 05:02 PM · winning competitions is the best way to get your name out there, unless you have connections to a really famous violinist.

May 3, 2004 at 06:48 PM · These two threads have been about being pro-performers. Are you talking about being a soloist or a chamber musician or an orchestra memeber? Or all of the above?

May 3, 2004 at 11:05 PM · A good teacher with the right connections can get you pretty far. But I agree with Owen, to really become "famous overnight" as one would say, winning or taking prizes in a prestigous competition is the way to go.

May 4, 2004 at 03:51 AM · It also depends on what you want from your pro carrer.

I personally like to teach and perfom. But detest mass media fame and excessive marketing.

If you're looking for worldwide fame then winning lots of competitions should help.

May 4, 2004 at 05:07 AM · Also, it depends on what you mean by "performing." Becoming an orchestra schmoe like me doesn't necessarily require winning major competitions.

May 4, 2004 at 02:25 PM · Yes, agreed Laurie... I think this idea of 'going pro' has become a little confused with becoming rich and famous. Most pro musicians are not famous at all - I really think you're referring to a teeny minority - and I also think that if you're considering 'going pro' you need to make sure you know what exactly you want out of it. If you want to make music and don't mind living frugally, fine. If it's fame and fortune you're after, don't bother.

May 30, 2004 at 02:15 PM · unless you're willing to "ruin" the art by doing combination work like Vanessa Mae or Bond, you're probably not going to make much money as a pro performer, no matter how much i'd like it to be so.

If you want to turn "pro" for the love of the music, get yourself into an orchestra (in aus a section violin player would be earning about 30-40k a year) and then do some teaching on your time off at the local music uni or high school.

May 30, 2004 at 03:16 PM · Orchestra salaries have an enormous range, can be 20,000 in small towns and 120,000 for the biggest American Orchestras. But in the small towns 20 plus teaching can be a very nice living.

I don't think competitions are really that major of a factor, unless you win first prize in the biggest ones. More first prize winners than not vanish and don't really benefit from winning. In the 50's and 60's winning a competition was a springboard to a major career, but not anymore. However, the very biggest winners, like that fellow Barnabas, are doing well and deservedly so.

But chamber groups seem like they have to win a competition in order to get their career going, competitions are useful for them. I think it proves that for example, 4 people are serious about playing together to win a competition, so managers and presenters feel assured they are hiring a bona fide group, not 4 buddies jamming together and then going their separate ways.

May 30, 2004 at 05:09 PM · What do you mean by making it? do you mean like playing in a proffessional orchestra, or becoming someone who has solo recording contracts and travels around the world playing as soloists with major orchestras...because yea theres an obvious difference in qualification there, there both pretty competitive or whatever but there is a difference.

May 30, 2004 at 07:18 PM · Nah, Winning competitions now-a-days is not nearly as important as it was maybe 25-50 yeas ago. Most of the major (American and Canadian) soloists today haven't won a single major international competition.

They simply had tons of talent (most of them anyway), someone who was willing to spend money to get their name out there, and lots of hard work.


May 30, 2004 at 10:16 PM · I think the basic thing is to play at as high a level as possible, aim for the top. Try to play better than your favorite soloist, better sound, better intonation, more expression. Just go for it. Go to competitions: the preparation is so valuable. Lots of orchestra players have prizes, even top prizes, from all kinds of competitions. The solo career takes more than just playing great, you have to sell yourself well and network. There are plenty of players I know who have the ability of great soloists but not the ability to sell themselves very well. They have concertmaster positions plus some solo engagements, chamber music, and teaching. The finalists at competitions, prizes other than 1st, end up with good section and section leader positions in good orchestras. I think everyone shoots higher than the targets they eventually hit, even (especially?) the greatest soloists.

So the better you play, the more likely you can have a performing career. And let's not forget that an orchestral audition requires playing a couple of solo concertos and lots of excerpts...solo!


February 27, 2005 at 09:26 PM · If your really good enough, maybe creating a group or something and touring. lol. Make your own cd? Tryout for some of the big studios? Win a competition?

February 27, 2005 at 10:43 PM · There are a couple of ways that one becomes a soloist and winning a major competition is not one of them. Look at the first place winners of Queen Elisabeth, Paganini etc. and you will see that you may not recognize many of the names and some of the more famous people received lower prizes. To become a soloist in the old days usually required a meeting with an impresario such as Sol Hurok, but in today's commercial business the impresario is replaced by talent agencies and famous teachers such as the late Dorothy Delay. Obviously studying with someone like Delay does not guarantee a career, but the frontrunners in the studio usually has a chance especially if they have something special such as Gil Shaham.

Another way of becoming "pro" is having a strong advocate like a conductor. Anne-Sophie Mutter is the supreme example of this way. There are many up and coming soloists who establish a strong rupport with a conductor and it gets them pretty far.

February 28, 2005 at 12:25 AM · Well look at Nikolaj Znaider. He won the Queen Elisabeth Competition and now has a pretty nice career.

February 28, 2005 at 02:04 AM · Of course there are always exceptions to the rule.

February 28, 2005 at 02:32 AM · What is the first prize for the Queen Elisabeth competition or other major competitions? I think winning major competitions can be very helpful because there are probably "important" people or people with connections and what not that go to them and see what's up.

February 28, 2005 at 09:13 PM · Hi,

Yes, winning a first prize in a competition can still open some doors. I agree with Kevin, however (how you doin' by the way?) However, in the last 10-20 years, many competition participants who did acheive careers were not first prize winners. Nicolai Znaider and Judith Ingolfsson are two notable exceptions. But many top concertmasters, quartet members and even soloists were not first prize winners. What you do before and after the competition is just as important as the prize you get...


P.S. Ultimately, if you want a career the first and foremost ingredient is to play well, on a high level as consisently as possible!

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