Need Advice about Juilliard

June 22, 2004 at 03:54 AM · Hi, this is my first post here but I figured I'd jump right into things.

As I said, I need some advice. I realise this may be a bit of an (extremely) lofty goal, but I really, really, really want to go to Juilliard someday. I think Id be willing to do whatever I had to in order to accomplish this goal, but my friends and family all seem to think Im nuts.

Im 21 and have been playing the violin since I was nine, although I have never had private lessons. Im planning to start taking lessons with a guy who is a former first violinist with the San Francisco Symphony.

Ive had this goal for a couple of years now and I figured that this would be a good place to start trying to accomplish it. If anybody has any advice or other information they can give me it would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.


Replies (29)

June 22, 2004 at 03:56 AM · My advice, learn as MUCH as you possibly can about Juilliard, talk to people who go there, meet teachers and then decide if that's where you still want to go. NEVER choose a school simply by the name, choose your teacher instead.


June 22, 2004 at 04:59 AM · Although i think your goals are incredibly awesome, maybe you should try stepping it down a knotch maybe you should try going for the chicago symphony they are still a good school and have great teachers so dont kill your self if you dont succeed but never give up good luck

June 22, 2004 at 05:39 AM · greetings,

welcome to the board. i am going to be a little harsh so please keep in mind that i am just one opinion of many and that long distance evaluations of anythin are dubious at best.

the violin is such a complex and messy beast that not taking private lessons between 9 and 20 when you shoulds have afully formed technique (to be aprofessional),essentially means you have accumulated a huge range of basd habits. there is no such thing as aself taught violinst who is problem free. i take my hat off to you for getting this far . you must have a considerable talent- it@s just beyond me.

but everyone and his relative has bought into the idea of `going to Julliard@ as a kind of mantra and I have afeeling you are not completely in the picture about what you are proposing. my opinion is that you are over investing ib somnething that is beyond the ability of just about eveyone. now you are starting with agood teacher he will be faced with complex decisions about what to leave in place so that you don@t crash and what to change so you can play as well as your talent allows.

but the people getting into julliard have been training for this through good teachers and special programs from ayoung age.

i am sorry if this is too much a dose of cold water. if you love the violin focus on that and you will achieve great things. get stuck on an idea that is actually external to playing the violin and you will causae yourself much unhappiness if you don@t come round fast enough.

heck, why go to the julliard when you have the looney swede on this board to help you 24 hours aday,

all the best,


June 22, 2004 at 11:59 AM · exactly because you are a looney swede =)

June 22, 2004 at 02:26 PM · Don't worry, I'm sure with a good teacher who will help you form good habits and with LOTs of hard work you will one day go to Julliard. Anything is possible my friend :D.

June 22, 2004 at 05:07 PM · Yes anything is possible. You should start working very hard but balanced. hwen practicing focus on one thing at a time, usually when you master one thing you can do a whole lot of other things so make sure your practice is worthwhile.

June 22, 2004 at 05:17 PM · what? you live in rohnert park? i live in sebastopol. If you truly want to go to julliard look up ian swenson and mark sokol, they're both in the area, although they're also both out of town. Both went to julliard and are the best teachers within feasible distance. by the way do you play with people around here?

June 22, 2004 at 05:53 PM · I think you need to hold off on Juilliard, especially the pre-college program in which im in. YEA!. You need to get a teacher a learn from him/her for sometime first before you can go to juilliard.

June 22, 2004 at 06:54 PM · Way to sound belittling in that last comment, Alex.

June 22, 2004 at 08:06 PM · Let me start off by saying that Juilliard is THE school to study violin at in the world. It is very competitive to get in and they only except the best of the best. The requirements also require alot of preparation.

It is unfortunate that you have not taken lessons for years. You should take lessons ASAP. It would really benefit you greatly.

Good Luck

June 22, 2004 at 11:18 PM · Other than Curtis of course....*grin*


June 22, 2004 at 11:40 PM · CIM isn't too shabby either. They have a great string department with awesome teachers.

June 23, 2004 at 12:47 AM · greetings,

i remain quite fascinated with this post...;)

i think you might use this passage from what you wrote to explore more inside yourself what you need.

`Ive had this goal for a couple of years now and I figured that this would be a good place to start trying to accomplish it. `

i hope you don`t mind if i contiue being blunt since there seems to be enough encouragemnt flying around right now.

what i woul ask is if something that is seen as a goal at one level is not actually acted upon for two years. i wonder if it is not actually soething else?

however, if you have honestly decided to define it as a goal that is a big shift and it might be worth your while spending some time thinkiung about what a goal is, what`s its purpose and how to break it down into something manageable.

A goal may be the end of a carefully worked out sequenc eof steps, so perhaps after clariffying exactly what your goal is (I am not convinced it is atually getting into Julliard per se), then making an informed decision about whether or not it is possible and if it is likely to mak ey ou happy could well be the next step., then how are you going to go about breaking it down into smaller steps?

Where do you need to be in one year? Two years and so on. One can work backward srom thes e lomger range goals in order to plan this month, this week, today`s practice.

If you are going to audition for Julliard in three years how nervous are you going to get in th e audtion? probably very. So you need to hve performed your program in publich perhpas twenty times. How are you going to plan and arrange those concerts?

None of this is so difficult but it needs an incredible focus. And every decision needs to be weighed carefully. For example, you say you have just got yourself a fine teacher? great. What does he /she feel about your goal ? If you don`t know but the teaher does not agree with your aims then this needs to be discussed or it may be an underlying source of conflict that interferes with maximizing lesson time.

As part of the plan it also occured to me that you might take a look at Interlochen. I don`t know if they have an age limit but they seem to be quite flexible about things other than just sheer technique (not saying the Julliard isn`t)

Peabody also looks like it is a progressive and interesting place these days,



June 23, 2004 at 01:56 AM · well with dedication anything is possible of course, but you must understand that i mean INTENSE dedication. Mark sokol decided late he wanted to get into julliard and practiced 13 hours a day (seriously) for 3 years to get it, and he still barely got in, that is dedication. In addition he also managed to pester the great teachers of that time (galamian delay sevcik etc.) into giving him lessons, sevcik made him copy the entire score of the mendelssohn concerto by hand in one week. So if you feel you have this much dedication (or even half probably) then you probably can do it.

June 23, 2004 at 04:27 AM · Sokol never studied with Sevcik (who only taught in Europe and died in 1934), but with DeLay, yes and Robert Mann.

June 23, 2004 at 04:30 AM · greetings,

owen, I have afeeling when you say nything is possible with dedication` you may be just atad off the mark. In the violin world the equation uually reads as having the necessary talent too. Never mind the luck fqctor, which is actually a controllable phenomnon as far as I am concerned...

talent without dedication is equally useless.

the story you cite probably needs some qualifictaion. sokol (?) could practice 13 hours a day because he had the necesarry talent and oncentration it requies , never mind the physical stamina. I actually doubt much of the value of what he did, especially considering what we know about the body and mind in practincg these days. I would never advocate anyone doing this much practice except in the brief run up to a concert or competition followed by adequare rest and recovery.

I keep coming back to the ame point . but as teachers we are responsible for making reasoned and rational use of encouragment, challenge or even discouragemnt. Blanket encouragement can cause people a great d3al of harm and loss of self esteem,



Keep up the good work!

June 23, 2004 at 03:36 PM · Hi. I am a Juilliard alumni, graduated in 96. from my experience there, I realized during the years of my studies, that the way the school chooses their students is not just how they play but also what they got to offer to the music world. You need to have something unique in your playing so they get interested. some people have amazing technique, some others have great musical sensibility, some others are great doing modern music, or chamber music. it all depends on which of these talents you have. I must say it was a wonderful experience and I wish you the best!

grettings to all,


June 23, 2004 at 04:06 PM · Bellitling??

June 23, 2004 at 04:53 PM · it wasn't sevcik then? then i wonder who on earth it was then, i'm obviously confused. just out of curiosity mattias how do you know sokol?

June 23, 2004 at 05:25 PM · Amanda,

As someone who applied to (and was rejected from) Juilliard for violin this year, maybe I can offer you my viewpoint.

As everyone has said already, getting into Juilliard requires that you play at an extremely high level. But, as anyone who has gone through the conservatory admissions process will tell you, politics also weighs quite heavily on the decision.

I would second Preston's advice: learn as much as you can about the school and talk to students at the school. I'm worried that you are too much swayed by the name of Juilliard at this point. My teacher here in Binghamton, NY, who is an alumnus of Juilliard, told me that "some things about Juilliard... suck." I won't go into these myself, especially since I've never attended the school, but I think you could figure some of these out: over-competitiveness, a sort of impersonal vibe that the outsider gets, and the simple fact that only the best of Juilliard are really given all the school has to offer.

I certainly don't mean to lambast an excellent school, but I want you to know that it's probably not the utopia of the arts that you imagine it to be. As vidal mentioned, CIM is also worth looking into, as are many, many other fine schools in this country. Eastman, Peabody, Mannes, MSM, NEC, Indiana, U-Mich... the list goes on.

My hope is that you don't focus all of your energies on conforming to some over-hyped popular ideal, but instead focus more on the pure enjoyment of playing the violin and judging yourself by your OWN standards.


August 10, 2004 at 01:47 PM · Is it really nessesary to practice 13 hours a day to get into Julliard?

August 10, 2004 at 08:53 PM · Not at all. People can get in to Julliard or any other conservatory practicing 2-3 hours a day. Someone noted on this board earlier, Perlman growing up practised 4 hours a day, and Vengerov practiced 8 hours a day, but can you tell who has better technique? Sarah Chang growing up practised 2-5 hours a day. Chung, practiced 14 hours a day at Julliard, and can you tell who is a better violinist?

The point I'm trying to make is that practice alone, can only get you so far as a violinist, you must grow into the violin, it must become part of you, become part of your lifestyle, to improve fast, and become a great violinist.

August 10, 2004 at 11:30 PM · Had anyone who started playing over the age of 20 ever even gotten in to julliard? There must be some heros out there that people like Amanda and I can look up to! I don't think starting late is all that terrible (granted I may be a little biased, but lets do the math...) Assume a child prodegy learns to play at 4 times the speed I do (and I learn quickly, so I think that's reasonable). So she starts at 5, and performs in Carnegie at 15. If I start at 20, theoretically if i work hard and don't waste too much time typing on, I should be able to give the same performace at age 60. That leave 40 years of happy playing until I die! HAHA What do you think?

August 11, 2004 at 12:35 AM · what i think? not many people make it to be 100....=P

August 11, 2004 at 02:22 AM · Not that I know anything. But a conductor I had who went to juliard for clarinet said that the pianists carried metal sticks to run up and down the keyboards to check for razor blades, which the other pianists put there. thats how tough the competition is.

August 11, 2004 at 04:13 AM · Sounds like urban legend.

August 11, 2004 at 06:41 AM · I don't mean to sound negative but I consider it unfair not to tell you what I think about this so...

In our days the level of technique has gone up to frightening levels. There are so many violinists who play correct and almost perfectly in tune that it has become the minimum requirment for most serious orchestras and good music schools.

Maybe you should go hear some student concerts in Julliard?

August 11, 2004 at 01:45 PM · hey does anyone know the age limit for Juilliard? I know it's 21 in the violin department at Curtis. It really depends on what kind of work you have accomplished thus far. What are you playing and how well? Buri, you never know this violinists could be a major freak and everything just comes naturally. Hand positions, shifting. etc... that's highly unlikely, but they might have a few strenghts. :) I'm not going to say it's impossible, but i'm not saying it's possible either, because it depends on YOUR playing and i have no clue how fast you'll learn. I started very late but not THAT late. I also know what it's like to have bad habits from playing for like a week then not playing for 6 months coming back everything moves into wrong places, and not having a teacher to tell you to fix it (and not caring). It's tough to start like that. You should really get out there and see the level of playing and see if you stick to the same goals. Then talk to some teachers and see what they think of your playing. You might want to wait a few months before asking so they really get to know your strengths and weaknesses. Remember, you shouldn't just play to get into a school. You should play because you just can't go a day without playing, because it's a part of you and you love it.

August 11, 2004 at 04:13 PM · it really isnt that competitive there. im a student at Juilliard, and everyone is really nice to one another. they are supportive if you have a competition and such coming. i mean, people know who is bad and who is good, but everyone there is talented, so no one really cares about that too's a great school, and i'm glad i go there.

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