orchestra goal

September 9, 2004 at 12:56 AM · Hi,

so I read a large amount of post on here that talk about late starters. I have a question for all you out there. I took up the violin in high school my senior yr because I really liked playing in an orchestra. It has never been my goal to be a soloist and give concerts. I guess because I realize that I wouldnt have the same experience as a person that started when they were five. So my question is this, do you think a late starters could learn the technique to be able to play in an orchestra, I'm not talking about the phil harmonic or any famous one. I'm talking about a college orchestra and maybe in the future a local orchestra like the Grant Park Orchestra or The Civic Orchestra here in chicago.

Replies (25)

September 9, 2004 at 01:13 AM · I guess I could say that I'm a kind of late starter, too. And after hearing about a lot of late starters both on here and everywhere else, I'm pretty sure you could get into some kind of an orchestra if you practice a lot. I've heard of some orchestras (however, rather small) that except adults who've only had a couple years experience. My opinion is whether you're a late starter or not, with a little pratice and experience, you can have a lot of fun with the violin.

Oh, yeah, and don't let these small 5 year-olds get to you (although it doesn't really sound like they are). When I first started at 11 going on 12, I was kind of depressed seeing these child prodigies play much better than I. I always think how lucky they are, starting at such a young age. That's what drove me to practice for a long time every day.

Just know that there is definitely an orchestra that will except you if you know the basics and have a somewhat nice tone. Even if it is just a small chamber orchestra, all that matters is that you have fun with it.

Good luck!


September 9, 2004 at 02:01 AM · An adult student of mine had lessons for about three years, then started playing 2nd violin in the local community orchetra. A year later, she's just been promoted to 1st. It depends on the student and the orchestra, but of course it can be done. What's important is to be realistic: take the time to learn to play properly and don't lose your head to fantasies of playing Paganini within the year;)

September 9, 2004 at 02:26 AM · yeah well I'm being as realistic as I can without crushing my dreams. Right now I'm just trying to learn all that I can, I was just curious to hear if it could be done. So thanks :-)

September 9, 2004 at 02:53 AM · I just joined our local adult orchestra as second violin! Only had one practice...looking forward to the next! :)

September 9, 2004 at 03:12 AM · Greetings,

not only can you play in orchestras, but there are loads of Summer chamber music courses all over the world for all levels of player. Thisis the time to get your inspiration for the year ahead,



September 9, 2004 at 01:19 PM · You absolutely can play in an orchestra! And a string quartet, and a piano trio, or with a harp or a guitar. You can play on the street, a coffee house, an old folks home and a veryvery fancy concert hall all dressed up. Find a good teacher and practice rhythms and playing in tune and sight read as much as you can. Also listen to a LOT of orchestral music! Lean back, close your eyes and imagine yourself playing that music. then practice some more and pretty soon you will really be doing it.

September 9, 2004 at 02:09 PM · The principal cellist of the New York Philharmonic started playing when he was 15.

September 9, 2004 at 02:40 PM · Although I'm not really a late starter, I am one of the returning adults. After nearly 20 years of total inactivity I took up playing again 2 years ago. A year ago I started taking private lessons from an excellent teacher who plays in the local professional symphony. I practice diligently for 3 to 4 hours a day, which is all I can manage without quitting my job. Two weeks ago one of my goals came true: I joined one of the local community orchestras in our city. We have had only one rehearsal so far and I have to admit reading ('playing') through Tchaikovsky's 4th symphony was definitely not a walk in the park. I must be the worst first violin player in the section but it can only get better from here. If joining an orchestra is something you want to do, it can be accomplished but it will take work and commitment.

To give you an idea about where I am at technique wise: Flesh scales, Kreutzer and Rode studies, and my current pieces are Mozart G major concerto, Adagio and Presto of 1st Bach’s solo sonata, Viotti 23rd and I will perform Bach’s double concerto in a couple of weeks.

September 9, 2004 at 03:51 PM · I did (although the orchestra I play one is a music centre one and it's diddy!) And I hope to play in a massive orchestra and tour the world when I'm retired...dream on girl...

September 9, 2004 at 11:24 PM · I started when I was 7 years old, and I still get jealous when I see 13 year olds playing pieces as difficult and better than my pieces. But I've had to put that out of my mind and focus on my goals and aspirations: Complete my degree, get into a European Orchestra, come back to perth and join WASO or the ACO.

The child prodigies will hit a wall as they aren't mature enough to really play. They won't realise all the intrinsic difficulties of music and performing untill they reach college. And if you're already there, then all the better for you :)

September 10, 2004 at 02:06 AM · y9ou totally could, theres a man in a community orchestra i uysed to solo with who started when he was fifty, he's 70 now, and he is perfectly capable on the violin.

September 10, 2004 at 08:37 PM · I started when I was 10, in school orchestra. My family was poor and I could'nt afford private lessons, so that made me work even harder. I use to be jealous of kids my age playing Mozart and, Bach concertos. But then I just started listening to records of great violinists, playing all the great concertos. And gained a real passion for the violin. Thats, how I learned about the different violin repertoire, and could tell the difference between all the great violinists, by their sound. When I was 12, I played Mozart no.5 for a state competition, and received high ratings from the panel of judges, which led me to getting a very good teacher at a major conservatory. By the time I was 16 I had already played Paganini, Tchaikovsky, Barber, Sibelius, Vieuxtemps concertos, and all the people I was originaly jealous of, became jealous of me. :)So, you can definetly be a very great orchestra member!

September 11, 2004 at 04:51 AM · Christina C., that bit of info about the principal cellist in New York is insanely impressive.

I know someone now pursuing a graduate performance degree and headed towards an orchestra career who started playing cello while already in college. It can be done, if you're dedicated, intelligent, and talented.

September 12, 2004 at 11:20 AM · dedication and intelligence is what i'd say is most important. sure you need some talent, but through hard work and intelligent learning you can develop talent.

We often hear about tone deaf people, but one of my teachers at uni says that there are no such thing as tone deaf people, just people who haven't been taught to sing in tune.

September 12, 2004 at 10:24 PM · You want late starters? I'm 42 and been playing for about a year. I can almost play the opening riff to Devil Went Down To Georgia.

September 15, 2004 at 09:26 AM · This thread has been very inspiring for me. I'm a "returner" to the violin at age 44. My goal is to play in a community orchestra within five years. I can totally visualize it. The picture's a bit hazy at times, but I can definitely visualize it.

September 16, 2004 at 03:57 PM · Okay...we had our second Adult Orhestra practice oon Monday night (I'm second violin) and I did WAAAAY better following.

But I have a problem.

I know my timing sucks (my weakest link in ensemble playing - always has been despite counting out loud and metronomes). But I pick the rhythm of a piece up quickly. So, if I was sitting with someone good...after a couple of good practices I'd be fine.

However, I can't hear ANY of the other second violinists (at least 8 of us)! They're either all playing so quietly that I loose them in the overall sound...or they're all faking it (the very sweet lady to the right of me definately is).

I can hear some of the first violinsts...but if I listen to them I mess up what I'm supposed to be doing...

Other than practice practice practie...suggestions?

September 16, 2004 at 05:25 PM · First & foremost is familiarity with the part. Then listen to & even play along with recordings of what you're playing to develop a sense of what's going on around you & how your part fits into it.

September 16, 2004 at 10:31 PM · oh yeah, i definitely think that it's possible... i started playing when i was 11, and i'm 14 now... i'm in our city's youth orchestra and am principal second there and the conductor says that next season, he's moving me up to the first violin section... with ambition, determination, and practice, practice, and more practice, =) you can definitely accomplish your goal... hope this helps


September 17, 2004 at 11:42 AM · N.A., when I'm playing I usually can't hear my 2nd vln section mates either, except for my stand partner (the principal) in quiet passages. If I stop playing I can hear the folks behind. But, for me, it's more important to be able to hear the other string sections than my own section. Fitting in my part accurately with the other sections is one of my great joys in orchestral playing.

September 17, 2004 at 05:14 PM · If you are in the Chicago area, and don't mind a bit of a drive once a week, Then join the Milwaukee Municipal Orchestra! We need people badly! It is high school level music, but it's easy and we have fun. The orchestra meets on Wed. from 7pm to 9pm at Pulaski High School on Milwaukees south side. It's at least some orchestra experience.

September 17, 2004 at 08:08 PM · we had the same problem in our school orchestra with the second violins, and after the first violins did some detective work, we figured out that the only reason that people were playing softly was because all the others were playing sofly... perhaps if you could get the principal to play a lot louder, the rest of the group would follow.... i guess you could use the phrase, "monkey see (or hear), monkey do"! hope this helps


September 17, 2004 at 09:22 PM · Hi Theresa,

What grade do you have to be in to join the orchestra?

September 17, 2004 at 10:15 PM · Thanks for the suggestions...I'll see if I can find music...

...and I'll ask if the principal 2nd can play louder...or if I can switch seats and sit beside him...

...and of course...practice!

September 17, 2004 at 10:16 PM · ...and to Tom...the fitting the peices of the puzzle together is what I enjoy too...'cept some of the puzzle is too hard (we have LOTS of pieces...LOL) ...given it's all at once...


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