Is this an attainable goal?

May 8, 2005 at 05:20 AM · Hello. My name is Xiao Hong. I am 16 years old and a sophmore in highschool. My very first violin lesson will be on Wednesday. I can read sheet music very well, so I hope that will prove to be an advantage. I'm also a dilligent worker. I've loved the violin since I can remember and I'm so excited to finally get to play. Music is my passion and my life.

That brings me to my questions. I would like to audition for a performing arts Highschool in January. They require That I should be able to perform two and three octave scales that include shifting with arpeggios and two pieces of contrasting stle. Would I be able to achieve this by February? I have lessons every wednesday for half an hour and I plan on practicing every day. I'm very serious when it comes to these things. If I work hard, will I be able to achieve these goals? I have faith in myself, but I'm hoping that I'm not being naive.

Replies (11)

May 8, 2005 at 04:42 PM · That gives you around 9-10 months. I have been learning for 4 months and I am in my 2nd suzuki book. That is nowhere near performing arts material, but I think I will start other positions soon.

May 8, 2005 at 05:28 PM · I will also be using the Suzuki Method. What book would I need to get to in order to reach my goal?

May 8, 2005 at 06:01 PM · I'm just curious, what kind of performing arts school are you looking at? Do you mean like... a music conservatory? Because that's pretty hardcore, you're going to have to work literally 10 hours a day to catch up with those kids who have had from 5 to 10 years on you. Regarding the suzuki method... 3 octave arpeggios are not easy, and that would be around... book 7 to start them, and probably well beyond the suzuki books (like past 10) to have them down really well. You'd have to go pretty freaking fast. Another thing, practice takes practice. One might think that merely logging more hours onto your violin would achieve results, and to some extent that's true, but efficient practice comes with time. You need to be able to identify errors in your own playing before you can start really improving. Then you need to learn two contrasting pieces, which by itself would usually probably take a couple months.

Here's my verdict, it would be extremely difficult to pull off (granted, I don't know what kind of school you're auditioning to), but you might be able to do it, but you must realize you'll be sacrificing a TON to be able to do it. Another thing, I'd highly recommend you buy Galamian's book on Violin Technique , or perhaps Simon Fischer's Basics (which I personally haven't read, but people on this forum really like it). Neither are cheap, but if you read through them, you'll understand the violin very well, and I think you'll realize how big of a mountain this is you'll be trying to climb. I'm really hardly ever discouraging, and if I have come off that way, don't think of it like that. I'm just trying to give you what you'll be going up against, because truthfully, it is going to be hard. You're going to need to give up a lot to, not only be able to play those scales and pieces, but to play them at an audition level. However, perhaps if you tell them you started 8 months ago (or however long you'll have) they'll be mighty impressed! Don't give up, but it's going to be difficult. The best of luck to you! I really respect this ambition, and if you pull it off, be sure to come back and leave us messages!

- Wenhao Sun

May 8, 2005 at 07:19 PM · I like you response, Wen hao! It was very helpful.

I understand the sacrifices and I'm very willing to give up anything for music. The school is not a conservatory, but just a performing arts highschool. I will look for the books you suggested. Thank you for your respose!

May 8, 2005 at 08:05 PM · There's really no limit, or time limit for that matter, as to what you can learn with the violin. I believe you can achieve this goal with a lot of practice, a good teacher, and confidence. The Suzuki method is a good method, it's definitely prepare you well.

Hope this helps!

May 9, 2005 at 03:02 AM · Your passion and ambition has really won my admiration! However, with that being said, I want to steer from the more idealistic idea that anything is possible and on to a more realistic question: is it really worth spending 5-6 hours everyday for such a lofty goal? Do you have a bigger plan behind this, such as pursueing a career of music or attending a conservatory?

Do you know approxmiately the standard of other auditioning (what pieces they plan to play?) Three octave arpeggios are not to be underestimated, and my gut instinct just tells me that learning shifts and etc might be too big of a stretch in the confinment of 10 months.

I can only speak for myself - I don't know whether this is similar to other people. I discover that learning for me is similar to that of an absorbing sponge. No matter how much I practice, I can only learn so much of a technique. (Perhaps this is why people claim practicing beyond three hours is useless?) For me, at least, it's impossible to "speed" learn an instrument, rather my body/brain improves at its own pace (sometimes I found myself improving - even though I did zero practice!)

My point in this rambling is, it's definately possible for anyone at any age to reach any level of technique, given good guidance and an appropiate time frame. Of course, whether or not you will be accepted depends on the level of the school, etc. I think given a ten month period, learning how to hold the instrument correctly and be able to play in tune with good sound quality and intonation is already quite a feat! But to learn on top or that a concerto/showpiece and Bach in just ten month is really a very difficult task.

Don't be discouraged! I think it will be healthier to readjust your goal. And if you stick to it, practice everyday, listen to plenty recordings, actively think about what your teacher tells you, I'm sure you can get where you want to go.

Best wishes!

May 9, 2005 at 06:15 PM · Nicky,

Thank you for your response.

I would really like to major in music in college. I don't hold a high hope for going to a well established conservatory like Julliard or Oberlin.

I told myself to not get my hopes, too high if I don't get into the school, but that won't stop me for trying my very best and hardest!

Majoring in music is one of my long term goals.

May 10, 2005 at 01:32 AM · What inspired to pursue music, and why? I know you read music already, have you have previous experiences another instrument?

Undoubtly you must have read other people similiar to your situation, and yes it's true that music is never to late to learn, but to pursue as a college major (and perhaps career), beginning at such a late age put you into a disadvantage. Have you considered pursueing music as a hobby, such as in chamber groups and orchestras? It might be more healthy to pursue the more "fun" aspects of being an instrumental player without the stress of cut-throat competition, auditions, etc.

With that being said though, there's no stopping for anyone who is passionate and determined. You should definately make your goals and plans clear to your teacher at your lesson, don't be afraid!

May 10, 2005 at 01:31 PM · What performing arts high school are you looking at? Some are easier to get into than others.

May 10, 2005 at 07:05 PM · Nicky: I used to play the piano, but we no longer have one. I also used to play Trumpet. Music has always been a big part, as my parents are musicians. I can't see myself doing anything else.

Matt: It's Douglas Anderson School of Performing Arts.

June 9, 2005 at 08:18 PM · You can check your chances by using the Mentor Network. Visit

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