Should I try and become a concert violinist?

Edited: September 16, 2018, 10:56 AM · I have been playing for a couple of years in the public education system, and got a teacher close to a year ago. Somehow I had managed to teach myself some basic technique; when I started with my teacher he had me learn the Bach concerto in a minor . Fast forward a year of at times dedicated work I am working on the rondo and caprissioso (almost complete), and the Lalo first movement for my concerto. I am now a junior in highschool and am wondering if it would be at all worthwhile to dedicate all my time to violin. Like if it would be worthwhile to go all in. I am aware that the progress is there but I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to attain the elite level of playing that many virtuosos reach. Seeing that many of you are all accomplished violinists, i would like to get your honest opinion. i realize the amount of work that it will take to reach this goal, if it is at all even possible. I appreciate all responses .
In the meanwhile guys, I found a video of me performing in 5th grade (after a year of learning in elementary school). I’m the kid playing Thais. I know it isn’t much to go off of but I thought it kinda amusing. Also, I can provide a list of repertoire that I learned last year if that helps: Bach A minor , Schindler’s list, Czardas , nardini in E, and started learning the intro and Tarentella which got sidelined by the rondo (I plan to finish the tarentella at some point).
Here’s the link , for now it should serve as a base level indication of where i started as a young kid and my learning speed


Replies (54)

September 15, 2018, 8:34 AM · Hi Adam, nice to read your story. Have you ask yourself, how much do you love your violin?
September 15, 2018, 9:18 AM · Not so much working on the technical aspects of playing (it feels like taking vitamins) , but working on repertoire I feel that attraction to the music and the intimacy with the instrument. Although I do get frustrated sometimes, I love what the violin can do at the end of it all. So yes, I’d say I love it.
Edited: September 15, 2018, 10:13 AM · If you've only been under proper tutelage for a year and you're playing IRC and Lalo, then I don't see why you wouldn't be able to learn most of the romantic concerto repertoire by the time you graduate. Then it's off to Juilliard or Curtis, surely.
Edited: September 15, 2018, 10:16 AM · In answer to the original title "Should I give it my all?"

Of course. Why would you not give everything your all?
But of course what you are really asking is "Can I and should I try to make a living at violin?"

There have been many recent posts by people in your age range, and you'll get the same three answers:
1. Yes
2. No
3. Maybe

I think most high school students in your situation come to a decision in one of several ways:
-They achieve concrete success very early by winning competitions and/auditions of various types.
-They play for several experienced players and teachers and look for consensus as to what their chances for success may be.
-They just roll the dice and apply to music schools.

In your case, I'd recommend the second option. No one here can really advise you without at least hearing you play.

September 15, 2018, 1:56 PM · No. Give up what you love doing, feel empty inside every day, and regret it for the rest of your life.
Is this a serious question?
Edited: September 15, 2018, 2:53 PM · Don’t mean to break the party, but if you’ve been only playing for 3-4 years, no matter how talented you are, I doubt you’ll ever be able to catch up with your peers who started at age 6 or less...
And remember that success is relative. You might think you are great, but then one day you hear a violinist younger than you, who plays 10X better than you, and now you are not so sure anymore.
Get more reference points before you can evaluate the level you are at.

But do do violin if you like it, I just don’t think it’s be wise to give it your all

Edited: September 15, 2018, 3:01 PM · But if he's shredding IRC and Lalo, he's already lapped them.
September 15, 2018, 2:55 PM · You didn't mention what outcome you're going for. Do you want to be a concert violinist? Play in a professional orchestra? Play in a jazz bar? Weddings? Teach strings in an elementary school? Play in a community orchestra?

BTW, working on the boring technical aspects is 99% of what you'll be doing in a college program. If you don't like doing that, you probably ain't gonna like being a music major.

FWIW, I believe in giving everything you do your all. :)

Edited: September 15, 2018, 3:10 PM · I was thinking more along the lines of concert violinist but I realize the improbability of that outcome , seeing as though there are 9 years far better than me (Christian Li comes to mind). I admit the questions title isn’t really that specific, partially because I’m shying away from even setting that goal because I’m acknowledging the probability for failure. I have been playing for about 7 years though, with the last one under instruction. That means I have about 2 years to decide my fate.
Edited: September 15, 2018, 3:09 PM · I think you would get better feedback if you posted yourself playing one or two minutes of either of those works. (The more experienced players here can tell what is "unpolished piece" from "fundamental technical issues" so don't worry if it's not performance-ready). YouTube video shot with a smartphone is fine.

You're doing remarkably well if you managed to get to Bach A minor level without any private teaching, and astoundingly well if you went from that to I&RC and Lalo in a year's time. That's assuming you're playing those pieces well.

How many hours a day are you practicing? Do you have just one private lesson a week? Does your teacher routinely prepare students for conservatory auditions?

If you can learn at that kind of rate, on a sustained basis, you can catch up. There will be others auditioning for conservatory with the kind of repertoire you're playing now.

However, with your brain, I wonder how many other things you're good at, and whether or not your most satisfying adult life would be some kind of high-paying career that leaves you plenty of time to indulge your hobbies, including playing the violin.

September 15, 2018, 3:30 PM · "You're doing remarkably well if you managed to get to Bach A minor level without any private teaching"

How can you tell? One can slop through any piece out of tune, out of time, with poor bow distribution, with a lousy sound.

The piece means nothing. Only HOW it's played.

September 15, 2018, 3:45 PM · You are certainly right mr Cole, I will be posting a video of Rondo shortly. Hopefully that might lend itself to more accurate judgement.
September 15, 2018, 3:47 PM · Adam,

Being a professional musician is anything but easy. I'm not one, but some of my friends are. While you mention works that you claim to play, you don't cite any competitions or where you placed in them. Almost everyone who is a professional has hundreds of competitions on their resume.

As far as being a concert violinist, those people are rare and their life is tough. Even though they are doing what they love, it means a life spent in airports and hotel rooms and spending a lot of your performance fees on management and staff.

I'll ask the other question: what are your general academic grades like? Generally speaking, that intensity isn't limited to the instrument, it shows up everywhere. Bottom line: what else are you good at? You need a solid Plan-B. The violin and music can, and should be, a part of your total life - you might even be the concertmaster of the local community orchestra and still have a life outside of music.

September 15, 2018, 4:09 PM · I’m a full IB student , with straight As ( although IB is about to get a lot harder for me my junior year). As I have really only been taking violin seriously as of the last year or so , I haven’t enter any competitions. Hopefully this year I might .
September 15, 2018, 5:04 PM · "Almost anyone who is a professional has hundreds of competitions on their resume."

This simply is not true, at least not for professional orchestra musicians. I did a couple of local music club competitions as a kid, and my conservatory's concerto competition. Placed well in a couple but did not win anything outright. That's it.

What I did have by the time I went to conservatory: many years of good chairs in youth orchestra, one year of All-State junior high and three years of All-State high school orchestra, and one year (it was biannual) in the All-Eastern Orchestra.

It is impossible to tell anything from repertoire listed. I agree with Lydia, if the OP is playing his pieces well, that's astonishing. But if not, the actual pieces played are meaningless.

Edited: September 15, 2018, 5:23 PM · I am not really in a position to give such advice, but for what you have said in relation to similar other posts in the past, it would be reasonable to assume that at this stage your prospects as a concert soloist are limited at best. That is not to say you shouldn't pursue a musical career, but let your progress and success in the next few years dictate if that is even a remote possibility. Have a solid plan B whatever you choose to do however. A concert career might sound glamorous, but few make a living on that alone. Many rely on teaching or even a second career to make a living.
September 15, 2018, 5:25 PM · I'm going to go against the grain here and say, anyone asking this question on an internet message board is not on a soloist track. Or even on a conservatory track. Or even a first or second tier college/university track.
September 15, 2018, 5:34 PM · Only keep playing if you love it. And one doesn't even need to ask "should I give it my all?" when in love with something special.

If it's just a big career you want, then you have to think it through further, as even having enough skill and "talent" is at times not enough. High IQ may not be sufficient. There are myriads of ways people make money without touching a violin. Of course you "can" be a concert violinist, but it's not guaranteed, and most likely not a soloist (which isn't necessarily the same as "concert violinist".)

(Your playing level *can* get to be very high with great teaching, perseverance, and an intelligent labor of love, but that may not answer your question.)

Keep practicing, listening to music, and attending live recital and concerts. Youtube is not the same as a live performance, as even a video of an actual recital-better than nothing to be sure-doesn't capture the whole experience.

Do listen to expert teacher advice if you can.

September 15, 2018, 5:56 PM · I agree that anyone asking such a question on a message board like this is not on the soloist track. It is possible (but not likely) for the OP actually to be on track to get into a conservatory *if* the pieces he says he is playing are actually being performed at a high level. Not everyone is clued in to the admissions process as a teenager. I certainly wasn't.
September 15, 2018, 7:34 PM · This is to encourage Adam to get a real face-to-face evaluation, because I think it is possible to advance a an incredible rate.

44 years ago I participated in a violin master class. The leader (master) was Claire Hodgkins, who at the time was Heifetz's assistant at his USC Master Class (and by the way was one of the participants in the famous Heifetz Master Class video). Most of the participants in "my" class were young people studying in that Heifetz Master Class. The first violinist put in the "spotlight" to play through various 3-octave scales, including various double stops, octaves, fingered octaves, and tenths then played through the entire Bruch concerto with the class pianist. It was a recording-worthy performance. She was a young girl of 18 who had been playing the violin only since she was 13 - with hands only about half the width of mine.

I was amazed. It is possible - but get really good advice before you "quit your day job." But why not spend all your spare time getting good instruction and practicing.

September 15, 2018, 10:20 PM · Please post a video so that I may judge you with all of my might!
September 15, 2018, 10:24 PM · I wonder if Adam's definition of "concert violinist" is the same as ours.

In the professional music world, it's pretty specific: it means a touring soloist who makes his/her living by playing concerti with orchestras, and other solo recitals or chamber music. It doesn't mean playing in an orchestra, even in the best orchestra.

Th general public's idea of "concert" violinist can mean different things.

September 16, 2018, 1:30 AM · Yeah, I've met dozens of people who used the term "concert violinist" (generally in reference to a deceased relative of theirs), and every single one actually meant that the person played "in concerts" -- thus, "concert violinist."

Some didn't even get paid for the concerts.

I still don't understand why they didn't just say "violinist."

September 16, 2018, 2:08 AM · 7 years would be ok if you started under a teacher right away. But doing 5-6 of those as a self-taught violinist....

All I will say is that, until they have much experience in and knowledge of their field, people tend to be pretty bad at judging themselves, and they usually overestimate their level. See American Idol for reference of this phenomenon.

September 16, 2018, 6:43 AM · When I first started playing I thought I wanted to be some grand soloist.... But I quickly realized it's not gonna happen unless you start under 5 for starters, but more importantly, the more I've played, the more the thought of having to do it as a job has gotten further and further away from my mind. I want to play the violin to have fun, and to play when I feel like it. The thought of being forced to practice when I don't feel like it, or when I'm not in the best mood is a HUGE deterrent. But I look forward to being able to play in a community orchestra for fun. You should really think hard about what it means to do this for a living. Turning something you enjoy into a job necessary to sustain you is a one way street to making you hate it.
Edited: September 16, 2018, 10:56 AM · In the meanwhile guys, I found a video of me performing in 5th grade (after a year of learning in elementary school). I’m the kid playing Thais. I know it isn’t much to go off of but I thought it kinda amusing. Also, I can provide a list of repertoire that I learned last year if that helps: Bach A minor , Schindler’s list, Czardas , nardini in E, and started learning the intro and Tarentella which got sidelined by the rondo (I plan to finish the tarentella at some point).
Here’s the link , for now it should serve as a base level indication of where i started as a young kid and my learning speed

Edited: September 16, 2018, 10:13 AM · If you want any sort of useful evaluation of your current playing and your realistic hopes for the future, the best person to ask is your private teacher. There are quite a few of us here who can also evaluate your current playing but only if we actually see/hear you, not based on the names of your pieces. I cannot count the number of students I've heard "playing" repertoire that was (a) far too difficult for them, and (b) extremely badly performed.

Also, there is a HUGE jump from Bach a minor/Czardas to Lalo.

September 16, 2018, 11:00 AM · Ms. Goree,
I have asked him before and he seems to think I could make it into a conservatory. I was trying to glean some alternative perspective, as i was thinking he might not be as critical as some of you. He himself studied at Julliard when he was 13 and under Isaac Stern later on. Perhaps i am being a bit paranoid, but for me school has started to make practicing more difficult, leading me to question my end goal.
Edited: September 16, 2018, 11:15 AM · "I have asked him before and he seems to think I could make it into a conservatory." Hate to say this, but you really need to press him to explain to you the basis of his opinion (which even at the outset sounds tentative at best). Has he placed other students into conservatoire? If the answer is "No" or "Yes, one 20 years ago" then you need to go to a summer camp or a master class or hire a lesson somewhere -- find some way that your best playing can be heard and seen in real life by a top teacher who has made recent conservatory placements. It could well be the best money you ever spent.

The reason you need to be circumspect is because, I'm sorry to say, there are many teachers out there who do not teach very many conservatoire-bound students and when one quasi-promising one comes along, they tend to nurture a high level of ambition because then they can go around saying they've got student(s) preparing for conservatoire.

Edited: September 16, 2018, 11:27 AM · Mr Deck,
Ill be seeing him today so ill press him then. Although he does instruct a number of child prodigies, many of whom are better than me. Funny enough it seems this competition with his child prodigies for the last year or so has made me practice harder. He actually has a bio on this website.

September 16, 2018, 4:36 PM · Scott, I ended my commentary on the repertoire with, "That's assuming you're playing those pieces well" for just that reason. :-)

Adam, for a kid with one year of playing experience and no private instruction, Thais in a year's time is terrific. Your video shows you are more or less getting through the notes, but not playing it with the refinement of a student for whom that's the right level of repertoire. It illustrates you have the aptitude and willpower to learn, anyway.

But none of us can know what's happened in the years since. So a current video would be really helpful. Just shoot one minute with your smartphone, post it to YouTube as a private link, no need for it to be polished.

You live in the DC area? As far as I know, anyway, Leonid Sushansky teaches in NoVa. Do you play in one of the youth symphonies, like AYPO or DCYOP Youth Orchestra? Have you entered any competitions, like NVMTA? (I agree that competitions are not necessary, but something like MTA is a good way to get third-party judgment of your playing.)

September 16, 2018, 7:37 PM · Adam your teacher Shushansky is well known. You could have saved us all a lot of grief by leading off with that. Frankly it makes me even more puzzled why you would seek a "second opinion" here. In your area I can think of three or four good teachers who could give you a useful evaluation.
September 17, 2018, 6:09 AM · I understand that the OP was trying to get objective second opinion from the forum, and therefore did not disclose his teacher's name. Had he done this earlier, I imagine most replies would be like, 'follow your teacher's suggestion'.
Edited: September 17, 2018, 6:18 AM · Why would it be grief? I agree partially with Matt. I have no idea why the OP is being reprimanded.
September 17, 2018, 8:45 AM · I don't have any issue with people seeking opinions here but it's impossible to give any kind of reasonable evaluation without a video.
Edited: September 17, 2018, 9:55 AM · It should also be noted that the familiarity of a violinist as a performer in a particular city should not be taken as an indication of how prolific that violinist is as a teacher, or the degree to which that violinist teaches conservatory-bound students.

Furthermore, just because there are teachers in a city capable of evaluating a player does not mean that a poster is familiar with who those people are. That's very likely to be true of a player mostly educated in the public-school strings program, possibly without youth symphony contacts, knowing the top teachers from who's teaching local competition winners, and the like.

Edited: September 19, 2018, 7:10 PM · Okay I apologize if I was too harsh with Adam and if I overreached in my impressions of his teacher. Sorry too that it took me a couple of days to get to this. Still, one reason we tend to go around and around in these kinds of threads is because, for some reason, the OP feels they need to withhold a lot of obviously useful data. I get that a student might not want to just blurt out the name of his or her teacher in an open forum, but I still think we would have all been better off with something like:

I'm a XX-year-old pondering a career as a soloist. My teacher is not a household name but is a highly regarded soloist in my area (NoVa/DC), has an enviable pedigree, and has had several students win competitions and enter conservatory. I've been playing for X years and I'm working on [list a few recent and current studies and repertoire pieces]. My teacher thinks I could make a go of it for conservatory, but I would welcome any comments or advice you might have about that.

September 19, 2018, 9:10 PM · And my response would still be to ask for a video. I've heard too many kids making hash out of big pieces that they should not be working on.

I'm very curious about a question raised by Scott earlier in the thread, but never answered...just what exactly does the OP mean by "concert violinist?" The correct usage, as Scott pointed out, is for someone who exclusively plays as a soloist in front of orchestras, and in that case I don't need to see/hear a video to know that that is not in the OP's future. But a lot of people use it to mean "anyone who plays violin professionally in any setting, or who I think could play violin professionally." We still don't know what the OP meant by the phrase.

Incidentally my rule of thumb is that anyone who describes themself as a "concert" anything, isn't.

Edited: September 20, 2018, 5:23 AM · Your teacher knows your playing inside and out, if they have any experience in your local market they will know what your chances are like.

I don't mean any offence to the users here but you shouldn't care so much about our opinions. Most of us are students, amateurs, or enthusiasts - there are very few who are on your teacher's level of expertise.

September 20, 2018, 4:10 AM · I still want to see a video.
Edited: September 20, 2018, 1:03 PM · Actually the question can be parsed a number of different ways, and some of the ways in which it might be parsed are well suited to the wisdom of this crowd.

Most of you are reading it this way:
Should *I* try to become a concert violinist? (obviously OP's teacher is best equipped to answer questions about his talent, motivation, learning progression, grace under pressure, etc.)

But there are other useful questions embedded in this one:
What is a concert violinist? how likely is anyone to become one in this day and age?
What other career options exist for professional violinists, and how comparatively easy or challenging are they? What qualities beyond talent and technique are useful for students interested in pursuing various paths?
What additional options exist for music lovers/advanced violinists who opt not to "go for it"?

I think this community routinely adds a lot of value in these dimensions.

When I was in high school with dreams of violin glory, there was a lot I didn't know. I didn't know any serious non-professional musicians. I didn't know the difference between professional and community orchestras. I didn't know anything about competition–in other words, how good were people, really? Where did I fit in the spectrum? I didn't know much about non-conservatory training for non-professional-track musicians (ironic, since I was taking lessons from teachers at Duke, so it should have somehow been obvious that this would be an option). I didn't know how or why some violinists ended up teaching Suzuki while others ended up playing in orchestras or string quartets. I didn't understand the odds. My sample size was small and erratic.

Obviously OP is from a bigger pond but high school kids can be strangely tunnel-visioned and myopic (no offense, OP!) You see what's before you. You extrapolate wildly.

My $.02: if solo performing is what you love, the odds are vanishingly small that you'd be able to make a career doing this and only this. If you enjoy ensemble work, there's possibly a window of opportunity. But you might also (in this case) do well to just get as good as possible and keep music as a serious hobby for life.

I spent 7 days in Vermont a few weeks ago with an incredible mixture of amateur and professional musicians. In many cases, the lines were blurred. There were amateurs who moonlighted in professional orchestras. There were conservatory graduates who were leaving professional music behind and moving into different careers. There were 80 year-old non-music faculty who knew every note of every Haydn string quartet. There were high school teachers who spent their entire summers playing chamber music. There were professional orchestral musicians. And they were all there, voluntarily, spending every waking minute of each day playing chamber music as though their lives depended on it.

The week served as an incredible reminder to me that continuing to play and learn as long as possible is the important thing. Go for that.

September 20, 2018, 2:15 PM · Katie, may I ask which chamber music workshop did you attend? it sounds great!
September 20, 2018, 2:47 PM · I'm guessing Bennington but I'm curious too. :-)

(I always get a little arm-twisting to go every summer. They apparently need more violinists.)

Edited: September 20, 2018, 3:00 PM · Adam, It sounds like your music skills are being given some good attention. However, as a former IB English teacher, and after reading your writing with its improper capitalization and lack of standard punctuation, I'd urge you to focus more on your writing skills. If you hope to get through the junior and senior year in IB classes, you are going to have to step up your game. Also, getting into a good school requires a lot more than just being able to play a violin.
Edited: September 20, 2018, 5:35 PM · Mary Ellen and others, may I ask what does it take today to become a soloist, and why this is unlikely to be the OP’s future?

I’m just curious. My impression from reading our opinions is that it is difficult to become a professional classical violinist nowadays. I wonder how hard it is for someone to ever stand onstage as a soloist.

I’m not sure if anyone has ever asked this question (or dared to).

I edited to clarify that the soloist plays a concerto in a serious professional orchestra, at least for a couple of times during his or her professional life. Sorry if the scope is not narrow or broad enough.

September 20, 2018, 6:23 PM · Matt,
The typical soloist began at a very young age, usually 6 or before. They demonstrate talent from the beginning, and are generally able to play professional-level repertoire, such as the Sibelius concerto, from memory, by the age of about 12. They generally have nearly photographic memory, extremely high intelligence, and the capacity (or often enthusiasm) for hours of practice. They have generally mastered all of the major violin techniques by about 16 and have a fully professional intonation and sound quality. They either win or place very highly in international competitions such as Queen Elizabeth of Belgium, Indianapolis, Tchaikovsky, etc.

That's just to get a foot in the door. After making the rounds playing concerti with the farm league orchestras, they then have to start getting invited back or they run out of gigs. Many remain on the small-town circuit, and a few start to solo with big orchestras. Many win auditions in top orchestras instead.

This is, in my experience, a typical path to being a soloist. Anyone doubting the playing abilities of these pre-teens need only watch some of the competitions available on Youtube. I think it is very similar to becoming a big-league pitcher: you have to start in little league, be a star all the way through to the fam leagues, and possibly be drafted. Then you have to last and prove yourself at the highest levels. No one just walks into being a good baseball pitcher in their late teens. If they did, that was decades in the past. The standards are too high now.

Yes, there are a few violinists who do't even enter competitions because they're so far above to begin with. But that's pretty rare.

"I wonder how hard it is for someone to ever stand onstage as a soloist."

Playing a romantic concerto with an orchestra, and doing it consistently well time after time is a very difficult thing. I'm glad I don't have to do it.

September 20, 2018, 8:08 PM · Thanks for your insights Scott!
September 21, 2018, 10:28 AM · It wasn't a workshop or camp that i attended--just a private gathering that I was fortunate to be invited to. But I've heard really good things about Bennington from a number of people. We are planning to check it out next year. One of the women we met and played with is doing to be the new director. She's kind of a rock star so I have high hopes!

September 21, 2018, 1:25 PM · I've heard wonderful things about Bennington too, and I can't wait until I have a summer free to do that. Ahh, someday. (PS one thing I have heard is that you better have your measures numbered before you get there.)
September 21, 2018, 4:36 PM · @Scott Cole
"Playing a romantic concerto with an orchestra, and doing it consistently well time after time is a very difficult thing."

Some years ago Nigel Kennedy retired temporarily from the concert platform for a while to do other things. I heard the reason he gave was the prospect of having to perform the Mendelssohn 20 times in six months, and finding something new to say each time.

Edited: September 22, 2018, 3:09 PM · From ~ another original Jascha Heifetz Violin Master Class pupil on our JH Violin Master Classes now available on YouTube & class-mate of dearly missed Claire Hodgekin's ~

I had written an "Epistle" but lost it as my tablet timed out, but suffice to say, I'm touched by Andrew Victor's kind compliments regarding our historic Jascha Heifetz Violin Master Classes which were filmed/produced by Mr. Heifetz's admiring NYC Producer, Nathan Kroll, who convinced Heifetz to let him bring his entire Film Crew from NYC to Los Angeles, at USC, to film us in what Mr. Heifetz, termed - when telling the 7 of us of our classes "as usual & normal" were being filmed at then-named Hancock Auditorium, set up on the smaller stage of Hancock, in what was our Clark House Heifetz Studio set-up to feel as we did in our 3 days a week, 6 hours per day, Violin Master Classes with the Greatest Violinist of All Time, Jascha Heifetz!! Time limits me, presently, to retrace all my just written yet lost thoughts, but I'll return later to offer some ideas & wish to Thank you, Andrew Victor, for your warm mention of my elder JH class-mate, Claire Hodgekin's, when you participated in a JH Violin Master Class - perhaps as an Auditor, 44 Years ago, with Claire Hodgekin's, (an assistant to Mr. Heifetz) who was conducting a class to help/inform eager violinist's about Heifetz 'Tips'!!!

For now, I salute Adam Kurtz for his courage & willingness to openly seek advice and guidance from Members of the community, for the worthy advancement of his playing & very possible hopes to attain "Concert Violinist-hood"!!!

One Word ~ a Direct Quote from Jascha Heifetz, to the 7 of us in his first & original USC Violin Master Class (with Erick Friedman, Varoujan Kodjian, Robert Witte, Adam Han Gorski, Carol Sindell, Claire Hodgekin's and yours truly) which many have seen on YouTube ~

"Pupil's, There are No Shortcuts!" Quote Jascha Heifetz ~

I'll return with a few thoughts & praise of Adam Kurtz's hoped for ambitions & wished for achievements ~

Sending all here warm musical wishes ~

Elisabeth Matesky *

*JH Violin Master Class Elisabeth Matesky/Khachaturian, JH-7 link:

Edited: September 23, 2018, 10:46 AM · Elisabeth, it is always wonderful to read your wise informative words here.

No I was not an auditor. What I learned from Ms. Hodgkins instruction to me there informed my daily practice for the next 5 years. It was a special "master class" led by Claire Hodgkins as an adjunct to the 1973 Conductor Masterclass of Herbert Blomstedt. Claire served as concertmaster of the orchestra for Blomstedt's evening conductor master class and the participants in the violin class included USC students of Mr. Heifetz and others who, like me, who registered and paid to participate.

I only participated in her class and the Blomstedt orchestra for one or two days. I could not hack the 105 degree temperatures in Redlands, CA that week especially since the practice rooms were not air conditioned and I was spending the nights practicing and sleeping in my motor home in a friend's driveway. But that day has stayed in my mind ever since.

Playing in an orchestra under Maestro Blomsteadt's direction was also an eyeopening and unforgettable experience, as was experiencing and being informed of the relative deficiencies of the conductor participants in that masterclass, who were already primarily college music conductors/directors. I had previously played under the direction of a participant in one of Blomstedt's masterclasses and also played under another one subsequently. It was possible to spot Blomstedt's influence on these conductors, but unfortunately it was also possible to clearly see that copying his techniques and actually making them part of their own being were completely different things, and obviously very difficult to achieve. Thinking back, I have played in orchestras under the direction of at least 15 or more conductors and the "good" ones had different techniques, but they all clearly communicated all that was needed (almost entirely) without verbal explanation. The "not good" ones covered the range of communicating only the beat or going over the top with distracting, extraneous or inconsistent motions. With some of them, the more experience and confidence they achieved the more their true selves and unnecessary motions intruded. Just saying!!!

September 23, 2018, 6:43 AM · Yes, try.
Edited: September 26, 2018, 11:10 PM · @Andrew Victor ~

Dear Andrew ...

Thank you for your kind words and compliments. Having had no idea of how you studied with my now late Jascha Heifetz Violin Master Class class-mate, Claire Hodgkin's, please know I meant no disrespect regarding you being a paying participant or involved in a Conducting Master Class with Herbert Blomstedt, which one could not have known of ~ Your account of oppressive heat in Redlands, CA, certainly receives my empathy! That situation sounds a most undesirable place in which to practise, learn and concentrate, yet it seems to me you stuck to it and learned some prime ideas from Claire which stayed close to you and helped you advance for well over Five years! This is the Goal of all sincere and informed teacher's, and in abstentia, I salute my dearly missed Claire Hodgkin's, who was most deeply devoted to Mr. Heifetz and All Heifetz stood for and embodied ...

Not being a conductor, but having worked with many 'name' Conductor's as a violin soloist and the wider experience of playing "under" Sir Georg Solti, Carlo Maria Giulini, Raphael Fruhbeck de Burgos, Lorin Maazel, and the great Maestro Barrachi of La Scala, all you mention in your Reply above is of truly great interest to me! The more a Conductor throws him/herself on or around on the Podium, the less effective it is! As a soloist, I have an abiding respect for Conductor's who genuinely focus on The Music and its presentation, stylistically, plus enough inner confidence to Let Go and Let Solo Line's happen when the musical score clearly indicates a composer's wishes! Conducting for "fame" is a dangerous exercise - rarely producing blended ensemble & mutual musical collaboration of the artist performing a Concerto with an Orchestral ensemble. Even the Sibelius Violin Concerto must be 'coordinated' by a conductor who knows the Whole Score = the full orchestral and soloist part with the musical overview perceived from the specific outline of the solo performer ~ There are quite a few Conductor's who assert "power" by deliberately Not accompanying the obvious solo line & there was an actual situation in London when Sir Thomas Beecham, of all British conductor's, over-rode the soloist, Jascha Heifetz, & during the Kreisler Cadenza in the 1st Movement of the Brahms Violin Concerto, did
sniff his smelling salts loudly whilst Heifetz played the Cadenza & somehow ignored the 'little' man ~

Personal Ego only has its place in the mental preparation process called COURAGE to follow a firm practise regimen, witnessing one's progress on specific repertoire for upcoming concerts and it is in adhering to a daily discipline of highly thought about practise, that Courage begins to Grow inside of the musician who is preparing for public performance. Egotistical displacement is a 'condition' belonging to those who haven't prepared nor have so-called prepared in spurts with a lack of consistency which leaves gapping holes of lacking technical facility on an instrument or a conductor's inability to know the Full Score of all works to be performed by a Symphony Orchestra or an ensemble orchestra with a soloist and, mind you, soloist's titling themselves as such must Learn, Know, Eat & Digest the entire solo part of a Concerto plus the Full Orchestral Accompaniment which is sadly inappropriately termed "accompaniment" because the word implies those 'accompanying' are lesser than the soloist, which implies an idea of higher importance ~ Nothing could be further from the Truth!!! When one hears & knows every thematic & harmonic minutia of the Score, then one can stand up (if a Violinist) & hold the violin well to collaborate with fellow colleagues -musicians in the orchestra plus a discerning coordinator holding a Baton in hand but many Great one's have deferred from a Baton, using their hands & eye contact with all their musicians to sew a seamless performance!

Time has stopped me, but obviously, to be a collaborative musician, and certainly a concert soloist, it's mandatory to know Brahms' 4 Symphonies, the Deutsches Requiem, both Piano Concerto's and Piano with String & Other Chamber Music to play the Brahms Violin Concerto!!! And this holds true for All concert repertoire solo violinist's must master, carry and Love ~

Love conquers Ego and Love enables Beauty to Shine unadorned without envy or disturbing extra body movements which are, in most cases, very bad excuses for genuine lack of feelings or deep connections to the notes & pauses telling the Musical Story ~

My warm musical greetings to you, Andrew, and to All Respondents ~

Elisabeth Matesky from afar ~

*@Adam Kurtz ~ Your Discussion Theme has made me think & regroup!

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