Mid 20s - School options? Or... What's next?
Hey Violinist members,
I’m 25 years old. I played violin from age 6-12, and then again for a year and a half while studying in university, during which time the instrument served as a side interest to my studies in Philosophy.
Now, six months post graduation, I’m playing again with a new teacher and I am finding that I love violin more than ever. It has become a major part of my day-to-day life, and I am fortunate enough that my job leaves me time to play ~2-3 hours a day. When I’m not playing violin, I’m thinking about it or listening to other violinists.
I will likely keep my current job for the remainder of this school year and the next (I teach English abroad). After that, though, I don’t know what’s next for me.
So, being a bit out of the loop in the violin world, I would love to know what opportunities are available for someone at my level/age. In particular, I am curious to know if there are university programs that would suit me despite my age (25, a bit older than a typical university enrollee) and despite that I have been playing only on-and-off since childhood.
Other information: I have an undergraduate degree in Philosophy from Seattle University. When I move back to the States, I will be in Portland.
And, to give an idea of my level: In the year and a half when I re-picked up violin during university, I went from re-learning how to hold the instrument/bow to playing the first movement of Vivaldi’s A minor (not perfectly, of course).
More recently I have found myself more interested in genre’s such as swing and jazz. I have also been devoting myself more to the instrument than when I studied violin previously.
Any information or ideas for me would be greatly appreciated. It’s only just recently that I’ve realized that I want music to occupy a large space in my life. And while I’m kicking myself for having dropped violin as a kid, I’m thankful to be playing again and hoping it’s not too late to make something of it.
EDIT: My next post in the thread:
Thanks you very much for all the responses, I appreciate it.
And also, sorry, it seems I need to clarify a few things.
When I picked up violin again in university, I was certainly NOT playing 2-3 hours a day. I wasn't even playing 1 hour a day. Many days I didn't play at all. I should have been more explicit about this. This is what I meant when I said that, at the time, my interest in violin really took a backseat to my studies.
It is only this most recent time around, picking up the violin again this month, that I have the time to play 2-3 hours a day, and as a result I am seeing much faster improvement.
"To make something of it" was indeed very vague. I guess, I want to become a competent violinist, one is regularly performing with others (such as in jazz bands), improvising, writing my own music, even touring.
I know it might be a long shot, but that is what I had in mind.
As far as the schooling goes, I wasn't considering it for the sake of the degree, but rather because it would place me in a situation where playing violin and progressing on the instrument became a focal point.
Just one last note, it is maybe worth reiterating that I wouldn't be applying this second to programs. Which is to say that my level wouldn't be the Vivaldi concerto.
Vivaldi was where I was at after a year and a half of minimal practice time to devote to violin. However, now I have a year and a half ahead of me with much more time to play and more mental energy to devote as well!
All that said, I am not dead set on getting a degree. Open to other forms of continuing.
I'm happy to answer any other questions too.
Again, thank you all for the responses. I would love to hear more as well.
I started playing professionally after a 20 year hiatus. At the age of 40.
My suggestion is to stay with private lessons and take university courses in theory, harmony, musicology, digital technology, etc., as they interest you. You're not getting a violin degree any time soon if your level is Vivaldi A Minor.
When you say "'make something of it", what do you mean? Do you hope to play professionally, or just improve steadily as a hobbyist? If you want to play professionally, do you expect to have a "day job" as well?
The previous posters are right in that Vivaldi simply isn't enough to get you into a decent program.
The New School in New York City uses Mannes as its music school. My grandson at age 25 went back to school this past autumn to finish his last year of college at The New School, combining classes at at least 3 of the connected colleges/universities.
I'm a returner as well, I was at the Vivaldi A Minor within 5 months of returning - on about an hour's worth of practice a day, with a teacher who I saw twice a month.
I was specifically thinking of the very lowest tier of schools (I suppose you might even call them fourth-rate) that offer a BA in Music with a concentration in violin performance, in a general liberal arts college or university setting. In other words, not a BM. (And likely in many people's opinion, a school that may not be worth going to, though some of those schools can actually have very capable teachers.)
Playing in a mid-level community orchestra (especially being a section leader with the responsibility to decide seating for a section) is also rather illuminating as to the varying standards of music degrees.
Thanks you very much for all the responses, I appreciate it.
For jazz, I would suggest that you could get what you need from a community music school that offers adult jazz and improvisation lessons, theory, and composition.
I agree with Lydia.
"I want to become a competent violinist, one is regularly performing with others (such as in jazz bands), improvising, writing my own music, even touring. "
For jazz, you need some classical training, but much of the technique, etc., that you need to become a professional classical musician is not necessarily all that helpful in jazz. For jazz, for example, you need a significant background in music theory, so that you can learn to improvise, and that may ultimately be more important than having the kind of technique that would make you able to play solo Bach professionally. For other non-classical genres, there may be some technical things you need to play them properly, but I am not familiar with those genres. Good luck!
Isnt Vivaldi a minor in Suzuki book 4? I mean its played by many kids aged 7-8 right? How could it be possible with that level of playing to get a career out of violin at 25? It shouldnt take 1,5 year to learn Vivaldi as a returnee with good playing time? Ive thought that you need to get to past Suzuki books to make a career out of violin playing before college?
I bet you can find some pretty good instruction in Portland, though I don't know what the jazz scene is like. I would keep up with that. If you check out various music scenes, you may find that a lot of bands would be happy to have a violinist, and the indie rock route could be your fastest route to performing for people, although community orchestras are a possibility. You may also find that working in an admin capacity, or fundraising, or something like that for a performing arts organization brings you closer to the world of more glamorous professional music, although my guess is that the pay is pretty low, and it may be competitive to get in.
Just adding that do you really need solid theory to improvise? The people me included ( Im not a pro) who can improvise with their instrument have done it since kids without any spesific teaching. I cannot imagine that that could be a skill to be learned at 25 if it hasnt come naturally at least to a certain amount. Not saying that teaching improvising doesnt help, just saying that if one is 25 and hasnt improvized a lot, im very doubtfull any teaching can make anyone pro at improvising.
The Jazz School Institute in Berkeley, CA is now accredited to grant degrees.
Maria, yes, Vivaldi A minor is Suzuki book 4, and yes, it's essentially the tail end of the beginner level of violin. As I noted in my earlier post, there's a career trajectory that's possible, but it's got to be one that's pursued with both passion and likely a certain indifference to money. (That said, I've also seen people make a solid living from teaching young students, if they do it at high enough volume and with enough skill. Not all of them are good players themselves.) It's worth noting that plenty of people who start at age 3 will essentially end up on the same path.
If you are interested in jazz i suggest you get some Aebersold materials and go to one of camps once you have learned the basics.
Paul's suggestions re jazz are good. You still should know some theory, however. Circle of fifths and fourths and some other stuff about chords and harmony.
"Don't ruin a perfectly good hobby" -ditto. You are fortunate to be old enough to not have illusions about becoming a pro.-level classical player, and young enough to make substantial technical progress with a teacher. I made my most technical progress when I dropped out of my college BA music degree program and just did private lessons, practicing, and playing. There are more playing opportunities outside of classical. For jazz, you don't need the college theory sequence, but you do need to have a firm instinctive working knowledge of theory on your instrument. Be able to play all the scales and arpeggios fluently, from memory. Part of my story is; I did not win the Viola audition for L.A. Phil. (of course not !) but shortly after that got a full-time job with a "band" - at the same salary.
I teach abroad and I've known some folk who are from the US/Canada/UK and combine English teaching and a semi-pro music career--this might include a mix of the pub/live music scene, teaching, and amateur playing. They often seem like they're having a blast. I don't know what the adult equivalent of continuing ed on music is, but you might get more bang for your buck doing music camps, seminars, master classes, etc.
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