Too Late to make a good Career?
I'm 15, Freshman in my second term of high school, and I'm currently learning the Rode concerto #7 (1st mvmt only), and I'm working on the Kayser etudes. Assuming that I have some degree of talent and musical sense, as well as the ability to practice well, is it too late for me to reach, eventually, a level where I could get a masters in performance, or study at a conservatory? I love music more than anything, but I'm concerned that I'm too far behind all the other student violinists that I won't be good enough when it comes to College apps and stuff. Opinions?
No. Those are achievable goals - it just depends on how hard you work between now and then and what schools you have your sights set on.
I'd call it difficult but achievable.
'Conservatories will accept you at any age if you're good enough; it's just that, for most older musicians, life circumstances make it harder to put in the work necessary to turn a conservatory degree into a career. '
I think it's possible, but you're going to have to practice extremely effectively and also crank up the time you're spending practicing. I'm your grade (a year younger, though) and also planning on going to conservatory. Work smarter. For stuff on practicing, you might want to check out Cedarvillemusic's YouTube channel, and look up "Cedarvillemusic practice." It's a 5 part series on how to work through repertoire effectively. Now you need to build up practice endurance. On a good day, I'll practice maybe 5 hours, and minimally 2 hours. I usually go (on a 5 hour day): Scales/arpeggios/tone exercises/some studies or etudes, then short pieces for upcoming performances, then solo Bach, then major concertos (Bruch 1 and Mozart 4 right now), then revisiting old repertoire to keep it in shape or more etudes and technique stuff.
Am I the only one who sees Rode No. 7 Concerto and Kayser studies as rather inconsistent in terms of level? Rode No. 7 is fairly high-octane as far as "student" concertos go. Kayser studies are like Suzuki Book 5 material.
That seems inconsistent to me, too. IIRC, Rode 7 was the last student concerto I did before doing Mendelssohn, and by that time, I'd already done most of Kreutzer and had started Dont op 35.
Yeah, what other rep have you done? I'd be curious to know.
How long have you been playing and how dedicated are you? If you have not been playing that long and are willing to put in the time, you could get there. But if you've been playing for 10 years and this is as far as you have gotten, it seems less likely you will be able to advance rapidly enough. I would suggest a few things:
Whenever I see something like Kayser in combination with a tough concerto, my money is on the student's correct level being much closer to the former. I know a young student who performed the Accolay concerto a few months ago with a no-audition community orchestra. The tempo was slow
It's impossible to answer the OP's question without knowing the level at which he is playing his given repertoire. I've heard students say they were playing Lalo, and then I have heard their performances....those students absolutely should not be playing Lalo. Rode #7 is difficult, but the salient point is not *what* the OP is playing; it is *how* the OP is playing it.
"Assuming that I have some degree of talent and musical sense"
Here's the thing: Do what you love. It's easier to learn the more "lucrative" professions than it is to learn the violin, so if your life doesn't take the direction you hoped for and you don't end up being a professional violinist, then so what? You still have the violin and you can still play it, and your career choices might change. You won't lose what you've worked for, and you're too young to know how things are going to turn out. I intended to be a professional violinist, and it was my whole world (and my first degree), but things happened, my career changed and now I'm a civil engineer who still plays the violin. Regrets? None, whatsoever. Time is precious and my advice is to spend it doing things you really like doing.
If education is free, I'd say what's 4 years of your life? But if not... what if OP jumps into a music degree, gets $60k in debt and discovers it's not going to work out? (This is where I don't envy Americans)
As many have said on similar threads, you can still enjoy playing without forcing it to be your main source of income.
I agree with Gemma regarding the cost of pursuing a music education, although I think $60K in debt is a low estimate. "Do what you love" must be considered alongside the opportunity cost as well as the financial cost of a music education. You can't necessarily easily pick up the education for a more lucrative career later if you have the millstone of an enormous student loan hanging around your neck with no corresponding enormous income to pay it off.
"Conservatories will accept you at any age if you're good enough"
Agree with Mr. Pijoan above. Doing what you love trumps any possible "big income",following an unhappy career choice. Glad he shared his story, and that he's proud of his violin studies even if it didn't end up being his main career.
"Doing what you love trumps any possible "big income",following an unhappy career choice"
Yes, possible, especially if you specialize in a genre outside of the main-stream, classical track. But, at some point you will be competing against brilliant players that started when they were 7. The cost can be reduced by going to a second-tier music school attached to a public university in your home state. There are some good ones. For my state, Calif., I recommend CSU Long Beach, Northridge. Susan A's advice is valuable.
I have a lot of friends who are doing what they love, and that's awesome. However, I can tell you that the ones that are doing what they love, where that thing they love provides financial security and a comfortable income, are generally a whole heck of a lot less stressed (and therefore generally happier) than those who are in fields that don't provide that stability.
I have to agree with Lydia regarding doing what you love but being stressed all the time because you don't have enough money, or you have barely enough. I did five years of postdocs right after the Great Recession in major US cities during which I was paid only enough to get by paycheck-to-paycheck. If the car broke down, I'd have to put the repairs on my credit card (or ask relatives for money). I didn't own a smart phone because I couldn't afford it.
People are poor at predicting what they will love in the future. Which is why people change soul-mates, houses, and careers. If humans really were good at figuring out what would make us happy, we wouldn't need divorce lawyers, or laser tattoo removers.
None of us know if it's too late for you. I personally think it's too early to make that choice. There is absolutely nothing wrong with spending the next year practicing 5 hours a day and reevaluating your progress at that point.
I always like to note that what makes us happy when we do it as a hobby, is super different than doing that thing as a job.
I don't have an answer to the OP, but I do agree with Lydia, Jocelyn and Scott.
But what makes us happy is a personal choice, Mr. Cole. Therefore "maybe you will be happy, maybe you won't" isn't a valid approach for me in particular. "Don't even plan on studying music, because you may change your mind!" is not an advice I would give. We are allowed to make choices and see what happens. Often we need to make the "wrong choice" to discover a new path.
I find Lydia's point interesting, marry a rich person and do what you want.:-)) Not that that would entail no risk ...
Thank you to everyone for the advice! I would like to add in response to those who were talking about the discrepancy between Rode and Kayser.
Aidan, you'll be fine. Just keep practicing and looking into every detail. I'm only 2 years older than you and I ask the same question to myself, my mother (she's a musician) and my teachers. As some teachers may disagree, there is no exact science to what concerto or what etude you should play first. Sure paganini caprices are much more advanced than mazas or the Beethoven concerto is much more advanced than Symphonie Espangole. I'm currently playing Tchaikovsky and many of my friends think thats ridiculous because I've only played about 4 other major concerto's but the Tchaik feels easier than Mendelssohn and it's probably what I'm going to play for my college auditions. In regards to etudes, I've done maybe 15-20 kreutzers, 2 Dont, 1 Rode, 1 Wieniawski and Paganini's No. 4 (current), 5, 13 and 17. I think I played these quite well, given my teacher has very high standards for me. Even my teacher once said the only etudes a violinist needs are Kreutzer, Wieniawski, and Paganini. He was a top Prizewinner in Queen Elisabeth so he probably knows what he's talking about. Even he, a virtuoso soloist, practices Kreutzer etudes every day. There are many other people who go on to have great careers, who were not super advanced in high school. One of my meadowmount friends has passed his prescreens at many major conservatories, even though he started playing violin in the middle of 8th grade. He was just starting the Bruch concerto over the summer. A friend and mentor of mine won a top prize in one of the biggest music competitions in the world. He did not start learning major concertos until he was a junior in high school, and countless teachers told him he would never make it. I know this is the cheesiest line there is, but you really have to believe in yourself. Live in the moment and try to perfect every detail. Don't be thinking so much about college and the future at this stage. Just try to focus and improve. Hope this helps.
I don't think the problematic hurdle is getting into a conservatory. There are many conservatory graduates who will never get a well- or even modestly-paying orchestral job, let alone a solo or chamber music career. In the mid-1980s I played the Haydn C Major at a master class (only one I've ever done) for a faculty member of the Cleveland Institute of Music. He told my teacher I should apply and that I had a good chance of admission. No doubt they need students to justify the number of faculty members they employ. I expect that the standards for being the most marginal violin student at CIM are much higher now than in 1985, but you don't want to be in that position. It's a bit of a business. Graduate education (especially full tuition MAs and MSes) is similar.
Aidan, high school is a great time to really work on a hobby in-depth, such as the violin. You probably aren't going to have as much free time to do the work as you currently do (I know that some kids are really overscheduled, but still). You should put in the work and try and enjoy your practice and performing, and not put too much pressure on yourself by comparing yourself to others and where you "should" be.
Aidan what is a good musical career in your view? What do you see yourself doing as a musician? You like music, we all do in this forum but having a non-musical career does not preclude playing music. The question asked by many is do you see yourself doing what musicians have to do to earn a decent living, and playing music is only part of that. Those who play professionally amongst us are best placed to enlighten you on what such career entails, and like any profession has, I am certain, its good and bad parts. Once you clearly established what that is (refer to first question above), those in the know will be better able to advise you on what it takes and the feasibility of achieving that dream.
Christian, I think that's a dangerous strategy. Kids only have so much time. Someone who is hoping to catch up really has to put in as much time as possible -- three or four hours of day of practice, in all likelihood. Maybe that's tried for a year and if not enough progress has been made, it's time for another plan. But just cruising along as before isn't going to cut it.