pieces to learn before going to college

February 3, 2019, 5:08 PM · I recently auditioned for the music department at a university (not a conservatory but the music program there is fantastic) and I got in, and because I'm technically a transfer student they might let me start off as a junior in college.
long story short, college won't start for quite a few months and I have time to study some pieces for fun.
so I have two similar questions:
1. what pieces should I learn before going to college?
2. what pieces should violinists know and be able to play comfortably before going to college? (there were some general requirements on my school's website, but I wanted to hear from other people's experiences)

I've learned a lot of the major concertos, though for a lot of them I haven't played them in a while so I was thinking this would be a good opportunity to get them under my fingers again. are there any in particular that are staples for violin majors?
I was also thinking of learning some more bach but I didn't know which of those would be good choices, and my teacher has mentioned some show pieces but I'm not familiar with a lot of those.
also, would it be wise to learn a few orchestral excerpts or should I wait?

Replies (23)

Edited: February 3, 2019, 5:13 PM · If there is ever a time to direct questions to your soon-to-be violin professor at your new school, this is it. And whatever you do end up working on, please do yourself a huge favor and work with a teacher--if not your new professor, than at least someone qualified. For excerpts, someone playing in a full-time professional orchestra would be best.
February 3, 2019, 5:16 PM · for all of these things I would be working with my current private teacher
February 3, 2019, 5:32 PM · In that case you should still be contacting your future university professor first to ask if there is repertoire you should have under your fingers, then ask your current teacher to work with you on those pieces.
February 3, 2019, 6:34 PM · I agree with Mary Ellen about asking the uni proff what repertoire you should know. You can also find some pieces that are at your level that you really like and learn them just for fun (of course you should have your teacher work with you on them).
Edited: February 3, 2019, 7:47 PM · What Mary Ellen said.

If you have time on your hands and a current teacher who is a professional symphony player, this isn't a bad time to get major excerpts under your belt. You'll come back to those repeatedly, and a familiarization pass is useful.

I notice from your previous threads (including this one: LINK), you mention you hadn't done solo Bach, and you've generally learned single movements of your concertos. You should probably expect that solo Bach and full concertos will be part of your future. But definitely talk to your future teacher as well as your current one about what gaps you should be filling.

It's unclear from your previous statements that you've done a "lot" of the major concertos, by the way -- you reference doing Mozart 5, and a single movement of Kabalevsky, Barber, Bruch, and Mendelssohn, and then Sibelius.

February 3, 2019, 8:15 PM · I should probably clarify some things. the question of this topic is kind of vague but I'm not sure how else to phrase it.
also Lydia, the thread you mentioned is kind of old at this point. most recently I've done the bach d minor partita as well as the e major. to this point I've done mozart 5, all of the kabalevsky, bruch, and lalo, 2 movements of the khachaturian and sibelius, and the first movements of the mendelssohn and barber. I've also looked at other pieces like zigeunerweisen and the vitali chaconne and a few more that are either student pieces (vivaldi concertos) or I'm just forgetting.
my current teacher is very close with the violin professor at the university, so I have a general idea of what level of player they're looking for.
the question of this thread had more to do with making sure that the expectations for me at this school are similar to those of a conservatory, and then maybe getting suggestions for pieces to learn that are different from those on my school's website (which also only list the composer rather than a specific concerto).
February 3, 2019, 8:23 PM · But you're asking the wrong people. We don't know which university you'll be attending, we don't know who you'll be studying with, and we've never actually heard you play. You need to ask the person who has all of this information, which is your future professor. If for some reason you don't want to do that, then ask a senior or a graduate student violin major to tell you what is expected repertoire at the school you'll be attending.
February 3, 2019, 8:28 PM · And are you intending to do an MM after you finish your bachelor's? If so, and you're entering your junior year, you need to talk to your new prof about planning your MM audition repertoire.
February 3, 2019, 8:41 PM · Maybe learn some more showpieces? Absolutely agree with Mary Ellen’s latest post.
February 4, 2019, 10:24 AM · I actually think this is a very good question, especially for those of us who either have younger kids or are HS/college aged. I've asked a similar question to my son's teacher and I can tell you what she has told me, though obviously not all students are the same. Here's what I've gleaned from these conversations. By the end of HS, she would like:

Once through all 6 Bach Sonatas and Partitas (all movements)
Once through Paganini caprices
All Kreutzer, all Dont op. 35, all Rode
Mozart 3, 4, and 5 full concertos
Basic concertos, all movements: Kabalevsky, Bruch, Mendelssohn, Lalo, Wieniawski
A few other medium-level concertos like Khachaturian, Vieuxtemps 4/5, Barber, Saint Saens, Dvorak
2-3 or so higher level concertos like Sibelius, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Walton, Glazunov, Bartok, etc.

Edited: February 4, 2019, 10:39 AM · That's quite a list. I really would like to know how many 18-year-olds have cleared all that.
February 4, 2019, 10:42 AM · I was thinking the same thing Paul!
February 4, 2019, 10:47 AM · Susan has a good list of repertoire, though it's missing showpieces and recital works.

One of my teachers had more of a scenario approach. In other words, what should a young violinist be able to do, on a practical basis? So the answer to that was:

Take a professional orchestra audition. One Romantic concerto first movement that is deeply ingrained and suitable for an audition (Tchaikovsky, Brahms, or Sibelius, preferably), the first movement of Mozart 4 or 5, and the most common orchestral excerpts.

Take a casual orchestra audition. That's typically two contrasting pieces, one fast and one slow, that you can take out and play with minimum preparation. Useful for school or community orchestras.

Take a conservatory audition. A full Romantic/20th-century concerto (or at least the first movement), a virtuosic showpiece of a different period, a solo Bach S&P dance movement and its double, and a Paganini caprice. (Maybe add a classical sonata, such as a Beethoven, as well.)

Play a wedding, funeral, offertory, etc. One short, not especially difficult piece suitable for this kind of thing, that can be played with essentially no preparation. (Meditation from Thais, Ave Maria, etc.)

Impress someone. Some short work that's always in your fingers, for when someone says "so you're a violinist, play me something".

February 4, 2019, 10:57 AM · Hrm, Paul. Say you start the major concerto repertoire at age 13 (with Kabalevsky and Mozart 3 under your belt already), and you do two to three concertos a year. That gives you 5 years, so 10 to 15 concertos in that time. That's pretty doable if you're a serious pre-professional student. (And Susan's "basic" and "medium" concertos are effectively in one bucket for difficulty.)
February 4, 2019, 1:43 PM · Oh boy, I'm going to have to go practice now if Susan's list and Lydia's is in my future. Off to do etudes, c'ya round!
February 4, 2019, 1:49 PM · Susan's list is useful and suitable for a generic extremely advanced student preparing for a top conservatory, but the OP has been admitted to a specific university with a specific teacher already. I still think it would be much more useful to find out what that specific teacher would like.

And I know of students who are getting into good schools (not Curtis or Juilliard, but maybe the next level down) who can't necessarily check off every item on Susan's list.

February 4, 2019, 2:39 PM · Yeah, okay. For most of us that seems really insane. But, there are talented kids out there! Which is good news indeed! More power to them. They'll get some of the same repertoire over again surely in conservatoire because it'll need to be better than what they could play at age 16. And there is no shortage of other stuff to work on.
February 4, 2019, 3:40 PM · Lydia, yes, the list is missing showpieces and recital pieces as our focus has not been on those in the past year. I'll probably know more about the goals for those next year, when my son is likely doing a half recital.

To everybody else -- the program my son is in is for rather advanced kids, so this would be a list for a top music program. At 13 my son is about halfway through this list, apart from Paganini and etudes. He's really behind on etudes.

February 4, 2019, 8:17 PM · Wow Susan do you mean to say that your son has done about 3 out of the 6 Bach S and Ps? That would be impressive for a 13 year old
February 4, 2019, 8:32 PM · Also, if he hasn't done any of the major violin-piano sonatas (Brahms, Greig, Strauss, Schumann, Prokofiev, Debussy etc.), I think it would be good to start on them soon
February 4, 2019, 10:06 PM · Lydia - doing it by audition type/application is actually a rather neat approach. I hope to have that completed by the time I'm 18.

Err... next time round that is... :-\

Edited: February 5, 2019, 8:12 AM · @Joel Hoe, he is on the third S&P currently. He's done Partita 2, Partita 3, and now Sonata 1. He learned the notes on Chaconne but will be going back to it later to get it up to a higher level. Most of the serious kids here, even the ones not in the pre-conservatory program, have done about the same amount of S&P. I wouldn't say it's really that unusual.
Edited: February 5, 2019, 8:27 AM · @Susan Agrawal oh I see, looks like people in my country are really behind then. Just out of curiosity, is your son in the pre-conservatory programme?

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