Schumann Scherzo

Edited: June 26, 2019, 12:49 PM · I soon going to try my first audition to Professional Orchestra,
And I've seen this Schubert Schertzo excerpt from the 2nd symphony everywhere.
I've read the previous threads here about it,
And it seems that it is a common problem so i want your opinion:

When i learned classical music at school i remember that the teacher said that composers took their works to known violinists to check if they are "possible" and "comfortable" and then made changes.

Maybe i should just practice it more, but
I feel that in this piece it wasn't the case.
Because when you play for example Paganini caprices or other fast pieces , (and i played and recorded some pieces in the fastest speeds!) You feel that violinist wrote them, they are hard but comfortable! - Paganini carprices for example. Or the Czardas by Monti.

In this case i feel that it simply isn't comfortable and weird!, To play in 144!. Something like that. For both hands.

It wasn't a big deal if it wasn't a "must" piece in auditions.
I don't feel it is "hard" as it is "uncomfortable".

What do you think?

Replies (117)

June 26, 2019, 12:45 PM · There's no "t" in Scherzo.
June 26, 2019, 12:49 PM · Paul Deck
Fixed. Thank you.
Edited: June 26, 2019, 12:54 PM · I think you'll find that a great many orchestral parts are somewhat non-idiomatic on the violin. I find Dvorak, for example, usually very awkward.

Audition excerpts are usually chosen because they present some problem for the violinist.

June 26, 2019, 1:50 PM · Irene chen

Of course they check "Hard" things in auditions,
And Maybe it is my personal problem and i have to practice it more to play faster,

But in this case i see that there's a common problem with this piece,

I now know the piece and play it well moderate speed but i feel that I'm going crazy! When i play it in 144 and even slightly slower,
I played paganini caprice 16 in the fastest speeds, even on a bike!, And Czardas and other pieces and didn't feel that it was "crazy" fast.

June 26, 2019, 2:15 PM · Yes, I don't think you're alone in feeling this way. There's no magic solution - just diligent, careful, intelligent practice.

I suspect the pressure of an audition situation might also mean you're being more careful / exacting with your preparation than you were for pieces like Pag 16.

June 26, 2019, 3:18 PM · This is a coordination exercise. It's testing if you can be perfectly in tune, and have the left hand perfectly timed with the right, and maintain a fully-controlled spiccato in a situation with lots of string crossings.

There's no magic here. Drill it with a metronome at a slower tempo. Every day or every couple of days, move the metronome up by one click, until it's perfect at 144.

Edited: June 26, 2019, 3:32 PM · Does anyone know if
This speed can be enough to pass audition?

June 26, 2019, 6:02 PM · Mark akloesen

Ok. Than Plan B :

Anyone has evidence that Schumann was Anti-Semitic?
In Israel orchestras i some cases don't play pieces of anti-Semitic composers, i think i can use some Politics to dodge this piece;))

But seriously - i saw here in another thread about the schertzo that someone said that 120 is acceptable if it is very good. Is it possible?

Edited: June 26, 2019, 6:11 PM · Sorry, Schumann and Mendelssohn were friends. You're not getting out of playing this scherzo.

I'm about 99% sure that any orchestra that doesn't ask for this excerpt will ask for Don Juan. Many orchestras will ask for both.

June 26, 2019, 6:12 PM · You should definitely go for it! Audition committees love it when new hires bring politics into their audition requirements.
June 26, 2019, 6:16 PM · Also the scherzo was written by Schumann not Schubert.
June 26, 2019, 6:22 PM · I'm not sure how Mark is an expert, due to his age. I wonder how many times he's actually played the piece in a professional audition.

I've auditioned with it many, many times, and played the work in concert. It does NOT have to be blazing speed, and in my opinion, if you can play it cleanly at 126-132 you'll be fine. 120 is probably ok as well. Played too quickly, it sounds hysterical. It should sound a little more relaxed. And I think not overly bouncy--more of a nice brush stroke. There is a lot of nuance, dynamic changes, and spots of rubato. Those should come before speed. Convince the listener you you've actually performed the work and know what's going on.

But that's my opinion.

You are always better off playing an audition a little under tempo but with all the intonation, technique, and music in place. If they like it, they may ask you to play it faster. In that case, you're warmed up on it. Win-win. If they eliminate you because you played it really well but slightly under their preferred tempo, then that's life. And maybe it's not the orchestra you want to play in.

Was Schumann anti-Semitic? 19th century Europeans were probably mostly anti-Semitic. It would be like asking "were Southern whites mostly racist in 1960?" Probably. There's a reason Mendelssohn added the "Bartoldy."

If you feel you have to have to perform only music that was not written by anti-Semitic European 18th and 19th century men, you should probably find some other genre.


June 26, 2019, 6:25 PM · Andrew Hsieh

The "Anti-Semitic Schumann" plan was of course a joke.

But seriously - I've read here in previous thread about the scherzo that if the Schertzo is played well in 120 instead be of 144 it is acceptable in audition.
I feel that 144 is too fast.

Edited: June 26, 2019, 6:37 PM · Scott Cole
Thank you. What you said about the Scherzo is very encouraging.

And as i said about the "Anti-Semitic schumman" plan it is of course a joke, that's why i Called it "Plan B" and put this sign ;))

June 26, 2019, 6:40 PM · I thought the tempo was at the bottom end of the acceptable range. I agree with Scott's tempo suggestion of 126-132.

Intonation, articulation, and phrasing will all be more important than tempo. Also, it's important to be aware of what your role in the orchestra is at any given time in the excerpt: know when to play out and when to hold back. It's not always obvious from the notes. Overall, it should sound like you're ready to perform it, in an orchestra, the same day.

June 26, 2019, 7:12 PM · I apologize for responding I’m not speaking from experience but from what I’ve been told I’ve deleted my response and will leave it to people better suited to answer. But every audition is looking for good tone, intonation and the capacity to play at speed.
Edited: June 26, 2019, 7:52 PM · David, the speed is slow, but even at that speed, it's not where it needs to be. The intonation on your YouTube audio is sufficiently far off that the pitches aren't always clear. The spiccato has to be clean, without any of the rough edges audible in that clip. And when the bow comes off the string at the end of a phrase there has to be resonance, ring, and a little vibrato.

What orchestra is this? In googling "Israel orchestra audition" the only upcoming audition seems to be the Israel Philharmonic one, and I'd be very surprised if you get past the resume screen as a "qualified candidate".

Listen to Nathan Cole's tips for the scherzo: LINK

June 26, 2019, 7:58 PM · I think that whatever tempo you decide upon, you want to leave the committee with the impression that it's an artistic decision, rather than one that reflects a limitation in your ability. So with that in mind, it seems important that it be within the tempo range that orchestras typically use, right? (Just my 2 cents; I am not sure where that range bottoms out.)

David K, you may wish to go back over the excerpt with a fine toothed comb and make sure you're not inadvertently playing some incorrect accidentals--for example, it seemed like you were playing an F instead of F sharp for the repeated 8th note section.

June 26, 2019, 8:26 PM · Lydia leong

Actually - i have great news - i spent a lot of money to fix my "Notorious" violin, because i was said it has a potential by 2 luthiers (It is Handmade).
Now it sounds much better.

In the audio of the Scherzo i played with a sordino when practicing, and recorded on the phone, that's why it sounds so bad - i did it "on the way" for the example of the speed.

June 26, 2019, 8:46 PM · Lydia leong

I just recently found out about the exerpts and it seems that everyone ask almost the same pieces - not just in Israeli orchestras.

With other exerpts and the "Don Juan" I don't have any significant problem and it is just practicing and you are "allowed" to play slower, but with the Scherzo there is this speed problem - the 144.
And i see that many have this problem too.

Edited: June 26, 2019, 9:00 PM · 120 is too slow.

I played it cleanly at 144 when I won my job. 138 is acceptable; 132 is borderline IMO. Any slower, and if we already like your playing from other excerpts we'll probably ask you to play it faster. Maybe.

BTW it took me probably six to eight weeks to get it up to 144. I started without the metronome, playing each note slowly and adjusting until it was perfectly in tune, then moving on to the next note. Incidentally, this wasn't my first rodeo--of course, I had already played the Schumann at other auditions--but for this audition I practiced it as if it were new to me. When I was satisfied that I had played every note in tune, I set the metronome at the very bottom--40, I think--and practiced it at 40 until I was satisfied it was in tune. Then I moved the metronome up to 42 and did the same. Lather, rinse, repeat, one notch at a time, never moving to the next notch until it was completely clean at the previous one. Of course, I was practicing my concerto and the other excerpts as well during this time. Practicing the Schumann that way was tedious beyond belief but it ended up being my best excerpt.

June 26, 2019, 9:43 PM · Mary Ellen Goree

I guess i will have to do it too and probably i will get a higher speed,
But i feel that in such speed it is a gamble everytime to play it,
For both hands,
I don't understand how orchestras play in such speed well together.

Even when i play the start of the Scherzo that i know well in 144 it is becoming messy occasionally.

I read that it considered to be one of the hardest pieces for orchestra players - but probably every "Gibrish" piece will be the same.
When you play the Paganini carprices for instance you feel that Paganini "checked" it before, played it well. Here it feels like a "Gibrish" music that might be easy on the piano but a gamble on violin in such speed.

Edited: June 27, 2019, 12:22 AM · Shlomo Mintz said that when Paganini wrote his caprices he first wrote impossible things and then spent months and even years to practice them (and i guess also to change things, to adjust the pieces to high level playing).

And you feel it - it is hard, but you feel that it is possible to play it very well in high "classical" level in live solo performance (Without "Gambling").
I don't feel the same with this Scherzo in 144 speed.

June 27, 2019, 12:30 AM · With practice, awkward-looking music becomes less awkward.

Here's the thing: auditions are only the first hurdle. Once you get into an orchestra, you have to actually do the job. Professional orchestras routinely perform pieces with awkward string parts on only a few days of preparation. The best amateur orchestras can play them quite well when given four or five weeks to rehearse. There is no shortage of people who have practiced a lot.

Edited: June 27, 2019, 1:16 AM · Andrew Hsieh

Let's say some top virtuoso will play the piece for encore solo, you think he will play in 144?
I'm not sure. This is a too big "gamble" i think and virtuoso has some standard for quality. so he probably will play it slower.

The other exerpts might be hard too but they don't have this speed obligation, in moderate speed you can play probably anything well.

June 27, 2019, 1:27 AM · David, you're getting string noise and not-quite-clean edges on your notes, which is not the fault of your violin. It's a left/right hand coordination issue and an issue with the spiccato control. Both this and the Midsummer Night's Dream scherzo test clean playing.

All excerpts should be played at a typical performance tempo. If you are notably slower or faster you may be asked to repeat an excerpt at a more "normal" tempo. If your tempos all tend to the slow side, that will be suspicious.

Edited: June 27, 2019, 1:46 AM · Lydia Leong

This recording was taken with a big Sordino on the violin that's why it sounds so bad i think.
It was just for the tempo.

June 27, 2019, 1:49 AM · "because i was said it has a potential by 2 luthiers (It is Handmade). "

All violins, even the worst, are handmade.

There is no unhandmade violin.

Edited: June 27, 2019, 2:30 AM · Herman west
I mean that it isn't a factory violin from China,
It was handmade by a luthier from russia,

Here how it sounds now, after the "restoration":

And that's how it sounded before the restoration - big difference in the "acoustics" - before the sound was "depressed", you could barely feel the soundbox:

Edited: June 27, 2019, 2:54 AM · It sounds much better, assuming that the microphone distance and angle are the same.

BTW I too have to pay special (slow) attention to the high bits.

BTBTW There maybe a lot of competition.

Edited: June 27, 2019, 6:05 AM · Adrian Heath
That exactly the same camera in the same distance and the same settings in the same room. Really amazing how the violin influences on how it sounds.
June 27, 2019, 7:46 AM · 120 is too slow. I would do minimum 132, probably more like 136. If you're finding it so insecure you might want to take a critical look at your fingerings.
June 27, 2019, 8:30 AM · @Mary Ellen

I like that story, because it's not "efficient practice." It's old-school wood-shedding. Efficient practice is in vogue these days (understandably - no one wants to waste time) but the auditions where I've done well have consistently been ones where I've had the luxury of lots of structured repetition practice.

@David K.

You're right, Schumann Scherzo is awkward for the violin, probably because Schumann wrote it at the piano. A lot of Schumann is like this, although this is a particularly vexing example, which is why it shows up on auditions so often. :) It doesn't really get less awkward, as you practice, but it does get easier to navigate. As others have said, 120 is too slow, unless you can make it sound really great. 132 - 138 is the standard audition tempo range. 144 is not often done, even in live performance (but it does sound neat when everyone can pull it off).

Here are to simple things you can do that might make make you sound better right away, and one general technique builder that will really help the Schumann.

1. lower your shoulder rest just a little bit
2. don't tilt you bow away from the bridge all the time. A little tilt when you approach the frog is good, but in the upper half you should use the whole hair ribbon unless you're playing at the veeery end of the fingerboard.

3. if you don't have it already, get vol. 1 of Schradieck's "School of Violin Technic." Review or learn the first lesson (a page or so of drills) and practice them the way you would a Galamian scale (with practice rhythms, in acceleration with the metronome). Don't just do what's printed there, but practice the drills on all four strings, and using the three different basic finger patterns (1,2 close, 2,3 close, 3,4 close). It will take a while to get through if you practice methodically, but it's worth it.

As a point of interest, for some orchestras the Schumann Scherzo is still an on-the-string polishing stroke excerpt, the way it was in the old days. You should be prepared to play it on the string as well as off the string. Make sure you tune up your detache with something like Kayser No. 1 or Kreutzer No. 2 or something similar (there's always Sevcik's bowing variations).

Edited: June 27, 2019, 9:58 AM · The adjusted violin does sound better, but there's still more scratch in the tone than is desirable. If anything, the mute will dampen the edge of a sloppy spiccato (really more sautille at full tempo), not increase it.

Efficient practicing techniques work on the Scherzo, too. You will get more out of your woodshedding if you do it "blocked practice" style where you task-switch. And there are useful practice techniques beyond raw repetition. Nathan Cole recommmends doing dotted rhythms. I find that all open strings to better anticipate the string crossings and accents in isolation works for me, as does double-stopping each such string-crossing, which is both an intonation exercise as well as string-crossing anticipation. Doing percussive left hand practice -- where you silently finger the passage, but you drop and lift the fingers fast enough to create a tap-pitch -- is also useful for me.

Fully controlled, fast tempos tend not to *feel* especially fast. It's only when we're scrambling that they feel out of control.

I only spent enough time working on this to do Nathan's NYP Challenge exercise, but I memorized a good chunk of it inadvertently while practicing it (and it's a great one for testing bows). This is one of those things that you are effectively going to burn into your memory permanently. You'll probably memorize the Midsummer Night's scherzo excerpt too.

Edited: June 27, 2019, 12:47 PM · I couldn't hold myself...
I think it is on 155.

Wait for it;)))

June 27, 2019, 12:35 PM · But seriously - this proves that as a "Stunt" with some compromises i can probably play it even faster then 144, and even on a bike, especially when it is on a recording and i have several attempts.

But in serious classical live performance with good intonation and clear notes I'm not sure i can do it well even in 144.
That's the issue of the thread.

June 27, 2019, 12:57 PM · There are no good fingerings for this spot. Be able to play all your diminished arpeggios from memory, on automatic-pilot. Be able to do the minor-third extension between each pair of adjacent fingers. Good luck with the audition. Just remember that you have no control over who else shows up, or the preferences of the judges. For orchestral playing at the pro level, intonation and rhythmic accuracy is a high priority. You don't need to be the fastest player in the room.
June 27, 2019, 1:25 PM · "Schumann Scherzo is awkward for the violin, probably because Schumann wrote it at the piano. A lot of Schumann is like this"

This is one of the old-time clichés about Schumann. He wrote awkwardly for string because he wrote a lot of piano music.
Contrary to this notion, the 2nd Symphony is full of beautiful string cantilenes. However scherzos usually don't do long cantilenes, they are supposed to be spiky, and that's why this piece is the way it is.
In all likelihood Schumann did not write symphonic material "behind the piano". Composers of this stature do a lot from their head to their writing hand.

June 27, 2019, 1:33 PM · The fact that there are thousands of people out there who can play this at 144, with pure intonation and precise control and expressiveness, is why professional orchestra auditions are so competitive.
June 27, 2019, 2:12 PM · @Herman West

Well, I'm not a Schumann expert; that's just what I learned in music history. (Which is not to say that you're wrong; there were a lot of things in music history that turned out to be exaggerated traditions, or just plain wrong. One example: the old story about how the Barber concert was returned to the composer due to the last movement being "unplayable.") I think there's ample evidence of great composers who both composed at the keyboard (Beethoven, Brahms) and didn't (Bach, Stravinsky).

My personal opinion is that Schumann, a few good tunes notwithstanding, was a *bad* (not just awkward) writer for strings, as compared to Brahms, who is also awkward, but great!

Edited: June 27, 2019, 4:46 PM · David,

My teacher would say you need to get it to play "note-ier" with better separation and more precision on bow changes and then you can work on applying a personal interpretation.

At the audition, the committee is unlikely to say something like "play it at 144", but they may say things like "could you take it a little faster", to which the response of "I think 120 is acceptable" is unlikely to score you any points.

June 27, 2019, 4:56 PM · The only acceptable response to a committee's request to play something a little faster is to play it a little faster.
June 27, 2019, 6:18 PM · The reason I gave up on the idea of playing in a professional orchestra is the Schumann scherzo.
Edited: June 27, 2019, 8:37 PM · I'm sorry if i sound cinical - i respect this Profession of course, and I'll do my best,
but for me to be excited about such job as orchestra player is almost as being excited about getting a job as a seller in a store - unless i will succeed to get some good position with good paying.

In Israel in most orchestras you are paid almost a minimum wage. And with so much energy and efforts and thinking you spend after you learned so many years i sometimes even don't understand why I'm doing this and not going to be a plumber or something.

I go back to Politics again, but this is too big problem. I don't see any reason why average worker in High-Tech job that demands probably less skills and knowledge and accuracy is payed 2, 3 times more.

June 27, 2019, 8:46 PM · Yeah getting a high tech job is a snap. Just go get your degree in electrical engineering. How hard can that be?
June 27, 2019, 8:51 PM · Show of hands...who else wants to see a cyber security board get the David K treatment?
June 27, 2019, 8:56 PM · There's a supply and demand issue, as well as a revenue and profitability issue. High-tech jobs pay a lot because there are many fewer people with the necessary skills than there are jobs for such people, thus causing salaries to rise. Salaries can be high because high-tech products/services are often extremely profitable even if you pay your workers a lot. And many such jobs have very long work hours, for which an employee is not paid overtime.

There are vastly more musicians who want, and play well enough to hold, orchestral jobs than they are such jobs. Most arts organizations have revenue challenges, since there's only so high ticket prices can go, and so much that donors are willing to give (and in places with state-sponsored arts, a limit to the number of tax dollars that arts orgs can receive). And many of those musicians are intensely passionate about music, sufficiently so to choose a much lower-paid path than any other that they could follow.

Edited: June 27, 2019, 9:39 PM · Paul Deck

My violin Playing as everyone's isn't "A talent" - it is a profession!!! - that cost a lot of money to learn - 10! Years of private teachers, 3 years of classical theory advanced level learning, numerous practice hours.
The playing is the product of all that.
Ans even without learning in musical academy.

It is probably more investment of time and money than most High-Tech professional jobs.

If i give this product it is legitimate to demand relevant payment.

Edited: June 27, 2019, 9:14 PM · Lydia Leong

I'm a politician - i know what's happening - trust me -
We talk here about official professional workers!. In most cases these are sort of Government workers.

You don't say about doctors that they should be paid minimum wage because they don't have clients. Right?

June 27, 2019, 10:13 PM · "I don't see any reason why average worker in High-Tech job that demands probably less skills and knowledge and accuracy is payed 2, 3 times more."

Your lack of understanding of the economics of wages may be limiting your success in politics. As well it should.

June 27, 2019, 10:25 PM · Scott cole

Let's say you have a computer professional worker for the government or an Architect - you think he will be paid minimum wage for his work?

At least in Israel or the Orchestras are funded by government or the cities (that are government too). I guess as most Orchestras in USA.

June 27, 2019, 10:35 PM · Playing in orcheatra is full time professional job:
Because you have to practice every day at least 2 hours, right? To play well.

I don't see a reason why you have to do another work like teaching or gigs to have average decent income even if you just a Tutti player in average orchestra.

June 27, 2019, 10:39 PM · Architects that work for the government, by the way, are "creative" workers too. As musicians.
Edited: June 27, 2019, 10:55 PM · Only a minority of American professional orchestras get any government funding at all. And if they get government funding, it's typically small amounts, less than 10% of their budget. The majority of the money comes from private donations and sponsorships.
Edited: June 27, 2019, 11:01 PM · I'll give another example to explain what i say:

Lydia Leong and scott cole talk about "The market" and the demand that aren't sufficient to give decent salaries.

Let's say you have a scientist that works for the government and he also can work in the private sector.
But there's no enough demand for his work in the private sector,
And he can't get decent income according to his professional work,

But the government knows his work is important,
You think it will pay him minimum wage? Or that he will work for minimum wage?

No. He will be still paid as professional worker a decent wage. By the government!. To assure he can keep his work.

If the governments want professional orchestras people have to be paid accordingly.
You can't have "half orcheatra" or "Hourly Orchestras".

Edited: June 27, 2019, 11:10 PM · In Israel the Lifeguards on the beaches can work in private sector too,
And they work as lifeguards just several months in the summer,
But they are payed for the whole year, because the government knows that they might not find a job in private sector in the winter.

The public "Demand" isn't relevant.

The government knows what they do is important and covers the costs, even if it needs it just for several months in a year.

June 27, 2019, 11:47 PM · Real life is unfair and over-rated; that's why I go to the opera (as audience)
Edited: June 28, 2019, 12:32 AM · Joel Quivey

This is more a Political issue then musical. And you can fix it By pressure on the government.

Now I'm talking as a violinist that tries professional playing - but it is not just orchestra players - take for example professional Composers or Musical research -
In their case too - you have to "Cover the costs" and give the stage even if there's no "public Demand", as part of the Professional work.
Many times something that isn't popular today becomes popular:
Bach, the highly popular today!, could be forgotten if not Mendelssohn, right?

And this isn't just about classical music or art - if you have government attention and serious approach it can be fixed.

June 28, 2019, 12:50 AM · I think we went too far with the Schumman Scherzo;))))
June 28, 2019, 8:46 AM · There isn't really a large problem keeping professional orchestras in existence, contractual disputes between management and players notwithstanding; most of those are rooted in the failure of management to do their core job of fundraising. Even with the current levels of pay, there are vastly more musicians who want to play in orchestras than there are jobs. Unless that supply of qualified musicians drops off, salaries probably won't rise.
Edited: June 28, 2019, 9:03 AM · Lydia Leong

That's maybe the biggest problem here - that the musicians themselves buy the excuse that it is "a free market" that depends on the demand, and government should not be involved.

Take for example the Auto industry, or the Banks or many other spheres, even when these are very rich!!! Organizations and developed that government see as important - the governments are involved!!, In many cases subsidize, help financially, tax cuts, help to find merkets etc.

This is simply a Political view - do the government see art and the ability to produce and consume it as priority.

June 28, 2019, 9:08 AM · The European Monarchs in the previous centuries we're big democrats or Social or for equality, but they saw art as priority, that's why you had all this great composers and artists and developed classical music and art.
June 28, 2019, 9:36 AM · David - I'm really sorry to raise this but you still sound almost systematically out of tune. The impression I get is that much of it is actually a mechanical issue as if you are spacing your fingers evenly instead of adjusting for half and full note intervals. Can you try this: try playing the semitones too flat and the tones too sharp. Maybe you can break the habit.

Sorry if this is off base but I can not see any orchestra hiring you if baa baa black sheep is out of tune. Hey, play that for us (this is not a trivial assignment as the expectation for a simple tune is no less than perfect).

[And I hasten to add that my intonation has real issues too. Anon I plan to start a topic on an issue that I think plagues a large fraction of violinists.]

June 28, 2019, 10:32 AM · Economic freedom is messy; it naturally leads to inequality that offends someone's sense of fairness. In USA, pro sports teams can fill stadiums with 50,000 voluntary customers while the symphony in the same city has trouble selling 2,000 tickets, so they ask for government subsidies and private donations to correct the unfairness. If God made one mistake it would be to put "thou shall not covet" as the last commandment instead of the first. Envy of other's success, when combined with the flawed Marxist Labor theory of Value has caused misery, poverty, and mass deaths.
Edited: June 28, 2019, 10:56 AM · As a musician, I think it would be great if musicians were paid more! I think most of us here would agree that the world would be a better place if the money that goes into, for example, lobbying or political attack ads would instead go into funding the arts - and I would also love to have a magical unicorn to ride on. In the meantime, though, if anyone wants to make a donation of, say, $30 million to my orchestra's endowment to raise salaries I will be more than happy to put you in contact with the appropriate people.

As things are, if you aren't completely in love with practicing and the music itself, it's probably better to go into plumbing or lifeguarding or being a dental hygenist - something that pays comparably or better, where you can leave work at work and not think about it over the weekend.

The government does fund sports to some extent - many Team USA athletes, for example, receive a stipend to help support their training (and there's usually a lot of tax breaks etc that come with stadium construction / moving a team to a new city).

June 28, 2019, 1:07 PM · More government funding for the arts comes from local sources than federal sources, I think. In my state of Maryland, there are both state-level grants as well as county and city-level grants. My orchestra receives money from both the state and the county. The government sees these grants as justified based on the amount of associated revenue generated for restaurants and the like when people go out to a concert.
Edited: June 28, 2019, 2:28 PM · Lydia Leong

In 2008, and in 1929, USA had big economical collapse, right?
The car industry for example.

What the government said? "There's no demand, it isn't our problem, it is a free market"?
No. It, the government created! The demand, created the ability to consume and to produce.

We talk here about classical music and Orchestras - but it is a general problem in all arts, even the popular ones as pop -
There is very small percent of very popular and known artists that can earn enough, but generally it is almost impossible to have sufficient salaries as artists, at least in Israel. And i assume in USA to from what i hear.

Take for example average orchestra - probably the players can play well, but they need to practice! And have free time for that,
And if they do the orchestra will sound much better, and may be more attractive, right?
How can they do iy with minimum wages? When they have to teach and fo gigs to support themselves?

June 28, 2019, 2:57 PM · "How can they do it with minimum wages?"

A little perspective: the top USA orchestras pay better than anywhere in the world. Obviously most USA orchestras are not in that remunerative top twenty. However, these top orchestras pay better than their European counterparts. (And yet very few European musicians make the move.)

June 28, 2019, 4:03 PM · Herman West,
The known and popular that have financial abilities and can for example try new things are very small percent.
Very! Small.

Also - it effects the art itself, not just the musicians -
You can't do many things with just the "top" that has abilities -
Take for example composers- they have to try pieces with different good! orchestras that play the pieces well to see if the public likes it, it isn't enough to play it once with specific orchestra:

There are many very popular and known pieces that were received badly at the premiere but became very popular - the public has to know something and have good product to decide if they like it.

How can you do all this if most of the players and orchestras can't practice well the piece, and the composer has to do others jobs to fund himself and can't work well or enough on the piece? And professional orcheatras don't play it because they have to play just the "Popular and known" pieces to get the money to cover the costs?

June 28, 2019, 4:25 PM · I wonder what David sees in his mind when he refers to an "average" orchestra.

The median orchestra mathematically speaking is probably full of volunteers who like playing music given the proliferation of community music groups.

But I have told David to audition for community orchestras before to meet new people and experience music live. He doesn't want to listen.

Edited: June 28, 2019, 5:18 PM · James T
We don't have community orcheatras in israel,juat professional,

And even if there were -my intentions are playing professionaly and i am in the relevant level (not just my opinion!, This is the opinion Of some relevant professionals too)

When i talk about Orchestras i talk about average professional orcheatra of a city, as we have in Israel.
Edited: June 28, 2019, 5:28 PM · Irene chen
You would say about doctors, or architects, or scientists that they should seek for donations to have decent income be able to do well what they do professionaly?

If people do something professionaly and the government sees it as important they should be payed to do their work well and have the abilities/facilities etc.

I think that art is very important both for "Education" and creativity, but also for the economy!.

June 28, 2019, 5:31 PM · First of all, I can't believe that a country as musically developed as Israel has no community orchestras.

Second, I cannot believe the level of professional orchestras in Israel is that low. There are community orchestras in the US, where the majority of players are completely unpaid and have non-music careers, that routinely present very competent performances of things you're calling a "gamble" for pros. My guess is that the Israeli pros are a lot better than you think they are.

June 28, 2019, 5:40 PM · And it isn't just helping with money - it is also education.
Because to like, or to buy tickets to advanced art you have to know it.
To know what's the deal.

Here's a personal example:

I was a Political candidate in Israel, the Jewish!! State,right?

With all the known Jewish violinists I thought that the fact that i play in such level on violin, paganini caprices and things like that, will impresse people -
It says something, no?

But nothing!!. People, even educated, don't know anything!. Unbelievable.
It didn't help me at all in politics in Israel!!.

Edited: June 28, 2019, 6:24 PM · Andrew Hsieh
I guess there are some things like community orcheatras or bands in different places, but i know just about the professional ones.

Personally for me community orcheatra or band isn't relevant because i want to play professionally, and also have the level and knowledge for that.

And i didn't say that Israeli professional orcheatras are at low level. I don't know them well enough.

But I know how much they earn because i checked directly and read alot of articles, it is almost a minimum wage - if you add the practice time.

In Israel with such salaries you are poor, that's why all of them work second jobs as teachers/gigs etc.
All that probably has effect on the level of playing: you are tired/don't practice enough etc.

Also - I'm saying now what was said by a computer of such orcheatra in an article - he said that they can't invite high level performers and things like that that will give higer level.

This isn't just a problem of classical music - you see it in pop music too and art in general.

June 28, 2019, 7:27 PM · I would never advice anyone to study violin-and truthfully, many other fields, some non-musical-if all you desire is a warranty that you'll be well paid. This sounds "bad", but for me, studying this beautiful instrument is a *wonderful* endeavor, and never a waste. That one is willing to do follow such a path where money isn't warranted is quite noble, in my strong opinion.

If life was all about money, to live may not be worth that much . As depressing as that may sound to many, it isn't to me.

One could argue that musicians should be better paid and respected. I agree, but must add that nevertheless, the art of violin playing is its own reward-money cannot buy the pleasure of being able to learn and make music you love with our instrument.

June 28, 2019, 7:43 PM · The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra is one of the world's great orchestras.

A quick Google search turns up various Israeli amateur orchestras, including this one: LINK

Edited: June 28, 2019, 11:08 PM · Adalberto valle Rivera

I was a very good student at school, i mean very! Good in all classes, as classical advanced violinists are in most cases, since it is very hard and "accurate" instrument,

And on violin too - as i said i was sort of "Prodigy", played solo to Israeli prime minister and many official events at age 12, and things like that.

And still - i went first to army to be combat soldier 3 years, and then to learn Political Science, a profession that considered to be even poorer and jobless then music - and went to Politics, from i haven't earned even 1 dollar till today. Despite I'm known politician in Israel.
(I work in security!).

I did all that with full awareness to everything, and don't regret anything,
So trust me that I'm the last person to talk with him about doing something regarding money.

But -
It isn't ok, you can't do things and progress like that -
If Doctors or scientists haven't had good money and abilities the medicine wasn't advanced.
No matter how much good will they

In Politics, at least in Israel, because of that you don't have professional approach at all and it is very corrupt - people with clean and professional approach go to do other things.
Even i - you see now that went to play on violin!. despite i learned Politics and that was my "profession". And had to work in security while tried to do things in israeli politics.

Edited: June 28, 2019, 11:32 PM · Adalberto valle Rivera

There is the money and abilities to support this thing, trust my word, i know the figures very well.
You can fix these things almost immediately.
But you don't have the priorities in politics:

In Israeli Politics i was always talking about the fact that all! The Israeli orcheatras together!!! Have less government support than 1 prime Ministers new private airplane.
This is a known fact in Israel:

All the professional orcheatras get about 20 million a year, while to pay for 1 prive airplane costs more in 2-3 times a year.

1 prive airplane gets more than all! Professional Orcheatras. Unbelievable.
You could double all the salaries in orcheatras with that easily.

I'm sure that in USA that is even worst. Especially now with Trump.
Bernie Sanders talks about this things alot.

Edited: June 28, 2019, 11:42 PM · @David K
We don't have community orcheatras in israel,juat professional,

If this is true, I will post a video on this site of me eating my cake of rosin. You are all witnesses.

Also, I dont know what your point is about private jets. I am aware of pros playing on $1 million instruments... What's your point?

Edited: June 28, 2019, 11:49 PM · James T,
As i said, probably there are some bands and Orchestras,
but i don't know about them and probably most of Israeis don't. And it isn't relevant for me personally too.

And private jet is ok if it is from your pocket, when it is from government pocket, money that goes to jet instead of going to professional orcheatras it is a very big deal.
This is the tax payers money.

Edited: June 28, 2019, 11:59 PM · Plenty of professional orchestras have members that play on $5 million Strads that are partly funded by governments.

I get the feeling what you REALLY want is a government to pay millions for YOU to shred on an exercise bike. Since you are neither as charismatic as TwoSet nor do you look as good in a skirt as Lindsay Stirling, you blame governments for your inability to make money playing. I assure you the world of professional musicians and even serious amateurs is bigger than you think.

Even your topic for this thread, you blame the composer, when multiple people who have given you (free) advice can surely play the part at professional tempo better than your video, and I speak from first hand experience (BTW, THANK YOU Laurie for building such a great community!!!). You should be more humble, especially since you come from a heritage of very talented violinists.

June 29, 2019, 12:01 AM · In the United States, most future politicians go to law school, and earn gobs of money working for white-shoe law firms before they ever run for office. If they study political science at all, it is either at the undergrad level, or a Master's in Public Policy. Maybe they intern or volunteer for political campaigns to make some contacts, but they don't expect to earn a living from doing politics. They save their nest egg doing something lucrative first.
Edited: June 29, 2019, 12:13 AM · The other route into politics is to get into a politician's office staff and work your way up to a chief of staff position. It's not uncommon in the US for state legislators or mayors to be succeeded by their top aides. That would be the way to get in without gobs of money. It's not all that hard to get hired for a staff position... of course it takes a lot of hard work and political skill to rise to a position where you'd be considered a viable candidate from there.
Edited: June 29, 2019, 12:20 AM · Lydia Leong

And you think it is a good thing?

I'm not talking only about the elected positions,
You don't have money even in professional work. This is almost minimum wage too.

You think this is a good thing that you can't work in that important field?

why that's happenes, you know?
Because Politics is very corrupt- the government money is wasted on things like private airplanes!, And many jobs in this field are given as bribe for supporters And even family members.

Edited: June 29, 2019, 12:44 AM · Lydia Leong

This is a very serious profession - in Russia for example in the soviet era, and even now i think,one of the most prestigious Universities was "MGIMO" -
"Moscow State Institute of International Relations" -

But in corrupt and very not professional Politics the relevant jobs with good paying are taken for "supporters", and if there are jobs they are paid very little.

For example, i talk 3 languages - Hebrew ans Russian fluently, and my English is considered very good English in Israel. My English is because of Politics!. Because it is international thing. This is a knowledge too.
And it isn't appreciated at all in politics. It is "irrelevant" for a professional job in politics. It is given first and foremost to a supporter.even he doesn't know english well or professional knowledge in Politics.

Edited: June 29, 2019, 1:30 AM · Andrew Hsieh

One of the main things i was mocked for in Politics and considered not Serious candidate by many was that i learned Politics!!! Political science In probably best University in israel, or one of them.
(Instead of learning some profitable profession)

It is unbelievable.
Can you imagine that musician will be mocked among Musicians that he learned in the best Musical academy???

That's is the corrupt and unprofessional Politics.

In The "other route" you talking about ypu get minimum wages in israel.
And why the hell i have to take it? I studied it - i have the knowledge i should be paid and appreciated according to that.
Why i should be managed under some "supporter" that doesn't know anything and paid minimum wage?

I will work for him? For minimum wage? Why? Because he is a family member or a supporter of some Politician? He should work for me!.

Edited: June 29, 2019, 1:58 AM · Andrew Hsieh

Will you say to someone like David Garrett, who studied in Juilliard, has knowledge and high abilities on violin, public experience etc. To go to work for minimum wage in some school as assistant to a musical teacher? Who in many cases doesn't know in music and hot tge job because he is a friend of someone And "pave his way" to become famous violinist with good salary?

I learned politics probably in the best Academy for it in Israel, Tel Aviv University (ranked 200 in the world),
I have vast knowledgein politics, i speak the 3 main languages in israel,
I am known politician with public experience
And i should be an assistant of some "supporter" for minimum wage and get instructions from him what to do?

June 29, 2019, 3:38 AM · I'm going to be blunt.

You don't come across as someone with vast knowledge in politics or policy. You sound like a first-year student with none of the skills I have seen in effective politicians. That's why I've been trying to prompt you to explain how you'd get legislation passed, instead of haranguing people on a violin forum. I've been trying to get you to show us what political skills you have, instead of just telling us where you studied (and evidently didn't graduate) or insisting that you are a "known politician" who evidently failed to get even 0.005% of the vote (which we know because every party receiving at least 200 votes in either of the last two Israeli elections has been reported).

I am speaking from both practical and academic experience -- I am a lawyer with past experience as a community organizer, and I used to teach activists how to deliver convincing arguments to politicians. I took the Witkin award (top of the class) in my law school's public policy development course.

And you keep insisting you're a professional-level violinist, but you're telling us that, because this excerpt feels like a gamble to you, you don't see how any orchestra can hold it together at that tempo. This tells me you're greatly underestimating the playing ability of professionals and even many serious amateurs.

As far as I can tell you want people to throw money at you for playing violin at a decent-but-not-great amateur level because somehow you weren't elected prime minister.

Edited: June 29, 2019, 5:25 AM · @Andrew Hsieh

"Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto gives us for the first time the hideous notion that there can be music that stinks to the ear"
(Eduard Hanslick - German Bohemian music critic)

Edited: June 29, 2019, 5:42 AM · And this is OK.
If someone has criticism and he feels truly that something isn't good, it is legitimate to say it.
In some cases it is very helpful.

For example - i bought a new recording camera and put more emphasis on intonation because of the criticism here.

June 29, 2019, 8:27 AM · You don't have community orchestras is Israel? Start one!!!
June 29, 2019, 9:29 AM · @paul deck

When there will be "free Community high quality restaurants", "free community fly tickets", "free community high quality hotels" , "free community supermarkets",
Only then i will play free for community.

I see myself as very social leftist, and i thought USA is the land of capitaism,
But you seem as very socialist country...

June 29, 2019, 9:44 AM · Dunning-Krueger perhaps?
Edited: June 29, 2019, 10:08 AM · Michael Jennings

With all the respect to the people here i probably play better then most of the people here on violin and maybe even know better in classical music history and theory,
(Assuming that most of the people here aren't professional players and didn't study im musical academy).
I'm not amateur as you think.

Also - i have evaluations by professionals that I'm in the relevant level for professional playing.
It isn't just my opinion.

Edited: June 29, 2019, 11:25 AM · You have great dexterity, and some technical understanding,, but it seems you lack a connection or understanding of the music or the idea of music.

Dexterity and technical "expertise" do not a musician make.

June 29, 2019, 11:27 AM · Private planes are only sometimes a sign of corruption. In many cases they are actually the most efficient thing that can be done, because they ensure that someone whose time is extraordinarily valuable doesn't have that time wasted by sitting around waiting for commercial flights, or by not having an optimal working environment on-board.
June 29, 2019, 11:31 AM · That Schumann excerpt that you posted does not make me think, "This is an acceptable level of playing for a professional audition".

Broadly, though, there are many professions where people who are capable of earning a lot more money choose for love rather than renumeration. Indeed, even within a given profession, people will choose jobs that don't pay as much as they are able to earn.

In order to have a job that leaves me time to play the violin and spend time home with my family and not have a commute, I'm probably being paid one-third of what I could otherwise make, and it's substantially more than professional musicians earn.

Edited: June 29, 2019, 11:55 AM · "I'm not amateur as you think."
Perhaps only "as amateur" as your playing and your comments reveal?"

"I probably play better then most of the people here"
Faster? Yes. Better?, not so sure.

June 29, 2019, 11:49 AM · David, why not read Lydia's excellent blog,
"Efficient practicing for the time-crunched"
June 29, 2019, 12:07 PM · ---DK, "I thought USA was a capitalist country" My opinion, having traveled, is that USA, along with West Europe are Democratic Socialist: High taxation, high regulation, still allowing opposition parties, politically antagonistic to free enterprise, but allowing it to function because the socialist faction has learned that someone needs to pay the bills. The Europeans put up with it because the ordinary citizen gets three big things for their tax money: education through Univ. or vocational school, "free" medical care, and adequate public transportation. Americans don't get those things but imagine themselves to be freer than the Europeans. For our tax money we get a big military and interest payments on the national debt. Also my opinion; The prosperous nations of West Europe are Not an example of successful socialism, but just the opposite. While dragging the twin anchors of high taxation and regulation, the private sector is still able to break even and employ 90% of the non-government workers.
June 29, 2019, 12:51 PM · "I probably play better then most of the people here"

David, the videos of your playing wouldn't get you into many community orchestras in the states.

Edited: June 29, 2019, 2:49 PM · Indeed, I didn't want to be that blunt about it earlier, but your shaky intonation in positions above 3rd and your messy bowing/articulation would disqualify you from one of the community orchestras I play in. I'm not sure you'd get into the other two formally auditioned community orchestras in my area, either. There's more to playing violin than just being able to move your fingers quickly.

If you have the training in music theory you say you have, then you're not showing it -- I would expect someone with good music theory training to understand the importance of bringing out the chord progressions in the Paganini, for example.

I can believe that a pro told you that you have the potential to play at professional level one day, because you have remarkable agility. I cannot believe any pro told you that you are at professional level now. That's precisely what so many of us find so disappointing. You could be so much better than you are.

June 29, 2019, 8:34 PM · "Playing at a professional level" is a very loaded phrase, because which sort of professional player we're talking about can change the meaning of that quite a bit.

For instance, music educators are professional musicians, yet you'll find that many of them aren't all that advanced players. There's also a difference between someone who plays wedding gigs and someone who plays in a freeway philharmonic. And some freeway phils are barely better than a community orchestra. And there are significant differences between people capable of winning a freeway phil audition, and those capable of winning full-time tenured orchestra positions.

To the extent that David plays better than some music educators, he could be said to be able to play at a professional level. That's very different from being at a level to win a professional orchestra audition, as his Schumann demonstrates.

Edited: July 1, 2019, 9:44 AM · DK, the point of many (most?) community orchestras in the US is not to provide a professional service without wages. The point is to enjoy a common hobby. If you get three of your friends together to play whist or duplicate bridge, do you expect to be paid?? Or do you enjoy each other's company and toss back a few proletarian lagers?

Against that background, we find that all the ensuing tripe about capitalism vs. socialism melts away, although I was thinking of asking Joel how he reconciles "prosperous" with "Not ... successful".

I bet you will find that there are lots of folks who play about as well as you (skilled but still lacking truly professional technique) and who also enjoy music-making, although they might not share your out-sized vocational ambitions. But of course perhaps you can consider this if you don't win your upcoming audition.

July 2, 2019, 6:46 PM · The big difference is that in an orchestra there are usually between 12 and 16 first violins who need to play as one IN A TEAM. I don't care how brilliant people are individually, if they're not part of that TEAM, they're worse than useless.
I've also worked in I.T. Normally, I'd have a technical task that I had to do INDIVIDUALLY. The end result had to fit with what other people did, but my bit was my bit.
July 3, 2019, 8:17 AM · I've just been looking on Youtube. Orchestras playing this scherzo AS A SECTION. Also look at Nate Cole's tutorial on how to play it.
A very interesting video is Maxine Kwok-Adams of the L.S.O. talking about playing.
What a fabulous player.
And she makes it all seem so easy!
July 6, 2019, 10:46 AM · Interesting notes in that video, David.
Have you thought of playing Schumann's notes?
I'll just say I wouldn't want to be in the same section with you.

July 6, 2019, 10:59 AM · Do teachers ever assign orchestral excerpts like these as studies to younger students? I mean, is it really harder than any of the more difficult Kreutzer or Rode caprices? When my daughter was just starting (so, like Book 3 level) her teacher suggested I take the "hard part" out of the Vivaldi A Minor concerto, trim it down so that it no longer looked like a page out of the Suzuki book, and give it to her as an "exercise." I even put a fake title on the top, "Exercise 3" or some such. It worked like a charm ... until she got to the Vivaldi and she caught on what I was doing. :)
Edited: July 6, 2019, 11:17 AM · @Paul Deck, orchestral excerpts was something I regularly saw, whether my orchestra repertoire, or chunks of additional repertoire my teacher asked me to work on. I get the same now with viola lessons.
July 6, 2019, 11:18 AM · Yes. Don Juan, Brahms 2, Shostakovich 5, and Midsummer Night's Dream I learned with a teacher when I was younger, among other excerpts. One of my teachers had intended to teach me all the common excerpts (idue to his assumption that at some point in my life I would want to take a professional audition) but I quit playing before he could.
July 6, 2019, 11:57 AM · In addition to standard excerpt books, there is this:
July 6, 2019, 1:25 PM · I once prepared the fast bariolage arpeggios in the 1st movement of Vivaldi's "Spring": slowly, an octave lower for intonation; then up high, slowly, faster, with various rhythmic patterns etc.
I called it Spring Fever..
July 6, 2019, 1:29 PM · Wow Adrian -- you could go a lot of directions with that.... winter of our discontent, perhaps? Anyway it's great to know there are excerpt books, but I always assumed these were intended only for conservatory students, I didn't know they were taught to younger folks.
July 6, 2019, 1:57 PM · When I was in my early teens, my teacher had me buy the trio of Gingold orchestra excerpt books.
July 6, 2019, 9:09 PM · The Gingold excerpt books are classics. But you shouldn't take an audition from them; you should play from the actual part.

I wonder how the advent of IMSLP has affected the sales of excerpt books, anyway.

July 7, 2019, 12:55 AM · I assign some of the standard orchestral excerpts to my students at the college, because the majority of violinists, pro or amateur, will spend the majority of their time playing in orchestras. In my music major curriculum I had one course in violin orchestra excerpts, but I don't think one semester is enough, because the repertoire is huge, and the technical spread between Haydn/Mozart and R. Strauss concertmaster solos is very wide. Question for anyone: Has anyone published an excerpt series in approximate order of difficulty ?

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