College Searching

Edited: August 25, 2019, 2:09 AM · Hello! I am currently a sophomore in High School and am beginning to think about colleges and finding out what major I want to pursue (currently stuck between performance and education...but that's another discussion) and needing help on where I should be searching. I am currently wrapping up Suzuki book 6 and heading onto 7 (I began violin in the 6th grade, a bit late sadly) and am currently working on the Accolay Concerto, Bach Concerto in A minor, and Czardes. With this minimal information, what are some schools I should be looking into that I could audition and make it into by senior year?
(P.S I Live in Texas and am looking for both in-state and out-of-state)

Replies (12)

August 25, 2019, 4:20 PM · My 2 cents worth: Music education is more of a teaching job than a music job. It has its own rewards and frustrations.
August 25, 2019, 5:25 PM · UNT has a fabulous violin teacher named Julia bushkova and will probably be suitable. If you want to see her teach she has released a series of fantastic videos under the title violin class
August 25, 2019, 5:41 PM · I think you've made good progress over the last few years, though you still have a very long way to go before you are able to make it into a decent music program. To give you extra time and a better chance of making it into music school, I suggest taking a gap year after high school grad to polish your skills. In addition, I would also suggest having a backup plan because music is one of the harder careers to pursue. Think about what your other interests/passions are. I would also talk to your teacher about your situation if you haven't already.
August 25, 2019, 8:12 PM · My suggestion -- seriously -- is that you consider doubling down now on your academics and continuing to pursue the violin as an amateur. That is to say, as a hobby. The progress you've shown so far is solid, but it's not meteoric. Also we don't know how well you're preparing your repertoire, or how much it's been filled in with non-Suzuki pieces. The reason I suggest you get serious about your academics now, rather than in a couple of years of considering a music career, is that you need to get good grades in the last couple of years of high school and you need to prepare your standardized exams (SAT and possibly ACT) and consider taking as many AP or DE courses as you can. I realize this is kind of an orthogonal answer to what you asked, but that's my answer.
August 25, 2019, 9:11 PM · Sergio, don't let anyone discourage you. The entire country needs music teachers, we are currently in a shortage. Just food for thought in case you are interested in education, there is lots of work. Texas has MANY wonderful programs: UNT, UT Austin, Texas Christian (where Elisabeth Atkins is - she's wonderful), just to name a few and I know there are many more. With a state as strong as TX, I would only go out of state if money is no object, as you have much to choose from. When you are a junior, go visit some schools and take a lesson, you'll have a better feel for who/where is a good match for you, what your chances are to get in, plus of course get some great tips. Good luck!
August 25, 2019, 10:07 PM · To be really honest, you are pretty far behind. Even the kids auditioning for third-tier schools are typically Mendelssohn level and above. The kids auditioning for top schools were at your level by age 10 for the most part. I feel for you, because I didn't start until age 13 and struggled through a similar situation.

I think you really need to think about what your goals are for the future. If you want to be an orchestral musician in even a small city professional orchestra, you are going to need a lot more time. I highly suggest taking a gap year to try to bring your level up. Other things you might consider include doing a BA (instead of a BM) program at a better school, which often lets you in with a lower level. You can also work your rear off in undergrad and then do a graduate program at a better school. But it is going to be a hard road, as you have a lot of catching up to do.

There are plenty of people out there who really enjoy teaching, whose level is not that high and who went to third-tier schools. If music education is more your goal, you will be able to get into higher level programs with a lower playing level. A lot of the Texas state schools would probably be suitable, UNT and Austin being the usual suspects.

If you get a performance degree from a third tier school at the usual playing level of that type of institution, expect a hard road. It is possible to make a living this way if you enjoy teaching little kids and can put together a lot of small playing gigs (weddings, community orchestras, etc.). Definitely get Suzuki training and have a backup plan.

Edited: August 26, 2019, 8:19 AM · Universities that aren't known for violin performance are often good at other stuff. Jazz, or electronic music, or music production, or education. If you do music, that's where you're likely going, so you should start researching them now. Of course, find one that will allow you to grow as a performer too.

You don't have to go to a place like Curtis or Juilliard to have a career in music ... only if you want to have THAT career in music.

August 26, 2019, 1:42 PM · Just as an FYI, when it comes to performance, UNT and UT-Austin are as hard to get into as any other major music school. I know someone who got into the top studio on her instrument (not violin) at the Jacobs School at Indiana University, who was waitlisted at UNT and did not get into UT-Austin. And I agree that you are pretty far behind right now for a prospective performance major.

I know of one student whose pre-college path was similar to yours. That student did take a gap year and is currently studying at the Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University in Georgia, with a great teacher.

September 12, 2019, 12:12 PM · I have a friend who was about your level at your age. He didnt learn is first "real" concerto until the end of his Junior year (Wieniawski No. 2). He then spent a summer practicing at meadowmount and now he just started his freshman year to the Cleveland institute of Music. So never judge people's future/potential based on where they are at a given moment. Someone else I know was always told by teachers in high school "you'll never be a violinist." But fast forward 10 years and he won one of the 2 most prestigious violin competitions in the world.
September 12, 2019, 12:51 PM · Your friend who was playing Wieniawski 2 in his junior year is worlds away from OP, who is Suzuki book 7 and has a long way to go before being Wieniawski-ready. My guess is that if your friend was at that repertoire in his sophomore year (i.e. the year before), his foundation was very solidly set already and he was playing repertoire below where his technical abilities could have taken him at that point.

September 12, 2019, 4:14 PM · Well I was around the OP's assumed level at about age 10 or 11, I played a pretty stellar Bruch concerto within about 2 years, and now I'm getting ready for college auditions with the Tchaikovsky Concerto. I remember kids my age playing Mendelssohn back then, practicing way more than me, and a few years later, I'm in a whole different league than them. Even as a senior, I am miles better than I was as a freshman. I would never have predicted where I am now 3 years ago.
September 12, 2019, 7:44 PM · Ben, if you're at MSM pre-college, you're pretty much in a totally different league than the OP, I'd think, in terms of your training and prep. Solidly set intermediate foundation to Bruch in 2 years, followed by Tchaikovsky 5 years later, seems pretty reasonable in your context.

It sounds like you were saying you were at the OP's level as a 10-year-old and now you're playing the Tchaik at roughly age 17.

The OP is likely a 15 or 16-year-old sophomore. They don't have the 7 years to get to a conservatory audition level for a performance major. It doesn't mean that they couldn't work really, really hard and eventually get into a good grad school, but come audition time, they're not likely to be playing at an immediately competitive level.


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