Nevermind, but since I'm curious.

Edited: January 13, 2020, 11:59 AM · Nevermind, I've had a quite the thorough discussion about the subject with my teacher but I just wish to pose a single question. What is it like to work in an orchestra? Any highlights in your time working in an orchestra for those who have? Oh and for those questioning about the "boss",so in the UK there is a music service,and schools pay them to come and teach private lessons. My teacher comes from this service and there are the higher ups and they send you to the schools to teach and mainly set your work,and I was talking about my teacher's higherup,who he works for and reports to in this service.

Replies (88)

Edited: January 11, 2020, 2:18 AM · DELETED

Question changed, response departed.

January 9, 2020, 12:34 PM · Know that your competition, the students who aspire to orchestral careers (or similar), are putting in 4-5 hours of efficient, planned, practice a day, and may have been on that schedule since they were in their single-digit years. Many of them are privileged to have the support of parents who are behind their goals, access to good instruments and bows, regular lessons with the best instructors, attendance at summer music programs, etc.

Realistically, it is about the amount of progress you make, the amount of time you are willing to invest, the kind of support network that exists, and the sacrifices in the other things you could potentially do to pursue this goal.

January 9, 2020, 12:43 PM · Only your teacher can answer your questions.
Edited: January 9, 2020, 1:39 PM · Jiya,
Look at the Heifetz Master Class videos, for example:

What follows is why I want you to watch these videos, all of them.

In 1973 I participated in a masterclass led by Claire Hodgkins, who at that time was assistant to Heifetz (and his masterclass) at USC. A number of the young people at "my" masterclass were regular students in the Heifetz masterclass at that time. One of these was a small 18-year old young woman who I learned had started to study the violin at age 13. She was the first person called upon to go through her paces, which included a large menu of 3 octave scales, scales in 3rds, octaves, fingered octaves and tenths (the typical Heifetz warmup routine) and then she finished up with a masterful "performance" of the Bruch violin concerto (we had a pianist who accompanied all of us when we had our turns).

Jiya, it was her progress as a violinist that leads me to say that what you want to accomplish is possible - but not likely with only 1 or 2 daily hours practice.

By the way, Claire Hodgkins is in the (1962) Heifetz masterclass videos, she is the tall woman who miss-starts her 3-octave G major scale on the D string and thus in effect ends up doing a 4-octage scale. If memory serves me correctly, she then went on to perform Chausson's Poème, Op.25. I don't recall which of the video classes this is on.

Edited: January 9, 2020, 1:50 PM · I know one excellent professional violinist who started at age 12, so I am not going to say that what the OP aspires to is impossible. I will say that it is impossible with just an hour or two of daily practice. Starting this late requires a lifestyle commitment from the beginning.

The person in the best position to advise the OP is the OP's teacher.

Anyone who wants to see what the level of competition is like for 18-year-olds auditioning for admission to first-tier conservatories should go to youtube and check out (high school) senior recitals for Juilliard Pre-college, or any other major conservatory that has a pre-college division. Sometimes people post their pre-screen audition videos on YT also, though not all of them are necessarily even going to be invited to audition. Off the top of my head, here are some schools that I know require prescreens: Juilliard, Curtis, Indiana, Rice, Michigan, Texas, and there are many more.

Edited: January 9, 2020, 3:53 PM · It's definitely possible to start late and go on to play professionally; I even know of a regional orchestra concertmaster who started at 17. And I'm quite certain that there are more late-starting pros that most string players realize, even in major orchestras, after surveying a lot of professional orchestra musician bios. But "more" still isn't many. My estimate is that 1-2 percent of professional orchestral string players started age 12 or over. Realistically you have a lot of catching up to do, and if you're practicing 2 hours a day at age 14, you're probably not catching up but falling farther and farther behind.

One other thing: before you decide you're going to pursue it, understand what the life of a professional orchestra musician is actually like. Musicians who get all or most of their income from a single orchestra are a small minority. Most professional orchestras are part-time and do not pay nearly enough to live on. The majority of professional orchestra musicians cobble together a living from playing in multiple orchestras, picking up other gigs, and teaching.

January 9, 2020, 3:50 PM · Jiya,

Congratulations on finding something that excites you at only 14. Assuming that the excitation continues as your skills improve you may well find a way to become a professional violinist.

The life of a professional violinist is not at all easy and very often professionals have "day jobs" that often have little to do with music. Sometimes you can mix passions and academics (like Laurie who is both a violinist and a journalist). It is part of being in the "Gig-Economy" where your income has multiple sources.

As far as orchestral playing, once you get really good at first position and start third you should get your teacher to introduce you to the community orchestras in your area. While these are unpaid positions they do give you a sense of what playing in an orchestra is like.

In the end, pursing any passion brings along the benefits of learning how to focus, manage your time, strive to achieve goals, et cetera.

Finding your passion is an important step towards adulthood. Enjoy the journey and keep us informed about your progress.

Edited: January 9, 2020, 5:59 PM · You're 14 and working on Seitz? I respectfully recommend continuing to practice very diligently 1-2 hours per day and paying close attention to your teacher. Strive to improve your skill so that you can become quite a good violinist and thereby gain a lifetime of enjoyment from the violin -- as a skilled amateur. Meanwhile, apply the same level of focus and determination to your academics so that you can build the sort of career that will give you and your family a stable, comfortable lifestyle that affords you time and flexibility to enjoy playing chamber music, working up solo recitals, or performing with some sort of orchestra.
January 9, 2020, 7:00 PM · What Paul said. Your chances of becoming a violinist in any sort of professional orchestra are remote. However, keep up your steady practice and keep trying to improve. Being a "professional" violinist includes a wide variety jobs that are not necessarily in a professional orchestra. You can learn about all of these as you improve and explore other opportunities. However, as Paul points out, you will need to find some sort of career which permits you to support yourself and any sort of family you decide to have, i.e., a day job. That might be as a violin teacher or something not related to music. The good news is that you can have a very rewarding life in music without playing in a professional orchestra. Good luck!
January 9, 2020, 8:14 PM · The OP's quality of writing does not suggest that they are exceptionally academically promising at this age (i.e. probably not headed towards a top-notch university and a lucrative, high-paying career), so the opportunity cost of being a gig-economy violinist isn't as large as it would be for someone whose career path alternatives are becoming, say, a lawyer or physician.

If your future job options are gig-economy violinist vs. administrative paperwork-shuffler in some bureaucracy, teaching and freelancing for a living isn't really a bad alternative. Or you can shuffle paperwork during the day and teach/freelance in other hours, and at least get paid benefits.

If you want to be a professional violinist on 2 hours a day of practice in high school with this late start, it's possible that by the end of high school, you could qualify for a BME program somewhere and become a public school educator, or teach private violin lessons at a music shop or the like. If you want to earn a living from playing in an orchestra, you need to be practicing at least 4 hours a day, with parental finances that will carry you through eight years of post-secondary education, and that's still a somewhat improbable outcome.

Also, as someone who is just getting started on the violin, who has probably never played in an orchestra before, you honestly have no idea what it's like to do it for a living.

Edited: January 9, 2020, 9:01 PM · With all due respect, I think this is a bad question given where you are at development-wise. As Lydia said, you aren't experienced enough on the violin to know what it takes to become advanced (let alone professional), and so you may be conflating the joy of playing a musical instrument with a desire to pursue it professionally. I am all for putting in hard work if this is something you are passionate about. If you do that for a few years while keeping your academic options open, then you can revisit this question when you are at a junction that forces you to make that choice. Why don't you keep pushing yourself, see how good you can get in the next few years, and reevaluate later on?
January 9, 2020, 9:09 PM · Paul: I would argue that playing Seitz after 9 months is quite impressive, assuming OP is actually playing it well and not just hacking through the notes. And starting out at no more than an hour a day is fairly normal, just because of how long it takes to get used to the physical demands of playing the instrument. All that said, someone who has reached Suzuki 4 or ABRSM Grade 4 should be comfortable enough with the violin to put in much longer hours.
January 9, 2020, 10:42 PM · I agree that becoming a professional violinist is difficult, even if you're a very talented person. The progress you are making, assuming you are actually developing well, is quite impressive, and I would say that it's normal for a beginner to practice no more than 1 to 2 hours a day. I think you've just reached the stage where you can start ramping up your practice if you want to.

The OPs quality of writing also suggests to me another thing: English may not be their native language. Also, since ABRSM isn't a huge thing in the US, I am getting the impression that the OP may be from another country.

The other thing you should think about is what else you enjoy in life, what you're good at, and what other careers you may be interested in. There are many forms of post-secondary education and many routes to a well-paying job.

Edited: January 10, 2020, 1:22 AM · I'd say with talent and dedication; it is quite possible to become a violinist of professional quality.

On the other hand; having a rewarding and a satisfying career is a low possibility even for the prodigies starting at their early ages.

These are different things...

Edited: January 10, 2020, 2:48 AM · It definitely isn't impossible,
But like others have said,I don't think a few hours enough. In my opinion once you finish the double Bach concerto, all the repertoire beyond that requires excellent technique which takes time and patience even with the most talented, to play this tiny virtuosic instrument.

Story time:

I actually know a dare friend of mine who dropped out of school at the age of 13 because he decided that he wanted to be a professonal soloist when he was older in Korea just to practice from 7 in the morning to 7 at night (12 hours!) With only a 30 minute break for lunch (that's crazy, as I myself need a 5 minute break after each our of practise just to get my focus back again). Anyway his dad was tutoring himas he is a concert violinist in some sort of Korean orchestra. So anyway my friend is now 17, and by listening to him play, I feel like he has missed a lot of things, technically and musically. He is already playing wienialski conCertos and other big concertos like Sibelius, but in my opinion by far, he doesn't have the musicality and technical skills to play those pieces, the music never flowed, and yet he somehow believes he will be getting into Curtis institute????? And will audition this year!!!
Sorry to brake it my dare friend,but that will 99.9 % not happen. He also somehow believes that having a master "quality" instrument is essential to anyone, even to the amateur. because he thinks that they will instantly sound better!? But that's obviously not true. Because with my decently developed skills, I sound much better than him on my 4k violin than himself on his 60k vioLin. That idea of his was simply deluded.

January 10, 2020, 4:34 AM · On the other hand: My violin teacher once said to me that he envied my ability to play violin as a hobby (not entirely seriously). Really: Music in general and violin playing in particular is a wonderful hobby. Take it from someone who has done it all his life.

I suggest you keep up your practice and your enthusiasm but relax a bit on long term plans. Even more so as you have only had lessons, not played in orchestras or chamber music groups in any serious manner (you haven't had enough time for that). You will get a (somewhat) better idea of the profession if you have made those experiences, have maybe played alongside with professionals.

Finally: If you apply to a reputable music school in the style of your post you will not be accepted. Musicians are supposed to be well educated. Work on your grammar and spelling. I am serious.

January 10, 2020, 7:56 AM · Here's my story, though I played viola. I started at age 13 and made it to now-Book 4 level within about 6 months not practicing much. Despite poor teaching, I was in regional and all-state orchestra within a year, and top youth symphony in two. I got good enough to apply for second-tier music schools by the end of high school and was accepted to several.

But I had severe deficits. I lacked the years of practice of my classmates and really didn't know how to have the required discipline. I never developed the fine muscle skills that kids who started playing early have, so I never could play fast well. My ear wasn't as finely tuned. These are all very common problems in kids who start late, no matter how talented.

Luckily, I also had a passion for the academic side of music (that was pre-existing before viola) and a lot of natural ability in that area and I ended up switching from performance to that. I did really well with that until life intervened (a long story for another time).

Moral of the story: yes, it is possible. No, it is not likely. No, you are unlikely to ever catch up. Enjoy it, make the most of it, and see how far you get. But being a professional performer is extremely unlikely.

Edited: January 12, 2020, 10:35 AM · (Edit - OP originally asked if he was too old to become a pro starting late but changed it so most of what we say here won't make sense or be a reference to others as such - bah!)

I started at 13 going on 14 and have made a career as a violinist. It's not for the feint of heart but it's possible. Whether you should is another matter. I certainly had it harder starting late. I did find I was behind in sight reading but improvising and playing by ear came to me easier than those who had been fed only reading from an early age. My career has been diverse but mainly I do what classical violinists don't or can't do for the most part. I don't play in an orchestra but ironically I multitrack myself as an entire orchestra and I never had to audition for my own orchestra!! My point here is that you will be fed a lot of unimaginative career advice as a violinist - that only soloist, orchestra or chamber are your options. There is a big world of music out there and creative ways to share your voice outside of the narrow lanes of competition that classical violinists occupy - and often more rewarding. Having said that, it's tough and you should only consider it a career if you driven, obsessed and slightly crazy! I truly believe there is a place for everyone in music but making a living as a musician takes a lot more than just playing well. Consider that if you want a family your work will be at weekends and evenings - even with most private teaching. It's not ideal for family life and you may not consider that now but that comes later. If you love music then there is nothing to stop you playing even if you have a regular job.

Edited: January 10, 2020, 10:18 AM · Christopher you don't have to answer if you don't want to, but how old are you? There's always a question about whether pathways that were available to someone who is now in his 50s or 60s will be still available to a young person today. To put a finer point on it, I wonder how much of the "alternative" career space in music these days is dominated by those who have an aptitude for computers and other technology -- DAW software, interfaces, arranging keyboards, knowledge of microphones and other electronic gear (some of which can be murderously expensive), as well as a feel for non-traditional publishing (e.g., YouTube). The other side of that coin, of course, is that there may be an even more diverse range of opportunity now -- the question is how one trains for opportunities that are largely unknown. I would argue that the single most important thing a teenager can learn (as far as academics are concerned) is how to learn something new, largely on your own, by reading about it, but unfortunately we live in an age when many school systems are moving away from textbooks as instructional tools. What the student loses is how to learn from a book. I teach college chemistry and my colleagues and I always commiserate about whether students read their textbooks -- but I fear it's worse -- I worry that many of them actually can't read a textbook for understanding because it was never a part of their K-12 educational process.
January 10, 2020, 11:27 AM · Darren, great violins and bows are learning tools that can indeed significantly enhance the ability of a player, and some students will find that such a tool will instantly make them sound better -- i.e. their skills exceed the quality of their current tools. Of course, some players are playing beneath the level of their tools, in which case the boost will be minimal and can even be detrimental (a low level of control can manifest itself more clearly on highly responsive equipment).
Edited: January 10, 2020, 12:44 PM · I'd like to follow up on a couple of comments that were made regarding the apparent writing skill of the OP (and it's not only the OP who could stand to improve).

Students should endeavor to write properly whenever they are engaging "grown-ups" in conversation, even in an informal online forum like this one. Communication skills are vital to success in today's world, and a young student should be continually trying to improve them. It's like violin -- everyone makes mistakes, but you can only improve by always trying to give your best.

The OP may indeed be a non-native English speaker, but their skill is sufficient that they surely know that "I" and other proper nouns are capitalized, and they also surely know that contractions are spelled with apostrophes. Failing to include those details is just lazy and sloppy. The result is that the person reading your post, who might have been keen to help you, is more likely to be starting from a position of mild irritation and annoyance.

I always tell my students that the way they communicate, especially with superiors (which category includes elders automatically) reflects not only on their general professionalism but also on their intellectual aptitude. And since the OP originally asked whether they can become a "professional" violinist, I would argue that they're not putting themselves on a path to become a "professional" anything by asking for serious advice in such a way that demonstrates indifference and carelessness at best.

January 10, 2020, 1:20 PM · Paul, I'm fifty something! I don't just make my money with technology but also teach and perform regularly. I do find that often somebody who has learnt the violin to a high level has little interest in technology which I think is a mistake, especially these days. Even writing music seems to be something string players hardly do. The music business is constantly changing - you have to be on your toes and have a broad range of skills.
January 10, 2020, 2:19 PM · It's possible, but difficult, because you are competing with players that started much earlier. The main hurdle will be acquiring enough technique by age 16-17 to win an acceptance to a better than average music school. A local colleague of mine started late, about grade 7, and became a concertmaster of a fully pro. orchestra. I didn't know it at the time, but I started somewhat late, age 11, and almost made it; second place at one pro. orch. audition. The optimum age might be 7. The Suzuki school will start earlier than that. Prodigies like Mozart, Heifetz, Menuhin, started at 3. OR,-- consider a different college major and career track. It is better to be a high level amateur musician than an under-employed pro. musician with ordinary skills.
January 10, 2020, 2:25 PM · The OP describes her teacher as having a "boss" which suggests she is learning at a music store. Unlikely that the OP is getting instruction of high enough quality to win a conservatory admission, even if all the other factors are in place. Another obstacle to becoming a professional musician is anything less than the very best instruction.
January 10, 2020, 2:44 PM · @Jiya, at 14, you have A LOT of years ahead of you to improve and become what you want to become.

At the end of the day, the only people who can honestly tell you if you can make your dream a reality is you, perhaps your teacher, and others close to you.

No one in this forum personally know you, thus, you will need to take whatever you read with a grain of salt. Sometimes what we want to hear, is not exactly what we hear. The affirmation that you seek may not necessarily be in this forum.

The music world has been evolving. Nowadays, you have classical performers (even the not so good ones) doing youtubes that earn them subscribers, thus get them fame and financial success. Who knows how technology or the world of music will evolve when you're of age?

I wish you the best in whatever endeavor you so choose.

January 10, 2020, 3:57 PM · Christopher, I have an interesting book on my shelf entitled "Alternative Careers in Science." It's 20 years old, so maybe a little dated. It would be cool to compile a book like that for musicians. But some of the "chapters" in the book (which is really a compendium of contributed essays) are things like technical writing, publishing, broadcast journalism, venture capitalist, investment advisor, patent law, tech transfer. I bought the book because a guy I knew in grad school has a chapter in it. He got tired of lab work and got a job writing manuals for instrumentation -- some might consider that boring, but it has to be done well, and it is work he can do almost entirely at home.
January 10, 2020, 4:00 PM · Jocelyn, I was wondering about that too--about the OP's teacher having a "boss." But she's in the UK so things may be different there.
Edited: January 10, 2020, 4:38 PM · Jiya, it's a bit irritating that you changed the title and text of your post, since now the answers are falling out of context quite a bit. And your orthography didn't really improve since this workup, it's a bit weird to read although English is not my first language. Many of us might miss a minimal carefulness in your post and eventually tend to transfer this on your overall character, also concerning your violinist goals.

To add a few words to your original question...

1. If you're really passionate, talented and careful enough, anything is possible. Starting late is not only a disadvantage, although you're far behind your peers at the moment. But you will have to find your own way, it's not possible to do it like the other kids. Use your brain, be more effective. After hearing and reading a lot of "it cannot be done", I'd like to encourage you to learn about the biography of Terje Moe Hansen, the most outstanding example of a late starting violinist who found his way and made it. But always remember, it's totally up to you.

2. It may be absolutely correct that one hour of practice time per day will not get you there. But hey, obviously you're making good progress, and like in sports, you have to build up slowly. If you're overdoing now, you'll inevitably suffer injury and eventually never fully recover, at worse. Look up Itzhak Perlmans youtube chanel and see what he's telling us about practicing. Two hours of efficient, thoughtful work will easily beat six hours of mindless practice routine.

3. Many teachers know a lot about violin technique, developed impressive virtuosic skills, know how to use their musicality and play with all colors and expressions. Not all learned how to practice efficiently, and even less will be able to teach this skill systematically. For those interested in learning about how to practice efficiently, the books by Gerhard Mantel are really great, but unfortunately only available in German AFAIK. Maybe someone knows about similar minded authors in English language?

Edited: January 10, 2020, 5:04 PM · Regarding the explanation about how a violin teacher can have a "boss" in the UK, I have heard of similar arrangements in certain school districts in the US. There certainly are some good teachers participating in such arrangements but the very best, the highest level teachers do not do this. They don't need to; students seek them out at their homes and gladly pay the very high fees that such teachers charge. At least, this is how it works in the US. If the concertmasters of the LSO, the LPO, or the BBC teach lessons, I would assume it would be similar over there.

As for what it's like to play in a professional orchestra, it is not very much like playing in a school or youth orchestra other than some small overlap in repertoire. We have four rehearsals (one Weds, two Thurs, and a dress on Friday morning) for a classical concert pair (Saturday/Sunday); one or two rehearsals for a pops or student concert. We are expected to arrive at the first rehearsal with the notes under our fingers. Rehearsals are for polishing ensemble and fine-tuning (pun intended) interpretation, not for people to learn the notes.

Even some of us in full-time orchestras find ourselves teaching lessons and/or playing for weddings on the side to supplement a salary that would otherwise be providing a bare-bones existence. This depends on the orchestra, of course, but there are more of my type of orchestra than of the New York Phil/LA Phil type. And there are a lot more Freeway Philharmonics than there are orchestras like mine. I would expect things in the UK to be similar.

Editing to add that I am pretty sure "Jiya" is a girl's name.

Edited: January 10, 2020, 6:12 PM · This person changed the title and entire text of their post.

I'm going with the "never mind" part of the question.

I'm noting that some weeks ago, I published a post on this forum containing a sardonic parody entitled "how to ruin your first forum post", which generated a lively discussion. Ultimately my thread was removed by the editor, but it is on days like these that I glean a degree of vindication, however grim that might be.

Edited: January 10, 2020, 11:03 PM · I would LOVE to play in a symphony orchestra- I really would. But I really think it may be one of the world's hardest ambitions. These are people long-studied, well- practiced and long lived, and you're swimming against centuries of skill.

still it's possible good luck- but enjoy yourself, and in the (paraphrased) words of willie Brown at the end of the movie "Crossroads" Don't be afraid to "Take the music somewhere else" and chart your own course.

I've always liked classical music- I was spinning Strauss waltzes on a 45 turntable on top of the TV when I was about two or three, but I'm not steeped in it. On the other hand, There's a WORLD of music out there. Find your own course and work towards your dreams.

Edited: January 10, 2020, 8:19 PM · I respectfully disagree with Nuuska: Jiya (or anyone) cannot make herself into a professional orchestral violinist through sheer talent and grit. Certainly she will get nowhere without both of those, but she will need an adult to invest time, effort, and money into her development as a musician. She will need a teacher to prepare her for conservatory and that is going to cost money and require some skill and networking to identify. The new info she provided about her teacher implies her parents are not paying for her lessons, which suggests they are not particularly involved, at least at this stage. She needs materials: a decent violin (you can't expect to win a conservatory audition on a rental-grade violin), sheet music, fees for youth orchestra participation and competitions, fees for a collaborative pianist. She needs a place to practice, time to practice (i.e. enough freedom from a part-time job and chores). Not to mention, she needs the psychological support of a parent or mentor. Inevitably, as she becomes more involved in music, she will come across some teacher or conductor who will disparage her efforts, and she needs someone who can support her persevering in the face of criticism. She's only fourteen, remember.

I'd prefer to err on the side of nay-saying than have her blame herself for failure when the environment she needs for success is almost completely out of her control. She doesn't have the autonomy of an adult, and she cannot wait until adulthood to become a competent violinist, given the stiff competition she has from 7-year-olds with all the advantages.

That said, she is old enough and has sufficient education and internet access to write posts with tolerable punctuation, spelling and grammar.I have no problem holding her responsible for sloppy posts.

Paul: I liked your parody.

January 10, 2020, 10:44 PM · Jocelyn, thanks, so did I. *grin*

The thought occurred to me to create an entire website as a grand parody, but I decided that would take too much time and money. Were I retired I would not have hesitated.

Edited: January 11, 2020, 9:54 AM · Paul, same here, thumbs up.

Jocelyn, you're right about the necessity of a teacher's involvement, but I thought this was self-explanatory so I didn't perseverate. But not so much about the parental involvement, be it financially or personal. A 14 years old can be self-motivating enough, and if high financial input is needed depends totally on the system you're living in. In my country (Austria) it isn't at all, the quality of the teachers in public music schools is very high, for one position as a teacher (and be it only a few hours per week as a stand-in during someone's parental leaves) thee are usually dozens of applicants, and well-trained pro level classical musicians with performance and education degrees are willing to commute from Viema or Salzburg even to very rural areas, following the money. And the other way around, you will regularly see the teachers who formerly owned a position as an e. g. full time pro symphony section leader, who decided against a life full of evening and weekend involvements, and switched to the public music schools. My younger son's trumpet teacher is the former solo trumpet player of our local (and traveling) symphony, while my older son's violin teacher is a touring soloist and chamber music player - both in our public music school. Both had students prepared for conservatory, and following a pro career path. And it's not unusual that an advanced pre-conservatory student might have an hour with one teacher on tuesday, augmented with another one or two hours on thursday with another teacher his primary educator referred him to. Still in public music school. (Often a teacher will loan a good instrument to one of his best students who cannot afford it, for free or for cheap but this again is some kind of personal involvement. And also there are foundations specialized on that purpose.) I don't know about England, but for sure you shouldn't see the whole world through US-american eyeglasses.

January 11, 2020, 2:20 AM · It really should not be possible to totally change the subject and question - it makes nonsense of the previous replies.

Since it is no longer relevant, I deleted my original reply.

January 11, 2020, 2:30 AM · OK lots of good points here about the original question and the amended one.

Some UK perspective here. Bear in mind that I'm not a professional player, but I'm an experienced amateur who from time to time gets paid gigs. I have several friends who make a living from music.

I won't comment personally on what it's like to play in a full time orchestra as I don't know. However, I know a few people who do this - some love it, some don't. You will not get rich and all the full-time orchestra players I know supplement their income with lessons or in other ways.

It's brutally competitive to get into one of the top music colleges. It's more brutally competitive to get a job. Google 'musical chairs violin jobs' and you see maybe 3 or 4 UK openings for violinists. The Musicians Union publishes its agreements with the major orchestras on its website so you'll get an idea of the salary and terms and conditions.

Edited: January 11, 2020, 6:22 AM · Paul, did you get an explanation for the deletion of that parody post? I had been wondering about that deletion, suspecting the reason may have been that the discussion sidetracked to a comparison between and maestronet.
Edited: January 11, 2020, 9:19 AM · Nuuska, I think you’re underestimating how competitive the market is and how in-demand high-level teachers are. FWIW, the individualist “pull yourself up by your bootstraps,” “you can be whatever you choose with enough determination” perspectives that you espouse have their roots in American culture and religion. I never cease to be astonished by how successfully we've exported these ideas about personal responsibility to the rest of the world!

I’ll stand corrected if LSO, LPO, or BBC members are teaching in UK secondary schools (and have to ask their boss about offering more lessons). Because that it what it is going to take for this young lady at this late stage.

Note that this young lady's local musical culture is so impoverished that she has no idea how to get access to a school orchestra or youth symphony to discover for herself what orchestral playing might be like. At Seitz-level, she should be able to play simplified symphonies and other orchestral works with an ensemble. I don't see any evidence that her environment is anywhere near enriched enough to reach her goals. And I find it destructive to encourage unachievable goals.

Edited again to add a reference no one will want: There's a 1985 watershed work by the American sociologist Robert Bellah and his colleagues, "Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life" that describes the history and currency of the American trope of the John Wayne-style individualist hero overcoming obstacles. The book is a bit dated, obviously, but it's elegantly written, and trenchantly critical.

Edited: January 11, 2020, 8:08 AM · Jean, the short answer is no. Laurie did send me a note before Christmas (Dec 14) indicating that an explanation was forthcoming, but it didn't materialize. I suspect the holidays happened and it just slipped her mind. I can appreciate that she is quite a busy person, and I think she does a great job managing this site, so I just let it fade away. I suspect that she deleted my thread because it cut a little close to a few then-recent and active newbie threads, and she didn't want to see new contributors getting lampooned. As you may recall there was one member who worked herself into quite a froth, and that individual probably lodged a complaint (which, you may recall, I invited her to do).
January 11, 2020, 8:09 AM · I agree with Elise's comment about changing title and question. It completely changes the playing field, goal posts and whatever other sport metaphors that may be appropriate, and wrecks the ensuing discussion. I can understand wanting to change minor spelling mistakes or typos, but if the initial post is to be locked by admin, then the OP can mention amendments in a following post. No big deal. People do make corrections in their later posts rather than edit their original.

If the initial post and title are to be locked then, if that post is a little "odd", then perhaps the first person to reply could quote it and its title verbatim in their response.

Edited: January 11, 2020, 9:03 AM · I don't think you can lock down the posts. There's too many times when you really want to fix something or add a picture or some such, and you can't just insert another post in the thread because a lot of people won't read the whole thread.

A better idea, in my opinion, would be that whenever you start a new thread, when you press the "submit" button at the bottom, it directs you to a page that says "Congratulations, your thread has been created ... now, here are a few ground rules and suggestions for making it useful to yourself and to others." As it stands, there is something that says "By submitting this thread, you agree that you are complying with our Rules for Members," but most people probably just click through that without reading the rules, the same way we click past license agreements when we install new software. Anyway there's no rule against changing the title and content of your post wholesale because it should be totally obvious to any sentient person why this is a bad idea.

How about this for an idea: A page that contains the rules and suggestions for posting a successful new thread, with a quiz at the bottom! You don't get clearance to create threads until you've passed the quiz (first time only). We could come up with 10 questions very quickly and they could be super easy.

January 11, 2020, 9:16 AM · Oh wow--froth! I think I must have missed it...

Also somewhat annoying when people delete a thread they started and all of our posts are deleted with it. I understand and support the need for people(children especially) to delete something they've reconsidered, but I wish there was someway of keeping the responses available, perhaps with a very generic summary from Laurie regarding the original OP's post. Recently there was a woman with a disability who posted requests for empathy and advice on managing her disability. Lots of people gave suggestions, she got what she wanted, and then the entire thread disappeared at her whim.

Edited: January 11, 2020, 11:51 AM · For years I have made a copy of each of my responses into a word processor file. I think that perhaps as a further backup I should also include a copy of an OP's original post so that if that goes AWOL then I've got something to remind me what my replies have referred to.
January 11, 2020, 10:47 AM · Jocelyn, the individual who got irritated deleted all her posts from the thread a day or two before the thread was taken down, so you might have missed her contributions. I don't remember her name, which is just as well. I don't harbor any ill will toward her.

One of the things you will likely not see on this forum are any sort of "improvements" that require Laurie to do a lot of additional clerical/computer work. What she is already doing probably involves enough typing and mouse clicks that she runs the risk of repetitive strain injury. We all need to be careful about that, but especially someone who depends on their hands for their livelihood -- like a violinist or violin teacher.

January 11, 2020, 10:58 AM · I deleted my original reply since the title was changed. Here's my reply to what it's like to play in an orchestra:

The fundamental experience of being in an orchestra doesn't change from 5th grade. Sure, the music gets more advanced and people generally get better. And sometimes the conductors are better as well.
But the basic experience is the same. Which explains why so many orchestral musicians are dissatisfied, whiny, or downright bitter.

January 11, 2020, 11:18 AM · @Jiya, most (probably all) of the big-time orchestras in the UK have education/outreach programmes. Some of these involve members of the orchestra doing school visits. Ask the head of music at your secondary school if they could look into organising this.
January 11, 2020, 11:20 AM · Read James Galway's autobiog. When he became principle flute at the Berlin Phil, everyone in the orchestra was on part-time salary and not given sufficient work for them to qualify as full-time employees. Otoh, anything that's good for your CV pays bad. I had a friend who was a Vogue photographer, and I earnt more than him as a civil servant.
Edited: January 12, 2020, 10:56 AM · Why would you want to play in a professional orchestra? Long reversals, repeating the same thing over and over again, and you would have to do it on weekends, special days/hollydays, say goodbye to spending those days resting and spending quality time with your family, you would be forced to travel, etc. It's not a life I would want. I'm way happier teaching, sometimes having a paid performance now and then, in a group or solo, if I want to.
Edited: January 11, 2020, 3:11 PM · I think what happens is that the violin is so hard to play at what is now considered a "pro" level, that by the time you get there (or even sort-of close), you're "all in" so-to-speak, and your sole objective at that point is to protect -- by any means necessary -- the unbelievable investments (financial, emotional, effort) that you have already made by not letting go of that dream. It's quite an understandable response, but not necessarily an adaptive one.

Gordon, is Galway's memoir a good read?

January 11, 2020, 4:09 PM · "Why would you want to play in a professional orchestra? Long reversals, repeating the same thing over and over again, and you would have to do it on special days/hollydays, say goodbye to spending those days resting and spending quality time with your family, you would be forced to travel, etc."

This is not really what playing in a professional orchestra is like. Rehearsals are limited by the union to a max of 2.5 hours (in my orchestra, a second rehearsal on the same day cannot exceed 2 hours). Good conductors do not repeat the same thing over and over and in fact this is much more typical of a school or youth orchestra with weeks or months in each concert cycle than a professional orchestra with four rehearsals in three days before the concerts. We get holidays off in our contract. I frequently am working on Christmas Eve and Good Friday but that is outside work for extra money and is up to my discretion. And orchestras the size of mine do not have the budget for tours, so no travel at all.

I also disagree that the experience of playing in an orchestra doesn't change from 5th grade. Perhaps Scott was in better student orchestras than I was, but my recollection of both school and youth orchestras was many, many rehearsals over the same music while people learned the notes (this was especially true at school). Not similar at all.

January 11, 2020, 4:56 PM · Perhaps David may have been referring to playing the same warhorses over and over, not within a concert cycle but seeing the same pieces on many concert programs?

I suppose the mechanics and basic skills of playing in an orchestra are similar, and maybe that's what Scott was referring to. But like Mary Ellen, I found Scott's post strange. I can't speak to what school orchestras and youth orchestras do because I was never in one, and I'm not a pro. But even within community orchestras, there are casual orchestras that may spend 12 rehearsals learning the notes on one hand, and elite community orchestras that rehearse 4-5 times in total on the other. I've played in orchestras at both ends of that spectrum, concurrently at one point. The rehearsal experience between the two is totally different.

Edited: January 14, 2020, 4:07 PM · Edited to delete too much of personal content I wouldn't want to have archived for eternity. I'm sure everybody who's into this discussion has read it by now...
Edited: January 11, 2020, 5:35 PM · Our local pro orchestra is the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra. In terms of playing the same warhorses over and over, the fact is that there are so many pieces that would qualify as warhorses that they really doesn't repeat material over the span of, say, 10 years. The exception would be the Holiday Pops concert, but I have friends who play in RSO and they enjoy doing those shows. One of those friends is a percussionist who probably spends a lot of time counting rests but even he really likes playing with the orchestra.

I can see playing in an orchestra being a drag if you're one of those people who can't stand anything written after 1900 or you despise piano concertos or choral music or whatever. In other words you claim to love classical music but, in reality, only about 20% of it.

January 11, 2020, 6:12 PM · I too feel that the experience of playing with an orchestra is quite diverse. Certainly school orchestras, youth symphonies, community orchestras, semipro orchestras and professional orchestras are all quite distinct from one another. Within a type there is also quite a bit of variance. The differences are large enough that I don't think that enjoying the youth symphony experience indicates that you will also enjoy the pro orchestra experience -- and vice versa.
January 11, 2020, 8:13 PM · Orchestral playing is the opposite of being a jet fighter pilot:
Hours of terror mixed with moments of sheer boredom.
January 11, 2020, 8:49 PM · Nuuska, I'd like to find more about conservatories in Germany if you don't mind.

I thought because of free tuition (is it still free for international students?), it's fiercely competitive to get into top Violin studios in Germany. Someone told me that it's not any easier than getting into Curtis or Colburn (acceptance rate hovering around 5%).

Edited: January 12, 2020, 3:24 AM · Kiki, since I'm living in Austria I can only comment on the situation here.
Vienna or Salzburg Mozarteum is highly competitive but not the only places international students apply to. There are public and private institutions, and something in between (like Bruckner in Linz, for example). Public institutions are almost free, while fully private "universities" in Vienna can be very expensive despite their often neglectable quality of education you'll receive there. These are mostly designed to bring cash to their owners and pimp their students CV ("studied in Vienna" can look quite impressive on paper when looking at it from a 10000 km distance, I was told).
I'm the "second tier" (as you'd call it) Universities and conservatories lije Linz, Innsbruck, Graz, it it's interstellar difficult / hardly possible to get in if you do not only meet the basic requirements.

Regarding the (neglectable) tuition fees, there is no discrimination between Austrian / EU-European / international students AFAIK.

If you have any further questions, feel free to contact.

Edited: January 12, 2020, 4:23 AM · "is Galway's memoir a good read?"

afaicr, but it was written in 1978 (I guess I read it in about 1979), so it may be dated now.
Same book, two ISBNs

January 12, 2020, 9:20 PM · Nuuska,

Thank you for your kind reply. My undergraduate mentor is now teaching at University of Vienna. He spent a few years in Innsbruck as well. Knowing him and the choices he has had, the university system in Austria must have a lot to offer.

Austria is such a beautiful country and is relatively safe. Mozarteum University Salzburg would be definitely amazing but I presume admission is very competitive.

We still have a lot of time to sort out the college situation but it might be wise to make sure our daughter is fluent enough in German and French so that she can at least try out for conservatories in France, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. Thanks again!

January 12, 2020, 9:55 PM · I'm late to the conversation, and I can't participate too much due to time constraints...but I just wanted to say that I started after I turned 14, lived in a musically starved area, had very inexperienced teachers (one who didn't even play the violin!), and was told by everyone that I no chances of "making it". I was not playing such advanced music after a year. I am sure I looked like a totally hopeless case to most, and for good reasons.

Now I am 33 and, after not playing for nearly 10 years, have started studying again seriously, this time with good teachers.) I am now told by those around me (including two fabulous and experienced teachers, both with students all around the world) that they are sure I will be a successful professional. (I am not so confident, yet hopeful...but I include that as a certain kind of evidence for the purpose of this discussion.)

What I mean here is that statistics aren't determinative at the individual level. They can be helpful, but we shouldn't say "most violinists play such and such by this ago, therefore if you don't fit that statistic, you have no chances." That is poor math, in my humble opinion. People can do a lot when they really want something (with lots of support, of course), and I hope that the original poster takes heart, if playing the violin is something he or she feels is imperative to try to do professionally. Before I get any backlash...I am not saying there are guarantees of success (but also, one cannot guarantee failure), and I am not claiming to know whether the original poster has the self-knowledge to know at the moment whether or not this is what he or she really wants to do, or whether that would fade. It is good to be cautious, but it is also good to acknowledge that some paths are not straight toward "success", and if one can be happy about a crooked path, maybe more would be considered possible.

I just want to be a voice to say that I have seen very many exceptions to the "must start when you are in the single-digits" rule, including myself. (I do think generally the culture of music in America is less likely than Europe to support imagination for late starters being successful, for some reason, but that could just be my individual experiences and the sheer number of people I have met on the other side of the world who started in their teens or even early 20s - but I would welcome criticism of that statement.)

I am aware that this post is now off-topic a bit, and I haven't read all the previous replies, but there you have it! Welcome to take or leave it. :)

January 13, 2020, 1:54 AM · Various studies suggest (rather than show) that professionals have accumulated 10,000 hours of practice, good amateurs and teachers, nearer 5,000. They may all play the same repertoire, but the pros will play well even on a bad day.

10,000 hrs is an average of about 2 hrs a day for 15 years, or 3 hrs a day for 10 years. But 1 hour of fully mindful practice is worth several hours of thoughtless, repetitive practice.

Edited: January 13, 2020, 11:59 AM · Anita, I always enjoy your contributions to our discussions as you are unfailingly thoughtful and positive.

You wrote, "I just want to be a voice to say that I have seen very many exceptions to the 'must start when you are in the single-digits' rule, including myself."

But if the "rule" states that one must start the violin before age 10 to achieve the most commonly coveted outcome (a salaried orchestral position), then you're not an exception to the rule, because you haven't attained that outcome (at least not yet as far as I know -- if your professors are right and you do succeed, then I will be absolutely delighted because you seem like such a genuine and warm-hearted person).

January 13, 2020, 5:00 PM · Paul, thanks dearly. :) That is very kind of you!

You're right to assume I don't have this kind of a position- I shouldn't count myself in the mix just yet! ;) I was thinking more generally of musicians who started late but have gotten to a high professional level - (...also can't count myself there just yet). I speak of not just violinists, and no folks who have gotten a salaried orchestral position. I recently met a pianist who is around my age who started at 14 and makes a very good living as an accomplished accompanist in Berlin. A pianist who started at 17 and studied jazz piano less than 2 years later, after a LOT of hard work - who makes a living performing and teaching and runs a cultural center. A violinist who started at 12 who is headed to conservatory in Denmark at 19. Another violinist who started at 14, had excellent teachers, and works in several performing groups. And so forth. One of my teachers told me he knows several string players who started late and play as salaried members of orchestras - but I don't know them personally.

But there are many ways to happily make a living other than being a salaried orchestral member! That fact should not be lost in these discussions, I think.

I suppose one reason why Europeans seem more open to late starters is perhaps the simple fact that there are just more orchestras within closer distances to each other. It is my impression that it is easier to freelance as a musician there than in the US. I could be wrong!

January 13, 2020, 5:06 PM · A mixed-bag career as a music educator, or career mixing frelancing and teaching, is generally considered a different level than one in which one has a tenured, full-time symphony position.

If what one is aiming for is the teaching-and-gigging life, there's quite a bit more latitude in playing level.

January 13, 2020, 5:36 PM · Anita makes a good point. Perhaps European orchestras should not be called Freeway Phils but rather ICE Phils.
Edited: January 13, 2020, 6:13 PM · I know it's redundant, but again I'd like to drop this name once more, and then let it be. Terje Moe Hansen - started age 19, went to conservatory two years later, being a touring soloist, holding permanent professorships on various universities, and hasn't he served as CM with the Oslo Phil? (Not quite sure about that last point.)

This man is a living legend, and sure this exceptional man who made an exceptional career can't serve as a generalization, like "you have to start late to be successful." (Just trying to overclarify, since I can already feel their bloodthirsty breath in my neck...) But hell, according to the "no chance after 3" rule this shouldn't have been possible.

Just wondering how many fractions of a promille of all these millions of small children starting on the violin make it to a full time professional career. And wondering how many late starters there are, overall. No matter at what age you start, statistics are against you. And it's up to yourself what you will make out of the resources you have. It's not all exclusively about hours, and even less about age. There are things you can throw in to compensate - like self motivation, effectiveness, and other things which are hard to achieve even in your early teens, not to speak from a preschooler.

January 13, 2020, 10:18 PM · Nuuska those are interesting questions. Might the odds of a late starter actually be better on a per-starter basis? (My hunch is probably not, if you only include the early starters who never gave up.) And do young children waste a lot of time just because they don't have the intellectual firepower to learn anything more interesting than Rieding and Seitz? And how much of a young child's training needs to be reworked or even reversed later?
January 13, 2020, 11:00 PM · Nuuska, that is exactly what I am always trying to articulate! thank you for your contribution.

A parallel might be learning languages: linguistic research shows that the super ability that every talks about children having to learn a language, the "grammar acquisition device," is actually not there after a very young age (I don't want to give an age, because I don't quite remember from my linguistics class 2 years ago...;). So kids starting to learn a language at 7 are actually going to learn it a lot slower than a kid at 14, because they don't have many of the other skills that help one learn. So, in terms of PACE, older kids are better at learning languages. Now, kids starting at 7 who never stop will be at a higher level than someone who learns a language for 2 years as a teenager and then no longer continues, but it's not accurate to say that "one cannot successfully learn a language after age 10."

My teacher (the older one) also likes to point out to me that, neurologically, it is constantly being debunked that the adult brain can't learn very complex things. His theory is that kids don't (or, rarely, because I know I did...) question their ability to do something if you tell them they can do it. They don't find concoct creative excuses like "my brain is old, so I can't learn as well." :) They just do it. They just speak the language, they just try out thirds and octaves. So that is a general strength of younger learners that we older ones have to watch out for.

I need to learn how to write shorter replies! hehe

Edited: January 13, 2020, 11:33 PM · See, that's why I'm still so angry about not being able to find a teacher when I was a teenager. There seemed to be this strange idea among many teachers at that time that anyone older than 10 was too old to become fluent in the basic techniques; when I was 13 one of the teachers who rejected me said I was unlikely to ever get beyond beginner level and would never be able to play in even the lowest-level community orchestras.

I would guess that the odds for a late starter to reach an advanced student level (the "Bruch level" that gets bandied about here) are actually better than for an early childhood starter. The odds become much lower for the late starter beyond that, not because of inability to learn but because most opportunities for training beyond that point are age-limited.

January 13, 2020, 11:35 PM · Terje Moe Hansen is an idiosyncratic exception, since he also plays left-handed. And no, afaik, he has not been an orchestral player. He's made his living primarily as a pedagogue at the university level. Certainly that is success, but it doesn't help to support the notion of late starters successfully landing tenured full-time professional symphony jobs.

('s own Daniel Kurganov, another late starter, also seems to be making a successful career as a pedagogue, but similarly, is not a full-time symphony player.)

The difficulty of a freelancer's life in Europe, compared to US-based freelancers, is probably mitigated by Europe's far stronger social safety nets and less widespread income disparities. There are still plenty of cities in the US where there are plenty of gigs. Whether those gigs accumulate to a living wage is another matter entirely.

January 13, 2020, 11:55 PM · Anita, same here - but we shall he excused since we both learned english at a relatively late age and we're raised in an environment that wasn't english-enriched enough to be especially supportive in making us polush polishing our skills. We're two of those zillions late started English learners (around age 10) who just didn't make it, I guess. Although, if I remember my peers from that time, there were two very organized and self-motivated girls who really worked themselves into this and had - as we were told by a native speaking English Literature teacher from Manchester - had acquired a beautiful, almost accent free Oxford English at age 18...

For late starters, especially in music, it often seems to be a self fulfilling prophecy that they cannot achieve this or that no matter how hard they try. They are discouraged even before they start, and as was experienced by several members, have a hard time finding a teacher who will accept them (maybe depe on the continent, probably Europe is more permissive in this, or has a larger pool of teachers, who knows).
Not talking about all the obligations somebody in his late teens or an adult has to deal with.

Neuroscience indicate what we all know from experience, that small children learn differently than grown-ups, but not necessarily better. Depending on age, it's a different set of abilities and outer circumstances that will determine your chance to succeed.

Having said that, the latest starting string player I personally know who made it to a seat in a full time pro orchestra or a permanent teaching position conservatory level was 14 when he started, with a bricklayer father and a housekeeper mother, both without a special interest or personal history in music. The latest started brass player - 16, if you do don't take into account that he started on drums much earlier.

January 14, 2020, 12:51 AM · FWIW, when I last checked, the London Symphony, London Philharmonic, and Philharmonia each had one late-starting (older than 12) string player. All three started at 14.
January 14, 2020, 1:15 AM · There are certainly enough counter examples to suggest late starters can be successful, even up to the point of landing a full time orchestral job. Add to the UK list two leaders/concertmasters (Chris Warren Green and Bradley Creswick) I think both started late.

As a cautionary note, we should maybe consider changes in entry standards to music schools, which are now currently much higher. My guess is that 20+ years ago audition panels could look at a (relatively) undeveloped player and look for signs of drive and teachability (and dare I say talent). Currently the baseline standard is so high that I suspect that candidates who might thrive given the chance are passed over in favour of more advanced players.

January 14, 2020, 6:08 AM · Jack makes a solid point. Another key difference between a 7-year-old and a 14-year-old is often the amount of time they have available. Even with a substantially earlier bedtime, the typical American 7-year-old has no homework and a social life limited to weekend playdates and soccer games.
Edited: January 14, 2020, 7:55 AM · has an interview with Mr. Hansen, the late-starter: In this interview, he says he doesn't think he would have gotten admission to the conservatory in 2007. I was a little shocked by his report of beginning violin practice at 10 hours per day. At first, I thought it must be hyperbole, along the lines of LingLing's 40 hours :). But perhaps if he had been playing guitar for many hours a day previous to beginning violin, and he had constant feedback from his amateur violinist father to help with postural and technical problems, he was able to avoid tendonitis?

Regarding Anita's comparison to language-learning, some of the evidence suggests that the critical period for second language learning is some time before puberty, maybe around age 8. For first language learning, you're going to have serious problems if you don't have language exposure before the age of five. There are some studies that suggest that adult learners learn second languages faster than children, but that advantage reverses once they get past the rudimentary stages. My graduate program had a large contingent of people interested in cross-cultural child development, so language was always a big topic at seminars and the like; hopefully I remember correctly.

January 14, 2020, 3:25 PM · Jocelyn, that's very interesting indeed. Yet I've never been happy with the language vs motoric skills on an instrument analogy. The "language" part (expression) comes much later, the early starters mostly try do things the way they're taught. This isn't meant pejorative. I just want to say that when we're talking about the impossibility to reach a very high level on a stringed instrument, we're usually talking about the technical skills, while these are "only" a tool for the expressive part. And neither can musicality be learned by a teaching recipe, nor is it reserved for any specific group.
Note that I'm not claiming anything. Still I only wish to share and exchange some thoughts, and hopefully getting over preoccupations and absolutisms together. Any different statements welcomed. And your point about language learning is a valuable one, even if I doubt it a bit, and cannot decide since years whether I should agree or not.
January 14, 2020, 3:29 PM · Wondering about two points...

1. Let's say I'd win the lottery. Almost no obligations anymore, and being able to afford violin lessons with the best teachers until the end of my days - how far could some 42 years old late starter get? (Well, I wouldn't anyway - I'd rather add cello and revitalize my piano skills than focusing exclusively on viola or violin.)

2. Is Jiya still in since she changed post and topic?

January 14, 2020, 4:49 PM · I don't think Jiya returns to his/her threads too much.
January 15, 2020, 9:34 AM · I think what Anita is doing is very inspiring! I'm so glad you popped in here, I've been wondering how things are going for you and what you are currently learning/working on.

Yixi was going to school for a performance degree - I wonder what she is currently doing, and how things are going for her?

January 15, 2020, 2:07 PM · I am trying to gauge what the original question was about, perhaps becoming a professional musician?

In the UK, most counties have a music service, which generally provide peripatetic teaching in schools, run county youth orchestras, big bands etc. The teachers also provide lessons at the music service buildings. Peripatetic lessons in school time tend to be something like 10 minutes, (at least they were for me as a student, before moving onto longer lessons privately), lessons at the music service buildings are longer.

Anyway, to try and answer what ever the question might have been, Grade 8 ABRSM is generally the pre-requisite to getting into a conservatoire in the UK. Which would theoretically open the door to professional careers in terms of orchestral playing. But remember, professional violin players can also be teachers, gig performers, performers in folk bands etc. If its a paid job, I’d deem it as professional work.

For the next question, which seems to be the one I am reading in the threads, “what is it like to play in an orchestra?”, I have no direct experience of pro orchestra playing, but I am involved in two proficient amateur orchestras in the UK, tackling pretty major works (last year - London Symphony and Mahler works).
If I have understood correctly, Jiya is Grade 4 ABRSM/Suzuki 4, (although the standards between the two differ greatly). Either way, at Grade 4, Jiya, you should be able to play along quite comfortably in the second violin section of your local amateur orchestra, which could give you a flavour of how it feels in a pro orchestra. Additionally, I would get involved in your school orchestra, or local county groups. It gets your toes in one way or another!

Keep practicing!

Good luck with what ever your next steps might be.

Edited: January 15, 2020, 3:27 PM · Is Grade 8 still enough to get into a conservatoire in the UK? I get the distinct impression that it is not. I had a DipABRSM (level above grade 8) in piano performance at the end of high school, and I'm pretty sure I would have been a borderline candidate for third-tier university music programs.
Edited: January 15, 2020, 4:14 PM · I'be been reading the responses being posted and tbe amount of replies I got from a single discussion is simply astonishing.Just wow! is really active; thanks for all the replies and apologies for the question change and confusement I caused. It gives me a small ounce of how that I might make it. Though, I will have to practice 40 hours a day like lingling.. but much thanks!
Edited: January 16, 2020, 2:01 AM · @Andrew

Yes it is. I’ve several friends from childhood who got into the Royal Welsh, Scottish, Northern and London colleges with grade 8 violin. Additionally, my brother got into the royal Scottish with grade 8 bassoon, different instrument, and there is of course a shortage of them. Perhaps it’s different now, as this was a few years ago. I expect the London colleges are more highly competitive? I also think there must be set audition works to play. Mozart concertos or something.

@Jiya N
Forty hours a day. 9 days a week, at a speed of 15 notes per second. Providing you make your practice smart, don’t keep going over the easy bits, you’ll do well.

January 16, 2020, 2:04 AM · audition requirements for the RAM in London are
Violin: Undergraduates
First movement (with cadenza) of a concerto by Haydn or Mozart and a contrasting piece. Not grade 8.
January 16, 2020, 4:19 AM · Grade 8 at distinction level is the minimum audition standard in terms of playing ability, not the minimum standard in terms of repertoire covered.

However, it is not necessary to have done grade 8 and it is certainly not sufficient. At the powerhouse colleges, successful applicants will be playing well in excess of grade 8 distinction level, and plenty of them will not have bothered with the grade system at all. The standard maybe more around grade 8 distinction at Cardiff/Leeds/LCM but the rest expect a higher standard. (Not sure about Birmingham).

January 16, 2020, 6:15 AM · Ah, it is good to have this information about college entry in the UK. When I think about it, the friend who got into the RAM, was studying major romantic concerto repertoire, so I expect that is why she got in! The Cardiff and Royal Northern friends, all had grade 8 distinction in the year before they auditioned into their respective colleges. Interesting stuff!
January 16, 2020, 6:22 AM · Paul King wrote that Haydn or Mozart is needed for RCM. That does NOT mean that someone with even quite good Mozart will be admitted. Beating the entrance minimum is one thing ... beating the other applicants is another.

Since Britain is a member of the EU (at least for the next week or so), shouldn't you be looking at conservatories on the continent?

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Pirastro Strings

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases Guide to Online Learning Guide to Online Learning

Antonio Strad Violin

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases


Los Angeles Violin Shop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Metzler Violin Shop

Leatherwood Bespoke Rosin



Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine