Nevermind, but since I'm curious.
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.
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.
Only your teacher can answer your questions.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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?
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.
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.
I'd say with talent and dedication; it is quite possible to become a violinist of professional quality.
It definitely isn't impossible,
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.
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.
(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!)
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
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).
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).
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.
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.
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.
@Jiya, at 14, you have A LOT of years ahead of you to improve and become what you want to become.
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.
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.
Op’s original question was if he could become professional even though he started at 14 years of age. For anyone wondering about the weird title.
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.
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.
This person changed the title and entire text of their post.
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.
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.
Jocelyn, thanks, so did I. *grin*
Paul, same here, thumbs up.
It really should not be possible to totally change the subject and question - it makes nonsense of the previous replies.
OK lots of good points here about the original question and the amended one.
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 v.com and maestronet.
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!
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).
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.
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.
Oh wow--froth! I think I must have missed it...
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.
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.
I deleted my original reply since the title was changed. Here's my reply to what it's like to play in an orchestra:
@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.
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.
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.
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.
"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."
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?
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...
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 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.
Orchestral playing is the opposite of being a jet fighter pilot:
Nuuska, I'd like to find more about conservatories in Germany if you don't mind.
Kiki, since I'm living in Austria I can only comment on the situation here.
"is Galway's memoir a good read?"
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.
Anita, I always enjoy your contributions to our discussions as you are unfailingly thoughtful and positive.
Paul, thanks dearly. :) That is very kind of you!
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.
Anita makes a good point. Perhaps European orchestras should not be called Freeway Phils but rather ICE Phils.
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.)
Nuuska those are interesting questions. Might the odds of a late starter actually be
Nuuska, that is exactly what I am always trying to articulate! thank you for your contribution.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
Violinist.com has an interview with Mr. Hansen, the late-starter: https://www.violinist.com/blog/JazzyWazzy/20099/10460/. 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?
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.
Wondering about two points...
I don't think Jiya returns to his/her threads too much.
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.
I am trying to gauge what the original question was about, perhaps becoming a professional musician?
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.
I'be been reading the responses being posted and tbe amount of replies I got from a single discussion is simply astonishing.Just wow! V.com 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!
audition requirements for the RAM in London are
Grade 8 at distinction level is the minimum audition standard in terms of playing ability, not the minimum standard in terms of repertoire covered.
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!
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.