A big "Thank you all" and a 3-years update

April 26, 2020, 6:00 PM · Hello everyone.
Two days ago, my son's friend from his old youth orchestra sent him a link and said: this sounds like your mom. Indeed it was. This friend is now a music major in the UC system, looking for a school for her MM degree and in her search, she found my post from three years ago (https://www.violinist.com/discussion/archive/29022/).
I went back to the post with all your responses, great insights, and the very warm farewell, from you all, praising my son for the decisions he has made at that point in time.
Your remarks at that time were so helpful, and after reading today through the whole thread again, I thought that you deserve an update, so - here we go.

1. My son did stop his repertoire (was about to start the Wieniawski #2) and invested long hours in technique for a few months.

2. By the spring of that year (about 2 months after the discussion here) we decided to invest in visits to a few of the music schools. He had the chance to take lessons with two teachers at Boston University and one in NYU. He basically had no piece to show them because the Bruch was full of technical problems that were carried with him, and in the former months, he only worked on technique. In NYU he was told that he has good chances to be accepted and in BU he heard two different opinions. One said that there is no chance he can put the work needed in the time he had until auditions but the other said that he can see the potential and if my son worked really hard, he could make it.
Your input from the discussion actually prepared him to those reviews, that were very important for the next step.

3. He was accepted that year to the Interlochen Summer program, with the Bruch that you heard on those videos. Not into the prestigious chamber program but to the general orchestra. This was a life-changer for him. Both socially and musically. He loved every moment and advanced in one summer more than the whole year before. He learned how to practice efficiently, joined a chamber group in the camp and advanced to the front chairs during the summer.

4. When he came back home he found a chamber group, continued with his youth orchestra and practiced endlessly.

5. After all those discussions and thanks to your wise remarks, he decided to apply for a major in engineering. We tried to find schools with good violin teachers and decent orchestras. After being accepted early to the UCBerkeley engineering school as a regent finalist (big deal!) we went to visit, we listened to the orchestra and he decided he will make it happen as there are MANY good violin teachers in the bay area. When the acceptance to BU as a music major (with some merit scholarship!) arrived, we decided it was too far and too expensive, and the engineering part not strong enough.

6. In the summer of his HS senior year, he was accepted to BUTI, and this was another big stepping stone in his playing. Huge adventure, good placement in the front of the second violin section (1st and 2nd chairs switched during the concert) and great friends, many of which continued into music schools.

7. Today, at the end of his second year in Berkeley, double-majoring in engineering (Industrial and Computer) while taking all the music theory and harmony classes available, he plays in the auditioned orchestra and does some chamber music. He makes sure to practice two hours every day, and in order to receive violin lessons through the music department, he had to sign an intention to major, although not declared yet but does all the work toward a BA (not BM) in music. So he basically - triple majors, advances his skills and happy as can be. Before the school was closed due to the pandemic, he received access to play on one of the school's antique instruments (a quarter of a Milion $ worth).

8. Accepted to Aspen this year. (already shortened from 8 to 6 week, we wait to hear if it will happen, keeping all fingers crossed.)

What will happen next? No idea. He is a hard worker. Looking into conducting now, as well as playing, and enjoys the engineering stuff too. He will have many options to choose from when the time comes.

And here comes again my big thank you note. You were so kind and careful with your harsh critique and gave us so many important notes and ideas to consider. I might ask my son for some links to his recordings so that you can enjoy the fruits of your work here.
I just saw that a student from Sweden asked a very similar question to the one I asked 3 years ago and received over 100 responses. The way you have the patience to respond to each of us and share your experience over and over again is remarkable.
I know the time now is hard for those of you who make a living from the arts. I pray with you that this situation will be resolved soon and that the music will be back on stages in front of packed halls really soon. Hang in there and stay safe.
Lali.

Replies (15)

Edited: April 26, 2020, 6:30 PM · Good work, and best of luck! Some awesome stuff happening.
Edited: April 26, 2020, 6:58 PM · Woah. Sounds like talented kid all around. As a university chemistry professor myself, I'll tell you that we do see students like that from time to time -- the ones who "do it all", and we cherish and nurture them very carefully. It's great that he can spend so much of his "spare" time on music, but as he is approaching his junior year in an engineering program, he could also be thinking about spending his summers on activities that will advance his primary career objectives. Lots of students take all the classes, even double-majors, with strong grades. Often it's the additional experience outside of the classroom that sets them apart from their peers. Your son's musical accomplishments will definitely contribute, but maybe not as much as a top internship. Maybe he's bound for academia himself -- it can be quite rewarding, and if his area of engineering expertise is in something that has broad practical application, the opportunities to make serious bank through consulting are considerable. Courses from the business school will help too, but if he's going to graduate school he could do some of that then. I hope he has good academic advising there at UCB because he's right at that point in his career where it would be very useful to sit down with a few of his favorite professors and have serious talks about career opportunities - in academia, industry, and government - and how best to prepare for them.
Edited: April 26, 2020, 9:09 PM · What a wonderful update! Thanks so much for letting us know, and continued best wishes to your son.
April 26, 2020, 10:43 PM · @Paul
"spending his summers on activities that will advance his primary career objectives..."
Well, all said and done he hasn't decided yet which is his primary career :). He plans to take private conducting lessons with his conductor next (junior) year. At the end of freshman year, he applied both to an internship and to Aspen where he was waitlisted. He was accepted off the waitlist two days after signing up with the internship. So he did one internship already. For this summer, we hope that Aspen will work so that next summer will be dedicated again to an internship. He also plans to continue to a fifth-year masters degree in engineering, hoping to gain some more conducting experience during this year. THEN he will have to decide if he goes to the academia, industry or tries his luck in the music world. He still has time to figure out life. He will have all the tools.
I might just send another update in three years ;)

@Mary Ellen, Thank you specifically for your share in our journey. Bless your heart.
Lali

April 26, 2020, 10:54 PM · Thanks for the update! It's always nice to know what happens with these kids.

I think it's great that he's managing to find time to practice a substantial amount every day. He'll be able to attend the same festivals available to pre-professional students until he's about 30 years old. There should be various semi-pro opportunities to him when he finishes college and goes on to an engineering career.

April 27, 2020, 3:02 AM · Thank you Lydia, your insights are always so on-point. Be safe!
April 27, 2020, 7:49 AM · Great! Nothing wrong with keeping your options open especially when your Plan B is very solid.
April 27, 2020, 11:05 AM · My one piece of advice is that he should definitely plan to spend the summer after his junior year at an internship, so he can get some real-world work experience in his chosen career. Not only can this be very helpful for figuring out what he most wants to do with his life, but it's often a critical resume-builder.

As long as he picks a major city for his internship, he should be able to continue taking lessons over the summer, and find partners for chamber music. (Most community orchestras go on hiatus over the summer, though some do pops programs and have sight-reading sessions.)

April 27, 2020, 2:07 PM · @Lydia,
This is the plan. "Engineering careers" is within our wheelhouse. The pains were in how to keep his music going and in a level fitting his needs. I think he found his balance for now. I believe that he will look for an internship in the bay area and will explore his options there long before the summer comes.
Again, Thank you.
Edited: April 28, 2020, 10:11 PM · If he ends up in the Bay Area, he should get to know a guy named George Yefchak. George conducts the South Bay Philharmonic (which a few people on this site play in) and is an excellent oboe player in several community orchestras. He's an engineer at Agilent and may be a useful guide to how to get into conducting while on another career path.
Edited: April 27, 2020, 11:07 PM · Wow Lydia, as always full of resources. Thanks again! Here are some videos. The Mendelssohn is from last year. Saint-Saens is from this winter break. (12/2019). Now he is working on Bach Partita #2. Suppose to do his end of year recital on Zoom with his teacher from home. If we manage to record it I will add the link in two weeks.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTzqd96SEAY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6VR01HmDNo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qa7f2ypIgOw

oh, and when he is done practising the violin he fools around with other "instruments" https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC02kxnndRqABwafaOvfXsYw

April 28, 2020, 7:16 AM · Congratulations to your son and his teacher for their hard work! He has definitely improved. I think he has a good plan for his future.
April 29, 2020, 4:53 PM · Thanks for the videos! He's definitely made huge progress between his previous Bruch and that Mendelssohn, and the Saint-Saens shows further steady improvement.

If he's interested in conducting, he will really benefit from having more piano skills, too.

April 29, 2020, 4:53 PM · Thanks for the videos! He's definitely made huge progress between his previous Bruch and that Mendelssohn, and the Saint-Saens shows further steady improvement.

If he's interested in conducting, he will really benefit from having more piano skills, too.

May 1, 2020, 3:51 PM · Thank you, Lydia and Mary Ellen, for the kind words. Be safe

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