Yet Another Am I Too Old For School Post
I am in my late 20s, thinking of going to music school. I have worked as a software programmer since I received my master's, but I really don't like the tech industry and am deliberately considering going back to school for my passion. I can say my life in engineering and tech has been horrible. I literally made no friends since I went to college, and I couldn't even hold a conversation with most of my colleagues for longer than 10 minutes.
Here's a brief profile about myself. I've been studying violin since I was 6 and I've been actively taking private lessons for the whole time (except for the 2 years in my junior-senior year of college). I practice for at least 2-3 hours every day.
A brief repertoire list I have on hand (only listing the recent ones):
Concerti: Tchaikovsky, Sibelius, Brahms, Shostakovich, Wieniawski 1, Prokofiev 1, Korngold
Sonatas: Bach Sonata 2, Partita 2, Ysaye Sonata 2, 3, 6
Paganini: 1, 5, 6, 9, 13, 16, 24
My teachers said they wouldn't be worried if I were to audition for a bachelor's program with any of the combinations above, but I've been hearing mixed feedback (I have 2 teachers). One encouraged me to do so if I truly love it, but another told me she would be worried about my living after graduation - she'd rather encourage me to go into a Ph.D. program that combines data science with music (e.g. music psychology or music therapy) instead of doing a performance major. As far as I know... such programs are still rare and are not fond of people from the computer science major.
My goal is to become a teacher that can teach intermediate-advance students instead of only beginners. I'll do piano accompaniment as a part-time job if possible (I have dipABRSM in piano). My assumption is that it's probably not as in demand as in some Asian countries though.
I hope to get some advice from fellow musicians, whether you're a professional or are just playing violin as a hobby.
I'm mostly aiming for European schools because many are tuition-free, and the study periods are usually shorter (3 vs. 4 years for BA and 1 vs. 2 for MA). So I would highly appreciate it if anyone can share their audition experience with EU conservatories.
You may want to get some experience teaching, even if it's working with one of your current teachers, before making the commitment to teach. Violin may be your passion, but teaching is completely different.
If your goal is to become a violin teacher -- hanging out a shingle, so to speak -- then you should definitely go for it. With hard work and some hustle and a little luck, you can establish a lower-middle-class lifestyle as a Suzuki/intermediate/advanced violin teacher.
I just want to warn you that you will have to check about shorter study periods. I'm currently finishing my bachelor in Germany and while the education here is free, the bachelor for both the artists and the pedagogues takes four years at my conservatory, afaik, and I would be very surprised if it were different at other regular conservatories. Now, the usual uni studies are indeed shorter (meaning that my old classmates mostly finished before me), but that's just something to keep in mind. And while studying is a lot cheaper than in the US, Germany is one of the very few countries where it is mostly free.
Rebecca, I will consult my teachers further on this. I'm a really fast learner, so there are indeed many occasions I could not see what the students' problems are. Like, I learned 5 scales in my first piano lesson right after my teacher just demonstrated the C-major one. When I was trying to teach my brother, he just couldn't understand the ``math pattern' I was trying to teach him.
I’m not sure where you are but in the US, you don’t need a degree to hang out a shingle and start teaching, not even for more advanced students. Plenty of people with fewer qualifications than you already have are doing just that. Whether they should be is another question, and I think many of them are doing their students a disservice, but nobody is stopping them.
Mary, I think I know some people claiming they are celeb teachers on YouTube/Instagram, and they charge prices most people wouldn't even imagine... It's even worse when it comes to the piano - so long as someone can play the notes right most people wouldn't be able to tell whether s/he is playing well or not. Especially with the whole pandemic situation, many lessons are now taking place remotely.
Also something I would like to add on. My teacher does offer me straight admission to do a master's in music education program if I'd like to, even without a bachelor's degree in music. However, he's currently only teaching at a small private college even though he's a famous soloist. So I doubt his school has those resources I mentioned.
You certainly have the advantage that most people here don't, which is that you have a fallback career completely at the ready.
Christian, I think I do enjoy teaching, but I gotta admit that I am actually not a very good teacher. I think it's definitely something I will need to work on, even if I take the science Ph.D. route and enter academia instead of teaching music.
On the assumption that your repertoire reflects your playing level, I suggest that you not do a bachelor's, which would force you to repeat a lot of your undergrad core curriculum, which would be a waste of time. Instead, directly apply for an MM program. You should be able to do an MM performance if you want. If you're interested in teaching, look for an MM program with a strong pedagogy component, or an MM Pedagogy, rather than an MME. (The MME, afaik, is specifically for those interested in a school teaching career, whereas pedagogy programs are aimed at those who want a studio teaching career).
That response was getting a little long, so I'm putting my comments about masterclasses and performance opportunities in this separate reply.
Hi Mavis -- I too, work in software and have the violin as a (serious) side hobby. In 2016 I was laid-off from Hewlett Packard Enterprise and found myself out of work for the first time in my then 24 year career. I had serious doubts about returning to the software industry and did consider if violin was something I could make into an actual job. After 1 1/2 years of not earning a paycheck, I landed my current job and it has changed my perception of working in high tech. I am thankful to say that I love my job now, and fortunate that I can still play violin on the side. The culture of the company you work for can make all the difference.
Given the rep. you have studied, you are probably more qualified than most teachers currently teaching.
Lydia, thanks so much for the long replies!
I think there are plenty of jobs for data scientists who have skills in applied AI/ML -- and some of those applications may be in the arts, especially if you've got a background in applying AI/ML techniques to audio or video. Companies are desperate for anyone who has the ability to work with ML models right now. If you can, say, use Amazon Sagemaker + PyTorch + torchaudio, I would figure you'd have good odds of finding a job in that space. You don't need a PhD, especially not for applied corporate work.
You might look into one of the programs that combines a master’s degree with Suzuki Teacher training. This seems like it would be a great way to meet your goals of being a teacher while allowing you time to seriously study performance. You don’t necessarily need to be exclusively a Suzuki teacher to benefit immensely from the training. If you are trained for all 10 books you will also gain many of the skills necessary to teach beyond book 10 if you know the repertoire.
I walked away from software development and technical writing at the tail-end of the dot-com boom to go back to school to study music.
The last thing I'd do is is a PH.d in some weird subject that has no well-defined career track. I'm not convinced you need a degree. Based on your repertoire--if you are playing at a reasonably high level--I'd suggest:
I've also looked into studying at conservatories in Europe. Here are some things that I think you should also consider, if you haven't already:
I walked away from the tech industry a number of years back to pursue a career in design. One of my other passions. Much less stability, but peace of mind and loving what I do every day is priceless. My only advice is to not take some halfway compromised route. The only way to really achieve success in the arts, is to put all your eggs in one basket and take that leap. Whatever route you take, I wish you the best of luck.
I'm lucky to have fantastic colleagues at work, and many of them are friends, and a few of the close friends. But the closest friends are those with whom I share my dearest hobby -- music. Thus, with rare exception, I only "friend" on facebook with family and with local musicians or other musicians I've met in real life.
I think the wisdom of leap-taking very much depends on one's financial safety net and overall tolerance for risk.
Lydia is completely right about my situation to be honest.
I surmise that whether your YouTube covers go viral will depend on factors other than how well you play the violin.
If you're studying with one of the violin faculty at Roosevelt still, they should be very well equipped to advise you on your odds of a good master's program. Unless you're absolutely set on studying outside the US, your teacher should be equipped to advise you on what programs would likely offer you a scholarship.
Several of my best intermediate/advanced students have come to me by referral from their previous teacher. Sometimes it is a high school orchestra director whose private student is moving from middle school to their own high school orchestra. They are ethically forbidden from teaching their orchestra students privately.
What about doing a dipABRSM in violin instead? My teacher has a diploma from RCM and did not study violin at University
I don't know what the point of doing a DipABRSM would be, given that any parent in the US shopping for a violin teacher probably doesn't know or care what the DipABRSM (or the Trinity College or RCM diplomas) signifies. OP is presumably well beyond the level necessary to pass the diploma exam (but might have to brush up on their theory, and I think the ABRSM might require a piano exam as well as the diploma level? In any event, likely not useful.)
Phil, no, just no... First of all, dipABRSM in violin is too easy. I did repertoire at that level in my early 10s.
I know that ABRSM also has teaching qualifications, but I don't know what the process for getting them is like or how much they're respected. (Certainly in the US, no one would care, I think.)
I'm pretty sure you can already teach beginners and intermediates with complete confidence given your repertoire in hand, and probably some degree of advanced students as well. The lacking factor will be the experience with teaching, but college isn't going to give you that. I recommend you start teaching now if you want that to be your profession. And if you're worried about being a "poser" of sorts, just adjust your rates to reflect your lack of teaching experience until you feel that you're doing an appropriately good job.
"just adjust your rates to reflect your lack of teaching experience until you feel that you're doing an appropriately good job."
True Scott, but the OP may have a personal/ethical issue with charging full price when they don't have a lot of teaching experience. They seem to be under the impression that they need a degree in order to teach, so I wanted to give them an alternative to that thought process.
Guilt should not be a factor in pricing one's services.
Of note is the fact that the OP has said that she doesn't think she's a good teacher. That suggests that simply hanging out a shingle and teaching is not a good idea -- especially not if she intends to stay in her current city or return to it in the future. It's a better idea to build a good reputation from the start, even if one will become more skilled in the the future.