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Music school/Conservatory recommendations?

August 12, 2022, 8:42 PM · My daughter is a HS senior looking to major in violin performance. My husband and I are both clarinetists and far removed from the current music school/conservatory scene. I would love some recommendations on East Coast or mid-West music schools with outstanding violin studios. (she’s not interested in the West coast- too far from home) Specific professor recommendations would be wonderful, as well. Thank you!

Replies (143)

August 12, 2022, 9:03 PM · What tier of school is she looking for? Has she talked to her violin teacher about what schools are within realistic reach for her playing level? For example, Juilliard and other top tier schools are very competitive to get into and require a very high standard of playing.
August 12, 2022, 9:18 PM · You would need to share the repertoire she plans on playing for auditions.
August 13, 2022, 7:06 AM · She has the chops and the passion (says music HAS to be a part of her life) is looking at Eastman; Bard; University if Maryland (she had lessons with him at the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival and really liked him…. And we live in MD); Oberlin; NEC; possibly Julliard.

Some of her audition rep will be the first mvt of the Sibelius concerto; unaccompanied Bach; Mozart Concerto no 4.

We know the big name schools but not teachers. Some schools have soooo many violin faculty it is just overwhelming. And a good school doesn’t always equal a good studio. When I was in school all of the best violinists I knew went to Julliard and studied with Zvi Zeitland. Need some insight into the current violin world!

Edited: August 13, 2022, 9:13 AM · I agree with Susan‘s list but I would be wary of CIM, not due to any musical reasons, but because of some administrative issues. I’m not comfortable saying more publicly. Please email me if you would like details, at [my full three names mashed together] at gmail dot com.

(I thought Zvi Zeitland was at Eastman?)

Edited: August 13, 2022, 3:40 PM · Zvi Zeitlin was at Eastman, yes. (One of my former teachers studied with him there.) According to Wikipedia, he studied at Juilliard for a time himself, though.

OP, if you're in Maryland with a child playing at this level, I'd guess that she's studying with one of the teachers in the DC area that routinely prep kids for conservatory (Ronda, David, Emil, Olga, etc.) or, on the Baltimore side of things, with Peabody Prep faculty or other folks associated with the BSO, ditto. They should have plenty of good advice, students attending such schools or recent graduates that have offered feedback, and so forth. I'd trust them. If your child is studying with someone who doesn't routinely send kids to first-tier conservatories, why not? (If you're too far away from the cities, is there a possibility that you could, in the run up to this audition period, arrange coaching with such a teacher?)

There are a number of profs at UMD, and you don't reference a specific one -- James Stern? David Salness?

Edited: August 14, 2022, 11:47 AM · Zeitland passed away in 2012. (According to Wikipedia).
A number of successful players have studied with Soovin Kim and then Weilerstein at NEC.
Susan is in the thick of it and most knowledgeable here about the schools and process.
Making a list and then having sample lessons both helps your daughter choose and puts them on the teachers radar in auditions.
Of the top tier schools, seems like the priority would be what studio and the financials.
Bard, Oberlin, while not top tier seem like they have great faculty for kids with possibly broader interest, possibly dual degrees.
Edit: seems like a possibility with Second tier to do undergrad, then grad at a top tier?
Edited: August 14, 2022, 1:38 PM · When Susan calls Oberlin second tier, that is from an extremely elevated position. Plenty of very successful professional musicians have come out of Oberlin (eg Robert Spano and Jennifer Koh), as well as from the other schools she classifies as second tier—most definitely including Indiana (whose alumni include Joshua Bell, Jeremy Denk, and the current concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic). I would not classify Oberlin with Bard, nor is Oberlin a school which absolutely demands a better school for graduate school in order to be invited to auditions.

I would have labeled Susan’s second tier as “1B.”

Edited: August 15, 2022, 11:30 AM · These tiers are so ridiculous and subjective. Yale, IU, Oberlin, and MSM are 2nd tier? According to who? Some of the greatest talents go to those places from all over the world. Everyone gets caught up in acceptance rates and seems to correlate lower acceptance rates with greater quality.
August 15, 2022, 12:32 PM · I have heard great things about Danielle Belen at Michigan. I would be happy if my kid stays on this path for them to go to Oberlin or IU.
A more full thought regarding undergrad/grad is that one might take a particular school at undergrad based on acceptance or financial aid and teacher. Grad schools often? sometimes come with assistantships etc. which along with increased skills might make other schools possible.
In the end the best fit teacher wise and cost (if there is not a trust fund) would be priorities seems like.
Edited: August 15, 2022, 12:56 PM · “Just to clarify, I am employing the tier system that is used in the College Prep for Musicians book….”

>>And where do these people get their information? Who are they? What are their qualifications?

“Having said that, at this current moment, right now, the level of players going to the schools I listed as Tier 1 is significantly higher than those going to Tier 2 overall.”

>>According to who? Did you go to a conservatory? As Mary-Ellen noted, the current Concertmaster of the Berlin Phil went to a school you listed as ‘2nd tier.’ So did the current and former Concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra, Joshua Bell, Leonidas Kavakos and many others. As someone who has personally gotten into 2 of those ‘1st tier’ schools that you listed, and know many people at both ‘1st tier’ and ‘2nd tier’ schools, that’s just flat out wrong. Today you have amazing people now from all over the world applying to all of these places at higher rates than ever before. So many of the people going to the ‘2nd tier’ you list, are spill overs, or in some cases even better than people in the ‘top tier.’

Edited: August 15, 2022, 2:20 PM · Perhaps the biggest lesson is that things change, however gradually.

Juillard/Curtis/Eastman used to be the trinity to many observers, and then Indiana built an amazing string faculty. Starker, Gingold, Buswell have all died, though, so that has to be looked at afresh.

When my orchestra classmates were talking about schools, NEC was considered pretty good, but not necessarily better than Boston University when it came to choosing teachers, many of whom were in the Boston Symphony. (Some prominent exceptions, like Roman Totenberg.) 15 or 20 years ago, a new president decided to move quickly and was able to pick up people like Weilerstein, Kashkashian, Fried, Buswell, et al. Most of whom are still there, but aging just as quickly as everyone else.

Cleveland Institute used to be on nobody's radar, but a few very high-profile hires changed that. And now there are other issues to consider, not least of which are some retirements.

Then there are odd cases, like UMass Amherst. Never on an "A" list for conservatories as such, but Charles Treger always seemed to snag some amazing postgrad students from Poland who remembered his appearances in their country some decades ago.

Etc.

In some respects it's like building a baskeball program rather than a football team. Five of the right recruits, and you can suddenly play with the big boys. No millions of dollars necessary for stadiums, dedicated dining halls, dozens of tutors, and all the other things needed to keep 100 football recruits nourished and developed.

Or some areas in the humanities. NYU now has a killer philosophy department. Cost them a lot less than a world-beating medical school would have.

Edited: August 15, 2022, 2:53 PM · Good points Stephen. The music education scene is constantly changing. I think more often than not, the older institutions in music and academics have more of a lure than the newer schools do. The same could be said about professional sports franchises and media.
Edited: August 15, 2022, 4:00 PM · OP- Go to the website for the Indianapolis Competition, find the button for participants, if you click on any one it will go to the complete list which gives you teachers, bio, repertoire.
Of course it's a specific very high level path, but interesting teachers and schools that show up.
Edited: August 15, 2022, 4:57 PM · Nate,
I am sure that the brass plate over the door still counts for something. A Juilliard degree will offer the benefit of the doubt if there is no other information available. And there are things like excellent ensembles, opera companies (Indiana), contacts with professional groups for freelancing, etc., that take years to build and-- probably-- some decent amount of time to destroy.
August 15, 2022, 5:31 PM · Matthew, thanks for that tip! It was really interesting to see how they list out everybody's teachers. Really enlightening. Also interesting that there are five recent alums from my son's pre-college program competing as well.
August 15, 2022, 6:43 PM · It's also clear that most had really well known, impressive teachers nearly from the beginning. (I don't know those outside the U.S.)
Edited: August 15, 2022, 8:12 PM · Well that was a very interesting list; thanks for the suggestion to read about the candidates. One thing that seems clear is that not everybody listed their earliest childhood teachers – only those who studied with teachers whose names are recognizable.

Of special interest to our younger members who are considering a career in performance is the biography of the newly appointed associate principal second violin of the San Diego Symphony, Cherry Yeung. Holy moly. I don’t for one minute think she’s going to stay there very long; I am quite sure she will be moving up precipitously. But consider her résumé and then consider that job. Wow.

I note also that one candidate studied with Mimi Zweig in childhood (so likely grew up in or near Bloomington, Indiana), one studied with my former teacher the late Stephen Clapp (NYC), and one studied with Brian Lewis and then Emanuel Borok (Texas). I don’t want to say that geography is destiny, but having teachers of that level in childhood or as a young teen is an indescribable advantage. And none of those teachers come cheap.

Edited: August 15, 2022, 9:24 PM · To Mary Ellen's point: According to the press, San Diego's last CBA makes the pay for first-year players slightly under $70k (so net pay around $4,400/month post-tax). The associate P2 undoubtedly makes somewhat more. The average rent on a one-bedroom apartment in San Diego is $3,200/month. That wouldn't really leave enough for living expenses with a decent safety margin, so if a two-bedroom ($4,100/month average) is shared, that's roughly $2k/month. So the orchestra is a living wage for a young person, but isn't great for what is a very high cost of living city.

Of course, when that young violinist moves up, there's an excellent chance that she'll be replaced by another young person who has a resume that's every bit as impressive. (It's not as if her moving up create an opening for someone else in her graduating class that wasn't quite as impressive.)

August 16, 2022, 12:02 AM · My daughter has had lessons from many teachers over the years but she named two (a soloist and a member of a major orchestra) teachers as the best and they both went to UI for graduate studies.

Before they went to UI, they were already accomplished (the soloist was already booking solo appearances and the other was in an award-winning chamber music group) so they could have gone anywhere but they chose UI.

August 16, 2022, 6:44 AM · IU?
August 16, 2022, 7:24 PM · My daughter is a rising high school junior and a cellist. The lists her teacher gave her -- off the top of his head, not looking in a book -- are similar to Susan's. Strikingly similar.
August 16, 2022, 10:28 PM · My friends with children looking at colleges now tell me that state laws and political leanings are major factors in where their daughters, especially, are willing to consider going, at this point. For instance, the attractiveness of both IU and Rice has abruptly become nil.
August 16, 2022, 11:51 PM · IU: Indiana University

Lydia, that is a really good point. I wonder if Oberlin is off some people's list too for the same reason.

August 17, 2022, 12:23 AM · Yes, Oberlin’s location in Ohio is giving some prospective students (especially female) pause. I don’t know how much this is specifically affecting the conservatory however.
August 17, 2022, 6:58 AM · Not sure about IU but folks who have been are telling us that Oberlin and Rice are quite liberal. Both are private. Although I doubt my kids would actually want to live in Texas or Ohio.
August 17, 2022, 7:07 AM · BTW Mary Ellen mentioned Jeremy Denk. He did his undergrad at Oberlin with a double major in chemistry, in addition to his MM at IU, then doctorate at Juilliard. He talks about his experiences in great detail in his new autobiography that was reviewed here, highly recommended. (I bought it for my kids after reading a library copy.)

IU was like the place to be in the 70s and 80s with the old European masters teaching there. The IU force is strong with my daughter, as most of her favorite teachers were a product of that environment. I am not sure it's the same now though.

August 17, 2022, 7:29 AM · We have come to the point that in 4 years who knows if Texas will still be part of the Union, so it does make a parent wonder about safety, medically and (given January 6), generally.
Yes, Stan, college towns tend liberal even if in Texas, since highly educated people by percentage, tend toward more progressive views. (Just a fact.) I grew up in Indiana and IU was definitely considered more liberal than the rest of the state. True of most larger cities, while there are blue and red states, really the division has become rural vs. urban.
I would also worry about my daughter being in these places as a non-white kid. We live rurally in the bluest of states and the racial comments had escalated in the last couple years.
And Mary Ellen to your earlier aside- geography and/or money. Of course you can buy geography with more money.
August 17, 2022, 1:20 PM · College towns may be more liberal but the students are constrained by the laws of the state. That is the problem with Texas, Indiana, and Ohio. I don’t really want to get into this in any more depth except to note that as the mother of a daughter who attends school in one of those states, I understand the concern. The possibility of a racist environment is an extra layer on top of that, though I don’t think blue states are immune.

Indiana has always been the northernmost southern state in my opinion. You don’t have to go very far out of Bloomington either.

I was at Indiana in the early to mid 80s and it was wonderful. But I really don’t think it has lost any ground based on the successes of some recent students. Because it is such a big school, it does have a wider range than some of the others mentioned in this thread, but the best students at Indiana are absolutely competitive with the best students anywhere.

August 17, 2022, 2:59 PM · I will say that the part of Houston in which Rice is located is quite lovely. (My inlaws live nearby and I have alumni friends.) I wouldn't be significantly concerned about overt racism in Houston proper and its immediate suburbs. There will be plenty of South Asian students at Rice, and Houston itself is quite cosmopolitan. I don't find the Houston area to be perceptibly more racist than the Chicago area. Religiosity is amped up somewhat, but again compared to Chicago, not significantly. (Versus the east coast the cultural differences are very noticeable, though.)
August 17, 2022, 8:33 PM · Augustin Hadelich is teaching at Yale. Enough said!
August 18, 2022, 7:12 AM · I have not heard anyone here talk much about the program at Yale (only it's dual program). Some great teachers.
August 18, 2022, 7:45 AM · I agree with what has been written already. And no, blue states are not immune from racism.

I think the biggest problem with the "new" laws that are sprouting up in places like Indiana and Texas is the confusion over what they mean and how they might apply to someone whose "permanent address" is elsewhere and whether parents living a thousand miles away will be prosecuted for helping their daughter get an abortion should that become necessary. It will take decades to develop that case law.

August 18, 2022, 8:18 AM · Matthew I don't believe Yale offers an undergraduate performance degree, i.e. you have to apply to the BA-MM program. But I also believe the graduate program is free.
August 18, 2022, 12:19 PM · Another school worth taking a look at it is Boston Conservatory at Berklee. They've got a lot great instructors across multiple genres of music. Plus Boston is a great city for a young person in general. If you ever got bored, New York City is a bus ride away.
August 18, 2022, 12:45 PM · Sorry for an off topic question. I am wondering … What children who are playing like adults (like Susan's children) plan to do with music in their future if they decide to major in something else? Definitely, if things go wrong in life, teaching violin may provide you with a piece of bread. And, of course, playing violin is something you can enjoy throughout your life.
Is the plan to get a “back up” degree in something like science/management and then go back to building a career in music?
Can serious performing and working as a scientist/economist/engineer coexist?
August 18, 2022, 1:42 PM · Hey Mich, even though my kids don't play like adults, my daughter has a good shot at getting into a good conservatory and loves music, but you are right, dad wants her to have another degree because her academics are as good as her playing, and now would be the time to do both. Pretty much how Mary Ellen and Jeremy Denk both described their decision to do this. Plus, until returning from her summer program, it was entirely unclear what she wanted to do. With both degrees she'll be in a better position to make that decision, and might decide at that point to take another year towards an MM. Or not. She's playing in our local freeway philharmonic now, and could certainly do something like that after school while working at something else, if she goes the other route. Not super-serious performing but part of a life in music.
August 18, 2022, 2:58 PM · It feels almost cosmically unfair (albeit not at all coincidental) how many kids have both academic and musical chops. Money, geography, family stability, and natural talent in areas such as the ability to self-regulate can make a huge difference in both academic and musical potential. I knew more than one person at Princeton who already had a degree from Curtis; the valedictorian a few classes after me got a performance master's degree at Juilliard and then went on to do a PhD in some STEM field.

My observation, 25 years out of undergrad: most of the people I knew who flirted with both careers (even those who pursued graduate performance degrees) landed in STEM and do music to varying degrees on the side (like Lydia). And it seems possible to have a satisfying musical life even when you do something else professionally. If I had a kid who was extraordinarily promising in multiple dimensions, I'd nudge them in the direction of preserving their options as long as possible (i.e. if the choice is between Yale and Juilliard, I'd be pushing Yale pretty hard.)

Edited: August 18, 2022, 3:16 PM · Huh, most of the people I knew who were double degree at Oberlin ended up in music, though I can think of one doctor. I do know more than a few people who spent some years as professional musicians and then moved into other fields. If I were younger, I would be giving serious consideration to law school at this point but I don’t have enough working years left to pay back the loans.
August 18, 2022, 3:33 PM · For kids with a serious shot at a major career, like Susan's son, I don't think it makes sense for them to hedge their bets. They're better off focusing on being the very, very best players they can be. If that doesn't work out, their BM (or MM) is perfectly fine to enter any other job field that simply requires a college degree. If they want to do something more specialized, they can return to school to get a master's in another field, no problem (again, assuming solid academic competence in the high school years, good college prep etc.)

For kids who aren't at that level, you have to ask whether working really hard during the BM years will launch them to the top tier for an MM. If so, it also doesn't make sense to compromise their time during their bachelor's by distracting them with another major -- you're basically guaranteeing that they won't have the time and energy and focus to get over the hump.

And then there are the students for whom their musical ambitions are probably a long shot. There, a double major might initially make sense while they're trying to sort themselves out, but realistically, these kids are best off at a school that will nurture their music as a hobby (good teaching, good ensemble opportunities, etc.) and will put them on the best path academically.

If a kid is extraordinarily accomplished at a young age but genuinely uncertain about pursuing a career in music, single-majoring in their other interest (and keeping up with their playing), and then making a decision about an MM, probably offers the greatest flexibility.

Neither Juilliard nor Yale seem like good options for the undecided. It would make more sense to look at Rice (Texas issues aside), where double and triple majoring has a long school tradition across lots of different disciplines, or perhaps Oberlin (again Ohio issues aside).

August 18, 2022, 3:38 PM · One more thought: Some people will say "Music HAS to be part of my life" but they only mean "Music at the highest level". A substantial number of the people I know who got a BM (or double majored) but didn't "make it" in a career don't play any more, period. The violin's been put away permanently. A few of them picked up some other instrument as a hobby.

By way of contrast, my childhood friends who studied seriously, and knew they wanted to do something else for a living but still really enjoyed playing, mostly still play -- some of them at a pretty high level (concertmasters of their community orchestras, etc.)

August 18, 2022, 4:20 PM · Thank you so much Lydia for your thoughts! How do you define "accomplishment"? Does it need to have a degree of external recognition? Can one be an accomplished violinist if they do not participate in competitions and have limited history of performances? (assuming that it is 100% true that the person is playing at a very high level)
August 18, 2022, 6:58 PM · Playing the violin at a very high level is an accomplishment.
August 18, 2022, 7:41 PM · "If a kid is extraordinarily accomplished at a young age but genuinely uncertain about pursuing a career in music, single-majoring in their other interest (and keeping up with their playing), and then making a decision about an MM, probably offers the greatest flexibility."

While I always feel uneasy labeling myself as 'extraordinarily accomplished', this was my path. In my final years of high school, I was a strong enough player to get into NYO twice, but definitely not strong enough to be competitive for schools like Juilliard and NEC. It wasn't really what I wanted at the time, either. It took me many years to unlearn the many bad technical habits I developed as a kid, and the painstaking process of reworking my technique was not something I had the patience for during my teenage years. At 17, I viewed violin as a hobby (albeit one I was quite good at) that would help me get into an academic school where I would study science. It was not until much later that I began to wonder if I should pursue music for a career.

I don't for one moment regret the decision to attend an academic school and major in a non-music discipline, but I'm not sure how fruitful such a thing would have been if I'd known I wanted to do music from the very beginning.

August 18, 2022, 9:20 PM · I've repeatedly been told that if you are certain you want to do music, you should NOT double major, because the time and effort required to do so will severely limit your ability to practice. You will never get those years back. On the other hand, if you start out music only and change your mind, it typically isn't that difficult to transition. An undergraduate music degree is no different than a psychology degree or an English lit degree or a history degree. They all equally fail to prepare you for most careers. However, they all provide the adequate basic skills for higher level study, though of course if you go into something like medicine you may need to make up some prerequisites.

Mich's question about whether you can become accomplished without going the competition route is an interesting one. First, there is a distinction between accomplished and recognized. There are hundreds of truly accomplished players who graduate high school each year and choose not to major in music. That's very normal.

As for being recognized as accomplished, in the past, most definitely you could become recognized without doing competitions. Just look at Hilary Hahn, who has never ever done a competition, though obviously she was getting pretty great gigs even as a child. These days there are so many good players that it is rather hard to make a name for yourself, and truly making it takes equal parts luck and talent (and a LOT of money). You have to find ways to get yourself out there. My son is not a fan of competitions and compared to his peers does very few (3 this year, whereas many of his friends did 10-20). But he does them when he thinks they have the potential to benefit him in a direct or indirect way. On the other hand, he also pursues other routes like (somewhat reluctantly) maintaining a strong social media presence.

By the way, someone asked his backup plan if for some reason he couldn't play violin. It's composition and conducting, two equally challenging careers. With kids like him, when they are all in on music, it's all they want to do. Well, that and play video games.

August 18, 2022, 9:31 PM · Double-majoring is fine for people who are primarily majoring in the other thing (not music) and do not want music-performance careers but they still want to delve deeply into music and get as good on their instrument as they can.

Nobody needs a marketing degree to build "website design skills."

August 18, 2022, 9:37 PM · "You don't need to be a highly accomplished world renowned performer, or a full-time paid orchestra member. You can teach and you can gig and you can do damn well if you're talented and passionate."

I agree with this up to a point.

It is possible to make a decent but not lavish living playing weddings even as a fairly mediocre violinist, if you live in a large enough city (or wedding mecca), have an engaging personality, a high tolerance for stress and bridezillas (or their mothers), and are willing to work very hard.

It is possible to make a decent living combining the above with private teaching, although teaching (ideally) requires somewhat higher order instrumental skills than weddings do, along with an analytical mind, and a willingness to work very very hard. Or, if you live in a large enough city, you can build a private violin studio as your main focus, without a lot of gigs. But if you don't enjoy teaching, then you shouldn't do it. It would be the worst kind of drudgery for you, and unfair to your students.

Other gigs can also be added to the mix - church gigs, freeway philharmonics, subbing in larger orchestras. You'll never get rich but you aren't likely to starve.

However, there are some caveats:

1. Supporting oneself in the gig economy works much better as a second income, alongside a spouse who has a "real" job with benefits. Paying for your own health insurance and socking away money in an IRA, not to mention extortionate self-employment taxes in the US, will take big bites out of what might initially seem like a respectable income.

2. This can be a more attractive lifestyle at 25 than at 45, at least for many people. And as has already been noted, there is ageism in classical music.

3. The pandemic shutdown of 2020 should have struck fear into the hearts of all who rely on this sort of patchwork of jobs. It certainly did me, even though at the time I had a "real" job (albeit one which was also vulnerable to the shutdown). All of a sudden, churches were canceling their choir/orchestra concerts, people were postponing their weddings or severely downsizing them, concerts were cancelled, coaching gigs dried up, and while some students were OK with zoom lessons, others vanished. My self-employment income dropped precipitously.

It had never occurred to me that my Plan B (doing more and more of the teaching and gigging that I was already doing) wasn't bulletproof, until March of 2020. And with the recent demise of the San Antonio Symphony, my Plan B has become my Plan A, ironically (because of the ageism in music) due to the prohibitive cost/benefit ratio of switching careers at my age.

Thankfully I am getting plenty of work but it's exhausting.

Edited: August 18, 2022, 10:21 PM · To be accurate, it wasn't the pandemic that killed the San Antonio Symphony. It was decades of bad decisions on the part of Symphony Society leadership. The pandemic was simply the coup de grace. Other orchestras survived just fine.

I don't think gigging is all that flexible for the person without another income in the family. You have to say yes to everything. And for a parent, the hours are terrible. Vanishingly few daycares and no public schools operate during evenings and weekends when the gigs are, and prime teaching hours are also after school and on weekends. If you don't have a spouse, or if your spouse is also working nights and weekends, childcare can be difficult to arrange and expensive to pay for.

With all due respect, I think you are looking at the lifestyle through the rosy lens of your wife having a spouse with an income and probably working hours which left you available to be with any children while she had gigs. This was also my situation when our children were young, but I was acutely aware of those among my colleagues who didn't have the support system I did.

August 18, 2022, 11:35 PM · The gig economy means constant hustle and no safety net, unless you have a partner with a stable job (and even then, the loss of gig income may have a significant financial impact). Now, not everyone cares about financial stability/predictability, but I'd wager for a lot of people, their interest in it increases with age, having a family, etc.

Put another way: People willing to work constantly and really hustle do fine as Uber drivers, too, and plenty of other gig-economy jobs.

I recently realized that the amazing Bonnie Rideout -- one of the best living Scottish fiddlers, who has recorded significantly (and had decent classical chops, having gotten her BM from Michigan) -- apparently maintained a "day job" essentially her entire music career, leaving her touring to weekends and the occasional week trip here and there. Although people like to say there's more latitude for nonclassical players, that may not really be true.


August 18, 2022, 11:36 PM · Evan, did you keep taking private lessons during your university studies? I am also wondering when did you realize that you want to become a professional musician? And if I may ask, why did you start questioning your science career? Once you did decide to return to music full time, did you have to take music history, pedagogy, etc.? Is there a way to remove some of the courses that are required for a music degree, if you feel that they are a waste of time (maybe foolishly believe :))?
August 19, 2022, 1:03 AM · Who said I thought being a lawyer was 9 to 5, easy, or stable? It’s a career path I might have considered pursuing if I were younger, that’s all.

I work very hard and my gigging/teaching income is respectable. But putting together a living in the gig economy is not guaranteed, and most young musicians fresh out of school are on their own unless they have wealthy and generous parents. I don’t think it serves anyone well to minimize the difficulties.

There’s also a significant difference between Canada and the US regarding the cost and availability of health insurance, which matters a lot.

August 19, 2022, 1:10 AM · Mich, to answer your questions:

1) I did take private lessons during my undergraduate years.

2) My decision to shift from science to music is a very long story and beyond the scope of this thread. To sum it up, I'll just say that I had to spend the first half of college falling in love with the violin for my own sake rather than my parents'. Once that happened and after I realized that I didn't have such an amazing sense of scientific intuition when compared with many of my peers studying biochemistry, the desire to switch to music dawned upon me. Of course, after that, I had to struggle with the knowledge that I was not where I needed to be on the violin, both technically and musically. I could write book chapters on any of these topics, but that's the CliffNotes version.

3) Though I switched career paths halfway through my undergrad, I maintained my biochem major and did not major in music. I took music history from 1800-1950 out of a genuine sense of curiosity, not because it was required of me. Though it was a heavy workload course, it was one of the best I took in my four years. I also took world music, which focused on music traditions outside the canon of Western art music. No music major = no requirements. Everything I did was by choice. If you're switching majors, however, that's another story.

August 19, 2022, 1:49 AM · Dear Evan, it is very kind of you to tell your story - my violin playing kid needs to hear it as he is starting to think about college. Thank you!
Edited: August 19, 2022, 7:21 AM · I would also like to say that whether you "succeed" in any competitive profession (each among us will have his or her own definition of success) will depend on luck too. There are many young people who became "successful" simply because they noticed when fortune was smiling upon them. My own "success" (let's define that as occurring at the moment I was tenured) was significantly due to luck.

Let's say you move to an area where there's not that many violin teachers but a large market for lessons. And then two years later three other violin teachers show up, hanging out their own shingles in direct competition. You did everything right, but you're just the victim of bad luck, and no amount of "hustle" changes that.

August 19, 2022, 7:41 AM · Lydia we are seeing a lot of comments that a double major at Shepherd with other schools at Rice is strongly discouraged or even not allowed, e.g. "According to the Shepherd admissions department, double degrees are very rarely undertaken." This is contrasted with Oberlin where they actively promote their five-year dual-degree program, where 30-40% of the kids are doing that. The faculty member we've spoken with there sounds positive about this and says a third of his students do this.
August 19, 2022, 9:47 AM · That's interesting, Stan. I wonder how many people start with dual-degree intents and don't end up actually graduating with both degrees (at whatever school).

To Bruce's comments, I think there are vast differences between working hard at a salaried job that provides a middle-class / upper-middle-class income, and working hard in the gig economy. (Similarly, it's different launching an unstable small business, than a VC-backed startup that likely offers a soft landing too.)

There are certainly extremely well-paid 9-to-5 lawyer positions. You can go into copyright/trademark law, for instance, and get a nice cushy job with total comp in the half-million a year range, where you can work 9-to-5, with a nice lunch break, great benefits, and little stress. (Yes, I know people with jobs like this.)

When I think of outstanding students who also happen to play an instrument at a world-class level, I don't think the choice for them is between a middle-class corporate drone job and an orchestra job, for instance. I think the choice for them can reside at the extremes of, "Do they go on to the kind of jobs that graduates of elite universities go on to" -- i.e. one-percenter jobs -- versus "patch together a middle-class living through gigs and teaching".

Edited: August 19, 2022, 10:39 AM · Yes, Mary Ellen, lack of a nationalized health insurance system and a tax system that beats on the self employed, but thanks to a certain Senator from AZ can't ask anything of the wealthy and corporate elite.
In my own field, it took me many years to realize that some of the people I admired for their success and quality of life were sitting on multi-generational wealth. I had grown up working class, my dad only became a school teacher through that evil socialist plan- the GI Bill. Otherwise, it would have been a life as a coal miner, like both of my grandfathers. I had just positively attributed it to their wit and talent alone.
I wonder every day about the wisdom of encouraging my daughter to follow her dreams. In the end, I feel so many of the skills she is acquiring will transfer. Her fearlessness in front of crowds, her ability to memorize 30 minute concertos, her self ability to do the work and practice. In the end, we all just have one life, better to reach and maybe figure out things later, than never reach at all.
Someone in Sander's business should do a study of outcomes for music performance degrees, or degrees in the arts in general. My wife teaches graduate and undergraduate art. She thinks of herself teaching students to create and think, few will become artists that sustain themselves through selling work. But we hear so many surprising stories of where these students end up and the businesses and lives they create.
August 19, 2022, 10:57 AM · Bruce, the path of graduates of elite universities into the elite corporate world is pretty smooth. Sure, you are going to work very hard in order to get to that point -- but my point is that the kid who is getting straight As in high school while still managing to play the violin at the highest level is a really good candidate for exactly that sort of career path.

And possibly the very first couple of years in that elite career path is a lot of hours -- white-shoe law firms, investment banks, management consultancies, etc. all sort of abuse their first-year associates, especially. But that period of dues-paying is fairly short.

August 19, 2022, 11:36 AM · Some people hate the office/business environment. We are not all the same. Everyone is worth the same in my eyes, regardless of their income. And honestly, some folks work very hard and will never be well-off.

If someone wants to seriously study violin, and it is the only thing they can see themselves doing, I will not get in the way despite the precariousness of a possible "career failure". One can fail at many things as well, not just the violin. I will of course be accused of many things for my honest belief and ideals, but I cannot see it any other way.

If the student finds joy in these double-focus professional studies, then indeed he/she should follow that path.

Edited: August 19, 2022, 1:46 PM · The music world in the 1980s was not significantly less competitive than it is now. Don’t assume that how an older musician is playing now is what it took to win an audition 40 years ago. It’s impossible to maintain the competitive edge over the decades if one wishes to have a family or any kind of life.
Edited: August 19, 2022, 2:26 PM · Maybe Harvard and Yale Law School grads can land 9-5's in the $500s to write pharmaceutical patents, but from what I know (which might be really outdated), for new JDs from "ordinary" places, those kinds of salaries can only be earned by litigators. I read somewhere that the No. 1 employer of new JDs is the US Postal Service. That was a long time ago, probably they've been replaced by Uber.
Edited: August 19, 2022, 3:00 PM · I had neither the ambition nor the level for music performance and had a prior corporate career before transitioning to private teaching although technically, it was "get out of that job" not "go into teaching". On the way from 7 private students to full-time studio, I taught at various schools and stores and pursued gig opportunities (weddings, primarily). Even early on, there was a "stability" in teaching in terms of students having weekly appointments vs. gigs being one-time, and it was not less effort to secure the gig. I understand gigs can be recurring (church service?) but in general, for the recruitment, travel time, coordination with duet/trio/quartet, increased unpredictability, and so on...the cost-benefit favors teaching. This may have been self-fulfilling though because I started out with better(?) teaching skills than gigging skills, enjoyed teaching more, put in more hustle to find students than to find gigs, and prioritized schedule commitments to students over gigs.

It took at least 2-3 years before I stopped saying "...but I used to work at [Fortune 100 company]" (meaning: I used to have a real job) and fully owned teaching as my profession. The autonomy and fulfillment has been worth the lower pay, I'm satisfied with my teaching load, and able to buy the things I need and a lot of what I want. It should benefit my students that I'm not in stress over feeding and sheltering myself. (It would be a different story if I were also supporting a partner and children but such responsibility would be jointly held with the hypothetical partner.) Luck/fortune/providence = where and to whom I was born and raised, the school that got me the job that got me a decent financial cushion (to be able to take the risk of leaving a job with "no job" lined up); determination = choosing to change the path that I had lucked into.

August 19, 2022, 3:17 PM · I'm not sure what I think about viewing teacher competitors as bad luck (or even teachers as competitors) but maybe it depends on the location. Where I live is at least a sizable metropolis, there were violin teachers here before me and there will likely be after me, and I've seen several come and go in the time I've been here. But just to play along, my advantage would be in established presence and word of mouth. Right now, back to school season, is a prime new student time, and 3 of the last 5 families I've talked to are direct referrals. Going back to secondary peak season of spring, 4 out of 5 new students were referrals. Long-short story but one of those didn't value what I offer and left / was moved on at summer; the next teacher who takes them isn't really a competitor to me.
August 19, 2022, 3:19 PM · Paul: I was specifically speaking of elite schools.

Bruce: We are (I think), essentially having a discussion about the opportunity costs of pursuing a music path, when a student is equally exceptional academically as musically.

Adalberto: No one is discussing human worth. But financial stability has a lot to do with people's happiness in adulthood, since it affects stress levels. (Income is not the same as stability. Outside the US, financial stability is much more assured by the social safety net, even for people without a high income.)

August 19, 2022, 4:34 PM · Yeah, trying the riskier thing first -- and putting everything into it -- makes some sense. And yes, you can get an engineering degree in your 30s. But it's harder if you have a family by then, or if you're already paying down four years' worth of college debt from your music degree.
Edited: August 19, 2022, 5:36 PM · A decent number of highly skilled players who have a real shot at a music career attend liberal arts colleges for undergrad. As long as the schools in question have rigorous music programs with lots of opportunities for performance and chamber music, I think it can be quite positive. You get to explore multiple fields and decide for sure that music is truly what you want. In addition, you get the gift of knowing that you're doing music because it's the only thing you could be happy doing but not because it's the only thing you're capable of doing.

Bruce, I have friends who have considered switching fields after attending top tier music schools. I think you underestimate how difficult it is. A lot of research and self-help is required. Forget about getting into top tier schools in those other disciplines, where a BM from Juilliard or NEC is next to useless. Someone who attends a Yale or a Northwestern for undergrad has far, far more opportunities in this regard than standalone conservatory grads. And yet, those standalone conservatories are attracting the strongest players and tend to have the highest level programs.

So, as Lydia rightly pointed out, everything factors into the opportunity cost of pursuing a music-centric education. For someone playing at the level of Susan's son, there's no question that a standalone conservatory is the way to go. A career in music is a lock for someone like him and it's clearly what he wants out of life. Many young people are not at such an incredibly high technical level and need the space to figure out whether the insane work/improvement required to make a music career feasible is worth it to them. That's where a liberal arts education w/ strong music program can be useful.

August 19, 2022, 6:19 PM · Because even at the top, there's a big difference between someone who attends a tier 1 school and is among the best players at that school (and probably attends on scholarship), and someone who just gets into the school, is full-pay, and not among the best there.

There are tons of Juilliard grads who end up teaching and gigging -- or switching professions.

August 19, 2022, 7:01 PM · I also think the conservatory audition process rewards certain qualities in young students at the expense of others. If you have amazing bow technique and pretty good intonation, a lot of teachers will want to take you on. Most teachers in top tier conservatories are not interested in doing fundamental technical work with their students. They'd rather spend time on teaching you the music than on teaching you how to play the violin.

I personally think this mindset is faulty because it's actually easier to rework someone's technique than it is to rework someone's sense of musicality. However, it's a huge gamble to bet on a student with interesting musical ideas but inconsistent technique. Most teachers will go the safer route.

Still, I think this partially explains the huge variance you see within top tier schools. Almost everyone there had to have high level technique to get in, but a small fraction of the people there are using that technique in an expressive, thoughtful way that produces something quite special. While teachers can try to impart this wisdom into their students, I think a certain element of this has to be intuitive and cannot be taught.

Edited: August 24, 2022, 1:19 PM · "So why are these individuals choosing to double major at their tier 1 school"

1. Because their parents make them. And/or

2. Because the student wants to explore other interests.

#1 is more common than you'd think, even for 18-year-olds who would be in the top third of musicians at a Tier 1 conservatory.

No one is 100% certain to find success in a music career, no matter how good they seem at age 18. There's a higher probability for some people, but it's not 100% guaranteed. Life happens, injuries happen, and interests may change.

August 19, 2022, 7:49 PM · Which of the top 20 US universities have good music programs that one can be a part of while majoring in science??? This is a list from US news: Princeton, Harvard, MIT, Yale, Stanford, Chicago, UPenn, CalTech, Duke
John Hopkins, Northwestern, Dartmouth, Brown, Vanderbilt,
Washington U St.Louis, Cornell, Rice, UCLA, UC Berkley, University of Michigan, UC San Diego.
Evan, could you, please look at this list too?
Edited: August 20, 2022, 1:11 AM · Yale, Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, and Rice stand out from this list to me.

I can also name one that wouldn't be a good fit for someone who wants to study music seriously: Caltech has no music department at all. There is an orchestra, and there is a chamber music program, but they are non-selective and accept lower-intermediate students. It was good for me because I was a late-starting, barely-lower-intermediate string player at the time and it gave me opportunities to learn at that level, but for an accomplished string player there is no opportunity to take lessons on campus, and ensembles will involve playing alongside less accomplished musicians.

UC Berkeley apparently has an excellent orchestra that is composed almost entirely of non-majors; the actual music department is tiny and focused mainly on music history and musicology, with only a handful of performance majors.

Edited: August 19, 2022, 8:38 PM · I met somebody in recent years who had attended Curtis for undergrad and Colburn for graduate - both full ride schools - and who had $100,000 in student loan debt from living expenses. They had gotten no help from their parents whatsoever. And they were struggling to keep a roof over their head at the point that I met them.

Plenty of people graduate from top tier music schools with crushing debt, even scholarship students. Rent and food in NYC, Philadelphia, or California are very expensive and aren’t going to be covered by a full tuition scholarship.

I would be very reluctant to describe a career in music as a “lock” for anyone. Some people who play at the soloist level but who, for reasons of bad luck, family circumstances, or whatever, aren’t able to get a career off the ground in that, end up doing something else instead. Very likely they would win an orchestra job, but that’s not what they were trained for and not what they’re interested in.

August 19, 2022, 8:39 PM · Mich, I would also look into Carnegie Mellon University which is kind of a hidden gem and not mentioned a lot on here. They have a very good music school and it’s academically rigorous. They also have one of the finest violin teachers there in my opinion. Northwestern is historically more known for their brass program, but it is a great school (it’s my grandmother and granduncle’s alma mater). Yale is the only Ivy with a graduate level 1st tier music school. Johns Hopkins has an affiliation with Peabody which is very good - although the city of Baltimore is really rough… None of those other places you listed (to my knowledge) have equally good academic and music programs.
August 19, 2022, 8:51 PM · "#1 is more common than you'd think, even for 18-year-olds who would be in the top third of musicians at a Tier 1 conservatory."

It shouldn't be surprising. Parents have a vested interest in making sure that their children are going to have a relatively easy path in life, and the vast majority of musically gifted kids are not going to turn out to be a Ray Chen or Hilary Hahn. Additionally, they could be footing the bill for their kids' education (if the kids don't qualify for scholarships), to the tune of several hundred thousand dollars. Or the kids could be carrying it themselves.

There are two different families of my acquaintance, where the daughters decided to major in dance. In one case, dad said to also choose a 'Plan B' major, or he won't foot the bill. She did, and a semester short of graduating with a double major, injured herself, ending her dance career. She had no problems landing a job as an accounting major. The other young lady graduated from a prestigious dance program, and failed to land a job in the field. She was working a job she needed no degree for, and sharing an apartment with a friend, last I heard. Her dad spent a quarter of a million dollars for that.

Cautionary tales abound. As a parent, it makes sense to advice the kids to choose a more traditional/straightforward path.

August 19, 2022, 9:11 PM · Thank you Nate! I agree, the teacher is everything. I am thinking about this in pairs (university to study - university/city of potential teacher):
(UPenn, Princeton - Curtis),
(MIT/Harvard - BU),
(Yale - Yale),
(LA/Caltech - San Diego?),
(UC Berkley - San Francisco?)
+ now (Carnegie Mellon - Carnegie Mellon)- but it may not be a good fit for physics.
What do you think? Thank you!!
August 19, 2022, 9:38 PM · If you're going to double major, you need either a university with both a BM performance and a good program in whatever your primary field of study is -- or an explicit cross-enrollment program with a conservatory.

Penn, for instance, has an excellent program for music composition and theory, but nothing for performance (though there are private lesson opportunities these days). When I was a student there, I studied (at significant inconvenience) with a Philadelphia Orchestra violinist; it was much more common to take private lessons with a prof affiliated with Temple if you had significant capabilities (but again at significant inconvenience). There's zero cross-enrollment with Curtis or anywhere else. Just because there's a conservatory in the city doesn't mean that there's any possibility of doing stuff across town.

If you're at MIT, there's a MIT/NEC program for private lessons but the cross-enrollment program is dead. Harvard/NEC have formal cross-enrollment (you get a Harvard AB and NEC MM in 5 years), but you've got to be a minor demigod to qualify. Harvard/Berklee have a similar program.

Whoever said earlier that JHU and Peabody are "affiliated" is wrong -- Peabody is part of JHU (not a separate institution), so you can simply double major. (One of my chamber music partners double majored there and ultimately followed their non-music path professionally.)

There are bunches of others -- CWRU/CIM, for instance, is a pretty good formal cross-enrollment program; I have a friend who double majored there, initially followed his engineering path, and then won a major orchestra position, and is now a tenured prof.

Edited: August 19, 2022, 9:54 PM · Mich asked, "Can serious performing and working as a scientist/economist/engineer coexist?"

To answer your earlier question, Mich, when I say 'accomplished', I mean achieving a solidly advanced level of playing -- let's call it a kid who is playing an excellent Bruch by the end of high school. By extraordinarily accomplished, I mean a kid who is at the same level as the kids who are getting into top-tier conservatories -- kids who by the end of high school are essentially at the technical level of a professional.

This is relevant to your question because an accomplished player who keeps up their chops can expect a pleasant life as a sought-after amateur musician. They'll get invitations to play chamber music, will be valued by community orchestras, etc.

The ones who are accomplished enough to play at a professional-level equivalent (compared to a gigging freelancer, say), can gig and teach if they want to. Playing in a per-service orchestra is totally doable for a player who is capable of winning a professional audition, though. (Subject to the "day job" rules, though, as taking a contract counts as a second job which not all companies allow. When I asked my tech-company job for permission, years ago, to commit to a full season, rather than subbing, years ago, it was denied.)

But if by "serious performing" you're wondering if someone can maintain two full-time jobs -- as a symphony musician and in a traditional upper-middle-class professional job -- the answer is firmly no. Also, young people in high-intensity professions often need to put in a lot of hours in their first couple of years of their career, which often doesn't leave much time for a lot of other stuff. And then once they emerge from that, they're settling down, wanting to start a family, etc., so may be disinclined to take on the burdens of a second job -- which gigging/teaching certainly represents.

August 19, 2022, 9:49 PM · I would caution anyone thinking of applying only to T20 that the possibility of getting in is absurdly small (current trends are that admission rates will continue to drop until 2025, before easing a tiny bit), without a major hook (to include major donors, athletes, First Gen). There may be additional hurdles, such as admissions to the university not guaranteeing admission to a program of interest, or significant bars to entry to a program outside of freshman year.
August 19, 2022, 10:03 PM · Thank you Lydia! We are only starting to think about college and hope that things will change for the better in a few years. For now everything is foggy. Does double majoring requires many additional courses, not just private lessons/chamber/orchestra?
August 19, 2022, 10:24 PM · My son's dream is to work 4 or 5 days a week in academia/doing research + (practicing 1h on those days), and 1 or 2 days a week playing his violin (solo or chamber).
...
August 19, 2022, 10:33 PM · "Does double majoring requires many additional courses, not just private lessons/chamber/orchestra?"

Oh gosh, yes. When you double major, you take the full requirements for major A and add them to the requirements for major B. If they are in two different parts of the university (for example, the college of arts & sciences vs. the conservatory, or A&S vs. the engineering school, or the engineering school vs. the business school) then you also have school A and school B core curriculum requirements.

The required courses for A and the required courses for B might or might not overlap to some degree. For instance, if both A and B have the same foreign language requirement, then the same courses will satisfy both requirements. But, for instance, most engineering programs have a pretty limited set of electives that will satisfy the curricular requirements, so it's not like you can take your 5 elective courses and just assume you can put music courses there.

A typical conservatory BM degree will require that the student have, in addition to their performance classes (private lessons, orchestra, chamber music), academic coursework in music (music history / musicology / music theory), a foreign language, and a college-level academic core curriculum (which might include English, the business of music, etc.) Double majors generally take 5 years.

The more prescriptive the curriculum of the non-music major -- business and engineering curriculums especially -- the more difficult a double major is, because there are fewer electives that can be counted towards both sets of graduation requirements.

August 19, 2022, 10:39 PM · I disagree with Bruce. You can make both technical and musical progress on an hour a day of practice, especially if you're getting effective teaching (I strongly believe that adults continue to benefit from taking lessons from the best teacher they can manage). You need a certain amount of baseline work to maintain an adequately professional level of technical chops, but what the necessary level is for a player depends on what they're doing.

Plenty of opportunities for good amateur players to rehearse on the evenings and/or the weekends. Depending on the city, possibly good performance opportunities as well.

August 19, 2022, 10:54 PM · Depends on how quickly you learn, and how efficient your practice is. Even if you just have 10 minutes a day, if you spend that 10 minutes on a highly targeted skill (with the right set of exercises, done meticulously), you will improve in that skill.
August 19, 2022, 10:58 PM · The goal is to develop everything that can be developed during the years before college (trying not to sacrifice school work). If by that time your level of playing is not up to the level of your ambitions, think of plan B (Science should stay, but violin ambitions will need to be reduced). Does this sound reasonable?

P.S. Bruce, everybody is different, I do not believe in rules. As Lydia said - depends on one's focus, genetics, etc. Honest teacher will tell you if you are not practicing enough for what you want to achieve.

August 19, 2022, 11:58 PM · That might be your experience, Bruce, but I don't think that's true for the majority of people. A skill, once learned, should remain. It's knowledge. Sheer speed, strength, flexibility, etc. has to be physically maintained to keep the body in shape, and that does take time (dependent on individual physiology, though). But skills take years to deteriorate if unused.

The violin skills I gained in childhood have largely been retained without effort, as long as I'm doing some playing on a casual level. Skills gained in adulthood have been more incremental, but I finished childhood with a fairly complete technical base.

Edited: August 20, 2022, 12:42 AM · I’m not taking orchestra auditions because
1. The time necessary to prepare adequately (5-6 hours a day for 4-6 weeks before each audition) would make it difficult for me to continue doing the things I do which bring in money (mainly teaching; gigs are less demanding)
2. The psychological torture of auditions is something I am no longer willing to endure, because (and most importantly)....
3. My husband has a job he enjoys, we have a house we like, our children were born and raised in San Antonio and, although they have grown and flown, it is their home, I have over thirty years of building a teaching and gigging reputation here, and therefore moving would be economically unwise and emotionally undesirable.

Best not to make assumptions about why someone might not be taking auditions.

August 20, 2022, 6:49 AM · To add to Lydia's analysis of double majoring, there is the problem of scheduling overlap, especially in required courses. And travel time between buildings if it's a large campus. I was fortunate that my two majors were in the same building at a small school. And the library was across the street. And the gym/natatorium was next door.

Bruce, on the internet without cues of facial expression, tone of speech, etc. you are coming across as aggressive.

Edited: August 20, 2022, 7:59 AM · I agree with Lydia about the hour a day practice being sufficient for progress if it's efficient. That's all I can manage and I've made good progress over the last two years though it's getting slower as I approach perfection asymptotically. I won't land on Planet Hilary but I may be able to get into high orbit.

Lubricous? Whatever that means, your "analysis" is off the mark.

August 20, 2022, 9:20 AM · We're in a similar situation as the OP except cello instead of violin, and I've found the sometimes rambling discussion helpful. For example we'll look at UMich seriously...the cello faculty is excellent and it's a very good school generally, like UNC-CH here, which doesn't have a conservatory-level music program.

I don't think it's too far off-topic to ask the same question for cello. And in general, if a great violin studio is recommended here, it's definitely worth a look at the rest of the programs.

Edited: August 20, 2022, 12:17 PM · Stan I'm there with you -- daughter is a 16 yo cellist. My own perception -- which could be wrong -- is that the cello and violin worlds are pretty similar in terms of overall quality of schools, questions about how to pursue an education, and such. I used to think that cello was less competitive -- and at a certain level I think it is. At the highest levels, everything is bloody competitive and that's just the way it is. What I realizes is that the main difference between cello and violin worlds is there seems to be an extra, say, 50% of anxiety and neurosis in the violin world.

When I stop working on a piece for a couple of weeks and start up again, I find that there might be a *few* technical spots that have become rusty, but *overall* my trajectory is renewed and even somewhat faster because whatever luster the piece may have lost for me has been regained and I plow into my work with more enthusiasm.

My violin spent 25 years in a box. I found, when I returned, it took about a month to restore myself to where I was before -- mainly just issues of speed and stamina. My problem was that I didn't realize, in high school, how poorly I actually played even though many of the indicators were there; I was merely in denial about them. My new teacher cured me of that real fast.

Bruce: These discussions always take on lives of their own, particularly when the OP does not return to engage the thread or to indicate which responses they found the most valuable.

Editing for humor: At least you didn't say "lugubrious." The best alternative for this particular thread might have been "loquacious."

August 20, 2022, 2:20 PM · In a forum like this one, some people are transactional. They pop in to have a question answered but have no real intent at deeper engagement. I expect that the OP might pop in again in another week to read responses. But the thread has a life of its own, as other parents chime in with their own thoughts and concerns and others share experiences. Threads naturally morph with the discussion, especially when there is no subthreading hierarchy available. (This forum isn't active enough to need it.) This forum has never had a tradition of tightly scoped responses, and arguably has gotten significantly less freewheeling over time, as there used to be quite a bit of essentially social chatter in threads.
Edited: August 20, 2022, 2:37 PM · Bruce, if I don't work on a piece for two weeks and come back to it (which happens a lot, I lead a busy life), but the piece was more than very superficially learned, it does not feel awkward. If I left it for three months, I will have forgotten some details. (Also given that your wife is a pro, I would certainly expect that she plays better than I do! I found your comment to that end faintly puzzling.)

Everyone is different. I have trouble memorizing and retaining fiddle tunes despite them being technically simple.

I don't think anyone in this thread has been unkind, and virtually every post is helpful in some way. I, at least, am deliberately encouraging the notion that music-loving youngsters ought to be able to find satisfying adult lives that combine nonmusical professional success with ample opportunities to make music at a high level of competence.

August 20, 2022, 3:36 PM · Bruce, I think you are fitting in here just great!

ONE OF US! ONE OF US!

August 20, 2022, 3:44 PM · OP, I'm not sure if you are still following this thread but Oberlin has a "new" faculty member and while she might not have the track record of more established professors, she seems like someone with whom I'd trust my daughter. Violin performance professors have a lot of power over their students...

https://www.oberlin.edu/francesca-depasquale

August 20, 2022, 4:04 PM · ICYMI (I did until now). Relatedly, Claire Allen recently posted a lovely blog on this site about playing post-high-school: Violin After High School: What's Next?

Edited: August 20, 2022, 9:34 PM · This is a really interesting this discussion to follow and I enjoy Bruce's comments - among others.

As someone who has a pre-teen child learning violin fairly seriously, it is pretty sad to hear that even for people going to top tier music school such as Julliard, it's not guaranteed to have a great career with good income in music. This leads to parents considering Plan A, Plan B, Dual Major, etc.. It's totally contrast with people graduating from comp. sci. in MIT or other specific degree in Harvard. I do know people who decided to move to Europe for music degree vs staying in North America. I wonder if they do have more career opportunities in Europe.

I hope that there could be innovative ways to promote classical music to have more career opportunities to violinists and general classical music performers. I find that in my own small city (Ottawa), the general suzuki program really did a good job in introducing music to the general young population (most serious players do leave the Suzuki program after a few years). The city orchestra program also have the $15 promotional ticket for young adult < 30 years old. However, I don't think the art centre orchestra really works together with the major music clubs with promotional (aka. free) tickets to entice young adults to watch the orchestra and listen to classical music.

Anyhow, just an overall observations on opportunity for classical music performers vs other career path.

Edited: August 21, 2022, 12:34 AM · Liz, my daughter has EU citizenship and we have family members there who are full-time musicians. Generally speaking, life for musicians isn't easy over there. Social safety networks are more available especially up in the Nordic countries than in the US but maybe it's not that different in Canada.

Job opportunities might be better but it's still very competitive and they don't pay all that well.

One thing that's clearly better in the EU than the US is conservatory tuition. But then the rest of the world knows this too so they get applications from around the world. The best programs/studios in France, Germany, etc are just as competitive as Curtis and Colburn.

Even if we wouldn't have much tuition to pay if she gets into a conservatory in the EU, we'd still pay for her living expenses. Living in cities like Paris is expensive and stressful.

I read Producing Excellence: The Making of Virtuosos
Book by Izabela Wagner awhile ago and it really gave me a pause. We have had discussions here about how sports and violin are similar. Raising a child hoping that they'll make it as a professional violinist isn't really that different from raising a child to become a professional athlete. Unless your child is clearly meant for that path, I would want a Plan B and Plan C. And I've told my daughter many times that her alternate plans cannot be in fine or performance arts.

August 21, 2022, 3:36 AM · I know on some instruments there are professors who are legendary for taking/creating students who get symphony positions. Is that the case for violin? Are there a handful of teachers whose students have done especially well in the last decade?
August 21, 2022, 9:15 AM · The meme of the starving artist (i.e. someone who gets a fine arts degree) isn't really true. No, you're not going to make engineer money, in all likelihood, but you can make professional money, as long as you're willing to work a corporate job (rather than being a studio artist selling individual works, or teaching). You can go into commercial graphic design / commercial illustration. You can go work for a company that produces video, such as an advertising company. You can work in video game production, or film production. You can do project management for all of the above. Etc. (And if you want to go to graduate school, you could pivot to a career in architecture or computer graphics, both of which pay quite well.)

Options for fine artists are much broader than for musicians, at least for actually using those artistic skills in a traditional corporate setting. It's a perfectly reasonable Plan B for a music major.

Edited: August 21, 2022, 10:17 AM · I wonder how many musicians are also good at visual design. Based on some of the websites I've seen for violin teachers, the overlap isn't 100%.

It's true that a bachelor's degree in music isn't useless -- it's a college degree, after all. But "pivoting" to something like architecture would take additional education and training. And that's the problem, especially in the US: Higher education is bloody expensive, and as others have pointed out, it's not just tuition and fees but living expenses, too, plus opportunity costs while you're in school. Thus a person who is "pivoting" after failing to become economically secure as a musician will face the same choices that high-school students face: Expensive college education or skilled trade? I imagine those scales are tipped much farther toward the trade when you're 30 years old and you already have a mountain of debt. These days are things like "graphic design" and "project management" not essentially skilled trades? I know someone who is an excellent classical guitarist who has her own business in bespoke (high-end) cabinets and furniture -- making new or restoring antiques.

Edited: August 21, 2022, 10:31 AM · My point, responding to Kiki, was that fine artists have a lot of options that musicians don't have, not that musicians could take on fine arts careers.

Musicians aren't meaningfully worse off than any other college graduate that doesn't major something that leads directly to a corporate relevant job -- philosophy, history, women's studies, etc.

Edited: August 21, 2022, 12:35 PM · I agree mostly. The remaining doubt comes from the fact that other humanities degrees (if they're done right and taken seriously by the student) develop skills in writing, critical reading, and even debate or oral communication that are not centerpieces of a music degree. People don't just get hired ... they get hired to do something, so if your only marketable skill is playing the violin, your prospects are going to be pretty weak.
August 21, 2022, 3:48 PM · Clarifying because I think there was some misunderstanding of something I said upthread.

YES, both Curtis and Colburn are free tuition schools. But YES it is still possible to end up with crushing student loan debt from those schools. Why? Because one still has to pay rent and eat, and that costs money. Without significant parental contribution and/or outside scholarships, it can be hard to earn that much money as a student.

Edited: August 21, 2022, 4:42 PM · Even if you are getting a BM in performance, you still have a modest core of liberal arts classes, along with academic music courses (I assume you will still write papers in music history and musicology). I'd lay pretty good odds that if you were a top high school student, your oral and written communication and critical thinking are more than good enough to get a corporate job.
August 21, 2022, 5:59 PM · Mary Ellen, Colburn now also covers on-campus housing and meals, but there is an annual fee of around $4000 to cover all the incidentals (and financial aid available for that fee). Curtis still is just tuition but offers financial aid for living expenses.
August 21, 2022, 6:14 PM · OP likely long gone, but props to Kiki's comment regarding Francesca DePasquale. My daughter had some chamber coaching which she enjoyed. She teaches pre-college at Juilliard also. A friend of my daughter's has just started studying with her.
August 21, 2022, 6:15 PM · Lydia what are those "corporate jobs" called? I'm asking because once in a while my department (chemistry at VT) will graduate someone at either the BS or MS level who has maybe lost interest in chemistry but still needs a job. Notably sometimes they are very good at writing. I'd like to be able to direct these folks to some of those "corporate jobs".
August 21, 2022, 6:37 PM · Among my (Canadian) acquaintances, those who graduated with a music performance degree are able to make a living from teaching (violin or piano) and gigging.
In contrast, art college graduates don't have such opportunities. In order to make a living, people I know who have graduated from art college have generally gone back to school to get a "professional masters" degree such as a Master of Social Work or Master of Public Administration. (Someone who studies art because they are interested in personal artistic expression may not be a good fit for a corporate arts career.)
August 21, 2022, 10:29 PM · Susan, that financial aid from Curtis would include loans, I assume.

Good to know about Colburn.

Edited: August 21, 2022, 11:40 PM · Concrete examples drawn from among my friends/acquaintances with BFAs (all went to good schools): One works in video games (promoted from artist to producer, eventually). One works in 3D modeling and simulation for an aerospace company. One lucked into an animator job at Pixar, and now owns a restaurant. One went to graduate school and became an architect (BFAs are a common undergrad path for architects). One went into interior design and now works for a design magazine. One took a corporate web design job, worked their way up the ranks, and now works at Disney as a project manager (overseeing artists). Another initially took a job as an animator with a children's educational video company, and now works in corporate graphic design, and does freelance photography on the side.

Paul, off the top of my head: For anyone who comes from a STEM discipline with a good quantitative background, they're potentially candidates for a management consulting job, though the university has to be good enough that the consulting firms recruit there. A generic quantitative background is also decent qualification for many IT consulting firms / body shops, some investment banks, etc. Technology vendors hire people with general quantitative backgrounds and decent computer skills (coding or hardware skills a plus, not a necessity) for tech support or technical sales jobs.

Students specifically from chemistry backgrounds can be hired into pharmaceutical and biotech sales jobs, and potentially entry-level product marketing or product management jobs, especially if they've had some business coursework. They are also sometimes eligible for operations supervisor jobs (overseeing workers on a factory floor) at certain types of manufacturers -- here it would help to have had some supply chain management coursework. With some certificate coursework, they can become a patent paralegal. There are great opportunities in data science if they get a bit of related coursework or training.

People who combine science with very strong writing skills can consider science journalism, or an editing job at a science publisher, though neither of those options pay well.

I don't see anywhere near as many chemistry majors showing up in my line of work as I do physics majors, but it's not fundamentally all that different, especially for those who have p-chem backgrounds.

August 22, 2022, 6:38 AM · Mary Ellen, no, it is now grants at Curtis, as they received a new donation specifically designed to eliminate loans. https://www.curtis.edu/apply/financial-aid/
Edited: August 24, 2022, 1:11 PM · “what are those 'corporate jobs' called?”

For BMs (performance only, no other degree), those “corporate jobs” have the titles “admin assistant” or “realtor.” There are standalone BMs in writing, graphic design, or software engineering jobs, but those skills were accumulated outside of the BM.

Most of the corporate jobs listed above for chemistry majors are unlikely for the BM-only student. And as with all other majors, it would take extra effort beyond a mere degree to get past the resume screen, through internships and extracurriculars.

Someone suggested above that BMs and humanities BAs are equally situated in the job market. I think it’s easier for humanities majors to build a competitive resume for specific corporate or industry jobs than BMs. Internships can conflict with expectations for a BM (summer festivals, practice time).

Edited: August 22, 2022, 4:42 PM · I agree with Frieda that the sort of jobs that are open to chemistry majors aren't open to BM students (or for that matter most BA humanities students). Employers are looking for quantitative backgrounds that indicate that the student has decent computer skills, solid reasoning skills, good number sense -- and frankly is smart enough to have survived a STEM curriculum. (We could argue that you have to be smart to successfully get an English degree, too, but employers see it differently.)

Anyone who isn't emerging with specific vocational skills or attractive quantitative skills is going into the general hopper of 'the college degree is what a high school degree used to be' -- a weed-out credential used to reduce the job applicant pool: "entry-level jobs for college graduates no experience" is what Google handily autocompletes. Admin, sales, customer support, and various bureaucratic paper-pushing jobs are the white-collar options. Some people have good luck getting into tech by attending a coding boot camp.

I have a freelancer acquaintance who was a full-time pro orchestra player in Europe, came to the US because their spouse moved for a job, and now works at NASA in a quality control position. I know a young freelancer who went to coding boot camp during the pandemic and now works as a software engineer. If you're technically minded it isn't necessarily super difficult to shift.

August 22, 2022, 3:46 PM · My, how off topic we are.

It is amazing the number of older people who think they know what is going on now. And the number of people from the other side of the field (teachers) who think that what they know as prof's has anything at all to do with the student experience. What a bunch of nonsense.

Edited: August 22, 2022, 6:08 PM · Michael, do you have a specific point that you're disagreeing with?

I will note that the perspective I'm offering is by and large a recent one. I deal with enough young people in an explicit 'corporate networking to get a job' context that I feel reasonably versed in who is getting hired where (and my job also gives me access to quantitative data about skills and jobs).

Note, of course, that the type of student we're talking about -- stellar high school academic record, good-to-elite college, likely job-hunting in major metropolitan areas in the US -- is not the kid who scraped by with a B average in high school, went to a mediocre college, and has emerged with no useful skills to speak of.

August 22, 2022, 5:20 PM · Think you meant Michael?
August 22, 2022, 6:08 PM · Oops, edited.
August 22, 2022, 6:50 PM · I hate to be going off topic in this long thread... but I am wondering if there a demand for musicians of Mozart's caliber? if yes, then the problem that the best students nowadays cannot afford to invest fully in their music development (as this investment has negative returns) needs to be solved. The only solution I see is to identify talented kids at around 12-14 years old (before they get to high school) and sponsor the ones identified. Yes, we are talking about millions of dollars + instruments that will be guaranteed to these students. Maybe just 20 students like that. Can a system like this work?
Edited: August 22, 2022, 7:28 PM · Isn't that basically what the soloist track looks like already? Most of the major soloists seem to have already performed with major orchestras multiple times by age 12.
August 22, 2022, 7:33 PM · Musicians of Mozart's caliber? I think would find many (most?) accomplished teens playing behind Mozart's caliber? I always have to qualify that I am not a musician, but the average caliber of player compared to Mozart's time is hugely higher. From what I've read.
Now as a composer.....
Edited: August 22, 2022, 8:18 PM · It is true that not everyone who is potentially capable of making a career in music has the family means to study music at the highest level. But there are already so many that do -- that possess the gifts, determination, and family means to pursue it seriously -- that there are far more conservatory graduates than there are jobs, already. For a competition at the 12-ish age, there's, at the very least, the Junior Menuhin.
August 22, 2022, 10:25 PM · "Junior Menuhin" always reminds me of other "junior" things like Junior Mints and Junior Achievement and, of course, the Whopper Jr.
August 22, 2022, 10:35 PM · Also off-topic-despite the truths of the current status-quo being that well-off families have the advantage, we should never get to the point of cynicism where certain demographics should not even try working both hard and smart at the art of violin playing. We should not give in to elitism because it *is* the norm and more obvious, easiest path.

(Ms. Leong-not implying you are doing the above, as you were just stating general facts. In fact, not attacking anyone on this particular thread or whole board. Just that often I feel these violin education issues and threads get an "all or nothing" tone, which, if one is being absolutely cynical, would mean that many music programs should not even exist, given the current situation. Even if there isn't a need for new violinists in the world, the violin should still be studied, whether by 4 year olds, 14 year olds, or even older, with reasonable expectations. One could argue that many other "useless" degrees should not exist either-I hate calling any degree "useless", therefore the quotes. But individual aspirations do exist, regardless economical prospects. It is up to the individuals/parents/guardians to accept and be OK with a degree they love but may not be able to "succeed" with. Perhaps the journey alone may be worth it for these highly driven, stubborn individuals.)

My apologies for my perhaps absurd take. Hope all goes well for Ms. Julia's daughter! Peace to all.

Edited: August 23, 2022, 12:25 AM · Adalberto has made a very good point, in favour of studying for a music degree and the violin (or indeed any other instrument), regardless of a high-level success criterion. As he says, 'Perhaps the journey alone may be worth it... .'

In an average symphony orchestra concert the audience/orchestra ratio is something like 12 to 1. There seem not to be any statistics to inform us of the proportion of amateur musicians and music graduates not-working-in-music in the audience, but that group is probably among the most faithful and thoughtful elements in the concert-going public. Yet when I read some of the conversation here, there is a subtext that these are the 'failures'!

Oh dear! Let's step back and ponder the need for an audience that pays for its tickets, buys music, and helps to maintain local music shops and luthiers. Without its audience the well runs dry, and music becomes Bishop Berkeley's tree in the forest.

August 23, 2022, 8:35 AM · Where have you picked up the idea that anyone thinks amateur musicians or music graduates who have changed fields are the failures? Anyone who finds a life's work which they enjoy, which pays enough to live on with a little left over for fun and savings, and which makes a positive contribution to society is a real success story.

With my students, I'm not trying to teach future professionals, although a few of my former students are professional musicians and many more are teachers. I'm teaching the future audience. My hope is to help my students develop a skill which they can enjoy their entire lives, and which will bring joy to themselves and others.

Edited: August 23, 2022, 10:13 AM · The issue is the audience. Without audience, violin will be foregone and bygone. This is where I support local Suzuki clubs that can bring everyone together to play (violin, viola, cello, etc.). The kids do not need to be exceptional. They can learn to play by ear and play together with other kids in the ensemble without having to do significant hours practice everyday requirements.

The local orchestras should really team up with these clubs to provide free tickets to the kids. Parents will likely join and pay money for their own ticket to accompany kids to the concerts.

August 23, 2022, 10:15 AM · I think that it is arguably tragic when young players get to a high skill level and then never touch the instrument again, but it's still not a waste (beyond the possible opportunity cost), and it's not a "failure". It's functionally impossible to tell who will and won't keep playing (although there are certainly kids who hate it but are diligently playing on because they're good at it and their parents won't allow them to quit). Consequently, all students deserve the best teaching that they can get, given their circumstances.
August 23, 2022, 10:40 AM · Mary Ellen: Wayne Booth wrote an interesting book out of his usual specialty (he was a famous literary theorist) about his life as an amateur cellist. I am compressing his argument somewhat incorrectly, but I remember that he put a great value on amateur chamber music for its civic value. It forces people to do their best and share with others, and also be more knowledgeable observers of professionals. I'm not sure he made this precise analogy, but it is comparable to what people get when they keep after their school athletics. It is much easier to be a good basketball fan when you've worked on the same things that Bird and Jordan were so good at.

Incidentally, Booth was not a bad cellist, even though he did start after college. I once sight-read some Shostakovich with him and while his tone was not glamorous, he was a perceptive member of the quartet.

Edited: August 23, 2022, 11:00 AM · Lydia:

A different problem altogether, but the constant chase toward perfection in music performance probably rewards a degree of narcissism. In such a case, quitting may be preferable to being second-rate.

I have seen the occasional amateur musician make that decision. At least one had some fascinating personality disorders.

August 23, 2022, 11:05 AM · I like Mary Ellen's definition of success.
August 23, 2022, 12:42 PM · Yes, props to Mary Ellen. Spot on.
August 23, 2022, 1:48 PM · Mary Ellen wrote:

'I'm not trying to teach future professionals, although a few of my former students are professional musicians and many more are teachers. I'm teaching the future audience. My hope is to help my students develop a skill which they can enjoy their entire lives, and which will bring joy to themselves and others.'

I fully agree with and admire this affirmation as a teacher's mission. My previous observation arose from what I called a subtext - an inner message conveyed here and there below the surface. As I am neither a music professional nor music teacher (and a music teacher is surely a music professional), and not a US citizen or resident, I perceived that in contributing to this thread I have slightly trespassed into a discourse community where I don't fully belong. I apologise for being slightly gauche, and would simply say that I was led into the discussion by my lifelong belief that arts and languages are civilized communal spaces that transcend social, economic and cultural barriers.

August 24, 2022, 11:35 AM · Richard, Different points of view are always valuable. You are not a trespasser and you do belong here because the commonality here for all is love of the violin.
August 24, 2022, 3:08 PM · Thank.you Ann! I love this site, and it was a real anchorage of sanity during the pandemic.

Best wishes,

Richard

Edited: August 24, 2022, 8:52 PM · Adalberto wrote, "...if one is being absolutely cynical, would mean that many music programs should not even exist." The same thoughts are entertained by practitioners in other fields. I remember attending a special conference created by the American Chemical Society to discuss the future of graduate education in chemistry. The "Top 50" (yes, imagine that) programs were invited to send representatives, and I think my program, at the time, was No. 49. (Some 200 institutions in the US award doctorates in chemistry. Should the last 10 be doing that?) One of the ideas proposed was that graduate students shouldn't have to be teaching assistants for more than a year or so while they're earning PhD's. The rest of the time they should be supported on grants. Well that implies that 80% or more of your students are supported on grants. At the time I think 30% of the grad students in my own department had research (grant-fueled) assistantships. Professors from the top few schools were incredulous when I pointed out these simple truths. There isn't more grant money to be had, at least not collectively. I also remember when our department hosted a visitor from Harvard University. I'll never forget his words: "You guys have to figure out how to not do so much darned teaching." I think he had no idea what "state university" actually means.

My point is that these discussions become rather off-putting when the general consensus is that you're either an elite player destined for one of the top few institutions, or you "might as well snap your fiddles over your knees" as Kreisler famously said upon hearing a young Heifetz. There may be some truth to that if it's "soloist or salaried orchestra seat or nothing" but in reality, choices are not binary. There's a lot of career territory and even more happiness to be had between salaried section player and nothing.

August 24, 2022, 9:14 PM · I don't think that people assert that it's the elite ranks or nothing, but when a student isn't likely to be destined for those ranks, parents generally want to put serious thought into the return on investment. Now, some families are fortunate enough to have the finances to put a child through an expensive education that might never pay for itself, and have the means to support that child's dreams whatever those dreams happen to be. But that's not the reality for most families, even those well-off-enough to have funded a music education to date (i.e. through high school). In some cultures, parents expect that their child will support them in old age -- and that requires the child have sufficient income to be able to do so.

Plenty of students who grow up comfortably upper middle class also have no notion of what it's like to not have a stable income, health insurance, and financial safety net in adulthood. They may have a seriously romanticized view of the life of a freelancing pro. No one does them a kindness by protecting them from the reality.

Now, some people are on the side of "follow your dreams, no matter what!" and I think that's okay for some people, but for many, the analysis of, "... and at what cost?" has to be considered.

I have a friend whose dreams were absolutely crushed when they entered a performance program at a third-rate state university, and for the first time encountered lots of people better than them -- and an exposure to an understanding of just how many people there were at better schools who were staggeringly better than them. They didn't make it past their freshman year, and it derailed their entire adult life in a way they never recovered from.

August 25, 2022, 1:29 AM · The crushing reality of climate change should have us all rethinking most of our decisions, including the educations and jobs we pursue. Still, better to go down fiddlin' than a lot of other ways.
August 25, 2022, 9:04 AM · Lydia, I agree entirely. In fact one of my favorite sayings is that the definition of being upper-middle-class is that ability to go to college and major in whatever you want, knowing that you will never starve.
August 31, 2022, 3:27 PM · The September/October 2022 issue of STRINGS magazine has an 8-page section on music colleges, highlighted by a 3 page article with tips on 'acing your music college audition' 'by Miranda Wilson, Associate Professor of Cello at the Lionel Hampton School of Music, University of Idaho. The remaining 5/8 of the section is comprised of advertisements from various music colleges.

My copy arrived yesterday afternoon.

Edited: August 31, 2022, 3:52 PM · Paul, CAS. Out of the lab but requires lots of chemistry knowledge as well as a very excellent memory.
August 31, 2022, 4:37 PM · Andy did they say anything about beta blockers? :)
September 1, 2022, 4:42 PM · Bruce/Stan: Not that I saw, but they do recommend "practice (low risk) performances."

If you screw those up use your own judgement!
Weigh your "moral stance" against your life dream.

Edited: September 4, 2022, 8:17 PM · Ann, when I was in grad school, going to work for CAS was considered in the same general vein as a newly minted JD going to work for H&R Block. Still, I know students who have gone to CAS after graduation and it was a good fit for them.
September 4, 2022, 9:03 PM · I heard the same nonsense too. People who say that have no idea what it means to be responsible for an authority database that ia used worlwide. It's certainly a better place to work than most and much, much more lucrative.

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