Do you have to go to college to truly progress at the violin?
Hi everyone, I was wondering what you guys thought about going to college in music vs. not going to college in music and how greatly your opportunities to play are impacted? I am a junior in high school and cant decide if I want to go into college for music or not.
No. Get a good teacher and put in two to three hours a day and you'll be pretty good in everyone's eyes. Not good enough to make a living outside teaching amateurs, but that's a function of supply and demand and not your ability to make enjoyable music
How big a part of your adult life do you foresee playing the violin to be? Or to put it another way, what are your musical goals in life?
I'll go against the grain this time. To really progress rapidly , you need both a good teacher and several hours of serious practice each day, and freedom from distractions. The other courses that you have to take in college, even as a music major, can interfere with that. And, private lessons through a college usually have a "jury" (hate that word) of assigned performance repertoire at the end of each semester that can interfere with technical work. I made my most rapid technical progress when I dropped out of my college music major, took lessons for two years from a legendary master teacher in the Los Angeles area, and did music jobs on weekends. I went back later to finish the BA. In general, I would encourage almost everyone Not to do the music performance major, because of the ridiculous supply/demand ratio of the music business. It's better to be a high-level amateur than an under-employed second-tier professional. End of speech. jq
Many years ago when I was considering whether or not to go for a carrier in music my violin teacher gave me this advise: "If you are in doubt, don't. If there is anything else you could as well see as your future career go for that instead."
I take it the issue is not whether or not to go to College, but whether to major in music performance in your course.
When I was at school and wanted to go to one of the music Colleges in London as a cellist, which I could have done because I was sufficiently qualified to do so in those days, the school careers adviser and the head of music both advised me that a career in music at all areas was an uncertain profession (and still is, of course), and that I would be far better off to go into a science/engineering based career, because I was good at that, and enjoy playing music as an amateur.
I think if you are asking this question as a junior in high school, then you likely already know the answer: Chemistry, mechanical engineering, law, business management, or medicine. But for goodness sake don't do what I did and put your violin on a shelf for 25 years.
As a follow up to Mary Ellen's question, how deeply do you want to understand the music you study (the options being jazz or classical)?
Samuel recently posted that he was learning DeBeriot 2. That's not a level at which entrance into a good violin performance program is likely.
Thanks so much for all the replies so far! As far as what I want to do with the violin is I just want to get better and eventualy be able to play anything that I want to play and to gain a very high levle of technique. I also think it would be fun to play in community orchestras and mabey a quartet or something as well.
In that case I agree that you should not major in music. Go to college, major in something else that you enjoy and are good at (preferably with an eye to a future path to employment), and continue taking lessons and practicing as much as you can without compromising your success in your studies.
I agree generally with Mary Ellen's last comment. I do not believe that you have to spend huge amounts of time practicing. Rather, I would practice enough so that you make good progress that you're personally happy with, and that you have enough time and energy to devote to other important things. I have heard that you don't have to declare a major right away. You could audition at a less prestigious music school and perhaps try a variety of things at the beginning of college if you want to. Of course, programs vary from college to college institution, so keep that in consideration. Plus, you don't have to make music your career, even if you do major in it. You can always study for another profession.
A BM degree fundamentally puts you on a different track than getting a general BA. You probably only take one non-music course each semester. So it's not like being uncertain about your major, where you can spend your freshmen year getting your general studies requirements out of the way and declare a major later on. If you start a BM program and then decide to switch out of performance, you will effectively be restarting college.
Samuel, based on what you've told us here, I've got the feeling that you are just thinking about your choices rather than planning for it. For instance, you seem to have only a vague notion about how far you want to go in terms of violin playing.
Aside: never heard Erlkonig before: what a great piece. Almost a shame it's so hard, it's great!
Thanks for all the great replies! Sorry I was not more specific about my goals. As far as my goals, I really like a lot of the works by Paganini, Wieniawski, Vieuxtemps ect... and when I said be able to play anything I was just meaning to be at the level of playing most of the pieces that I really enjoy and to be able to play them at a performance level. But either way I just love playing/progressing at the violin and love to play anything that is at my level:)
That's a tall order. Plenty of pros aren't able to play Paganini at performance level, and the number of amateurs that can do so and didn't earn performance degrees (or otherwise receive extremely serious training at a young age) is vanishingly small.
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