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I'm a violinist who will be a senior in high school next year. I am very serious about my music, and I plan to get a degree in music performance; I even pay for my music lessons by myself. My violin, though, is worse than a hollow 2 by 4. I was wondering if anyone could help me or has any suggestions.

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I am first time in this forum. I hope you don't mind I ask

what makes you think your violin is not good. Have you been playing it in an acoustic friendly place? Have you compared it with other violin? A violin

could sound a lot better in an acoustic friendly environment.---Just my thought.

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i have played my violin in very good acoustics, including the mayerson in dallas (im in the greater dallas youth orchestra), but i can't seem to get a good sound out of it. it doesn't project at all, it won't ever stay in tune, and i cant even play fifths on it unless i am way out of tune. it is very frustrating to play on.

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the problem is that neither me or my parents have money to purchase a violin. my mother only has a part-time job is going to school; my dad has to support the family by himself. i was wondering if you had any suggestions as to getting a loan or something; anything would help. thanks!

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When did you last change your strings? If you cannot play fifths, it is possible the strings are worn out, or the fingerboard needs levelling. The latter could be expensive , but strings should be fairly cheap to replace, and the right choice can also make a big difference to the sound .

Another possibility is that your pegs are slipping. A couple of dollars investment in some peg compound might solve that. Perhaps your teacher can give you some.

Good luck.

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Here is a small dose of reality, I wish someone had once given me (about 30 years ago).

I was once in a similiar point in life. Young guy with very modest family recources hoping to become a pro violinist. It took a little inheritance to even buy a sorry German workshop violin. I had scholarships to cover tuition, but you still have to eat, sleep somewhere, and buy books. I went through 4 years of music school, bussing tables till 2 in the morning, working summers at minimum wage, playing very low paying gigs, here a a few conclusions.

To become a professional violinist in the U.S., making a decent living, your have to have alot of things going for you. Of course, talent and hard work are most important, but consider that while you are working menial jobs to pay for college/food/books/etc., the folks who will be your competition at orchestra audition time, from other situations, will be practicing, going to Aspen or Meadowmount, or just resting. When their teacher says they need a better instrument, they will jump on a plane to New York and pick one out. They might have been studying with the best teachers in the largest cities since they were 5 years old. Some of them moved across the country, or across the world, to study with a special teacher. If they are not ready to start auditions after college, they can go to New York, Vienna, anywhere to continue studies.

A few people can make it without such recources, but understand what you are up against. One can become an teacher, engineer, programmer, etc. and make a good living, play in a community orchestra, string quartet, whatever, and have the joy of music in your life.

If your a determined to become a pro violinist, understand what you are up against. I have seen alot of very talented, determined folks work so hard to end up making less money than a truck driver.

Good Luck!!

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Hi BrokenG.

I couldn't agree more, but in my case I decided to head for science rather than music, and a mixture of semi-professional playing, busking on the Underground in London and Paris (note the moniker) helped me through university and on to better things. Best of all, it was a lot of fun, and thirty years on I can still enjoy it. I wonder if some of the hothouse kids I knew in my youth orchestra has as good an experience. It's tough to be a pro.

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A friend of mine once commented to me that if you want to be a visible musician, if you hadn't won a major competition by the time you're 15, you might as well just quit.

Now, I know everyone doesn't want to be a "visible musician", but the point is that the major orchestras are filled with the hordes of folks who entered those same competitions at 15 and lost.

One comment I've heard from several conservatory teachers is that to fill classes students are encouraged to think they're going to be working musicians when in fact their chances of even ending up teaching 5th graders to play the violin is a long shot, given the incredible competition in the field.

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Hi Dvorakman,

could you send us/me perhaps pictures of your violin.

I had the luck to have always good instruments, which were stimulating further progresses. I also know, that some violins, which are used by pupils, really are so bad, that all experiments to improve them are hopeless.

Perhaps somebody has a better violin, which you could use.

Two years ago I gave one of my best violins (taxed value 5000$) as a grant to my former high-school/college in Berlin, but amazingly nobody wanted to get it until now.

Perhaps the economical situation is different in Germany?

With greetings


P.S.: Once I also planned to become a professional musician, but I think that I am happier with my profession as a M.D. and professor. To make music is also a great hobby!


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i cant even play fifths on it unless i am way out of tune.

This doesn't make sense....please explain what you mean by this. I suspect that your problem is (as previously stated) pegs,strings, set-up.

I would certainly take care of those first and learn the process of a basic set-up long before I considered a new violin. You never know how good a violin can sound if it isn't set-up properly.

Another thing to consider grasshopper....even if you don't have the best violin, learn how to get the best sound out of it before you go the next step. Have your teacher/instructor/slave driver play it for you and I'd bet it will sound wonderful.

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I'm assuming that you weren't doing all these things and also being a woman. The only reason we could get music jobs when I graduated from college was that the men who had been our college comrades, often not nearly as accomplished musically or academically, were being drafted. After spending a year as a "placeholder" until a MAN could get back and take my job, I got a fellowship and entered a teaching field in which there were never enough qualified professionals, and it didn't make any difference what your gender was. I have had regrets about not pursuing more active participation, but in the sense that I have often been "paid to play" I've kept myself pretty active. I will retire from my "left brain" profession and return to my "right brain" passion within the next few years, and I fully expect to get paid for more things more often. I must add however that I was NEVER the spotlight type. To me, music was music was music was music, and I never minded performing in a pit or a balcony or a church loft or outside or whatever. As long as I was meeting my own standards of excellence, I just kept doing what I was doing whatever I could. Of course, I am dreaming of a long, juicy music-filled retirement.

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I hope you are heeding the suggestions that are being made to this reply.

My daughter has a violin that was set up horribly and no one was aware of it until I showed it to a friend last year. The tailpiece was laying on the saddle, the sound post was tilted and in the wrong position, the bridge was sized improperly, the wrong angle and positioned incorrectly, the fine tuners extended too far and made the after length of the strings short, the nut needed reworked, and it had very cheap strings on it.

A guy that I knows that plays violin, he doesn't even work on them, set it up initially for my daughter by making a number of minor adjustments and putting on a set of used dominants that he had laying around. The difference made it obvious that this hollow piece of wood may be well worth the price of a professional setup. Today this violin isn't her performing violin but it is one of the best projecting violins with the sweetest sound that she has.

My advice to you is this; take the violin to a luthier and get his opinion as to whether it is worth the price of a professional setup. They won't tell you that it is if they cannot make it worth the price. If he says that it is worth the cost but you still can't afford to pay for it, start saving until you can. If it isn't worth the price of a setup then seek help from your private teacher or your fellow members of the youth orchestra in acquiring one that will fit into your budget. Set your goals realistically because you don't want to dedicate your entire paycheck to the purchase of a violin. Remember that your violin, even though you do not like it, may still have some trade in value if you purchase thru a dealer.

I would also suggest that you have an accomplished violinist play your violin and see how that person makes it sound, try playing your violin with someone else’s bow, and finally play someone else’s violin with your bow. To me it is amazing the difference that the bow can make as was pointed out at some point in this thread.

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