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HARD decision


Crushen
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Well my junior year in HS is wrapping up...so...time to start thinking about college, in my mind i have 2 choices

1. i can apply to a good school, get a degree in engineering, math, comp sci, etc...im very good with math and computers

2. my teacher says if i study for a year more after high school with her, ill be able to get into just about any music school

if i dont go into music will i regret it later? i love to play and practice but im not sure if i want to do this for the rest of my life, and what about money? could their be any problems making a living off of the violin?

are there better options? minor in music?

i know its my decision but i would like some input from others who have gone through this before...thx

-Dave

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I don't know how good your math and science are, but one of my former violin teachers was a prospective Harvard Physics PhD and he was seriously considering a career in music last time I talked to him.

A best friend of mine, who's going to a Caltech PhD program next year, is a piano soloist who could have no doubt got into Julliard if he applied.

A CS/math professor in my university is also a professional violinist (who managed to practice 5-7 hours a day when he was studying CS/math).

So yes, I think it is definitely possible to do both music and something else during your undergraduate years, unless, of course, you want to be another Gil or Hilary.

Stewart

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I'm sorry if what I say dashes anyone's hopes, but consider aloiv's "music school scam" post. There's light at the end of the tunnel, though...

If you go into a performance major, your life will be practice. Once you get out of college, life will be flying around auditioning for orchestras. The Atlanta Symphony's Assistant Concertmaster spot drew about 200 prospectives qualified enough to be called to audition. Only 90 showed up (secret: not many want to play 2nd violin, and not many think they're good enough to be assistant principal something), and it got down to about 16 or 17 finalists, all incredibly talented and skilled. In the final rounds you play a concerto movement (maybe more). A single mistake can get you eliminated. If you're having an off day, your mind slipped, you doubt yourself for an instance, your sound isn't right for the music director, another applicant went to school with a member of the panel, or the panel just doesn't like your face: thank you for your time, hit the road. A professional musician's life isn't regular, and even if you make it past the auditions, you have two or three years in which you do not **** up. Those are the 2-3 years in which you do not yet have tenure. Even when you're tenured, you finally have a steady source of income. Get this: a soprano soloist once said the Atlanta Symphony outplayed the Boston Symphony (one of the Big Five) in accompanying her. So the ASO may be near Big Five caliber, but starting pay ranks 17th of all American orchestras, a measly $58,000 or so for all the work and heartbreak you go through.

Don't do music performance (career) unless you love it more than anything else and would pursue it inspite of all that. If there's anything else you can do, or anything else you'd want to do, it's recommended that you do that. You mentioned computers and math. Hopkins biomedical engineering seniors get job offers like $70,000 a year starting (out of college), or $40,000 plus perks. I can't say all engineering fields will be like that, especially with the economy heading wherever it's heading, but that's shooting fish in a barrel compared to what the music field will be like.

There are other career options in music: you can teach (studio or classroom), you can freelance, you can do chamber music, you can do commercial work, you can conduct. HuangKaiVun's an example of successful freelancing, though keep in mind what Margaret Pardee said about him being a violinist through and through. I'm guessing Mr. Huang has encountered his share of hardships, and he's not in it for the money. Speaking of Ms. Pardee: in a volume of The Way They Play, she said there was a point in her life where she could either get serious and practice hard (everyone has to, even her) or "go to university and study mathematics." Dorothy Delay was a very bright student (a few grades ahead for her age and still shining), and when times were tough she considered going back to school to become a doctor, but she stuck with music (Teaching Genius).

There are double degrees like those at Hopkins-Peabody, Northwestern, Columbia-Juilliard, Oberlin, NEC-Tufts, as well as double major and minor options. Music can still be a love you come home to every day (though it's a cruel mistress). Andrew Victor and lwl aren't professional musicians, though you may not guess that from reading most of their posts. Did you know NEC's Laurence Lesser (cello) holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard? Yo-Yo Ma went to Harvard too. The cellist Jascha Schwarzman, I mean, Dr. Jascha Schwarzman, has a doctorate in economics. (There this book: Do What You Love, the Money Will Follow.)

Leonard Bernstein once said: "if you have to ask yourself whether you should do music as a career, you shouldn't." Love of practice and performance are a requisite to a performance major, though if you're worried about money and there are better options for you, you may want to reconsider. If you want to try both paths but don't want a double degree, it's better to do music first, and if it doesn't work go back and get the math/science/engineering degree, as opposed to doing it in the reverse order.

Reader's digest version: iupviolin's "if you can make it past the auditions" is not a statement to be taken lightly, though if music is all there is in your heart, if you must do that and nothing else, then do it. Of course, you have to take into account how much you like violin and the non-music option(s) and how good you are in each.

-Aman

[This message has been edited by vieuxtemps (edited 05-08-2001).]

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Here is a suggestion. Assuming your teacher is correct about being able to go to any music school and assuming you love the violin, practice hard and go to Curtis. It is tuition free so you will not be spending anything. If after a couple of years you decide to go back and do engineering you will have lost only a bit of time. In return you will have had the chance of a lifetime that many would give an arm and leg for.

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Aman, my friend, you are one smart cookie, very well informed for your young age.

I would like to add to your comments: in the final round, you will probably play a concerto movement, and a Bach or Mozart tune, but the main stuff is the excerpts, and you will play a lot of them! Yuck!

Crushen, music and money? No way. Music is a calling: I like to compare it to a nun or a Rabbi or a Priest, it is a vow of poverty in a sense. The big Orchs make money, but you have to get the big gig first, and they are very hard to get.

The smaller Orchestras? Ouch, check out the salaries of orchestras in cities like Memphis, which is a large city.

There are lots of ways to make money in violin, from teaching, weddings, orch, etc., but it will never equal the real world salaries. Of course, real world gigs will never equal the coolness of playing music for a living.

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I'd have to agree with this, although Curtis isn't completely free, you do have to consider room, board, transporation and books. If I were advising a teen ager who had a chance to go to Curtis, I'd say go just for the incredible environment. Then, if that isn't your life, do a Masters or 2nd Bachelors somewhere.

If you're not good enough for Curtis, and I mention it, because of the atmosphere that I have heard is so prevalent there. Then, consider that if you do well in engineering you will be able to support your hobby later, i.e. buy a violin you would never be able to afford otherwise. smile.gif

Elaine

Norman, OK

quote:

Originally posted by cimparent:

Here is a suggestion. Assuming your teacher is correct about being able to go to any music school and assuming you love the violin, practice hard and go to Curtis. It is tuition free so you will not be spending anything. If after a couple of years you decide to go back and do engineering you will have lost only a bit of time. In return you will have had the chance of a lifetime that many would give an arm and leg for.

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I have read that being Curtis alumni is pretty much a ticket into any of the big Orchs in the US. I find orchestral playing interesting but would personally find it very tedious to do for a living. I would love to be a soloist for living, except that is quite a bit harder even than orchestra. I know some people who make quite a bit playing violin by playing principal positions in small orchs, doing part time work w/big orchestras, teaching private lessons, and teaching at a University. You're putting a ton of time into music that way, but you're not putting any more time into your job than say a good lawyer or doctor.

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quote:

Originally posted by Crushen:

Well my junior year in HS is wrapping up...so...time to start thinking about college, in my mind i have 2 choices

1. i can apply to a good school, get a degree in engineering, math, comp sci, etc...im very good with math and computers

2. my teacher says if i study for a year more after high school with her, ill be able to get into just about any music school

if i dont go into music will i regret it later? i love to play and practice but im not sure if i want to do this for the rest of my life, and what about money? could their be any problems making a living off of the violin?

are there better options? minor in music?

i know its my decision but i would like some input from others who have gone through this before...thx

-Dave

My goodness, junior year in High School. Dear one you don't even know who you are yet. How can you possibly make decisions about what you will do the rest of your life.

I suggest you travel in Europe for a year when you finish high school, just to broaden your perspective on different ways to live. After that get a good broad liberal arts education. Some life experience and a larger view of what is possible will open yourself to possibilities you never even knew existed.

The violin is in your blood it will always be part of you. You may find though some unexpected experience that you have a talent for making the most exquisite art glass which will sell for thousands per piece.

I'm 38 and I'm just beginning to figure out who I am and what it is I want. I do know what I don't want and will not put up with though.

It is your responsibility to continually educate yourself. And for heavens sake don't ever be too complaicent to reinvent yourself either.

I have known a few mathemetitians who have been very musical. They are related arts. Don't rush to make a hasty decision, do your SATs and see where you stand. Then give yourself some time to learn about who and what you are. It will be much clearer as to how you should progress once you do.

There is no rulebook you can follow. Never stop listening to your heart. If you can dream it you can do it.

Good luck

DC

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Believe me, if you get into Curtis, you will get a job, the hard part is getting in.

I politely disagree with Mr Woof on one statement: Even though you are young, the time is NOW to decide if it's music performance you will major in, the competition is brutal out there.

If you are not sure you want to do music the rest of your life, well, I dont think you have much of a decision to make. correct?

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quote:

Originally posted by DavidK:

I politely disagree with Mr Woof on one statement: Even though you are young, the time is NOW to decide if it's music performance you will major in, the competition is brutal out there.


I would remind you that it is never too late to persue your passion. Malvina Reynolds taught herself to play the guitar and read music in her 60s. She became a cultural icon who's music is still being performed today. I bet you have even sung one.

"Where are you going, my little one, little one. Where are you going my baby my own, turn around and you're two turn around and you're four, turn around and you're a young girl going out of my door."

It says an awful lot with very plain words and a simple tune.

One year discovering oneself is not a waste of time, but rather a journey we all take eventually. Recently I had the rough experience of my mother passing a month after my brother unexpected succumb to a heart attact. No longer having parents I now understand what an orphan feels. The upheaval in my world has cause me to rexamine much in my life. I have never been so exicted about doing new things before. Life is much too short explore every opportunity. And remember the only thing you take to the grave with you is love. It goes on and lasts beyond into the great mystery.

Sorry for waxing philisophic, I just understand that as long as you can do something you need to try doing it. If you don't you will certainly fail at it.

Pax

DC

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Crushen,

If the choice is only about earning a living, the clear winner is engineering/comp science. (a pure math degree is about a financially rewarding as music) This field has a shortage, is growing and producing such high economic output that it is well compensated. Fresh EE/CS graduates will make between $35,000-$60,000 typically with excellent benefits.

There are lots and lots of threads about the lifestyle in a music conservatory. READ these, see if they appeal to you. If that kind of punishment appeals to you and you don't think it will take the joy of music away from you, then you should think about it further.

Just because you choose a different profession, doesn't mean that music is taken away from you. In fact you may find that you enjoy it more.

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quote:

Originally posted by DavidK:

Believe me, if you get into Curtis, you will get a job, the hard part is getting in.

I politely disagree with Mr Woof on one statement: Even though you are young, the time is NOW to decide if it's music performance you will major in, the competition is brutal out there.

If you are not sure you want to do music the rest of your life, well, I dont think you have much of a decision to make. correct?

ya there isnt much a decision, music school is pretty much out for me at this point, doesnt mean i cant still play violin and enjoy it just as much

i just wish i had practiced well and with the right habits the last 9 years...such a waste

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Midori is pursuing a degree in Developmental Psychology at NYU. With the Midori & Friends Foundation, she plays for kids in hospitals and talks to them (I assume). She said she was "interested in how their minds work." Not really a career change, though it's possible if she's interested enough.

-Aman

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well it's true - decision is up to you - but a few weeks ago my violin teacher gave me an intresting piece of advice:

If by the time you're 30 you don't like what you're doing - get out of it and start anew.

Just thought I'd like to share that

Well good luck in whatever you do go to!

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quote:

Originally posted by DavidK:

Believe me, if you get into Curtis, you will get a job, the hard part is getting in.

I politely disagree with Mr Woof on one statement: Even though you are young, the time is NOW to decide if it's music performance you will major in, the competition is brutal out there.

If you are not sure you want to do music the rest of your life, well, I dont think you have much of a decision to make. correct?

I agree DavidK, I knew from the time I was 11 that I wanted to be a concert violinist. I look back and wish that I had know this at 5 instead. But I can't change that now.

It's not to say Cushen that there is no place for you in music, quite the contrary, but realistically don't go into it for the money. Go into it because you couldn't possibly think if living without music.

roman

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Consider this situation:

My older sister was very good at math and science in high school. She went to a rigorous prep school and had no problem getting into any college she wanted. She majored in Botany and graduated with honors. Now, she has no problem getting lab jobs and supporting herself, but here's the unfortunate bit: she doesn't really like it. She feels as if she's not really living, just earning a living. She never had time to really figure out exactly what she loved to do.

The moral (in my humble opinion): major in what you love, not just what you're good at. Having both helps, but the former is ultimately more satisfying.

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quote:

Originally posted by lwl:

Why do you consider it a waste?

not a total waste but i didnt practice very well and developed a lot of bad habits, if i had practiced with good habits and practiced well since i was 6 i would be in much better shape right now, its hard to work up your violin skills in a couple years

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Unless you can get into Curtis, double major. I'm also a Junior, and I think (after doing intense research this year) this is the best way to do music without closing any doors. As for orchestral auditions... aren't they screened? Going to Curtis (I don't think) isn't an automatic ticket it... it just happens that since Curtis is THE top school they get THE top people who are most likely to be placed in THE top orchestras. Then again, as I've said before... as long as you do well in your music school, you should be able to go to grad school... and to get a job these days in any field you need a graduate degree... so... if you want to major in music, go for it.

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Crushen,

I can give you some light on the non-music path. In high school I was a good but not great violinist. I don't think I could have gone to any school, but I could have majored in music and seriously considered it. Instead, I made the decision to go for the more stable and finacially rewarding career. I majored in electrical engineering.

To be honest I hated EE. I didn't find alot of it very interesting. I studied violin throughout my EE program, even though I didn't major or minor in music.

Even though I didn't enjoy EE, the EE degree did open the door to my current career. I joined the Air Force and I am now a pilot. This is a career which is very rewarding. When I went back to school for a masters degree I did it in business. I enjoyed my graduate program immensely.

Now back to the music part of my life. I have continued to study the violin since I graduated from college. I play in amateur orchestras and enjoy it very much. Every orchestra seems to need string players, so I never have a problem finding a group even though I move around alot. The violin is a large part of my life, but not the only part.

Do I regret majoring in EE--absolutely not. It has opened many doors for me. Music is a tough way to make a decent living even if you're very good (vieuxtemps is very right in this regard).

I'm not trying to persuade you not to major in music. If that is where your heart takes you, by all means do it.

My point is that you can be fulfilled musically even if you don't make your living as a violinist.

My suggestion--go to an engineering school that has a good music program (they're not easy to find but do exist). The University of Michigan comes to mind. If you find that you are not happy with anything else but music, you will be positioned to make the change. Otherwise, you can still study and make progress musically.

Good Luck!

Mike

P.S. As for the double major idea... It's not really feasible in an engineering program. My EE program didn't even allow for a minor, much less a double-major. Anything is possible, but I don't think you want to spend 7 years getting 2 bachelor's degrees

[This message has been edited by MWeeks (edited 05-10-2001).]

[This message has been edited by MWeeks (edited 05-10-2001).]

[This message has been edited by MWeeks (edited 05-10-2001).]

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Perhaps this entire question is not really about what school to go to, but rather is one of how you view yourself as being sucessful.

Perhaps you should meditate on what is important to you now and think of where you would like to be twenty years from now.

Dear friend sucess is truly measured in the scope of the love that you share with others. To bring beauty and wonder into the world is one of the highest callings. It is also one of the most difficult things to do.

If your real passion is music then you will regret later having let it lapse.

Regarding money, it is all around you, you just have to figure a way to tap into it. To make money find something everyone needs or wants every day and provide it to them and you will ample money. It is not more complicated than that.

There are points we come to in life which require a "leap of faith". You must look into your heart and speak with honest conviction. None can help you make these decisions. I hope you find what you want and get what you need.

Regards,

Don Crandall

(38 y.o. and quite sure that I know very little)LOL

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Everyone here is taking a big responsibility for all their comments. I just hope Crushen does not get confuse more than ever. I just hope Crushen consider everything that was said, and make that important decision of his life. My friendly advice is: Understand your weakness, strength, interest, and financial needs, and base on them, make a compromise on which field to go. If you will be very honest to yourself, I am sure you will make the best decision, with no regrets afterward.

By the way, do not underestimate financial needs. Think of yourself 5 - 10 years from now, when you will be married and have kids, do you see yourself capable of supporting them. Remember too, if you have financial security, you can support a hobby, and maybe have enough money to buy a Stradivarius. laugh.gif

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