When the violin is more than a hobbie…
The violinists work is varied. Perhaps you’ve been doing one or more things to provide you with a source of income. There are different kinds of jobs: teaching, arranging and composing songs, being a session musician, or even busking!
Today I want to focus on the performing musician. In particular, I’ll detail the fields in which I’ve had the most experience: orchestras – the classical string player’s field – as well as bands, and performing on events.
I started off in with classical music, in orchestras: the world that most string players are introduced to first. Venturing outside of it, and into the intriguing world of popular music, will have its learning curve. That was my experience, after finally having enough of classical music: at first, it was hard to see the positive aspects of the world I was leaving behind (let’s just say I was happy to be outta there..!). I see things more clearly now; this means I can objectively analyze both the pros and cons of playing in the classical world. At the same time, you’re here in Rock the Violin! That’s because you want to get started – or already have – in the popular music field. In that case, I can also show you what it involves playing in bands and events.
I hope this short guide will help you and inspire you to play in either one (or both) of those worlds, and to find what makes you happiest!
This is the first musical world I worked in: a difficult, competitive one. I had my first audition for a Youth Symphonic Orchestra at 18. Since, I’ve played in Symphonic Orchestras, Opera Orchestras, and Chamber Orchestras. They all have the same characteristics. You must pass an audition (which, to me, is unnatural and outdated), and the competition is hard and never-ending. Technical achievement is the sole factor that defines a good musician, and mistakes are harshly criticized – musicality, ironically, isn’t valued.
The downside is, to me, immense. However, playing classical music is very rewarding. Masterpieces are technically complex, and equally satisfying to perform. I would argue this aspect alone makes it overcome the cons that playing it alongside modern musicians imposes.
In terms of practicality, playing in orchestras has the huge advantage of organization. All you need to do is show up on time, carrying your instrument (this may be a slight pain in the ass if you’re not a violist or violinist, though!). Forget about sheet music, stands, lights,… all is taken care of. Most importantly: the rehearsals, the performances, and the salary, are all pre-arranged. Yes, there’s a dress code, but you can still choose what to wear within it. Sounds pretty comfortable, doesn’t it?
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