1) What advice would you give to parents who are considering getting violin lessons for their children?
– Find a teacher that is not only a good player but is a very good educator. To be able to teach well is a skill. A good teacher will also have knowledge in finding instruments, instrument accessories, violin books per specific level, and know-how to inspire their students.
The worst violin teacher
When I was a kid, I used to take lessons for the the instrument, the violin, where I went to school. Thing was, my teacher was the worst. Her name was Ms. Ruby and she was this little angry woman who wore her hair in a bun with bristly strands sticking up. She’d spent her whole life teaching violin after she tried to make a career out of playing. It still burned her that Juilliard rejected her application. She was a real stickler for dedication to the instrument, since she’d never had enough to make it. So if we ever forgot our instruments she took it as a personal affront and she made us write out the word ‘supercalifragilisticexpealidotious’ throughout the entire period.
One day I forgot my violin and wrote ‘supercalifragilisticexpealidotious’ forty-one times. The next time I forgot my violin I thought about the first time I’d done it and I was dead set on writing ‘supercalifragilisticexpealidotious’ more than forty-one times. I wrote it forty-four times that day.
The next time I forgot my violin Ms. Ruby was in rare form. While I set out to write ‘supercalifragilisticexpealidotious’ forty-five times, Jimmy was acting a fool. Jimmy who was the class clown. He played the flute. He was making obscene gestures with it and Ms. Ruby got so mad, the veins on her neck stood out and we all thought she was going to send Jimmy to the principal to be expelled. Instead she just left the classroom. We didn’t know what to do. It was like we were free, but we weren’t quite sure if we were really free. This girl named Shawna told Jimmy he was really in trouble when she came back. Then Jimmy started to yell at her. And just as pandemonium was set to break out, Ms. Ruby walked back in and it was dead quiet. She said she’d had to leave or else she would’ve strangled Jimmy. She wasn’t joking.
I hated Ms. Ruby, too, of course. By extension I hated taking violin lessons. I didn’t learn anything I wanted to. I always thought of my violin as a burden, as something I had to learn. Until I graduated from fifth grade and I didn’t have to take a musical instrument any more.
Forgiveness after violin lessons
After Ms. Ruby, I could never feel the same way about violin lessons. It wasn’t until recently that I started to play guitar and understood that it wasn’t the violin’s fault; it was Ms. Ruby’s. Having a great teacher makes all the difference in how you practice and get excited about violin lessons.
It all starts with the violin. If you live in NYC, you have access to one of the best Philharmonics in the world. The New York Philharmonic is the oldest in the U.S., founded in 1842, and today they have won twelve Grammys. If you’re growing up as a kid in NYC taking violin lessons, you have some really great examples to follow.
If you continue with your violin lessons for a few years, you’ll start to get good. If you combine that with a serious passion for the instrument, your chances of becoming a professional violinist increase dramatically. It all comes down to how hard you practice, not when you started. Even though the Suzuki method advocates that the younger kids start the better chances they have, those who begin playing violin after grade school can definitely still become pros. They may be intimidated by how younger kids show superb talent but a lot of the time, these prodigies are forced to practice between two and three hours a day for years in order to further their chances of playing professionally and wind up playing like machines, without the deep, resonant feeling originally intended for the music.
If you’ve started violin later, you can still play professionally, you just need to catch up by practicing more. It can be hard to practice more than four hours a day, but studies show that the more you practice the more you will be willing and want to play. Professional violinists practice sometimes more than eight hours a day. That’s what you have to look forward to if you’re really serious about making a career out of playing violin.
Violin Love Outweighs Tough Competition
Once you have those thousands of hours of practice under your belt, you still have to beat out the competition. Usually only three or four seats open up every year across the U.S., with hundreds of people trying out. One wrong note immediately disqualifies you, and that’s not all. You can play the violin perfectly, but if your playing lacks a certain emotion, a certain feeling for the piece, that will separate you from the best. It can be nerve-wracking playing this way, even before you’re playing on a stage, but it’s part of the game. If your playing can stand out during an audition, your chances of moving on to the next round will improve. And while competition can be stiff, sometimes playing to beat friends for a seat in an orchestra, if you love violin, if it’s part of your essence, then you have to keep playing.
What makes a great violinist? Just like most things in life, it helps to practice a lot. Once you have gained enough confidence from your violin training, you should have a broad capacity for bowing, dynamics, sound and color. It may take years, even decades, but if you really love violin, you can start offering violin lessons of your own, and maybe even start composing and aiming to topple the big names, three of which are featured below.
Violin Practice Makes Perfect
Paganini is considered one of the best violinists of all time. Why? Because he was so well-practiced. Talk about violin lessons: Paginini used to play ten hours a day. When he died, many assumed he was supernatural, and thought he would have extra cartilage in his fingers; however, the cartilage in his hands was worn down, much like that in a marathon runner’s knee, from playing so much. He is known for having never missed a note on his Guarneri violin, made in 1743, and for playing his entire Caprices on one string. Here’s one of his most famous ones:
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
Corelli was born in 1653 and is known for having influenced a number of violin techniques, such as posture, bowing form, and fingering. He was known for despising high notes, and for rarely playing above the D string. In one famous anecdote, Corelli refused to play an overture that included an altissimo A in Handel’s oratorio, The Triumph of Time and Truth. He was offended when the composer, 32 years his junior, played it anyway. Bach was heavily influenced by Corelli too.
The Perennial Four Seasons
Vivaldi is another great baroque violinist, and today is probably the second most popular baroque composer only to Bach. In fact, Bach drew upon the bright melodies of Vivaldi’s concerti, of which The Four Seasons is a prime example, in his St. Matthew’s Passion, St. John’s Passion and cantatas. Bizarrely, despite Vivaldi’s fame while alive, after his death his work passed into obscurity. It was not until the 20th century that a resurgence in popularity for Vivaldi arrived.
Hopefully, listening to these amazing compositions will inspire you to continue with your NYC violin lessons, or to start them if you haven’t already!
If you’re trying to make it in the big city, Piano Lessons could be the difference between you booking a gig or going home empty-handed.
The city is full of incredibly talented people all vying for the same coveted jobs and positions, from acting, to finance positions, to political spots. You’ll never know who might be impressed by your ability to play a musical instrument.
And it certainly came in handy for these famous names. Not only does playing a musical instrument help keep your brain sharp, but demonstrating mastery of instrument shows dedication and commitment to something you voluntary chose to pursue. You do it because you love it, and others take note of that.
So, if you want a leg up on your peers and maybe even wow your boss’s boss at a work retreat, get inspired by these multi-talented celebrities, who are well-known for various reasons, but harbor a love for music as well.
1.) Dustin Hoffman
Dustin Hoffman can probably get a belly laugh out of you for his work in Tootsie and The Graduate, but he also knows his way around a piano pretty well. He’s said he wanted to be a jazz pianist , and occasionally has sat down to play on screen. Clearly, he’s someone who was always meant for the spotlight.
2.) Meryl Streep
As if we needed more reasons to be in love with Meryl Streep, if you haven’t seen her 1999 film Music of the Heart, you probably didn’t know that’s she’s a very talented violin player. Basically, what we’re saying is if you violin lessons in NYC, you’ll be the next Meryl Streep (sort of…).
3.) Clint Eastwood
So if you really want to see an overachiever, look no further than Clint Eastwood. Successful actor, professional piano player…oh wait, don’t forget to add professional composer to that list.
Yup, Clint Eastwood has done the soundtracks for movies like Million Dollar Baby and Flags of our Fathers. The man has superpowers. Don’t worry though, we won’t hold it against you if you just choose to become a piano aficionado and maybe hold off on your career as a composer. We know that’s a bit much.
4.) Condolleeza Rice
Bet you didn’t expect a politician to sneak her way onto this list, did you? Well, Condy’s actually quite the piano player. She’s even played for the Queen of England.
We’re not sure why anyway would choose a life of politics over music, but hey, it’s not our decision. Condolleeza even had the chance to accompany renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma for the 2002 National Medal of Arts Awards.
5.) Keanu Reeves
So if your child is absolutely hellbent on taking bass or guitar lessons in NYC, then let Keanu Reeves be the proof that hard work pays off and that knowing how to play an electric instrument is just as valuable as knowing an acoustic one.
Keanu Reeves was a member of the alternative rock group Dogstar from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s. Apparently, he even plans to get back into the musical swing of things in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure 3.
6.) Ryan Gosling
Because the world wasn’t in love with him enough, Ryan Gosling formed a band called Dead Man’s Bones with his friend, Zach Shields. The band sings love songs about ghosts and monsters. So that’s pretty adorable.
But wait, there’s more. Gosling and Shields played every single instrument on their album, because Gosling plays piano, guitar, bass guitar, and cello.
Take a look at him here crooning and playing piano alongside a children’s choir. Amidst the witty banter he shares with the kids at the beginning, the smooth piano skills, and the deep, scratchy singing, I think it’s safe to say he’s cemented his place as the Male American Sweetheart for eternity.