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 How good do you have to be?
Author: J-MB 
Date:   2018-01-15 03:10

I love music more than anything, its apart of who i am. I would love to do it for the rest of my life because music is so special, the problem is, i wouldn't want to teach. I want to do performance, how good do you have to be? Like what do you need to know? is going to a conservatory more beneficial? How do you prepare like a career like this? I love music but it seems really stressful:(

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 Re: How good do you have to be?
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2018-01-15 03:39

There are lots of people who perform in local ensembles, including "classical" and jazz/commercial bands and orchestras, at night and a have a non-music day job to pay the bills. Teaching is not a necessity and, indeed, you shouldn't teach if you have negative feelings about it.

What kind of music are you in love with? If you're asking "how good do you have to be?" to play in a full-time professional orchestra, the answer is that you have to be pretty exceptional. All you can do is become the best player you're capable of becoming and then see what comes of it.

It isn't just a matter of being a good enough player to play the music. You also have to be good enough - exceptional enough - to outshine all the other players who show up at open auditions. And I suspect all of those others will have attended highly reputed conservatories or university music departments where they will have studied with highly reputed clarinet teachers, many of whom will also have been full-time professional players in excellent orchestras.

But, of course, orchestral playing isn't the only kind of music a clarinetist can do.

Loving music is certainly important but it isn't nearly enough to compete in the professional world in any musical genre.

Karl

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 Re: How good do you have to be?
Author: J-MB 
Date:   2018-01-15 03:48

i really do enjoy orchestral music, im already in my local youth orchestra, so i think im on the right track that way. i don't know if i am good enough. ive played concertino by weber and his first concerto mvt 1 for auditions, and arabesque by jeanjean and stamitz 3 mvt 1 for solo contest, if that means anything. ive started minor scales in my lessons recently and know my majors in thirds. i just need to improve faster and Im not sure how. How do i get to the level of being in a full-time professional orchestra?

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 Re: How good do you have to be?
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2018-01-15 06:46

How old are you? Are you taking private lessons? Where do you live? Is there a top orchestra near you? How often do you practice? Tell us more about yourself. How long have you been playing? I do have some ideas to help you out.

Need a bit more information. Glad you posted this.


NEWLY DESIGNED - Vintage 1940 Cicero Mouthpieces


Yamaha Artist




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 Re: How good do you have to be?
Author: dorjepismo 2017
Date:   2018-01-15 18:18

Well, look, to make a living performing on clarinet in anything like a "classical" setting, you have to be really, really good. You have to be able to play difficult, fast stuff time after time without any wrong notes, you have to have a good sound in all the registers, you have to have good control across a wide range of dynamics, you have to play very well in tune, you have to convince knowledgeable listeners that you understand and properly interpret the range of styles from early classical to post-modern, and you have to have substantial luck and/or the support of established musicians, because you will be competing against dozens of folks for any given gig who also can do all that. That doesn't mean you won't be able to succeed, but it doesn't do people much good to pretend it's a normal career path like, say, engineering, medicine or law, where you finish a course of study with decent grades and can find work.

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 Re: How good do you have to be?
Author: JAS 
Date:   2018-01-15 20:52

That's a good question. I don't know where you're at or how old you are, but this is the advice (whether I'm qualified to give it or not) that I would give myself 10 years or so ago:

Go listen to great musicians, and you'll hear how good you need to be. Don't compare yourself to the kids at the all state auditions. Listen to the principal oboe, horn, cello, clarinet, etc of the major orchestras and ask yourself:
Are you willing to GET as good as you need to be?

In order to be the kind of musician that's worth having around, you have to work VERY hard, for a long time. This isn't just true of music, by the way. A lot of the academic fields are like this. I know someone who, foolishly, studied archaeology because they liked Indiana Jones. The people who contribute MEANINGFULLY to a field like archaeology, history, physics, etc are the people who are intensely absorbed with the field. They're happy to engage with it in their free time. They think about it and read about it for fun. A philosophy undergrad who doesn't devour the work of great philosophers because he or she ENJOYS it will never have anything meaningful to contribute as a PhD candidate.
The classmate who studied archaeology, needless to say, is not working in that field.

I know plenty of people who can lay down the Mendelssohn scherzo at 90 like it's nothing, but they don't THINK about music. They don't give a rip about the artistry of *insert great pianists, singers, violinists, etc.* What the solo in the second movement of Beethoven's 6th actually SAYS, musically speaking, doesn't really matter, as long as it's in time and they sound as much like Ricardo Morales as possible.

I don't really care if someone tells me my fingers aren't fast enough (or something like that.) I'm very confident that I can fix whatever ever I need to fix in order to get the results that I have in my ear. I've been overcoming problems that I never thought I would overcome. (That's not say that I'll be fine if I DON'T fix those problems. If you can't play the notes, you're not going anywhere.)
The problem is:
1) It takes thousands of hours of work.
2) It takes thousands of hours of the RIGHT work.
A lot of people practice 4 hours a day. A lot of people also waste 3 of those hours doing work that's easier than the kind of work that focuses intensely on improving your weaknesses.

And at the end of the day, the odds of you having the kind of career stability that other fields enjoy are almost zero. Is that ok with you? Do you enjoy the idea of teaching? Can you organize yourself enough to, essentially, live the life of a contractor in a saturated field?

I don't think it's impossible, and don't let anyone tell you that you're not good enough, but if you aren't willing to GET good enough, it doesn't matter how much you enjoy classical music. That can be empowering or discouraging. Find a teacher and get to work.

Sorry for the long post. This article by the principal timpanist of the Met is helpful:

https://jasonhaaheim.com/i-dont-care-how-good-you-are-i-care-about-the-trajectory-youre-willing-to-set/



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 Re: How good do you have to be?
Author: Hank Lehrer 2017
Date:   2018-01-15 21:27

J-MB,

Why don't you want to teach? Think about this.

When I was your age, I rubbed shoulders with many very fine musicians at Interlochen. Among them were Larry Combs, Jack Ratteree, Gene Zorro, and Roger Bobo who all went on to great musical fame as both teachers and performers. However, I knew right away that even though I could hold my own with many excellent players, I did not quite have "IT" to someday earn a top orchestral position. In addition, I really did not want to spend the rest of my life practicing so I chose a different path, that of a high school and college band director and late a university professor in another field.

But I continued to perform professionally doing shows, jazz gigs, and playing in excellent wind ensembles. I also taught several generations of future musicians to play and really enjoy their wonderful gift. Today, I still play at a very high level and really enjoy being considered an outstanding musician. In wind ensembles, I sit very close to some very fine musicians; two are dentists, another sells computer software, and another is a retired minister. All play up a real storm!

If you knew more about the members on this BB, you'd quickly find out that there are many who chose the same route as I did and yet have had very meaningful musical lives. We all still probably love music as much as ever but have made other fields our professions.

A final note though is that to perform in any field at a high level is stressful since a lot of dedication, work and sacrifice is required. But if is was easy, everyone would be doing it!

HRL



Post Edited (2018-01-15 23:33)

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 Re: How good do you have to be?
Author: J-MB 
Date:   2018-01-16 03:21

Bob, yes im taking lessons, i am 15. in north east ohio, the closest orchestra is 1 hour away. i practice 6 days a week for 2-3 hours, i have been playing for 4 years.

Hank im not sure. never thought about it, thanks all!!

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 Re: How good do you have to be?
Author: JF Clarinet 
Date:   2018-01-16 07:46

I'm only 18, but I was in a similar place to you a few years ago. For as long as I've played, I've always told people that if I could make a living at it, I wanted to be a professional clarinetist. I didn't want to teach (at the time, I was only considering teaching daytime band classes as an option) and saw playing in an orchestra as my goal.

When the time came to apply to college, I was extremely torn. I wanted to be a musician, but was terrified I would never be good enough, no matter how hard I worked at it. I had other academic interests, but nothing I cared about as much as music.

For better or worse, I decided to avoid applying to conservatories. Though I knew that would be where I'd get the best music education, I was too scared to fully commit to music without knowing whether or not my best would be good enough. I decided that while studying with an amazing teacher at a conservatory would be helpful, my ability to get where I want to be will ultimately depend on how hard I can push myself (and if that's enough).

I'm currently at a top academic university with a relatively small music school as a clarinet performance major, on track to double major with psychology. I haven't been at this very long, but I'd highly recommend considering double majoring I'd you have other interests on top of music. It is A LOT of work, but I would say it's worth it. Having a clear backup plan in case I'm not good enough at clarinet takes a lot of the stress about my future off my shoulders. If the stress of committing to music is intimidating, try coming up with some reasonable backup plan you would be happy with, and that may help you. You don't have to end up being a professional at whatever you have an undergraduate degree in, so you could be a performance major and then go to graduate school for something else.

I'd also say you don't need to go to a conservatory to get a solid music education. If you can find schools you are interested in and meet with who would be your private instructor and other professors, you can get a good sense of what you'll get out of going there. I'm sure I'd have more time to focus on music and potentially get better instruction if I were at a conservatory, but I don't feel disadvantaged for having gone to a non-conservatory. I get instruction from high level professionals and get masterclasses from players in our local orchestras regularly. You don't have to go to a conservatory to learn from amazing teachers/players. It will be harder to find schools that aren't conservatories that you may want to study music at, but I assure you they exist.

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 Re: How good do you have to be?
Author: dorjepismo 2017
Date:   2018-01-16 20:26

Don't know if this is true, but a former Wright student told me that he (Wright) at one point gave himself a year of full-time work on clarinet to become a conspicuously monster player, and if he didn't make it in that time, it was either med school or law school. Probably a reasonable thing to do when a decision really needs to be made. You don't need a conservatory. You need a really good teacher and enough playing opportunities for chamber and large ensemble to develop as a musician so people will feel that you know what you're doing when you audition or play with them. That can happen in a lot of ways, but if it isn't happening yet, then conservatories are a reasonable choice.

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 Re: How good do you have to be?
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2018-01-17 07:39

Well you are at the perfect age I was hoping for. At 14 I went to a place called Interlochen Arts Academy. It's in the northern area of Michigan. There is a new clarinetist there with a doctorate in music and there is a ton of talent there.

When you look it up don't let the cost scare you away because a lot of the kids are on scholarships. I was on a full scholarship, so my folks really didn't have to pay much.

The school also takes academics seriously. So you will get a fine education. play all day long, play with some very gifted musicians and frankly the only thing holding you back from being one of the best musicians would be you and only you. The average student to teacher ratio is about 8 to 1.

Some of the graduates are very famous now, from when I went to school. Sitting in major orchestras and soloist. Some of the kids wind up at the finest music schools in the country. In fact some of the schools actually hold auditions right at Interlochen, because these top music colleges want the cream of the crop.

When I graduated, Eastman School of Music was there, Curtis, and several others. I went to Peabody Conservatory. I also spent some time at Cleveland Institute.

One of my friends went to Curtis and he's about as famous as you can get. Look up David Shifrin. At the age of 22 or so he was principal of the famous Cleveland Orchestra, not to far from you. He then went on to be more of a solo player. Check out his recordings on youtube.

This school also has a summer camp if you want to see if you might want to try this out first. Everynight there are concerts from some of the finest musicians from rock to classical.

So you asked if you have the what it takes. Take an audition at Interlochen. If you get in I'd say you have what it takes. I also will say you will be able to pick out what school you want to go to, because you will be totally prepared. There are no limits at this point. You can study with Shifrin at Yale if you want. So let your dreams come true.

I just edited this, because you can most likely submit a recording. However I would try to audition in person because the place is incredibly beautiful. Surrounded by 2 huge lakes, miles and miles wide and then national forest.


NEWLY DESIGNED - Vintage 1940 Cicero Mouthpieces


Yamaha Artist




Post Edited (2018-01-17 07:52)

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 Re: How good do you have to be?
Author: rmk54 
Date:   2018-01-17 18:23

You can study with Shifrin at Yale if you want.

---------------------------------------

Not unless you are a grad student. However, if you are good enough to be accepted, tuition is free.

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 Re: How good do you have to be?
Author: Hank Lehrer 2017
Date:   2018-01-17 18:58

J-MB,

While you have gotten suggestions about attending Interlochen and even studying with David Shifrin, IMHO you need to get an opinion on your playing ability from either a current symphony clarinetist or a university clarinet professor.

In NE Ohio, you could contact the clarinet professor at either Oberlin, Cleveland Institute of Music, Cleveland State University, Baldwin-Wallace, Kent State, Youngstown University, or University of Akron. All are probably within a reasonable drive of your location. Any of these individuals could easily tell you if you have what it takes to proceed; many of these individuals currently hold orchestra chairs.

To get an unbiased appraisal now of your clarinet performance ability and to see if your expectations are reasonable will save you much frustration and heartbreak down the road. One other possibility would be for you to prepare a Class A clarinet solo for the OMEA Contest. To come away with a Superior rating with glowing remarks is your goal. Have you entered the OMEA Solo & Ensemble Contest in the past? If so, what did you play and what was your rating?

HRL



Post Edited (2018-01-18 00:52)

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 Re: How good do you have to be?
Author: J-MB 
Date:   2018-01-18 03:56

yes, last year i did the jeanjean arabesque and got a "I" superior rating, this year im playing marcello oboe concerto in c minor arr. dishinger movements 2 and 3.

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 Re: How good do you have to be?
Author: Hank Lehrer 2017
Date:   2018-01-18 16:34

J-MB,

That's a great start. Now, see an experienced orchestra player or university professor for further guidance. Richard Hawkins, the clarinet professor at Oberlin, was at Interlochen for many years. He might be an excellent place to begin as he is well acquainted with working with younger players like yourself. But there are other excellent individuals at the schools I mentioned.

HRL

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 Re: How good do you have to be?
Author: Bennett 2017
Date:   2018-01-20 09:35

As many have pointed out, a professional musician can lead an awfully tough life. The following documentary, Freeway Philharmonic, shows how several really competent classical musicians have chosen / been compelled to earn a living:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2J0R-Ax1Yc&t=56s

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 Re: How good do you have to be?
Author: Bob Bernardo 
Date:   2018-01-20 10:28

I know Richard. Had him over for a BBQ cookout with the Academy of the West class one year when Fred Ormand and Mitchell Lurie when Fred was teaching. He, Richard, is a very gifted player. At the Clarinetfest 2016 he gave a Master Class and Fred and I had breakfast the next morning. Fred couldn't have been happier with Richard.

Most of us know that a lot of major symphony players studied with Fred at one point in their careers. So this was a huge compliment coming from Fred. Fred taught at Interlochen as well. This is where I met him and we've been close friends since 1972 I guess. His students include Shifrin by the way from Interlochen.

Anyway, follow your dreams and go as far as you can. I don't know if Richard would take high school students. It's surely worth a call.


NEWLY DESIGNED - Vintage 1940 Cicero Mouthpieces


Yamaha Artist




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