What it is that I do

I’m still surprised by the response to my earlier post on orchestra auditions.  What’s funny (to me) is how angry some people are.  Music is something that we should LOVE and feel great about.  If you are angry and bitter at music maybe you’ve missed something along the way.

That said, people who know me and people who have read more of my blog know that I am NOT an orchestral musician.  I do not have an orchestra job.

So what IS it that I do for a living?  Primarily I teach, and secondarily I play gigs.  We’re nearing the end of the school year so my life will change a bit, but right now this is what I do.

Teaching:

  • I have 15 private students, primarily 30 minute lessons.  These folks come to my house for lessons.
  • I teach at the St Louis School of Music two days a week (right now—7 hours),
  • I teach at the St Louis School of Ballet (in Chesterfield) one day a week (2 hours)
  • Two violin group classes at a school in St. Peters twice a week
  • Two days of teaching at a school in Collinsville where I have about 10 private students plus after-school orchestra once a week.

Playing:

This varies.

  • I play many weddings, sometimes 2 to 4 in a weekend (a good weekend!).
  • I play for church services.
  • I play chamber music concerts.
  • I play with an ocarina trio.
  • I play with Winter Opera St Louis.

Basically if you need to hire a violinist, I’d be happy to play 😉

This is my life right now.  This is my happy life, where I have time to work out almost every day and get plenty of sleep!  I get to run 15 to 25 miles a week, work out with a personal trainer twice a week and still have plenty of time for friends.  In the summer I’ll be able to work out EVERY DAY.

When I lived in Cleveland, this is what I was doing the last year there (to give you an idea of something a little different).

Teaching:

  • About 10 private students.  I went to their houses.
  • Taught at the Fairmount School of Music two days a week.  I had 10 to 15 students.
  • Orchestra Assistant with the Orange District Schools (8-10 hours a week?)

Playing (these are all part-time orchestras):

  • Concertmaster of the Mansfield Symphony
  • Principal Second Violin of the Canton Symphony
  • Violinist in the Akron Symphony
  • Violinist in the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra
  • Violinist in the Cleveland Pops Orchestra
  • Assistant Concertmaster of the Cleveland Chamber Symphony
  • Played a variety of wedding gigs and other gigs

That was a ridiculous schedule.  I worked on average 50 to 60 hours a week.  Many days I didn’t get home until after 11:00 pm.  Don’t even ask how someone can be a member of 6 orchestras.  I certainly wasn’t going to the gym.  I did enjoy it, though…

Did I make more money?  Of course!

Do I miss orchestra playing?  YES.  I was playing a different concert every week.  I miss it.  I miss it a lot.

A LOT.  Seriously.  Orchestra is the best!  There’s no other feeling like it—playing violin surrounded by that many other musicians.

But right now I’m not willing to do the travel it would require to do part time orchestra work.  St Louis is fairly isolated in this sense.  There is the symphony, and then there just isn’t a whole lot else, and what there is is filled with folks who have lived here a long time.  In Cleveland one could travel 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes and play with all kinds of groups.

I played with the Illinois Symphony my first year here in St Louis, but the commute ranged from 1 hour 30 minutes each way to 3 hours!  It was too much.  I also continued to play with ProMusica Chamber Orchestra and subbed with the Columbus Symphony (both in Columbus, Ohio) but I decided I wanted to focus more on my teaching this year and didn’t want to travel to Ohio monthly.

Am I happy with my teaching focus?  Yes.  Things are coming together here pretty well, and next year should be a lot simpler, easier, and better.  I have become a better teacher also.

Do I miss playing in orchestra?  YES.

Am I glad I have time for myself?  YES.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  I love thinking of myself as a runner.  I love working with a personal trainer.  These are some of my favorite things.

I love the violin, I love classical music.  I hope to spend the rest of my life passing that love onto another generation. I believe in what I am doing, and I believe in the music I play.

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