any hope for someone who didn't go to college?

Discussion in 'Orchestral Auditions [DB]' started by bfitz, Oct 27, 2005.

  1. bfitz


    May 18, 2005
    lorain, ohio
    hello. i've been reading through different posts about auditions and it got me wondering. i have played now for five or six years, but only taking it serious for about a year now. my playing has gotten a lot better, but i'm still just what i consider a bedroom virtuoso. i've never played bass in any classical settings outside of highschool, and in the couple years i went to school to get an associates degree i only played in the jazz band. i'm 22 now and i want to do something in music. i have no problem working a "real" job for income, but i would like to be in a small group for just a little money, or if nothing else just to say i did it. i'm tired of practicing for nothing, does anyone have advice?
  2. Do you want a job doing jazz, or classical? Or both?
  3. G-force


    Jul 1, 2004
    oslo Norway
    Yeah I do...Give a recital. doesn't have to be for big bling. I'm sure your local church would love to host it. For not so much dinero.

    Maybe you use a whole year planning and practicing,
    I personally think many conservatories are just high fallutin trade schools teaching the art of athletics=musicality.

    AS Rabbath says, be your own teacher and be better than yourself as we can never be better than others.
  4. If you want to play orchestral, you can probably find a community orchestra nearby where you can hang out. Most colleges and university have them. You don't have to be a student to play usually. You can a least sit in on rehearsals 'till you're up to speed.
  5. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Generally, no there is no hope for you in playing with some pro orchestra. But yes community orchestras, local festivals, civic groups, any event where you don't get paid but musical performances are allowed you do have a chance with.

    Where I live we do have an orchestra that performs for money, and they have very kindly and graciously allowed me to "audition" for them several times to show my commitment to sub for them in a pinch (I do not hold my breath, as there are many great players in the San Antonio and Corpus Christi area with the desired credentials and experience who don't mind doing this also). That's as close as I'll ever get without a music degree and/or a great deal more formal performing experience with orchestral repertoire.

    It's pretty typical for pro orchestras to parachute the players in, rehearse at the last minute maybe once or twice, and then knock out the performance. There's no way pro orchestras strapped on cash (which one isn't?) will ever call on someone with your background (or mine) and risk having to hold our hands and baby us through 2 hours worth of performance material (maybe not true for you but definitely true for me right now). They need people who are already guaranteed to knock out all the tunes and be able play them however the conductor sees fit at the drop of a hat.

    You could be the best audition excerpt player in the world but that's what they expect in the first place...auditions are really nothing but part of the standard pro orchestra marketing strategy for the public. All the stuff that goes on here around pro orchestra auditions is about crowing and wrestling...and having fun harrassing one another.

    But in my time practicing and doing my best to be patient I've been called to play bass for a local musical, a community festival that had 38 Special as the headliner (too bad they didn't get Chris Robison and Kelly Willis back!), and now a civic choir performance week after next. To these things, I say "Yeah bring it on baby!"

    In retrospect, it's been my love of music that keeps me going and makes practicing not seem so futile no need, really, to give up and despair. Love, in the end, isn't about what one gets but simply about one's commitment to relationships and connection...even during the hard times...even with music.

    Church performances are a great idea too you should consider that avenue, especially if you're already affiliated with one that allows instrument accompaniment with their hymns.

    Alright I'm done testifying LOL
  6. Ben Joella

    Ben Joella

    May 31, 2004
    Boca Raton, FL
    How very ture. Any day with a notable improvement is a good day.
  7. bfitz


    May 18, 2005
    lorain, ohio
    thanks guys. do you think it would be to late to go back to school for me to get a bacholers (sp?) degree? the way i figure it it should take me about 2 1/2 years to finish with what i have. i'd like to get a teaching degree just so i would have a better shot at getting a job than just a performence degree. as far as what i want to play, i'd kinnda like to get a classical gig, i've done the jazz thing for years now and i'd like something a little different. i don't really know anything about the process of auditioning besides what seems to be the standard pieces to play. how does one go about finding out who is auditioning and where? thanks again for your help.
  8. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Never, as far as I know with public universities
  9. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    Gee, I don't know . . . 22? That's kind of over the hill. You may have missed your chance . . . :rolleyes:

    If you're still alive then I think it's really never too late to go back to school. Heck, I'd like to do the same and I'm twice your age.

    Go for it.
  10. Dude, don't even give it a second thought. You are sooooo young. Sign your butt up now. Do you have a private teacher? They can often be of great assistance in throwing work your way.
  11. jgbass

    jgbass Guest

    Dec 17, 2003
    To help put a perspective of things I took up bass in my late 40's and play in the community orchestra, do DB church gigs, and play in several jazz bands too. You're probably almost 30 years younger than me and I'm thinking about taking some music college classes next semester and I sign up for the community orchestra here every semester, which, by the way, is mostly comprised of established classical players, very few students. One course I am considering taking is a performance class where I would learn some repertoire and would have to play it on stage at a college recital. A course like that could really get your feet wet to performing by doing one or two songs with an accompanist. Playing with a paino accompanist is a whole other skill too. I came to the conclusion I don't really need a degree, got one already in another subject and I can get hired as a private teacher based on musical performance background and skills from my current career. I don't really think school is the be all and end all of musical proficiency either. When all is said and done, I think the greatest amount of learning goes on in playing situations. I've been doing fine studying over the last few years with some top teachers who have jump started my progress, along with a bunch of self-discipline and nose to the grindstone work as well as really giving thought to what I need to work on and zero in on that, designing my own curriculum with help from good teachers. Plus, by taking orchestra and other performance classes at colleges without being a full time student, I can still keep my job and be part of the informal network that exists there. If you want to teach music in a school setting, college would be the way to go.
  12. KDC


    Oct 30, 2005
    Sounds like you need more info to make the right decision - If you live in 'Lorain' Ohio - is that the same one beside Cleveland? If so you should get in touch with teachers in the area - either through CIM or the Cleveland orchestra or even the Canton Symphony. I would recommend playing for a teacher who will tell you the basic facts. Perhaps Charles Carleton, or Tom Sperl (but not Larry Angel).
    The fact is this is way to difficult a profession to enter without knowing exactly what your chances are - and I know SO many kids that have gone through college or are going through college who are being given false hope. Don't add to the ranks. But if you have the talent and potential to be a great player than yes, go back to college and you'll be welcomed with open arms!!

    Just being realistic.
  13. B. Johnson

    B. Johnson

    Apr 28, 2005
    I'm here at IU, and just for the record, I don't know anyone who has false hopes of work here. Everyone at this school knows that there are VERY few jobs and a lot of excelent players to fill those positions.
  14. prelims222


    Sep 20, 2004
    Southeast US
    Hey, I'm late to chime in on this, but I think that there is a balance to find between the 'realities' of conservatory training and the potential that people have in themselves to realize their goals - or at least most of them.

    a lot of people are saying be realistic, but i don't see why you can't win an audition at some point. Some people win them at 19, some win them at 37 - you're only job is to do your best to become the best you can - that includes avoiding placing self-fulfilling limiting beliefs on what you're capable of as a player - if you expect better than what you are capable of, you'll improve more than if you just expect to be a loser. Its not a complicated formula. The wright brothers didn't fly the kitty-hawk by planning to crash.

    Granted, there are things that would make it more realistic to be successful - get a teacher NOW - they will help you find things out about your playing that you might not notice.
    If you don't know much about orchestral music - start learning everything you can - so many successful players have reiterated this idea that when you really know the WHOLE SCORE that is going to come across in your playing and in the musical decisions you make. This is an edge that you can only get by doing it.. I know some great (facile and accurate) players who are clueless about the musical content of what they are playing. It will only help you to do that.
    The more you can find yourself enjoying what you are doing and expecting/believing yourself to do well and make good music, the more you will find that the 'boring stuff' pays its dividends and you begin to notice a carryover where as you improve one thing, other things get better too.

    Theres a big difference between thinking you can do better and thinking you can't do it.
  15. hunta


    Dec 2, 2004
    Washington, DC
    Well, if I may offer some advice... I'm currently a 26 year old, going on super senior, that was in a similar situation before going back to school.

    In my opinion, unless you have a heavy classical background, ie you've been playing DB since you were a kid in a classical setting, orchestras throughout middle school/high school etc, you are not going to be happy at a standard music school. I totally busted my butt for the first 2 years of my college career to get up to speed so I could audition for music school (I'm primarily an electric player but I picked up DB for school). I finally auditioned, I did great, I was ecstatic. I only stayed in the program for 1 semester.

    Why? Because it is pure hell for an outsider. It's an extremely competitive and authoritarian atmosphere; you are expected to be able to do what they ask of you and do it correctly NOW. You need to be able to instinctively know the correct style and bowing for different pieces. You need to cram music theory, sight singing, piano practice, regular coursework, and DB practice into your day. You will have multiple ZERO credit classes which demand significant time investment every week.

    This is all a lot of work for those who WERE classically trained. For someone who isn't, it's nearly impossible (unless you are extraordinarily gifted). For the semester I was working on auditioning, and my one music major semester, I was spending between 3-5 hours a day practicing, and I never felt like I was where I should be. I always felt behind, like I was constantly working my butt off just to be on a lower level than everyone else. This is in an environment where your chair position in orchestra is equal to your value as a human being. It's not fun believe me.

    Of course, your mileage may vary, and I know some here may disagree with me, but this is my first hand experience trying to get a late start. I've played electric for about 12 years now, and I'm very good at it. On DB, for the amount of time I've played I'm doing great, but that isn't enough to compensate. I learned a lot on my journey to audition, and while I was actually in the music program, so I'm glad that I did it, but I just want to give a big fat warning to anyone thinking of trying the same thing.

    EDIT: BTW this is assuming you want to go back to school for a music degree. If you're going for any other program, by all means don't hesitate! It's never too late to go back to school for most things, but classical music is in a whole other category.
  16. B. Johnson

    B. Johnson

    Apr 28, 2005
    Man, where did you go to school. At least around here I know that my worth as a human being has nothing to do with my orchestra chair. ha ha ha. Sounds like you were studying double bass with Satan.
  17. KDC


    Oct 30, 2005
    the reality is that sadly there ARE players in college right now who are talentless and at far too low a standard to be allowed to think that bass could be a realistic profession for them. There are other things they could be doing!!
    Colleges will take your money and pay little credence to your ability. Of course some schools with the top teachers that are difficult to get into are more realistic (that is not me saying that you have to go to one of those schools to win an audition). The important thing is to find a good teacher who can judge whether you are in the group with talent and potential or not.
    You owe it to yourself.
  18. TGforPlywood


    Sep 29, 2005
    Ringwood, NJ
    At 22, school is a good idea no matter the profession. While formal music schooling does not guarrantee you'll be a great player it gives you an edge in life. Somewhere down the road a teachers pension might be tempting and the degree couldn't hurt. Take for example Rufus Reid. What's you're goal? If it's to play in a decent orchestra, understand that school is part of the politics of classical music. That's life.
    Also, be aware that in business culture today when they sift through a pile of resumes they are looking for reasons to eliminate applicants. Computer programs have also been created to eliminate applicants, when the program discovers the lack of education or experience you are deleted.
  19. bfitz


    May 18, 2005
    lorain, ohio
    just wanted to say thanks to everyone. i finaly shut up and did it. i am starting classes on the 17th of next year and am the newest member of the LCCC civic orchestra. thanks again for all of your advice.
  20. glivanos

    glivanos Supporting Member

    Jun 24, 2005
    Philadelphia Area
    I faced the same decision when I was 22 but didn't do it. I'm 50 now and still wish everyday I had gone back to school for music at 22. I just have to settle for being a part-time weekend musician now, although I'm taking some continuing ed jazz classes and it is wetting my whistle again to go back to music school at 50!!!

    I congratulate you for your decision. Best of luck and no matter how hard it gets, stick with it, don't give up.