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Ask Alice, with Alice McVeigh

Issues involving young musicians and male musicians,
with Classical Music Agony Aunt ALICE McVEIGH

? ' Hey, may i ask u something?? I'm a person hu's currently 14 (this yr) and nw i hv hold a grade of 7. My violin tcher said my hands is fast and i'm gifted and nx time i can be a virtuoso violinist. But to me, age 14 is a bit too late, does it matter for me for an age 14?? WIll i still get to meet those violinist? Be a truely virtuoso violinist lyk Maxim Vengerov? Itzhak Perlman? Gil Shaham? Sarah Chang? Or even lvry gitlis?
'
Bountyhanz

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Alice Dear Bountyhanz, wherever you are,

Well, I never say never. The age any person starts (as long as they've kicked off before 18 or 19) has very little impact on where, in the profession, they wind up. (Alexander Baillie, the solo cellist, started at 18 or so.) All I would say is that places like Chetham's and the Yehudi Menuhin School will have young kids of eight or nine who already have their Grade VII, so I'd feel more sure of your prospects if you had Grade VIII distinction and were attacking a performance certificate. I'm not saying you've done badly at all -- if you started in the last two years you've done brilliantly. I'm just trying to give you an idea of what you'll be up against: the kids who've been groomed for violin stardom, the ones who had violins shoved in their hands aged two (they probably dropped them!) and 'the best' coaching before they could read advanced picture books.

Not that this should discourage you. What you do in the next four or five years is the most crucial part. First, you need to get a second opinion. I don't want to sound 'regionalist' but if your teacher is the best teacher in the wilds of Scotland or north Wales s/he might not have his/her finger on the international pulse. Contact the Junior Royal College or Royal Academy of Music (or Royal Northern, or Royal Scottish or whatever) and ask for a trial lesson with a famous teacher. They'll be able to assure you what the chances are, if you work your behind off (five or six hours a day) for the next four or five years -- or whether you will always be orchestral material (which is fine too, but you did say you want to be a soloist). Don't worry too much about money. You know and I know that you'll need a fantastic fiddle, costing roughly the same as a small country mansion, along with fields of deer and room for a stables. But I know (and you might not) that should you display enough talent to be a soloist, some rich swine or corporation will choose you to loan theirs to.

Cordially,
Alice

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? ' Dear Alice,

Here's a thought. Why does it seem that a larger percentage of male musicians (always clad in black) have ego and arrogance problems than their female counterparts? Maybe I have just met more of them?
'
M T

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Alice Dear M,

This is a fascinating question. I think possibly the answer is that our society still subliminally accepts--even approves--the arrogant male, while the arrogant, self-confident female is still regarded with suspicion and distaste. Therefore, the message gets through (even to the Anna Ivanovics of this world, and if you don't know who she is, then you have NOT been glued to the French Open tennis!!!!) that they have to simper and giggle about their amazing achievements, while Nadal (ditto!!) bestrides the world like a Colossus.

That's my theory, for what it's worth ...
Cordially,
Alice

Copyright © 20 June 2008 Alice McVeigh, Kent UK

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