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Music – A Sound Profession

Music – A Sound Profession

When we think of music, we generally associate this word with fun, gatherings, carnivals, parties, concerts, and singers, among others. Many of us turn to music to relax, to have fun, or make it our company while we spend some time alone, however, few know what it means to disembark into music as a profession. 

Let’s start then by acknowledging that music as a profession has been part of university education for more than two centuries, without adding to it the training processes that the great musicians had, for whom we recognize as music professionals (Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Liszt, Schuman, among many), at that time the training processes were personalized and they were trained as “disciples” of other great mentors. 

During that time, music as a profession, appears in the university context at the beginning of the 20th century, with names such as Escuela Superior de Música, Escuela de Música, Programa Superior de Música among others, gradually displacing the names of “Music Conservatory”. Regardless of the name of the institution where one studies, you should know that to be a professional musician you must start your studies from an early age, this for a matter of motor preparation with the selected instrument. By this I mean that there is no instrument that is more difficult than another, perhaps this could be contradicted, however, what does matter is that to be a professional musician, the study of the selected instrument must be assumed with great responsibility and discipline. 

It is common to hear questions like: Are you a musician? and given the affirmative answer to this question, they then ask,  How many instruments do you know how to play? And with some level of disappointment, they hear this answer, “One, I am a violinist”, and sometimes the conversation continues like this: “My uncle also likes music and plays several instruments”. This sounds funny perhaps, but ignores the reality of the musician’s university life. 

For a musician to enter university studies, he must demonstrate previous knowledge in the instrument that he is going to professionalize, such as musical grammar, harmony, solfeggio, and music history, not to mention that in some universities to get this exam, you must first pass a general knowledge exam in literature, mathematics, science, and other areas of knowledge. From here there is already a first large filter to even start to study. However, once you are admitted to the university, you must register for at least 5 subjects per semester: music theory, history of music, harmony, orchestra, and of course the instrument, in our case, Violin I. 

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You must study At least 6 hours a day on the instrument, regardless of the other classes, including the weekly hour on the instrument with the violin teacher. In these 6 hours a day, the repertoire assigned by the teacher must be prepared, generally, this repertoire includes technical studies that improve performance on the instrument, and a work from each of the periods of music, that is: a work from the baroque period of the 17th century, a work from the classical period of the 18th century, a work from the romantic period of the 19th century, a contemporary work from the 20th century. This is the minimum that each music student must play in the end-of-semester recital, and this is added to the repertoire performed by the Orchestra, not to mention the literature and exercises that must be completed or read to pass the other subjects. 

Being a musician is really a profession that implies a high sacrifice, that is why when you manage to be an outstanding musician, like YO-YO MA on the cello, Itzhak Perlman on the violin, Arthur Rubinstein on the Piano, among many others, you must recognize the effort they put forth in their preparation, like many more professional musicians, who have dedicated their lives to the instrument, so we must value these professionals much more and understand why this profession is so complex and at the same time undervalued in economic, social terms and cultural. 

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