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Intermediate level
At what point would you be considered a intermediate player?
Topic Rating: 3 Topic Rating: 3 Topic Rating: 3 Topic Rating: 3 Topic Rating: 3 Topic Rating: 3 (2 votes) 
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pchoppin
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HP said
Oh wow, what have I done LOL.

My intent wasn't in any shape or form meant as being degrading or insulting, just to make that all clear. More like a way to map out the route of becoming more advanced and to see what others consider more intermediate level playing.

Nothing could be farther from the truth, @HP 

It's just an interesting topic which clearly has a lot of interest and viewpoints.

For me, I found that I need to have some sort of a grading system, because my long term goal is to become a professional, or at least semi. It's a way for me to find the courses and workshops in my area that would be ideal for me at the time. To help me find music that it's in my league, but still give me enough challenge to improve. To find the right studies and etudes to do. For finding schools that have the requirements that I can fulfill and so on so fourth. If it wasn't because of my long term goal, I probably wouldn't care much about a grading system. Although it would be nice to know where on the ladder on currently is, no matter the goal in the end.

I think it is a good question, and there is nothing wrong with being able to truthfully take a look at your own playing vis-a-vis where organizations consider you.  In fact, this is essential if you are considering joining an organization and wish to know if you will be able to contribute or whether it will be a frustrating endeavor.

For me, being technically "ready" for an orchestra or some kind of organized musical project (I was also considering joining a "violin camp" this summer) seems to be like chasing the rainbow.  I will never reach "ready" unless I just go for it when I feel I am at a level that I can do reasonably well.  Then I can learn to catch that rainbow.

Also, my violin teacher is invaluable in advising me when I am able to handle new challenges.  She lets me know in no uncertain terms where I am in my skill level.

- Pete -

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Mimi Aysha
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@ HP

I think there is a huge grey area where intermediate is concerned, and I kinda thought when I began that there would be a specific tune or book that you could masterfully complete and therefore classify yourself...my teacher said if I could get through suzuki book 3 to speed, but that's his personal comment.

There are exams and such for classical and school entry stuff that maybe would outline your progress in clearer terms for you?

AND - One thing I noticed at the last camp we went to - they moved a couple of the young adults into the beginner class that could play classical fluently, but they could not join in on a relatively basic fiddle tune - that surprised me, they said they just didn't get it, especially without the sheet music and timing laid out for them.

My friends and I are heading to our 3rd camp this summer, they moved us from beginner to intermediate at the last camp - (don't think they had a class lower than beginner for our first camp!) we all vary between suzuki book 1 and 4....that's a pretty big area, and a difference in playing ability, but we all survived, and had fun!

Good luck in your endeavors! Sounds like you are really serious about this, I'm excited and happy for you.

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Fiddlerman
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April 25, 2019 - 5:24 pm
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HP said
At what point would a violinist be considered a intermediate player? I find the definition to be rather vague compared to the other levels we have. You're a beginner when you first pick up a violin in the attempt to learn for the first time. You're a semi professional if you get paid gigs now and then, while a professional if you have regular gigs and have a paid day/night job as a violinist.
But what about intermediate? What skills do a player have to master? I know, master isn't the best term to use, considering many people spend their whole lifetime trying to perfect their skills, but you get the point, I'm sure. What stepping stones should one achieve? Is there a clear line that separates a experienced beginner from a intermediate player? I would like to know what you all think about this.  

That is a great question. I guess the term is in the eyes of the beholder. 🙂

Truthfully I can't answer that question.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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cid
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@Fiddlerman 

I think you answered it masterfully, based on all the different points of view.

”I guess the term is on the eyes of the beholder.”

They call me, “Mellow Cello” 

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AndrewH
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HP said
Oh wow, what have I done LOL.

My intent wasn't in any shape or form meant as being degrading or insulting, just to make that all clear. More like a way to map out the route of becoming more advanced and to see what others consider more intermediate level playing.

For me, I found that I need to have some sort of a grading system, because my long term goal is to become a professional, or at least semi. It's a way for me to find the courses and workshops in my area that would be ideal for me at the time. To help me find music that it's in my league, but still give me enough challenge to improve. To find the right studies and etudes to do. For finding schools that have the requirements that I can fulfill and so on so fourth. If it wasn't because of my long term goal, I probably wouldn't care much about a grading system. Although it would be nice to know where on the ladder on currently is, no matter the goal in the end. 

But I'll have to say, so far it has been a lot of great points made in this thread. I appreciate all the inputs.   

That's the reason I found it necessary to learn what people meant by "intermediate" and "advanced" in the classical world. My current long-term goal is similar to yours: to be competitive in professional orchestra auditions. (I don't have to win a seat to feel like I've accomplished my long-term goal; I'll be extremely happy if I can get to the second round of an audition, because it will show that I've managed to become a serious candidate despite being an adult learner.) I'm aware that the standard for professional orchestras is sky-high -- I've been playing in a semi-pro orchestra for several years and I still think I'm 5-10 years away from attempting a professional audition. It's been helpful to know what kind of summer workshops and community orchestras are appropriate for my level over the years. In some sense it's been encouraging rather than discouraging to know the steps along the way, because I can celebrate each milestone as I reach it. They're all improbable accomplishments at this point.

I certainly had misconception about what people regarded as "intermediate" and "advanced" at one point: back in 2006, when I learned the Telemann viola concerto, I thought I was an advanced player. That bubble burst rather quickly when I started to move up to stronger community orchestras and I found out that the Telemann concerto was considered a lower-intermediate piece. These days I find it a little funny because I now sight-read things in performance tempo that I wouldn't have been able to play at all in 2006.

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GregW
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@AndrewH " ...back in 2006, when I learned the Telemann viola concerto..."

Man back in 2006 I didnt know what a viola was! embarassed.. Youre certainly advanced in my eyes.  Im sure youre way ahead of where you put yourself. Instead of waiting another 5 years would it hurt your standing in your area to just give a professional audition a try?  Or would it be a thing that could hurt your rep' if it didnt go well?  Just curious.  Maybe a test the waters kinda thing.  No disrespect intended just thoughts.  I have no clue what that would mean for you as far as doing it.

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AndrewH
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GregW said
@AndrewH " ...back in 2006, when I learned the Telemann viola concerto..."

Man back in 2006 I didnt know what a viola was! embarassed.. Youre certainly advanced in my eyes.  Im sure youre way ahead of where you put yourself. Instead of waiting another 5 years would it hurt your standing in your area to just give a professional audition a try?  Or would it be a thing that could hurt your rep' if it didnt go well?  Just curious.  Maybe a test the waters kinda thing.  No disrespect intended just thoughts.  I have no clue what that would mean for you as far as doing it.  

Two words to explain why I'm not at professional level: Don Juan.wink

I don't see it as disrespect. I don't think people really become aware of what the expectations are at professional auditions until they're advanced (or at least upper-intermediate) players themselves, simply because there's no reason to think about it before then. I'm definitely an advanced player now, seeing as I've gotten into a semi-pro orchestra and am also principal violist in an intermediate-to-advanced community orchestra. But -- not to be discouraging about it -- there's a giant leap from "advanced" or even semi-pro to professional level.

TBH, I'd be submitting a music resume, and I wouldn't have much of a chance of being invited to audition on my current resume. Maybe in a few years, if I can find a good teacher and keep building my reputation in the area.

Once I'm at the point where I'd be invited to audition, the list of audition pieces pretty much tells me exactly what to expect. Even for part-time professional orchestras, most of the people invited to audition will be capable of playing all the audition pieces very well. I downloaded the audition packet the last time the local Philharmonic held viola auditions. It's very typical.

Candidates had to play the first movement of one of the "big three" viola concertos: Walton, Bartok, or Hindemith's Der Schwanendreher. Right now I can play a passable Walton with iffy intonation in places, inconsistent tone quality when playing in high positions (because I'm still thinking too much about intonation), and not playing legato double-stop passages smoothly enough. Maybe enough to get into a degree program at a non-elite school. Definitely not good enough for a professional audition.

Then there were the required excerpts. Not at all surprisingly, the dreaded Don Juan excerpt was one of them:
https://orchestraexcerpts.com/.....a-excerpt/

The first page of Richard Strauss's Don Juan is one of the most commonly required audition excerpts for all string instruments. Candidates are expected to play it cleanly, in tempo, with good intonation and perfect rhythm (a noticeable error in rhythm usually ends the audition immediately), with appropriate shape to each phrase. At my current level, the best I can do is probably hacking my way through it, hitting most of the notes but glossing over some of them, with lapses in phrasing and articulation. That might be acceptable for playing the piece in a section, but not playing solo in an audition.

Again, this is not to be discouraging, and I realize it's also off topic because it's about levels above "advanced." I just outlined the expectations at that level because you asked. (Pierre can confirm, he's been through the whole audition gauntlet before.) It's obviously not keeping me from trying. I see it as a challenge to take on, but not one that can be done quickly, especially as an amateur with a regular career and other adult responsibilities. I'm not going to feel too bad if I don't get there... it's actually a fairly new goal, one I added only about three years ago when I realized I was already past most of my "in my wildest dreams" goals and wanted to have something even bigger to work toward. My motivation is still mostly about playing in the best ensembles I can get into, not because I'm trying to compete with anyone but because playing challenging repertoire in a whole group of excellent musicians is fun. Especially when it's also the kind of music I like to listen to. (Whether we have that kind of ambition or just want to play in our living rooms, don't we all want to play the music we enjoy listening to?)

One thing I will say: having any kind of long-term goal makes it more important to have those smaller milestones. They're all accomplishments worth celebrating, whether it's learning your first fiddle tune or playing as a featured soloist in Carnegie Hall. And of course there are a lot more in-between milestones you can identify, other than reaching what people consider to be "intermediate" or "advanced" levels.

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HP
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@BillyG Thanks for the wishes Billy. I wish you all the best on your journey as well. amuse

@cid I totally get what you mean. I think it could be useful to have some rough idea of the difficulty of various techniques and in what order they should be learned in. Even for self-learners. 

'Armed with theory, practice becomes meaningful. Through practice, theory becomes fulfilled.' - Egon von Neindorff.

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GregW
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@AndrewH Ive only listened to a live symphony twice.  Both at Schermerhorn in Nashville.  The sound was amazing..  What was so cool were the acoustics there.  We were about as far away from the orchrestra as you could get and it felt like I could raise my arm and touch the instruments.  I can see why you would want to be part of that.  Everything sounded perfect.  Hopefully the members enjoyed what they were doing.

Im sure we will eventuallyy get a post about you making it!  It sounds like youve got your hands full and that would even make it more amazing!  Good stuff Andrew!

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JiminTexas
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Please allow a view from the outside. I am the rankest of beginners, not yet having had my first lesson. None the less, here are two phrases that pop into my mind.

1. The eye sees not itself, but by reflection. (Shakespear)

2. Judge not lest you be judged. (Jesus)

What I take from these is, we should not label ourselves. It is for others to judge our performances, not us. That's why we have auditions.

The search for great technique does not always lead to great music, but the search for great music does always lead to great technique.

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pchoppin
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JiminTexas said
Please allow a view from the outside. I am the rankest of beginners, not yet having had my first lesson. None the less, here are two phrases that pop into my mind.

1. The eye sees not itself, but by reflection. (Shakespear)

2. Judge not lest you be judged. (Jesus)

What I take from these is, we should not label ourselves. It is for others to judge our performances, not us. That's why we have auditions.

  

@JiminTexas 

I am in complete agreement with your comment, Jim, for us amateurs.  However, once you enter the professional realm, judgment and evaluations and auditions and chairs and competition are all that matter.  It is just the reality of the profession.

For the most part, from what I have seen, in the community and amateur (non-paid) world of music, where labor of love and "all about the art" are the motivation, musicians tend to be more helpful and less judgemental.

Just my $0.02

- Pete -

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AndrewH
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pchoppin said

JiminTexas said

Please allow a view from the outside. I am the rankest of beginners, not yet having had my first lesson. None the less, here are two phrases that pop into my mind.

1. The eye sees not itself, but by reflection. (Shakespear)

2. Judge not lest you be judged. (Jesus)

What I take from these is, we should not label ourselves. It is for others to judge our performances, not us. That's why we have auditions.

  

@JiminTexas 

I am in complete agreement with your comment, Jim, for us amateurs.  However, once you enter the professional realm, judgment and evaluations and auditions and chairs and competition are all that matter.  It is just the reality of the profession.

For the most part, from what I have seen, in the community and amateur (non-paid) world of music, where labor of love and "all about the art" are the motivation, musicians tend to be more helpful and less judgemental.

Just my $0.02

  

As I said: generally, at amateur level, the description of required ability level is mostly for your benefit, to give you an idea of what is necessary to keep up with the group. Most amateur ensembles will accept people whose ability is below their stated minimum.

As for the amount of competition and judgment within ensembles: that's not quite true, in my experience. First of all, I should mention that the majority of the ensembles I've played in, at all levels from adult beginner orchestras to semi-pro, have been welcoming to newcomers and not especially competitive. But it only takes a few people with big egos to make a group unpleasantly competitive. That said: the most judgment and competition for chairs, among adults, actually happens in the middle of the amateur range. In professional orchestras and high-level amateur orchestras, the only competition is getting into the orchestra in the first place; once you're in, because everyone is highly competent, most orchestras at those levels rotate seating for everyone except principal and assistant principal players (the first stand). Also, positions are tenured after a probation period (typically one year) so there's no possibility of taking a principal or assistant principal position until the incumbent leaves. People tend to be helpful at that level because the emphasis is on making sure everyone can get the job done on very limited rehearsal time. (Pro orchestras typically rehearse no more than two or three times for a concert; semi-pro community orchestras such as the one I play in tend to take only 4-5 rehearsals.) At the lower amateur levels, there's an understanding that most people are learning and improving, so there's not a lot of judgment going on. The orchestras that have the possibility of judgment and competition for seating order are the ones in between, i.e. the ones whose minimum standard is intermediate or upper intermediate, and those end up being the ones where some members try to compete with each other. Not saying all orchestras at that level get competitive -- most are not, but the ones I've been in with competitive atmospheres have all been mid-level.

Youth and school orchestras are more competitive, but for a different reason, namely that their members may be pursuing professional careers and trying to get into a conservatory.

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HP
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@JiminTexas I get where you're coming from, but I think it's important to judge yourself and have high standards. People tend to be vary when they criticize other, they don't want to be mean, harsh or to hurt the receiver. This applies even in auditions (maybe more common in lower level audition, the high end ones can be brutal.) You're your greatest critic and none else can tell you the hardest truth but yourself. Great musicians are often highly self critical. Even after a out of this world preformance they can say things like their bowing was all over the place, the shifts weren't clean enough, the tone wasn't crisp enough, the intonation was horrible etc. It's kinda sad, but it's what makes them great. 

'Armed with theory, practice becomes meaningful. Through practice, theory becomes fulfilled.' - Egon von Neindorff.

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Fiddlerman
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April 28, 2019 - 10:18 am
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JiminTexas said ...........
1. The eye sees not itself, but by reflection. (Shakespeare)
2. Judge not lest you be judged. (Jesus)

I love it. Cheers!!!

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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starise
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I guess I first noticed the wide variance in playing abilities when I first began to attend Irish sessions. I was up against a formidable group and at the time I didn't realize it.

I found out soon enough 🙂

Among the fiddlers in my regular group were the following:

A woman who has played for over 15 years and is in a local payed symphony orchestra. She also plays Irish music from memory very well and very fast.

A gentleman who has always been a musician. Nothing but a musician ever. Plays regular payed gigs with at least three or four instruments of different types. Knows every scale and chord known to man by heart and by ear.Nicest guy you'll ever meet, but don't try to out play him.

A lifetime music teacher of violin nearing retirement, Plays complicated stuff whilst nodding off at the bar. I'm not kidding.

......and here comes me with a violin. What was I thinking? In this scope of influence I'm not even whale poo.

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Mark
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Starise said,

(and here comes me with a violin. What was I thinking? In this scope of influence I'm not even whale poo.)

You don't realize how much I needed a good chuckle at the time when I read that statement, oh how I feel the same way.

Thanks for posting that,

 

Mark

Master the Frog and you have mastered the bow.

Albert Sammons

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GregW
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@starise yup know how you feel bud.

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BillyG
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🙂 @starise - rofl at whale poo.....

It also sounds like you are in great company there - awesome!   Don't be put-off - I'm sure you won't be - most accomplished players (certainly the ones I have met) are only too happy to share information and technique  - they may not be "teachers" as such, but you can still "drink it all in"....  It's a great opportunity !

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh - guntohead.JPG

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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starise
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Thank you for your observations gentlemen.

In hindsight, I would rather play with a group like that than a whole bunch of "feel arounders". I can attempt to try to attempt to play like they do.

I only felt uncomfortable twice. One time I was told to "chunk" if I didn't know the tune. Chuncking was never mentioned once in the Suzuki method and I didn't know what it was. The second time was when I got the hairy eyeball. "If you don't know it don't attempt to play it". 

But how can I know it if I don't attempt to play it? I thought inwardly. Apparently there's a place for that. I had picked the wrong place. TBH most of the seasoned pros who play never say anything unless it's really bad. On this day one person I had not met before did. She was leading different session and she had a different set of rules.

Irish sessions don't want a counter melody or anything that fits in lead position. They want the lead.Period. 

As it stands my goal is to eventually be looking at the bottom from the bottom instead of looking at the bottom from underneath. 🙂

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AndrewH
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I'm not sure what "chunking" is because I've only ever been to a few fiddle sessions in my life, but I'm guessing it might be similar to what people in community orchestras are told to do with fast passages that are too difficult for them: just play the note on each beat (or just the notes on strong beats, depending on tempo) and don't try to play the notes in between.

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