When you think about making money using your skills as a violin player, violin teacher jobs might be the first thing that comes to mind. But there are so many more options! Here are some ideas from Brooklyn, NY teacher Julie P...
The ability to play the violin is a very marketable skill. If you’re looking for violin teacher jobs, working at a school or teaching private lessons is a great way to earn money. But if you’d prefer to just play and perform, there are a number of opportunities open for you to make money with your violin playing.
1. Special Events
Special events such as weddings, funerals, bridal or baby showers, and church services are great places for violin players to provide music. Any of these events may call for a solo violinist, but often they call for string quartets or trios. The types of music requested are usually classical and light jazz/pop, but it really depends on the event. Churches often use violinists as part of larger orchestras for special services around Christmas and Easter, or as a solo instrument for weddings and funerals. Some funeral homes keep a database of musicians to contact when clients request special music.
2. Playing in Bands
If you play any music in the rock/pop/folk/bluegrass/jazz genres, you could make money playing violin in a band. Since the violin is often a featured instrument in these groups, playing in a band is great for people who enjoy performing as a soloist. Some groups provide written music, but often the violin player improvises their own parts, so it’s important to be able to improvise and play by ear. You can also work your way up to soloing with musicians such as Celine Dion, David Bowie, and the Rolling Stones.
3. Cruise Ship Entertainment
Many cruise ships hire string groups (often trios) to play mostly classical music in the dining room, as well as in places like the grand promenade on large cruise ships. If you have your own group and possess the proper repertoire, this can be a great opportunity to get performance experience while also seeing different parts of the world. Cruise ships pay a weekly salary and also provide room and board free of charge. Some cruise ship companies have websites that list opportunities for musicians, but often your best bet is to find an agency that books acts on cruise ships.
4. Musical Theater
Many musical theater productions call for violinists. If you enjoy this kind of music and don’t mind playing the same thing for multiple nights in a row, playing for a musical can be a great way to make money. The top level for this kind of playing is Broadway, where the pay is quite high. But opportunities exist in almost all major cities, as well as at high schools, colleges, and community theaters.
5. Symphony Orchestra
The violin sections of professional and semi-professional symphony orchestras are made up of some of the very best classical players in the world. Getting a job in one of these orchestras is very difficult and consists of passing at least one audition, if not more. The amount of money these orchestras pay their members depends on the number of services (rehearsals or performances) that make up their season, as well as the performance level of the orchestra itself. The top orchestras pay a full-time salary while the semi-pro groups often pay a set amount per service. Audition notices may be posted in union papers and some trade magazines/journals.
For any of the ways to make money playing violin listed above, you have to be a solid player as well as have good networking skills. Musicians are often recommended and hired by word of mouth, so it pays to know as many people as possible in your field. It’s also important to conduct yourself professionally in all work situations, and be easy to get along with. If people have a good time on the gig with you, chances are they’ll want to work with you again.
If one of these five ways to make money playing the violin appeals to you but you don’t have the necessary skills yet, private lessons are a great way to move toward your goal. Find the right teacher to help you achieve your goals today!
Julie P. teaches flute, clarinet, music theory, and saxophone lessons in Brooklyn, NY. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Ithaca College and her Masters in Music Performance from New Jersey City University. Learn more about Julie here!
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