Encore's latest guest blog is from Nicole Wilson, formerly a violinist with the London Symphony Orchestra and the founder of Musical Orbit, a revolutionary online music lesson platform.
I still remember the terrifying moment when I graduated from the Royal Academy of Music. After four years of study, I realised that now it was make or break time. Was I good enough at the violin? Could I keep up with the pros who had been playing the repertoire for twenty years? And most scarily for me, could I even get past the audition stage? Performance nerves had been a huge problem for me since the age of twelve and now it wasn’t just a case of pride, it was a case of survival.
At the time I left music college, only 4% of graduates were getting jobs. That was a shocking statistic and I was acutely aware of the intense competition I was facing. It has become even harder recently and music graduates now need to have iron determination to break through those seemingly impenetrable barriers to succeed in the business.
Jump forward twenty years and I view the whole business very differently. When I played my first audition, all I thought about was not making mistakes, nailing the hard passages, playing the right speed despite the adrenaline coursing through my veins and above all giving the impression of a mixture of confidence and friendliness as I knew these musicians were looking for someone they would have to sit next to for potentially forty years...
Now, having sat on innumerable audition panels, I can usually tell within five minutes (often less) when someone plays whether they’re a potential candidate or not. Panels are usually made up of at least five people and although I haven’t always agreed with fellow panellists about how many players we can give trials to, we are almost always in agreement about who should not get a trial. It’s reassuring for us when we have the agreement of our colleagues as even the most hardened professionals will worry to death whether they’ve missed someone wonderful because of nerves or just having a bad day.
As a principal violinist, I have been inundated with young violinists wanting help with preparing for their auditions. What is the magic formula for being awarded an elusive trial? What advice can I give them? Are they going for the wrong sort of jobs? It is advice I feel confident giving but unfortunately I don’t have the time or space in London to help all of these young professionals. And so my idea for a game-changing company was born...
Musical Orbit uses the magic of the internet to link up young professionals with the movers and shakers in the profession. Through their computers, any musician can prepare for the most important auditions of their lives by having a lesson with a principal or tutti player of any orchestra. Our musicians have that valuable insight which can make all the difference in preparation for these stressful events.
Our professionals will work with you on any aspect of your audition preparation. Because the lesson is online, you can warm up right to the minute before it starts and also record the session for your own private practice purposes. Our video conferencing platform is extremely easy to use and our helpline is available if you have any connection problems. You also save travel time and money.
If you want to play in person to the musician, you can travel to their location. We have professional musicians throughout the UK and more and more are joining every week. If there’s someone in particular you’d like to learn with, let us know and we’ll endeavour to arrange it for you.
It’s a struggle making it in the music business but it’s a journey that will leave you richer for the difficulties you’ll encounter on the way. Success is all that more sweet if you’ve had to strive for it. If you want to have a career in this most magical world, get the help and advice from the right people, make good connections and above all, don’t give up.
Musical Orbit was founded by violinist Nicole Wilson. After a career spanning 20 years in London, as a first violinist of the London Symphony Orchestra, a principal violinist of English National Opera, a film/tv session orchestra fixer and CD producer, Nicole has enjoyed working with nearly all the major UK orchestras and has built friendships with many principal players across the nation and throughout the world.
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