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Learn The Violin & Play In Your Local Community Orchestra

copyright 2008 by Janice Tucker Rhoda


On May 12, 2005, The Wall Street Journal published the article Practicing the Healing Art of Music by Barrymore Laurence Scherer. Scherer focused on the Longwood Symphony Orchestra and quoted a member and past adult violin student of mine, Dr. Susan Pauker:

"While having my ancient violin restored," Dr. Pauker said, "I was referred to Janice Tucker (Rhoda), a teacher specializing in adult retreads." Ms. Tucker (Rhoda) started Dr. Pauker on the first book of the Suzuki method, widely used to train young children. To prepare to audition for the LSO, Dr. Pauker "blasted through four books of Suzuki in one year, practicing from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. most every night."

Dr. Pauker is a perfect example of an adult amateur violin player who picked up the violin again after many years of not playing it and now enjoys performing in an orchestra. She is the chief of medical genetics at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates and is the current board chairwoman of the Longwood Symphony Orchestra.

The LSO was founded in 1982 by a group of musical Harvard medical students. The orchestra today consists primarily of medical doctors, interns, nurses, researchers and administrators, all healthcare professionals from the greater Boston area. They perform regularly at New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall.

Dr. Pauker was further quoted in Brigham and Women's Hospital Bulletin, May 12, 2001:

"'It makes me very proud to be a part of this organization and such a superb group of people,'" said Pauker, who is celebrating twelve years as a violinist with the LSO this season. 'In the music I play, there lies a mutual healing process. After a demanding day, I am healed when I begin playing. Similarly, our concerts support advances in medical research and patient care. This mission draws me back year after year.'"

Dr. Pauker played the first movement of the Vivaldi Violin Concerto in A minor at her audition. Many community orchestras do not require students to audition.

The violin section is the largest section in an orchestra, so violinists are in demand.

Most of my private students begin to play the violin completely from scratch and now participate in their local orchestra. Many did not know how to read music well or never read music.

With plenty of practice and proper guidance from a teacher, an adult can learn to play the violin well enough to join their local community orchestra in a few short years. Sitting in the back of the second violin section is a non-intimidating way to begin playing in an orchestra.

NEXT: Page two, Choosing a Violin Teacher


The ABCs of Strings is published by
Carl Fischer Music