My name is Sara and I am a 24 years old violinist and violist from Italy. My parents aren't musicians and they have never really been into classical music but they allowed my older sister to take piano classes. I grew up listening to my sister playing her grand piano and music soon became something very interesting to me. When I was about 5 years old I asked my mum to buy me a musical instrument. I am not really sure how we decided to go for a violin, maybe because our house was quite small and we already owned a big piano. I really believe my mum looked for a small instrument and probably the first she thought about was a violin.
I started taking classes from a neighbor of mine, a very good violinist and one of the first violins of our city orchestra. I was 6 years old and I still remember how tough those lessons were. I used to go to school from 8 am to 4.30 pm, swimming training from 5.30 to 7.30 pm, and violin practice from 8.30 to 11 pm. It was tough. At that time music schools in Italy were slightly different: you had to follow a 10-year-long program and at the end of the 10th year you owned a bachelor's degree. If you finished the 10th-year program before your high school graduation your degree was "frozen" until the day of your high school diploma. The training through those years was very beautiful but hard as well: for the final exam of the 10th year program, I had to perform in one day 6 Paganini caprices, 2 Bach sonatas or Partitas, one modern sonata and a baroque one, two violins concertos as well as history and theory tests.
After graduation, I started growing more and more experience in orchestra playing and I started focusing on orchestra excerpts and audition training. I studied with some of the greatest concertmasters and I won some auditions that allowed me to travel around Europe and work in professional orchestras. At the same time, I started teaching privately and I took a degree in viola and baroque violin as well. I have always been very fascinated by the baroque world and repertoire, right now I am working with some beautiful orchestras and I am traveling a lot around the world thanks to my work.
My message to a younger violinist is:
Listen, look, think!!
Go to many concerts as possible, take notes when you are there, what did you like and what did you not about the performance? Which feelings did it give you? How does that make you feel? Always look for inspiration and become a lover of every form of art.
Don't compare yourself to others.
Your path and background are unique. Look at what other people are doing, learn from them but never look at them with envious eyes.
If you like it, play it/share it/post it.
You did a concert and your mum or friend did a video of you and you are proud of it? Post it. Show it around. Too many people and beautiful artists don't share their creations because they are afraid of judgment or because someone did it better. Who cares? It might not be perfect but if you spent time and effort on it be proud. There is so much beauty in the effort.