Written by Mitta Angell
violist/pianist Dallas Symphony Orchestra
I consider myself to be extremely lucky to be making my living doing what I love the most - playing in a symphony orchestra. Not only do I get to play the fabulous orchestral literature as a violist, I also am able to play the extensive piano literature because I am also a pianist.
My parents were musicians so I really had no choice but to study with the goal of becoming a professional musician. As a child I would rather have been riding my horse, but at least I was sensible enough to know that I wouldn't be able to make a living riding my horse so I practiced the violin and piano. After graduating from college with a double major in violin and piano I switched to the viola and joined the Dallas Symphony in 1965.
Because being a musician is such a demanding and specialized job, I don't recommend that my students pursue a musical career unless they are passionate about it and cannot imagine themselves doing anything else. If you decide that music is the career for you, whether it be performing or teaching or both, be prepared for a great deal of criticism from your teachers and whomever you audition for. Because playing your instrument is such a personal expression it's very difficult not to take these criticisms personally. Rather than personal criticisms your teachers are trying to make you a better player. Even the criticism you may receive from an audition helps you grow as a musician and delve even more deeply into preparation and listening to yourself. The irony of the learning process is that your teacher will tear you up one side and down the other, then when you go out on the stage will tell you to play with confidence and "have fun".
If you chose to become a musician I wish you the best of luck and hope that you love your job as much as I do.