Violinists spend a lot of time, effort, and money as they learn how to master that elusive instrument. True artists enjoy what they do tremendously, but still, there are some realities in life they need to deal with. Income is one of these.
If you were wondering how much do violinists make? Read on. In the next sections, we’ll go through the salaries of violinists in different places and at various career points.
Professional Violinists come in many varieties with a versatile career progression. On average a Violinist will make $65k with some top-tier Violinists making over $400k. However, the road to becoming a professional Violinist is expensive and can be incredibly competitive.
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What Is the Average Salary of a Violinist?
Violinists have several career options. And each path can take on very different upper and lower salary limits. The cumulative experience of the artists, as well as the venues where they perform, are also major determinants of how much they make per year.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and various other market studies, the average salary of a violinist is $65k. This is in the same range as actors, landscape architects, and experienced graphic designers.
What Do Top Violinists Earn?
Orchestral violinists are among the highest-earning performers, with an annual income exceeding $100k. The top 10% of these violinists could make up to $160k.
There are some star performers in every field, and reaching fame in that field can be quite lucrative. At the point where a concert sells because of a certain violinist, then that musician is definitely making a fine income.
For example, Vanessa-Mae Nicholson is known to have a net worth of $45 million, Joshua Bell is appreciated at $15 million, and David Garett has a net worth of $12 million.
Which Country Do Violinists Earn the Most Money?
There’s a general understanding that musicians in the USA make more money than any other performers worldwide. This opinion was even discussed in a much talked about article in The Guardian.
The focus of that piece was on the huge discrepancies in pay between American and British orchestral performers. The writer mentioned a clear edge of several thousands of dollars favoring the American players.
This was attributed to the way each orchestra was financed, as well as the manner the players’ contracts were drafted. The article had substantial merit, but, the actual averages paint a different picture.
As it turns out, being a violinist in the UK is quite lucrative. The same goes for Canada and Australia where the average salaries are substantial.
Here we compare average violinist salaries,around the world:
- UK $77k
- Canada $73k
- Australia $72k
- USA $65k
- India $11k
As a little disclaimer; this is according to our most recent information. There might be some changes in more recent times. However, the general trends remain more or less the same.
How Do Violinists Make Money?
The best place to be as a violinist is the principal chair in a renowned orchestra. This isn’t an easy destination though, and very few players reach these spots.
There are other ways to make a living as a violinist though. This starts from working as a tutor, performing in small string quartets at various functions, to recording studio music for movies. In our digital times, there are also plenty of ways to make money online.
How Much Do Violinists in an Orchestra Make?
Orchestral violinists are considered the lucky folks among all music performers. They often enjoy a stable life that often comes with a generous remuneration package.
In addition to a high salary, a rock-solid contract, and pre-specified working hours, they also get a few weeks off between seasons. This allows orchestral players to pursue other work, which contributes to their yearly income.
Having said that, it’s worth mentioning that there’s no fixed salary for violinists in all orchestras. For example, a player in the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra averages around $143k per year, while a peer in the Minnesota Orchestra gets around $107k annually.
The rank, experience, and solo performances of a violinist dictate how much money they make ultimately. It’s understandable that an entry-level performer would go with much lower figures than the ones mentioned above.
Salary of Violinists in New York Philharmonic
The New York Philharmonic Orchestra is among the oldest music halls in the US. Ureli Corelli Hill, the American conductor, together with William Vincent Wallace, who was an Irish composer laid its foundations back in 1842.
To this day, this grand orchestra has enriched the cultural scene with tens of thousands of performances. It’s easily the dominating orchestra of ‘the Big Five’, which also includes the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Cleveland Orchestra.
Musician salaries at the New York Philharmonic are as grand as its halls. Normally, the entry-level annual income of a player averages $153k, not including any perks or extras. That’s just the basic package. This is among the highest rates in orchestras.
Unfortunately, some unexpected events hit from time to time, and the pandemic is one of these. According to a New York Times article, the players of the New York Philharmonic agreed to have a substantial reduction in their salaries as the halls closed their doors for more than a year.
This brings down the annual income of the players to around $110k per year. The cuts are supposedly temporary, and there’s a clear promise of raising the salaries when things get back to normal. This sounds tragic, but it’s far better than getting furloughed, which happened with the Metropolitan Opera musicians.
Playing at the New York Philharmonic Orchestra remains one of the biggest dreams of most violinists.
How Much Does a Violinist Make Per Concert?
Violinist salaries are rarely calculated per concert unless they’re visiting soloists. Normally, an orchestra violinist gets paid on a weekly basis, and that regular salary often includes other activities such as attending rehearsals and performing other administrative tasks.
On average, a house violinist makes around $250 to $2500 per concert. This is a rather rough figure, but it’s not bad as general guidance.
A visiting soloist would generally be paid a handsome package. Itzhak Perlman was known to receive upwards of $65k per concert. Other famous musicians could easily get double or triple that amount nowadays.
How Much Does a Violin Teacher Make?
Teaching music is a versatile profession that many violinists gravitate to. It has flexible hours, they can choose where they teach, and even select their students.
Some go all-in and take full-time jobs as violin teachers, while others do it as a part-time occupation to augment their income.
The average salary of a violin teacher is around $57k per year, which exceeds that of a math or science instructor.
The lower earners make an annual income of $38k, while the top 10% highest earners could reach $82k.
What Is the Progression for a Violinist?
A newly graduated violinist often feels that the world is too wide and unintelligible. They know that there are some glamorous careers, but they don’t feel too accessible. And then there are all these real-life demands, which steer them into careers they might not be too happy about.
The question is then: what is the right progression for a violinist?
It’s both a blessing and a curse that there are so many options. The best path is often going for a salaried concert violinist. There aren’t too many vacancies in that direction, and the requirements are like picking Olympic athletes, but is it impossible? Absolutely not!
A talented and highly disciplined violinist often has a good chance to get a solid career at a renowned orchestra. There’s a constant need for new talent, especially if they have something original and authentic to offer.
This is, clearly, the most glamorous path. But there are other exciting careers. For example, there’s music composition, playing for small music companies, teaching, becoming an agent, and working as a music coordinator.
How Much Do Top-Earning Violinists Make?
The top-earning violinists are the ones that stand out in a performance. We’re not talking about beginner-level players, as these are usually seasoned violinists. Some of them are world-famous musicians, and audiences from far and away come to see them perform.
The top-earning violinists are typically:
- Concert Violinists
- Solo Violinists
- First Violinists
- Orchestra Violinists
Depending on where they’re playing, top-earning violinists often exceed the $100k annually.
Is a Violinist a Good Job?
The definition of a ‘good job’ differs drastically from one person to the next. However, most of us appreciate doing exciting work that we really like, where we get paid handsomely. Also, where we’re surrounded by nice people.
Being a violinist usually satisfies these conditions, and then some. That is if you have the talent and commitment to that art form.
One important point to note is the dedication required to become a professional violinist of any variety. Often players would start before their teens and put in hours of practice and music college before being able to earn money playing the Violin. These things have both a significant time and money investment.
Is It Difficult to Be a Violinist?
In order to be a top-tier professional Violinist, one would require a significant amount of natural talent, hard work and dedication. Almost all professional Violinists would have started playing before the age of ten years old and would have practiced week in week out for many many years.
Whilst not absolutely necessary, many top-tier Violinists would have also gone through music college at an average cost of $50k. Music college is both incredibly competitive and expensive. Even after these things have been achieved, auditioning to be an orchestral Violinist is ruthless and you’re likely competing with many other talented musicians for one spot.
Teaching the Violin on the other hand is less competitive and the barriers to entry are lower. Whilst music college is desirable, it’s possible to teach the Violin without being an expert yourself and without a college degree. It all depends on the level of your students. In order to teach at a conservatoire, you’re likely going to need to be in the top 1% of all Violinists, whereas it’s easier to teach toddlers.
The question of how much do violinists make? Should always go hand in hand with another question: how much effort do violinists make?
Learning how to play the violin is challenging and can be competitive. It takes a copious amount of talent, commitment, and discipline to become a high-quality violinist.
The good news is, that working as a violinist usually pays off well. Whether a violinist ends up as a soloist with a grand orchestra or an academic teacher, it’s still among the best paying careers out there.