Musician/ Viola Player
Britten Sinfonia

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Clare F

My name is Clare F, I play principal viola with the Britten Sinfonia. And basically I’m a freelance musician, but Britten Sinfonia’s one of the more regular orchestras that I work with. I love what I do, and I don’t see it as a job, always. So it’s a pleasure. The satisfaction for me of just playing – playing beautiful music the best – the best you can, to making the job the best you can, is a great privilege I think.

00:00:36 It isn’t easy, I think you need to work very hard, you need to work very hard on your own, you need to practice very hard. You can’t just leave it, I think you’re only as good as your last concert. So you’re kind of on the edge all the time, but that’s exciting as well. Bit of nerves, bit of butterflies, you know, that keeps me going!

00:00:56 I think it wasn’t until I was about 10 – 9 or 10 – that I started playing the violin at school, because we had a violin, it was my Uncle Arthur’s violin that’s right, it had been passed through the family. And alongside that I was hearing a lot of music outside of school. They had a resident string quartet living in the area, and I heard it as a primary school child, and it got to me. So I suppose that encouraged me to keep playing, keep having lessons. And from the classes at school I ended up having private lessons.

00:01:27 It was my teacher that really set – was very encouraging and told me that if I wanted to work hard I could be good at what I did. And my parents were very encouraging. So I suppose I went along with what they said, and in fact it wasn’t until I got a place at the Guildhall, that I decided I would do music. Just having that acceptance, like OK, yeah maybe I am good enough. Maybe I’ll give this a go.

00:01:53 When I went to the Guildhall it was a bit scary, the kids. There were so many high flyers and it was just terrifying! But I worked jolly hard and I had a – luckily had a very good teacher who encouraged me to work hard. And I think that’s what gets you there in the end, is hard work.

00:02:16 I was quite lucky to form a group at college among some friends of mine. We started touring as a group before we finished being students, so that carried me across, sort of began earning a little bit of money from that but not a lot. I wasn’t – definitely wasn’t earning a living at all, in fact I was still trying to have lessons and practising, because it’s one of those things you don’t want to let go of. And I must admit I went on the dole. And I have to say now how grateful I am to the system, and I mean I pay tax now, and I think well I’m really pleased that I was able to do that, and I didn’t go and find a job in a bacon factory to keep me tied over, because I needed to keep practising, and it’s almost like I kind of knew there was something coming in the end, and it was thanks to the system that I could actually do that.

00:03:08 If I had some money I would organise more concerts in schools for children, perhaps because that’s what I had. And if you could go round schools – you had endless money to get all the people you love playing with, and playing lovely – the music I love, which is the chamber music – to young people. I’m also – what I would love to do is to teach, but to teach children that perhaps haven’t got so much money. It is very very expensive to learn a string instrument these days, it’s incredibly expensive. And it’s such a shame, because I think a lot of children with talent are never given the opportunity to show – to show that.

00:03:52 I’m very very happy, I haven’t – I wouldn’t say I’ve got a huge amount of money, I’ve got a lovely family, my husband is a designer. He’s also freelance. So between us it’s a bit dodgy, you know, neither of us have set salaries. But we’re with the children a lot, we’re – touch wood – we’re healthy, we both love what we do, and to me I feel very lucky.

00:04:17 ENDS

Clare plays principal viola with Britten Sinfonia and is passionate about chamber music. She views playing beautiful music as a ‘great privilege’ and would like to pass on her love of music to young children. Whilst she says she doesn’t have a lot of money she says she feels ‘very lucky’ to be doing a job she loves.

More information about Musicians

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

62%  male 
38%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future employment

Future employment?

? Musicians write, arrange, orchestrate, conduct and perform musical compositions.
There are no formal academic entry requirements although many possess a degree and/or diploma. Entry to a degree or graduate diploma course requires A levels/H grades. Entrants to the performers’ diploma course generally possess GCSEs/S grades and Associated Board Graded Examination passes in their chosen instrument(s) and will be required to audition. Apprenticeships at NVQ Levels 2 and 3 are available in some areas.
  • Conceives and writes original music;
  • Tunes instrument and studies and rehearses score;
  • Plays instrument as a soloist or as a member of a group or orchestra;
  • Scores music for different combinations of voices and instruments to produce desired effect;
  • Auditions and selects performers and rehearses and conducts them in the performance of the composition.
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