I received this request:
"I'd be interested in your thoughts motivation and guidance for musicians
who started as kids but aren't good enough to play professionally. Not
all of us give up our instruments when we leave school, but being an
adult amateur (and not a beginner) is a weird, tiny niche. For example:
finding other musicians (especially accompanists at this level, choosing
how much of the "traditional" repertoire to study, how much money to
invest in a very expensive hobby. Thanks for any ideas you might have!"
This is a hard question to answer, because a lot depends on the level at which the performer plays at, and the location. So, I'll do my best!
First of all, no matter your level, I'd suggest taking lessons. If you're an intermediate player, now's your chance to move up to advanced repertoire. If you are already an advanced player, taking lessons will help you address weak areas, and polish up the good ones! I always have two or three adult amateurs in my studio, and they're great to work with, because they have a lot of drive. So get yourself a good teacher!
Next, if you are upper-intermediate or advanced, see if your local orchestra has any openings. Give them a call to see if and when they have auditions. Your teacher will help you prepare for this. The problem here, of course, is where you live. In many parts of America, at least, there might not be an orchestra for miles and miles.
If there is a college music school relatively close-by, another thing you can do is to call the department and see if there is a community division. A community division is a non-credit area of the music department, designed to serve kids and adults who do not wish or are ineligible to receive credit. You may find that there are ensembles at the school, or chamber music instructors, and even opportunities to perform!
Finally, I'd like to address the money concerns. Yes, purchasing a good instrument and bow, and taking weekly lessons or coachings can add up. But you have to remember that you're doing your hobby because it enriches you. There are hobbies out there which are FAR more expensive, so just setup a budget and do the best you can!
Keep up the good work--get a teacher, and go scout out those playing and performing opportunities!