Julie Ayer was Assistant Principal Second Violin with the Minnesota Orchestra for 36 years, and formerly a member of the Houston Symphony. She studied violin with great pedagogue Josef Gingold at Indiana University. She organized and participated in a musician exchange with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, was a member of the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra, and the Oregon Bach Festival. She is one of the members of Classica Chamber Players, formerly Hill House Chamber Players, who for 35 years were the resident ensemble of the James J Hill House in St. Paul, MN. In May of 2015, she rejoined the Minnesota Orchestra on their ground-breaking tour to Cuba.


“Darling, let your fingers travel without clutching tightly. It will make the fingerboard seem half as long. . . . I want to hear a soprano, and then a tenor singing in response — imagine a song with words to it. And here there’s a little bit of a sigh: don’t be afraid to slide — it gives the violin a wonderful chance to sing”

~ Josef Gingold

By the time I began taking violin auditions in the mid-1970s, many major American symphony orchestras were offering fulltime employment, or nearly so, including the benefits of job security, insurance, and a small pension. Even as a young, idealistic student, I could imagine a profession in an orchestra, and I was determined to achieve economic independence and professional fulfillment.

I had grown up in Spokane, Washington (population 161,721), in midcentury America, at the time when most major orchestras performed twenty-four to twenty-six weeks annually and paid barely a living wage to their musicians. The Lawrence Welk Show, The Ed Sullivan Show, and The Huntley-Brinkley Report were the favorite family television programs, and hometown boy Bing Crosby was my mother’s favorite crooner.

Music filled our home. My older brother, Larry, played the clarinet and, in his first major experiment playing records and tinkering with electronics (which became his profession), loudly cranked out Les Paul and Mary Ford, and Chet Atkins, on 78 RPM vinyl discs on the 1939 Seeburg Classic jukebox in our basement. He remembers getting yelled at from upstairs, above the din of our roller skates, to turn it down. My sister, Jane, was advancing quickly on the violin, and my father played the guitar as a hobby. My mother, a professional violinist, proved the most steadfast and patient influence on my own musical development. Both parents made it clear to Jane and me (I was easily distracted) from an early age that they would not force us to practice, but costly private instruction depended upon our commitment to a daily practice regimen and regular preparation for our weekly lessons.

… the complete text is available in “More Than Meets The Ear”