Musicians: Jasmine Reese

Jasmine Reese, yet another Twitter cohort of mine, is of great interest. Being a violinist, she has not had the more traditional route of early training, but quite a different calling altogether. After having the desire to learn the violin later in life, she had the idea to help others in this same situation. This has since evolved into a multi-tiered campaign in which she would be not only aiding her own musical training but also her health needs and supporting music education in general. Lets hear from her, shall we?

CM: Jasmine, what is Late Starter Musician and how did the idea come about?

JR: I started violin at 14 which is considered late in the classical music world. Since starting at 14, I’ve had two “professional” musicians tell me late starters could not master their instruments. Well, I am a rebellious and stubborn person. So, since the age of 15, LSM has always been an idea. At that age, I started asking numerous musicians whether or not they agreed with the notion of age and its correlation to musical capability. I was sad to find a majority of musicians did agree. That’s not fair! People discover their talents, passions and dreams later in life sometimes. They should not be denied the opportunity to at least try based on something as trivial as age. However, society places great importance on age and physical characteristics.
So, my blog is my continual personal journey to set an example for accomplishment. We can accomplish our dreams, even with limited resources, time and support. Although since starting the blog, I have a lot of support. I am still a poor college student, though. I hope to be doing some great things with LSM in the next year if I can get funding. Ideas are invisible necessities. When you have money, they become continual sustenance.
I am 22, so I’ve been playing violin for eight years. However, three of those years was without a teacher. So, I like to say I’ve been “learning” violin for five years. The three years without a teacher, I only dreamed and hoped I was learning something.

CM: You are embarking on what seems to be 3 journeys (or a 3-part one); Mastering the violin, a weight-loss journey, and a bike ride across America. It sounds like a promotional gimmick but is there also a connection between the 3 goals?

JR: No, it’s not a promotional gimmick. These are personal dreams and goals. I only recently decided to make them public. I like seeing people accomplish their dreams. We all do, so I thought it would be fun to share my experience. I am most definitely not in it for the views or publicity. My BAM and violin goals are going to happen, regardless of who’s watching. It’ll be a journey I’ll never forget along with some of the other adventures I plan to go on before I reach the age of 30. And yes, losing weight and biking are interconnected. Subconsciously, I think it’s connected to the violin mastery as well. I want to be able to look good in my first significant recital gown!
In all seriousness though, life has been a bit rough for the past few years. My grades started dropping, the economy effected my family and we’ve had a lot of loss. This journey is about not losing hope, always having something to continuously work towards. You won’t be depressed if you don’t have time for it.
The only reason I am advertising it and trying to promote it is because I recently decided to bike for a cause; Music education. I hope to bike specifically for the funding of teen and adult music programs. We’ll see if this is possible. If anything, the bike ride will raise awareness for music education for teens and adults. So, yes, now there will have to be more of a promotional element to the biking part of my journey.
As far as the weight loss goes, I am on a genetic nutritional supplement called “GeneWize Body Genius”. It requires an active lifestyle and a strict food plan. The company who sells it, Genetic Sports Nation, is going to sponsor my bike ride across America if I lose weight and get over 1,500 subscribers on my YouTube channel. Gosh, that would be very helpful!

CM: You’ve made yourself sort of an open book for the public as there are people that are giving you advice on your violin playing and skills and even sending you videos of their ideas.

JR: I have a great relationship with the musician community. I have a little over 8,000 friends on facebook. They are all musicians. It took me a year to build up those contacts. They are all very nice and helpful. Many of them support the idea of LSM, and like me, wait for it to evolve into a great resource for teens and adults. I was always too scared to speak for myself. I am a perfectionist and always dissatisfied my with progress as a violinist. So, the videos I recently posted on YouTube is the first time many of my FB friends have even heard me play. They mostly know me for LSM. Their feedback has been encouraging and valuable. I am currently studying with Hrachya Harutyunian. We have our lessons through Skype. I will be posting snippets of these sessions on YouTube at some point. He is an amazing violinist. I hope to be half as good as him someday.

CM: What are your plans for music after this has been accomplished?

JR: I am trying to reach the ultimate level as a violinist. Right now, I play like a student. I am a student. However, I want to reach a level of a wonderful, professional musician. So, I am trying to master the violin as opposed to knowing how to play the violin, sort of….
I want to compete in the Sphinx Music Competition before I turn 26. Hrachya is helping me with this. My goal is to be at least one of those people on that narrow list of late starters who did something of note in the classical world.
It really is a courageous goal. We could compare my classical violin playing to an extreme makeover. Right now, my violin playing is like a 500-pound woman who wears god-awful clothing and has smudges of dirt on her face. Hrachya is the host of this show. It will take me some years, but hopefully, I will come back 300 pounds lighter, wearing the latest fashions and sporting good hygiene. [laughs] I appreciate any one who sticks around long enough to see the transformation.

CM: Very sorry for the recent loss of your dog Xheus. Would you care to share your memories of him?

JR: At age 15, we lost our home. We had to live in a motel. The highlight of my stay in the motel was visiting my dog in the kennel. We insisted on keeping her because she was a rottweiler. We were afraid if we put her in a shelter, she would not get adopted and be put down. That was a rough year and a half. I graduated high school that same year. I remember waiting for the bus two hours each day to head off to college and go practice my violin in the practice rooms. I studied for my SATs and ACTs, applied to Universities and completed exams all on a motel, twin-size bed. Needless to say, rottweilers and violins became an obsession. My violin would take me away from the situation. My rottweiler loved me no matter what. You can’t always find those qualities in humans. The rott who recently passed, Xheus, was always very happy. It’s infectious. They are a wonderful breed, especially when in the care of good owners. It’s too bad they have a bad reputation. They are protective, loyal to a fault and beautiful.

CM: Do you have any fantasy music projects or collaborations you’d like to share with us?

JR: Chris, I am still very much so a student. I am not sure when I will make that cross over into feeling like more. So, I will say my dream collaborations are really working with people I could learn from, such as my current “collaboration” with Hrachya Harutyunian. Also, Anne-Sophie Mutter inspired me to play violin. I love her vibrato, musical style and fashion. She’s just an all around violin diva. If I could learn from her or just get an internship where I am working closely with her, I’d be happy. Now if we are going to talk fantasy, I have one that probably won’t come true, but it doesn’t hurt to wish. I am still assembling a team for my bike ride across America. Since this will be done in the name of music education, I would love for one great violinist such as Hilary Hahn or Sarah Chang, the list goes on, to come along on the ride. I could learn so much musically from such a biking buddy. Not to mention, the publicity from such a famous person would raise either the much needed awareness or money. We would stop at schools, nursing homes and colleges. (I am going to be doing this myself, by the way. I plan to stop at a lot of hospice hospitals and nursing homes.) We would be busking as well which would rival Joshua Bell’s little experiment a few years ago where he busked in a subway station. Of course, that’s a true fantasy. Not everyone is up for the adventure of a lifetime!

Violinfanatic (Jasmine’s YouTube Channel)
Genetic Sports Nation is going to sponsor Jasmine’s bike ride across America if she can get 1,500 people to simply subscribe to her channel, so, PLEASE SUBSCRIBE to Jasmine’s channel as it costs you nothing. Your support means everything.

Jasmine’s Race Against Time
Jasmine’s blog (Please subscribe to this too! ;))

Late Starter


10 thoughts on “Musicians: Jasmine Reese

  1. Pingback: Musicians: Jasmine Reese (via The Glass) « Jasmine's Race Against Time

  2. Hi, Jasmine! I am so happy to learn more about you through this post! I think this is great. I am becoming a big fan of yours. (I’m off to go friend you on FB after I post this comment, lol)

    I started playing violin when I was 10 years old. It was through a public school orchestra program that gave free lessons starting in 5th grade. I studied violin in public school all through high school, and went on to college and majored in violin performance. My freshman year, I was chosen by my music professor, who was from England, to go to his home in London and study there for a month. FREE, girl! He paid my air fare! He was also a professor at the Royal College of Music in London (or was it Royal Academy? I get them mixed up). Maybe some of your readers know him, Trevor Williams. I always wondered what happened to him. Anyway, the idea of him taking me was that he felt that I had “great promise” but got a “late start” at age 10, and he wanted me to see another part of the music world in another part of the world, to expand my horizons and experience, and see what I could accomplish.

    I discovered that in order to “catch up” like he thought I should, would require me to pretty much eat, breathe, and sleep violin. He immersed me in videos, lessons, (he came from the old European school of violin playing and thought, a la Heifetz, a la “perfection”) and he really did stretch me. However, I decided during that trip that I did NOT want to eat, breathe, and sleep the violin and was not willing to pay that price to become a “great violinist”. I DID discover, though, that I absolutely LOVED to travel and meet people from other cultures, and I loved the way music was a universal language that surpassed culture, race, and ethnicity. I went on to complete my degree, but I also went on to become a traveling musical missionary. From that first trip overseas to England, I ended up traveling to 30 nations around the world and still would like to continue traveling some day.

    As for my violin skills, I have been able to play professionally in symphonies and communities, and while I would consider myself “decent” (I can hold my own in the back of the 2nd violin section quite nicely, thank you very much, lol), Jascha Heifetz or Itzhak Perlman I will never be…and I don’t want to be. I cannot rattle off the flashiest of violin concerti and other repertoire, but people are blessed and touched by my playing and that is what ultimately matters to me. They don’t care if I can rattle off Wieniawski or Paganini, either, lol! (which is a good thing…cuz I can’t!) But I have seen a few tears shed when I’ve played “Meditation” and wow…how humbling is that. (That’s a great one to add to your rep, by the way!)

    Anyway, I say all that to say that I think what you are doing is great. I’ve also been able to be active in music education and I have enjoyed giving back to the very program where I got my start. I agree with you, I’ve met so many adults who regret quitting violin or wish they could play, and I’ve always encouraged them that it’s never too late. I’ve had a few adult students over the years and am about to take on one this week! I think you will be an inspiration to SO many.

    These little prodigies who start off at 3 and 4 years old and are working the big orchestras by the time they’re 12…that is their life. They rarely have the time or energy to do much else, and I would imagine that they lead a lonely life at times. That’s fine if that is what they choose, but that is not what I wanted for my own life. I’m happy to have music be such a huge part of my life, and I am very grateful for the journey and the many gifts music has brought to my life. I want to continue to grown and learn as a musician, though…I still have my struggles with insecurity and perfectionism. One goal I have is to one day learn the Bach Chaccone. That is on my bucket list. Even if I never play it in public, lol!

    You just have to decide what it is you want in life, and what your mission and purpose is, and go for it. I have no doubt, even in the short time I’ve “known” you online, that you will accomplish every thing your heart desires and more.

    Bless you, Jasmine (which by the way is my daughter’s name, JasmYne) and I look forward to following your journey…and I hope our paths will cross some day. I’d love to play some duets with you!!!

    By the way, you gave me an awesome idea! I’m trying to prep an audition and was thinking I would LOVE to have a coach…but couldn’t figure out how to go about finding one where I live that I would trust…and you gave me one! SKYPE!!! Duh!

  3. Oh, and by the way! I had a critique about your playing and forgot to post it cuz my post was getting so long!

    Ok, I think you have a great sound! Very clear tone. You have an excellent ear and play very well in tune. I think my advice to you, which I need to take for myself, is to just play with confidence and play from your heart. Don’t worry about the intonation or whether it’s perfect…just enjoy what’s coming out of your instrument and take delight in the music that comes from your fingers. Your fingers will follow your heart.


    • Wow, Kimberly! What an inspiring story. I am so happy LSM really has a purpose for some people out there. And I am glad people like you set an example for what so-called “late starters” can accomplish. BTW, I have a second facebook profile Check me out there! Thank you again!

  4. I just wanted to know how you are doing? This is your cousin I miss you and I love you and I think that your music is wonderful and I hope for the best for you. I hope that you are happy and having fun take care.

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