Some kids earn allowances from doing chores around the house, but Ryan Howland made his money busking on the streets of downtown Victoria.
Every day after school and on weekends, Howland would make his way to Government Street where he set down his violin case, took out the instrument and played classical music for hours.
“Most people are surprised. They stop and wonder because normally you just see band music,” said Howland. “When they see a classical violinist playing Bach or something different that’s on another level, it’s a really different experience for them.”
On an average day, Howland made anywhere from $60 to $100 a day from tourists and locals.
It’s a part-time job he continued for years and one that eventually helped him pay for a trip to Switzerland to study under world-famous Russian violinist, Zakhar Bron, when he was 13 years old.
Howland first started playing the violin when he was just five years old.
His mother worked at the Victoria Conservatory of Music teaching piano. After school, Howland and his brother would wait hours for their mother to finish her lessons.
As a way of keeping them busy, his mother signed his brother up to play the piano, while Howland played the violin.
It’s an after-school hobby that has since transformed into a life-long passion for the now 16-year-old.
“I always liked it when I started. It was fun for me,” Howland said.
“What I like the most about it is it’s so diverse. There’s so many things you can do on a violin as opposed to any other instruments. There’s so many techniques that are so detailed to express musical ideas. I think that’s really amazing.”
Howland has had the chance to learn under and perform for some of the best violinists and schools in the world. Most recently, he studied with a Dutch violinist at the Zurich University of Arts in Switzerland.
“Ryan is an inspiring young musician. I was impressed with his talent at the Symphony Splash auditions, and have been struck by his passion and unrelenting dedication to his work,” said Tania Miller, musical director with the Victoria Symphony.
Now, Howland is taking his performance to the next level with the rare opportunity to learn under Viktor Tretyakov, a Russian violinist and conductor, at the International Blackmore Music Academy in Berlin, Germany.
Howland, who is currently living in Germany, hopes to develop his own style and interpretations under Tretyakov and wants to one day become a soloist.
He is also raising money to help pay for the cost of living and tuition through an online fundraising campaign.
To view the campaign visit indiegogo.com and search “Ryan Howland’s Violin Studies in Berlin, Germany.”