Rosemary Siemens Violin Virtuoso Successful Musician

Rosemary Siemens - Violin Virtuoso
How to Become a Successful Musician

What does it take to be a musician in today’s world AND be successful in the “music business"? 

Watch Glory St. Germain and Special Guest Rosemary Siemens in the Ultimate Music Interview. What role other than musician do you have to play in YOUR business? 

What keeps you motivated in your musical journey?

Rosemary Siemens - UMT Interview

Rosemary Siemens - Violin Virtuoso - How to Become a Successful Musician

Rosemary Siemens, International Violin Sensation, is known for her love of sparkle and bling, quirky laugh and fun personality.

Rosemary’s latest album, “Plum Coulee, My Home” won “Best Country/Gospel Album of the Year” at Canada’s 2018 Gospel Music Awards, Global Music Award for “Best Bluegrass/Country Album”.

Featured in Billboard Magazine, Rosemary's video of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” has over 18 Million views on YouTube.

Her passion is to take her violin "Sparkle" everywhere, sharing music.
Rosemary Siemens - Violin Virtuoso -  How to Become a Successful Musician

Rosemary Siemens - Violin Virtuoso - How to Become a Successful Musician

Rosemary Siemens is Glory St. Germain's Special Guest on the Ultimate Music Interview Series.

Glory: Well, hello. Well, you might notice that I'm wearing a little bit of bling today. Woo hoo. The question is: What does it take to be a musician in today's world, and to be successful in the music business? You might want to add some bling to that. Well, I'm Glory St. Germain, and super excited. We have a very, very special guest today, Rosemary Siemens, an international violin sensation. And welcome, Rosemary, to our ultimate music interviews.

Rosemary: Thank you so much, so excited to be here.

Glory: Well, I am just absolutely thrilled. I know we've got a few surprises coming down the pathway today. And we're going to talk about role other than musician do you have to play in your business, which is big today. Right?

Rosemary: Totally.

Glory: What keeps you motivated? How to learn. What is your actual goal? And how to achieve it, so we've got a lot of things we're going to talk about today. But I think we should start with: Rosemary, how did you get started in music? What's your story?

Rosemary: I grew up in a very small town in Manitoba called Plum Coulee. And my mom, I remember my first memory was me on a little stacking stool in my kitchen and my mom saying, "Do you want to play the violin?" And I was like, "Sure." And she actually noticed that I was singing perfectly in tune at age one, two. And so she knew that there was a gift there, so she wanted to hone in on that. And she started me on piano when I was three. And so she found a teacher. It was not easy to find a teacher because we were in a rural community, so we had to drive quite a ways, and found a teacher to start me on violin at three. So that's where it all started.

Glory: Wow.

Rosemary: And then years of practicing and lessons, she would drive me to lessons three to four times a week, an hour and a half drive each way, if you can imagine.

Glory: Wow.

Rosemary: And then I ended up doing my undergrad in music and violin at University of British Columbia. And then I did a master's at the University of Miami. And then I did another degree after that. I could've been a surgeon by this time because I'd done so many years of school. And then I think I started doing some albums them. But what really kind of started me touring and stuff was that I got a call from the original Canadian Tenors. And I started touring with them. And that's what really got me going on the road and stuff like that. But when I was a kid, I was always in a children's choir, the Mennonite Children's Choir. And we toured all over the world. We went to Israel, to Asia, to Germany, everywhere. And I think that's when the love of travel, shopping and eating out and all these things were just like, I loved them all. So I knew I wanted to be a musician.

Rosemary Siemens - Violin Virtuoso - How to Become a Successful Musician

Glory: You know, we've got so many musicians on our call today. And we have teachers. And I think in the chat box, if you can share with us if you are a teacher, or if you are a musician. Let's just see what we've got out there today because we really want to address that. It's interesting, Rosemary. You said you drove an hour and a half to your teacher. And I think that sometimes we don't even realize that we see musicians performing. And yet, how did they get there? It was through the dedicated parents, but also through finding the good fit as a teacher. Right? That's going to really be the connection that's going to help you. What would be your best piece of advice for aspiring musicians?

Rosemary: Oh, man. I think the number one thing, and from everything I've done in my career, would be to never burn a bridge. When I was at the University of Miami, I was working at a church. I was playing piano and violin at this church. And the church leader, she was an amazing musician, and we really connected well. And she told me, "When you leave here, and when I leave her, let's always keep in touch. And I'll always call you for gigs and stuff like that." And I was like, "Great."

Rosemary: And so years later I was back in Vancouver, where I live now, and I get a call. And it's from this lady, Candace Wicke. She says, "Are you sitting down?" And I said, "Yeah." I says, "What's going on?" She says, "Do you want to play at Carnegie Hall?" I was like, "Oh my gosh. Yes." Who would've known that she would've gone to New York and started working for Carnegie Hall? And this one connection at this unlikely church in Florida ended up having me play at Carnegie Hall numerous times. It ended up that's how I got to play at the Vatican for the first time. I was the first violinist to ever play at the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican. And so connections for me have brought me almost all of my opportunities, which I think a lot of people don't think about it, but a huge part of being a musician is networking.

Glory: Yes.

Rosemary: Yeah. You just never want to burn a bridge ever.

Glory: And I think an interesting thing too, and I saw the video when you were performing in Rome. I think I watched it like 10 times because it was so amazing, so amazing. And that whole story, I mean, I know you did a post on Facebook. And I actually read the whole story about how it all happened. That must've been such a high. Right? Just to going, "I actually did that."

Rosemary Siemens - Violin Virtuoso - How to Become a Successful Musician

Rosemary: Totally. And the fun thing is taking people on the journey with me, the fact that you can do that in today's world is so cool because, I mean, to just experience it by yourself is amazing. But to share it with other people is just so much cooler.

Glory: Yes. I think so. And when we think about musicians even 20 years ago, networking was a whole different ball game. You had to just literally be on the road and on the radio. And I know you've done a lot of tours. And you're recording and releasing your albums and actually still engaging in the radio. Other than your role as a musician, what else do you have to do in the business? Because being a musician, we can practice 10 hours a day. But what else do you have to do in the business to be successful? And you obviously are very successful.

Rosemary: I think a lot of people don't realize what all goes into being a musician in today's world, because it used to be that people would have their record label. And then the record label would do all these things for them. But now a lot of people are just independent musicians and making a living of it, as I am. I mean, I have a team with a manager and an agent and stuff. But I'm building websites. I'm doing social media. I'm booking shows. I'm writing songs. I'm recording music, promoting my music, booking tours, researching how to do the best music videos, practicing. It never ends. It's a full, full, full-time job. And people, I think, have no idea what actually all goes into it.

Glory: I often wonder how you manage to do all that because you are very active on Facebook, and sharing your stories. And it's so engaging. And of course, your adorable little guy, Theodore, I think we were all in shock when you revealed the story about, oh by the way, I had a baby. And we're like, "What?"

Rosemary: I know. And between my husband and I, he's a world renowned saxophone player, between the two of us while I was pregnant, we did 175 shows in 100 cities. Tried to keep it a secret anyway.

Glory: And did the odd person go, "Are you, um?" Or did they not want to say anything?

Rosemary: I think I had one or two people on social media. And I don't know if I had anyone come up to me in person. I don't think. I'm sure a few people thought it when they saw me, especially late. But very few people came up to me and said that. But the reason we kept it a secret was just, it was actually, I was getting a lot of calls for work when I was about to be pregnant and close to it. And I thought, "You know what, I'm feeling really good." And I just didn't want that to change. And I wanted to be working right away after. And since I had the baby, I had a show a week after. And I've done about 25 shows since I had the baby. And I had him in September.

Glory: That's just amazing.

Rosemary: He's the back stage baby. He's the best.

Glory: I think everybody gets to know him. You've done obviously, millions of shows and extensively traveled around the world. What keeps you motivated in music? What is the thing that keeps you going?

Rosemary Siemens - Violin Virtuoso - How to Become a Successful Musician

Rosemary: I constantly ... My motto for 2019 is to dream it and to do it. I think to keep on dreaming, keep on having goals that are almost unattainable. That's a huge part of it for me. And just, I think what makes me love music so much and why I do it is because I get to share my story. And I want to touch people through music. And I try and do special things for people all the time. I did a really cool ... I was in Cracker Barrel Restaurant. It's like a home cooked restaurant in the states. And I was sitting there having my meal. And I saw this man that kind of seemed lonely. I saw him wearing a veterans' hat. And I was going to leave, and as I was leaving, he just said something. He said, "Are you playing a show in Wisconsin Dells?" And I said, "No." I said, "I'm off to the next city." And I left. And my parents were with me. And I was going out the door, and I said, "Dad, I feel like I should go play something for that man. He seemed really down." And he said, "If you feel it, go do it." And so I went back to him, and I said, "Are you a veteran?" And he said, "Yeah. I am." I says, "Would you mind if I play something for you?"

Rosemary: And he said, "No. I would love it." And so there in that Cracker Barrel Restaurant, I played this man America The Beautiful. And he had tears in his eyes. And the whole kitchen staff came out. He sent me an email the next day and he just said, "Rosemary." He says, "You have no idea what kind of pain I was in at that point emotionally and physically." And he says, "I prayed for some of that relief, something to relive that pain." And he says, "And you were the answer to that prayer." And I think moments like that, that we just take the time to just, if people are in need, to just do what we can. Everyone can do something different. My gift is to share music. Right? And I think that's just more payment than a lot of other gift when you get to do something special for someone. And so that's really why I do it, is to touch people. And so I'm just thankful to have a job that allows me to do that.

Glory: You are so special and so kind. And people do, they're so moved by music. It can change your mood in a heartbeat. If you're feeling really sad and depressed, if you put on some music that can just uplift you, or listen to your favorite song, it brings back memories. It is such a powerful thing that when you share that with people, I've seen you performing in so many ... I love your impromptu, just show up with your violin and start playing. It brings so much joy to everything. You know? You talked a little bit about 2019. What is your goal for 2019? Do you have anything specific? And perhaps in our chat box I see Gracie. It says, "Hi Rosemary." Hi Gracie. Hi Grace. Go ahead and feel free to put a question in the chat box if you'd like to ask Rosemary something. But what is your goal coming up for 2019? What's coming up in the future here?

Rosemary: Well, I have a lot of things going on. But I think my big goal, I just got a US agent, so we're going to be touring through the US a lot. But my goal is to play at The Grand Old Opry. That is one thing I want to do. And my long-term goal is I'd like to have a PBS special, like Rosemary and Friends, and bring all the different people that I've met throughout my career so far, just some of my favorites, and do a PBS special like that. And share people's stories, and then bring them one on one with me on stage.

Rosemary: Something really cool that happened, it was probably about two years ago now, but through Facebook I saw this guy, Charles Ritchie, on the organ. He went viral on the organ. He's unbelievable. And so I messaged him. He plays old hymns, which I love. I grew up playing in the church, and that's a big part of how I learned to play as well. And I messaged him. I said, "I would love to do a duel with you sometime." And he says, "Well, if you're ever in the area, let me know."

Rosemary: So I was in Jackson, Tennessee, and he was close by. And so I was doing a radio interview, and so he brought his organ. I think it was 500 pound organ, in a horse trailer, to the radio station. He hauled it in there. And we did three videos. And one of them got over a million views on Facebook. And it was one of the coolest experiences. And I think things like that, sharing these stories and then bringing a person on for a song, that would be my dream. And so that's what I'm working for.

Glory: That sounds like a lot of fun. Well, speaking of bringing your instruments, I know we want to talk about how musicians can identify their one goal and how to achieve it. But I'd kind of like to segue. I did put on my bling.

Rosemary: I love it. So did it. I don't know if you can see it.

Glory: She has her bling on. So could you please tell us about Sparkle and your bling?

Rosemary Siemens - Violin Virtuoso - How to Become a Successful Musician

Rosemary: Yes. This is my violin, which I've named Sparkle. It is from 1714. It was bought by a very generous patron, and bought in Switzerland. It is a pretty special instrument. Check it out.

Glory: It's beautiful.

Rosemary: It played in King Louis XIV's orchestra. And it was actually two years ago now, it was stolen, and actually miraculously returned, so I'm very thankful to have this now.

Glory: Yes. That is.

Rosemary: And both of these were bought in Switzerland. I used to study in Switzerland in the summertime with my teacher. My teacher from the University of Miami had a place in Switzerland, and so he would have his students come there. And we would just study with him and stuff like that. And one time I was at this famous shop in Switzerland. I was playing a concert and this man came up to me. He was taking the course with me, and he says, "Rosemary, I'd like to buy a bow for investment purposes." And I said, "Great." I says, "We're in the best place in the world to buy instruments." I says, "I'll try some bows out for you." And he says, "You're sure?" And I said, "Yeah."

Rosemary: So I spent a day trying out bows. And I said to his man, Peter, I said, "Peter, I got the best bow for you." And he says, "You're sure?" And I says, "Yeah." And he goes, "It's a gift for you." It was a $15,000 bow. And so I've been very blessed to have amazing patrons around me that have allowed me to play on such an incredible instrument. And it makes all the difference for a musician to play on an amazing instrument.

Glory: Absolutely.

Rosemary: Yeah.

Glory: Yeah. Are you going to do a little tiny Sparkle song for us?

Rosemary: Oh, any favorites?

Glory: I love everything you play.

Rosemary: How about Danny Boy?

Glory: Okay. Aw, you're making me cry. Yay. Thank you so much, Rosemary. I love when you play. My mom played the violin, I mean, nowhere near, not even close to what you do, but just the violin itself is so dear to my heart. And thank you so much for sharing that. I know that you've worked so hard as a professional musician, but also in the music business, which is of course what we were talking about today. And just in sort of helping other musicians. Oh, we've got a comment here. Eddie says he's crying on the inside. He loves it so much. Thanks Eddie, for that. What's sort of one ... We can help. We talked about: How can you identify a goal? And how can you achieve it? If you were going to give some advice to musicians that are saying, "Well, I'm practicing all the time." What's the next step? What's the path to really making it as you have in the music business?

Rosemary Siemens - Violin Virtuoso - How to Become a Successful Musician

Rosemary: Oh, man. I never stop working. They say: What is luck? And I think luck is a great definition is when preparation meets opportunity. Right? I think when you actually put in the time, and you keep working and you never stop, the opportunities will come. But you can't just sit in your room and just practice. It doesn't work like that. You have to put in that time. But then you've got to go out and network and stuff like that. Right? I think also, I've gone through so many different phases in my life. I have so many different groups. And now I have a group, Rosemary and the Sweet Sound Revival, where I'm singing, I'm writing songs. And I think you find what your passion is.

Rosemary: Right now I love motivational speaking. I love sharing my story. And so if I was just doing a classical show, I wouldn't be able to do that, so I morphed my show into where I can express myself and share my stories and stuff like that. I'm singing now. And so I think you're going to have different ... In your career, I never thought I would be using my piano. I never thought I'd be using my voice. I never thought. But I'm so thankful to my mom now that I'm using my theory, you know. I have all these things that have built, so that now I can have this kind of multifaceted career that I never thought I would have, that I can use all the things that I've worked so hard for. Right?

Rosemary: And so I think, and there's a different time for ... When I first started, I was doing just gospel CDs, just violin. And now I'm doing totally different. And so I think you have to kind of find your niche and see what you love. And then see if there's an audience for it. Usually, if there's an audience for it, you can always find. In today's world with social media, you can find an audience for almost anything. Right?

Glory: Yes.

Rosemary: And so I think, but you've got to put in the time and dedication. But then follow through. Yeah.

Glory: I think that really is the key. We've talked about musicians and the practicing, so follow through is the key. Opportunities, to take them. I know I speak for you and I. We've been blessed with opportunities, but we've also taken action on those opportunities, and always with passion and always with a purpose to serve.

Rosemary: Totally.

Glory: I think the musicians, and speaking of serving, once our chat is done I will put some notes back in the chat so that teachers and musicians can reach out to you on your social media page. I know that the video you did with Hallelujah has over 18 million views on it. I mean, that's an amazing accomplishment to think that 18 million people plus watched your video. And I know probably five million of those were me because I loved watching that video so much. But I do want to share with people that I am all about the education, which is where Rosemary talked about. And if you have an interest in learning more about that, you can just type in the chat box, master keys. And my assistant, Sheena, can send you the link to the upcoming webinar that we've going on next week.

Glory: If you want to know about Rosemary, you can just type in Rosemary, or type in musician, whatever you want, and we'll make sure to link you up with the proper thing so that you can access that information, because I think that's one of the greatest things, is just watching you. And of course, you and I come from the same background. My family was also from Plum Coulee. I looked it up in the book, and I went, "Well, look at that. We're actually cousins sort of through a couple of different things." But yeah, it's really, really fun. And I just wanted to say thank you so much, Rosemary, for sharing your incredible story. And of course, I love watching you perform. And hopefully you'll be coming to Winnipeg. It's kind of time for you to come on back this way.

Rosemary: I know. I'm in Steinbeck February 22nd, but not in Winnipeg then, but hopefully soon.

Glory: Yes. Well, we'll have to make sure that you come around this way. And for anyone that is looking for, as I said, I'll put the show notes in after we wrap up today. So you can actually click on that. And it says all the places that you're playing right on your website.

Rosemary: Yeah. You bet.

Glory: Okay, so we'll wrap up with that. Is there a little story? How did the thing about bling get started?

Rosemary: My grandma loved bling. She loved shopping. She had clothes everywhere. It was amazing. And then my mom always wore bling. I remember my friends making fun about it to me. And I guess it got passed down the bloodline to me. And I think I'm a dichotomy of my parents. My mom loves shopping, loves bling. And then my dad's a farmer. He's 81 years old, still farms full-time on our century farm. And I think I'm the dichotomy of the two worlds, this loving travel, shopping, and then this kind of simple, simple life girl. And so I'm mixed between the two. And so I wrote a song. You can actually see our hometown in the music video. It's the story of my home, of my life, really. And it's called Barefoot and Bling. You can find it on YouTube. Check it out and subscribe here.

Glory: Yeah, for sure. Yeah. I love the Barefoot and Bling. I've watched that one too. It's really incredible. Well, thank you so much, Rosemary, for today. I'm sure that we're going to have a great following, and people are going to enjoy watching your music. If they can't see you live, at least they can head over to your website and your YouTube page, and catch all your amazing videos and comment and things on your Facebook page as well.

Rosemary: Awesome. Thank you.

Glory: Yeah. Thank you. Have yourself an amazing day. And keep Sparkle sparkling.

Rosemary: Will do. Thanks for having me.

Glory: Thank you. See you next time.

Rosemary: Bye.

Glory: Thanks everybody.

Rosemary Siemens - Violin Virtuoso - How to Become a Successful Musician

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