Pursuing music as a career was not a popular nor common pursuit in Mexico, and Job was not always encouraged or supported in his choice. He was told to give it up, he could never be good enough; “the violin is not for you, try something more practical". These sentiments aren't unique for a musician to hear, but the fact that he fought to stay with his passion and commitment to perform music is. Standing up against frequent discouragement and naysayers, not to mention the patience it takes to break through in the music industry, speaks volumes to the person Job is.
Job Salazar Fonseca was a young boy of six when his parents took him to the Monterrey Symphony in Mexico. That was the day he decided that he wanted to play the violin. “Because I was so little, it was the only section I could see.” Job says of the event. “If I had seen the trumpets or the bassoons, maybe that’s what I would have played.” When he told his mother of his desire to play the violin, she asked him why. They already had a piano, which his siblings had learned to play. He couldn’t explain, only that he liked the violin. Even at such a young age, Job did not forget his desire. He continued to ask and work towards learning the violin. From that time on, Job has understood the importance of staying committed to the things that matter in life.
Because of his persistence, Job was finally presented with a violin on his ninth birthday. Even as a beginner he practiced every day, sometimes up to two hours at a time. His constant practicing tended to get on his siblings’ nerves, particularly his older brothers. When his practicing became too much for them, they would lock him in the bathroom because they couldn’t stand the scratchy noise of a nine-year-old practicing the violin. But Job was not deterred. He kept at it, because in his words, “The scratchy noise didn’t bother me—it fascinated me.” His commitment to learning the violin was the beginning of where his dedication would lead him.
Practicing two hours a day as a nine-year-old may seem excessive, but now as a professional Job practices seven to eight hours every day. He says he doesn’t really count the hours. “I try to practice by projects. I never really finish. I look at the clock, but it doesn't matter, because it is not about time but about accomplishing objectives while practicing. It never really gets done; the learning process and objectives are endless." Job practices the length that most high school children spend in class. Even when he was in college, the amount of time he practiced never wavered.
Job is no stranger to hard work, and his musical education was rigorous. From the start of getting his violin, he attended his music classes after school almost every day. This included Saturdays, and was separate from his regular school schedule. During his high school years, he would get up at five in the morning to start work at his grandfather’s restaurant. After work, he would rush to his music classes to work on his violin practice. The high school where he lived had three sessions: morning, afternoon, and evening. In order to have the time to get everything done, Job attended the evening session, finally arriving home at 10 o’clock at night.
Though his high school years were difficult, one of the hardest times of Job’s life was serving a full time mission for his church. He didn’t tell anyone—not even his parents—that he was planning on going. He considered it to be his responsibility to provide for the things he needed on his own. To do this, he had to do one of the most difficult things he has ever had to do in his life—he had to sell his violin and withdraw from his violin lessons. This upset his violin teacher in Monterrey greatly, who was vocal in his opposition of Job's choice. Job had finally saved enough money for his violin after two years of hard work in his grandfather’s restaurant. He didn’t want to sell it, but he knew it was the right thing to do. He refers to this as “the biggest factor in my life". Nothing after this was as hard as he thought it would be. He says that everyone has something they have to sacrifice for something greater. For him, it was his violin. Even though it was such a painful wrench, he knew it would ultimately be a positive experience. With the money he earned from selling his violin, he was able to get most of the things he would need for his volunteer service.
He served for two years in Tijuana, Mexico, providing humanitarian work, and teaching people. Though conditions were rough, he emerged from the experience a more centered, focused individual, with a new appreciation for what he had. These lessons would be carried through to his college career. He left his home country of Mexico to attend school at Brigham Young University–Idaho. He received a full scholarship to attend, but unbeknown to the faculty, he knew next to no English. He felt completely alone. “I had no car, no friends, no family. I was literally by myself without knowing anything." He became concertmaster of several orchestras at the university, lead the Baroque ensemble, and won the school’s concerto competition. His teacher Emma Rubenstein was a constant support and encouragement to Job, and he credits her for many of his good learning experiences there.
Job married his wife Rachael right after graduating from BYU-I, and together they started a life together in Boston. Job completed two graduate degrees from The Boston Conservatory (BOCO); an M.M. and a G.P.D. (Graduate Performance Diploma). Boston and BOCO took Job’s playing to a whole new level, and he excelled under the direction of his new teacher Markus Placci. He was involved in many events at BOCO, and also extended his work to outside of school. Playing in local orchestras helped hone his professional skills, and volunteering to play for community centers and events helped bring out the humanity in music. For four years Job put on the Cambridge Violin Festival, in works with Mr. Placci. Organizing an event like that was no small undertaking, but it was something that interested Job and that he learned from year after year.
While going to school in Boston, Job worked on getting his U.S. citizenship. Having lived, studied, and worked in the U.S. for over 9 years, he was ready to become an official citizen of the country in which he resided. He holds on to his Mexican heritage with pride, and adds that of the United States, and particularly New England, to the mix. This broadening of views has served him well as he gets to know people from all over the world.
At first glance, one could think Job’s dedication is a natural gift. However, he—like everyone else—has to work very hard at it. Talent by itself is never enough. But his hard work is paid back by the opportunities he receives to share music.
Interviewed and written by, Melia Young