Chicago Musical Pathways Initiative (CMPI) is home not just to some of the most talented middle- and high school musicians. CMPI also has become a common ground for some of Chicago’s top musicians to serve as mentors to our talented young fellows. One such mentor is Alexandria Hoffman.
Hailed by Cleveland Classical for her “warmth and vitality,” Hoffman is a third-year flute fellow with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and has performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, New World Symphony, Cleveland Pops Orchestra, and the Peninsula Music Festival Orchestra. In the fall, she will join the New World Symphony as a fellow. Beyond the rave reviews and promising future, Hoffman counts herself lucky to be a CMPI mentor.
The impact that CMPI is making in the orchestral world rings true with Hoffman, who is of Filipino and Jewish descent. “As a minority in many ways myself and as someone who comes from a lower socioeconomic background, CMPI is everything I wish I had when I was younger. From the personal guidance, to the financial support, to the increased access to opportunities, CMPI is really changing the orchestral world for the better, and I think that’s a really beautiful thing.”
As a mentor, Hoffman sees herself as something of an older sibling to her mentees. She remembers and tries to emulate her own teachers from her younger years. “My middle school band director inspired all of his students to work hard, and he’s a huge reason I went into music,” Hoffman shared, thoughtfully adding, “I’d like to think that I inspire my mentees to do the same.”
Being an inspiration and cheering on her mentees is only a part of what Hoffman considers to be her job as a CMPI mentor. Helping younger musicians navigate the ropes as they go higher in their music studies also is a large part of the role. “One of my mentees recently got accepted to my alma mater,” Hoffman excitedly exclaimed. “I was worried about financial aid-related matters. I felt so lucky to be able to talk with him about his financial options, because I was mostly figuring that stuff out on my own when I was their age.”
In addition to mentoring, Hoffman also cares deeply about the role of caring for each person’s mental health. Hoffman, who champions this cause personally and professionally, explains to her mentees how mental health ties in to a more equitable future for classical music. “It’s very easy to forget that everyone should make sure they’re taking care of their mental health just as they do their physical health. By recognizing and understanding this, we can create healthier communities of musicians that know how to prevent and address things like burnout and injury. Not only that, but it can make us happier, healthier humans outside of the practice room, too!”
While Hoffman will soon be leaving to join New World Symphony in Florida, she is happy to have been a part of CMPI’s dynamic group of mentors. “CMPI reinforced my love of working with middle school and high school instrumentalists that are hungry for knowledge,” said Hoffman. “I hope to get similar opportunities at New World as well!”
While reflecting on CMPI’s mentorship program, Hoffman stated that “many orchestras around the country and the world are asking themselves how they can do better by their musicians of color and musicians from other underrepresented backgrounds. I think that programs like CMPI are the answer. By providing support to this collection of musicians, CMPI is addressing that “equity” piece that I think many other organizations miss the mark on. The mentorship program really is beneficial for everyone involved, that is, the mentees, the parents, and the mentor. Developing these relationships are such an enriching experience and I’m so lucky to have been part of it!”
Hear some of CMPI mentor Alexandria Hoffman’s music at https://www.hoffmanflute.com/performances.
TOP: CMPI Mentor Alex Hoffman