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Parent Eugenia Johnson wrote this article about her perceptions of a recent Community Meeting with CMPI alumni.

This month’s Community Meeting featured previous CMPI fellows. It was great to see and hear from Abby and Amanda, who were there from the beginning. Having Noah was a bonus because he is a recent graduate and presented a view that would attract the students who are in the midst of what he just finished. Also, I appreciated the thought process of having student alumni who play different instruments, are attending different colleges and universities, and took different approaches in their college journeys.

All three alums expressed that their CMPI journey helped them prepare for what they ultimately faced in college. Amanda specifically said that she appreciated being able to participate in mock auditions, which gave her an upper hand in preparing for college auditions. As a parent whose daughter is in her second year at CMPI and her first year in high school, I can attest to the fact that CMPI has helped her with making a commitment to practicing. It is my opinion that attending and participating in recitals also brings about a level of maturity and commitment to being a musician.

Listening to each alumnus discuss their first year of college, I think the resounding feeling for all three is that they learned quickly that time management and calendar management is very important. They also seemed to agree that it takes a considerable amount of commitment because your parents are not around, so you must commit to not only make sure your academics are done, but also adding your practice time to your schedule and sticking to your schedule.

They were especially honest about how it felt to move away from your friends and family and still try to maintain that connection with your family while trying to adjust to adulting. I appreciate the “call your parents!” comment, and I agree with that reminder, and would suggest that they add that to their weekly calendar!

They also found that learning music theory and aural skills is very important during your college journey. Discussing the importance of music theory and aural skills classes immediately shifted my focus to my daughter, who attends Chicago High School for the Arts, where they are immersing the students in music theory and aural skills. For me it was good to hear that she has a head start in those areas of music.

Advice regarding how to approach applying to colleges and universities, and the importance of researching colleges and universities, was very helpful. Listing the pros and cons of each ahead of when the acceptance letters start to come in will allow students to be able to take a good look at each institution. I also appreciated how Noah was adamant about making sure to mention that students should always ask for more scholarship money because you never know what could be out there until you ask.

I also liked that they all demonstrated that they may have had schools that were their first choices, but after careful review and paying attention to what others offered, they still selected the best choice for them at that moment. Abby demonstrated that even if you did not get into the school of your choice, there’s always an opportunity for you to reapply for your dream school, and if it is meant for, you will get in even if it is not in your freshman year. I guess the point here is to never give up and to keep striving for what you want.

The environment of the school that each alumnus chose varied from being in a small, supportive community to attending a large university while still participating in a smaller community within the larger institution. It also seemed that the consensus was that at each institution, whether big or small, the community of musicians is always a good connection and gives you the opportunity to collaborate and learn new things from other musicians.

All three alums have had previous experience with gigs, especially Abby and Amanda, who are nearing the end of their undergraduate journeys. Even with their varied experiences, they all agreed that presenting your best self at each opportunity will always open the door for more opportunities. Most importantly, make sure you are prepared and that you arrive early for whatever you were hired to do. Another aspect that was mentioned was that even pro bono performances are opportunities that will establish new connections and possibly new gigs.

Learning that each alumnus’ approach to music has matured in the same way makes me sure that they have personally matured. The future for Amanda, Noah, and Abby is very bright, and I know as their commitment to their craft continues to grow, we will definitely be seeing and hearing more of them.



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