CMPI inaugural fellow Oliver Talukder is one of only 12 musicians chosen to join the incoming undergraduate class of the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music this school year. Now a CMPI alumnus, Oliver shares how his oboe performance studies have started on a positive note. With the transition to virtual learning, Oliver found that his freshman experience may be different from others in previous years, yet still feels it is going quite well and says, “My experience at Curtis has been overwhelmingly positive and welcoming. Despite the circumstances, I’ve been able to connect with a lot of new people.”

Oliver is especially grateful for the practical support he and other students have received in the form of essential equipment to make online music learning run smoothly. “Curtis has been extremely generous and sent me an external microphone which makes online lessons 100-times better and more productive. I finally sound more like an oboe and less like a kazoo through Zoom!”  Score study, conductors’ interpretation of music, careers in chamber music, and orchestral etiquette are among the many topics that come to Oliver’s mind when thinking about things he has learned in classes recently.

When asked what he has found helpful in keeping himself motivated, Oliver listed two things: “taking things one day at a time and celebrating each accomplishment.” He adds that he has also been exploring genres outside of classical music that have broadened his musical taste. “Lately, I’ve been enjoying the music of Frank Ocean and the K-Pop group, BTS. I would encourage everyone to stay curious and explore different things as it can help to cope with everything that’s going on in the world!”

As for Oliver’s advice to his CMPI peers preparing for college auditions, he shares this nugget: “Don’t underestimate the power of practicing performing! Play for your mentor, friends, parents, pets. This was a very helpful habit I got into and it made performing feel like second nature by the time I got to auditions.”

To stay up to date on all CMPI alumni and activities, be sure to follow CMPI on social media: Instagram @chicagompi and Facebook @cmpimusic.

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