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Throughout the Spring 2021 semester, Chicago Musical Pathways Initiative fellows have participated in a collaboration with the Northwestern University String Pedagogy Department. The 12 participating CMPI students have been paired with Northwestern’s students to serve as weekly “practice buddies.” Through this relationship, the NU students get valuable experience working one-on-one with a younger student and the CMPI fellows get a musical check-in before their weekly lesson with their private teacher. The response from CMPI fellows and families has been incredibly positive. CMPI hopes that this collaboration can continue for many years to come. A few of the fellows were able to share some words about how this partnership has impacted them.

“My practice buddy and I have been working every week for about a month. She is kind, patient, and very helpful to me during our practice sessions. My practices have become more concentrated and refined since working together. It gives me a chance to know exactly what needs improvement. It also provides the opportunity for me to fix it, including tips to improve upon my strengths. For example, in one of our lessons, we worked on the second movement of Telemann’s Concerto in G Major, measure 30-34. While looking at that particular part, my practice buddy taught me how to trick my brain into easily staying with the rhythm and tempo. I am so glad that she is my practice buddy.”

— Victor Betson, CMPI viola, eighth grade

“I play through my repertoire or excerpts while my practice buddy takes note of things I need to improve. Then, I play through the piece line by line, sometimes measure by measure, and she tells me what I could fix. When I feel good about that line or measure, we move on. Working with my practice buddy has allowed me to improve on my pieces much more quickly. She helps me see what notes I need to change, sometimes a bowing is wrong or notes are too sharp or flat, so that I then can work on improving on my own.”

— Paloma Chavira, CMPI violin, sixth grade

“During class time, my practice buddy and I go over the pieces that my private teacher has asked to hear for the next lesson. My practice buddy gives me pointers on how to improve the musicality and tone of the piece I’m playing. He also tells me how I should practice the more challenging excerpts of the piece. At the end of the session, he summarizes all the pointers and practice spots so that I have a clear idea of what to work on and how to do it.

Ever since I started working with my practice buddy, I feel more confident when playing for my private teacher later in the week, and that has to be one of the best feelings ever. Also, practicing with my buddy gives me an extra push of self-motivation to continue working hard and practicing on my own.”

— Daniel Cogolludo, CMPI violin, junior

“My practice buddy helps me before my lessons with my teacher. She has really helped me with my double stops and position etudes. She is very nice and I really appreciate everything that she has helped me with.”

— Nicole Kwasny, CMPI violin, senior

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