Building Bridges: CMPI Faculty Member Dr. Tanya Lesinksy Carey

Acclaimed cello instructor Tanya Lesinsky Carey has been helping students reach their full musical potential for decades. Her students have won prizes in major contests in the United States, including Aspen Festival, St. Louis Symphony, Chicago Symphony, and Music Teachers National Association. A faculty member at Roosevelt University and the Music Institute of Chicago, Carey has experience working with students of all ages and ability levels. She also serves as valued member of CMPI’s teaching faculty.

Dr. Carey’s musical journey began at an early age, studying piano at age four before beginning cello half a year later. “My father was a music teacher,” said Carey, recalling the start of her musical journey, “and I realized if I was going to have any one-on-one time with him, I needed to play an instrument.” The drive to begin music was further fueled after seeing her violinist sister “having fun with her string quartet, being coached by my dad, [who] was a Polish immigrant who left school in the eighth grade to work 16-hour days in the coal mines.” Tanya credits her senior year cello teacher with steering her towards a career in music. “I asked my cello teacher if he thought I could make it in the world of music. He said ‘Of course!’ and those two words eventually led me to the Eastman School of Music, my husband and my life.”

While the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic forced many music teachers to quickly learn to adapt their teaching to the virtual environment, for Dr. Carey, virtual teaching is old hat. “I have taught for some ten years online, to cellists all over the world. Moving my whole studio to online teaching was not difficult as I have had good results and learned new ways of getting points across via this medium. I like the drama of the close-up of my hand demonstrating something.”

In CMPI, Dr. Carey saw an opportunity for her students to expand their musical worlds to a larger community. “[My students] have really benefited from the multi-layered experiences of juries, performances, attending concerts, support for summer camps, travel, lessons, instruments, materials, advice and being part of a learning community. I feel my students have a team to support their growth and a community of learners to share the path.”

One of Tanya’s students, Sajdah Muhammad, was among the first graduating class of CMPI fellows, all of whom gained admittance into colleges to study music performance. For her, CMPI was able to supplement Tanya’s tried-and-true process of preparing her students for college auditions. “[The process] starts in the sophomore year, with discussions about the future. In the junior year we discuss life goals, options, possible schools/teachers, and repertoire. I like the audition repertoire to be learned by the end of the junior year. The summer is then spent in masterclasses and camps, gaining additional input on the audition repertoire. Hearing CMPI advisors talk about the audition experience from their vast experiences with many young people and many schools was mind-opening. CMPI keeps its ‘eye on the prize’ and in the midst of the daily routine it is really helpful to have the support and advice of those who have been there, done that. The audition process can be both a celebration and nerve-racking at the same time. CMPI provided listening ears and sage advice for Sajdah, as well as travel assistance. In the end, she was accepted with substantial scholarships to a number of major music schools. Rice University welcomed her with open arms, and I am thrilled for her growth and opportunity.”

Dr. Carey believes that students who are passionate about music will always be able to find their way. “For some, the fire burns so bright to be connected to music that there is no other path,” she writes, “There are many paths in music, not all are performing or teaching. There is always opportunity. It is for us to see the potential in every situation.”

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