Violinist and educator Danielle Simandl Danielle became involved with CMPI after catching up with our Student Navigator, Jennifer Woodrum. “We were performing together at a gig, and during a break, Jenny told me how she had recently started her dream job at CMPI. After listening to Jenny describe CMPI’s mission and vision, I was so excited to learn there were openings for mentors at CMPI, and now I am a CMPI mentor!” she said. Danielle connected with CMPI’s mission to change the face of classical music. “It lights a spark in me. It’s such a clear call-to-action that encourages everyone to ask, ‘Who isn’t here? Why?’”
Danielle is the Executive Director of Superior String Alliance (SSA), a nonprofit organization focused on learning and performing music on the violin, viola, cello, and bass in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. She is also the Music Director of SSA’s Summer Music Camp.
When mentoring CMPI fellows, Danielle most enjoys helping them figure out how to make this particular career path work. “I don’t think there can ever be too many eyes on our young people to give them the support they need and deserve. It is such a joy to mentor young folks who want to become professional classical musicians!”
Danielle’s musical mentors growing up were her teachers. “I had the support of very dedicated educators who led by example in giving their time and energy to support their students. I grew up in a very rural area where kids who wanted to become professional musicians needed an extra guiding hand or two, and my teachers’ support with my journey has always stuck with me in a way that drives me to give my energy to things like CMPI’s mission.”
Danielle loves receiving and partaking in group messages from her mentees and their families about successes they have had, such as auditions or winning awards. “The group messages usually involve me, my mentee’s private teacher, their CMPI student navigator, perhaps their orchestra teacher, etc. It’s such a wonderful feeling to be a part of this specific small community that can share joy about a mutual student’s growth.”
Danielle is also a member of the American String Teachers Association (ASTA) and the American Camp Association (ACA), which align and complement CMPI’s goals. “Like CMPI, ASTA and ACA have been hard at work understanding and responding to the needs of kids as our culture shifts rapidly with mental health awareness during the pandemic and with social justice issues around access to quality education.”
What she wants most for people to know about CMPI is that it is here to stay! “It provides critical resources to many kids, and it will directly influence future generations of talented young musicians to reach their full potential in music school and as professional classical musicians. I am so excited for the day that I get to rehearse and perform music with CMPI alumni as colleagues.”
An avid performer, Danielle is the Principal Second Violin of the Fox Valley Symphony in Appleton, Wisconsin, and performs with many other orchestras in the Midwest.
PHOTO: Danielle Simandl