Exciting times are up ahead for our CMPI graduates who have successfully completed their college application journey. One such student is cellist Xavier Perry, who graduated from Kenwood Academy High School this past school year. In a recent interview, Xavier shared his thoughts about his road to college, support from CMPI, and insights for younger musicians traveling the same path.
After being accepted by eight schools, Xavier has chosen to attend Drake University in the fall. His list of schools included his own early preferences along with his private teacher’s recommendations. He summed up his thought process during his college application in this way: “Applying to many schools seemed better than applying to only a few because it increased my overall acceptances and therefore gave me more options. I guess my thought process was to have a trial lesson with at least one teacher from every school I was applying to, submit the applications, and based on the acceptances, pick the school with the best teacher and financial award offer….Although I was accepted to several with teachers I liked, the overall costs of attending were too high on around half of them, making it an impossibility to attend.”
Xavier admits to having been a bit worried about the college auditions and was thankful for the advice he received from his CMPI mentor. “My CMPI advisor, Steven Gooden, told me that the most important element they were looking for beyond technical ability was musicianship. All of the technical stuff can be taught pretty easily, but overall musicality is something that a person has to develop for themselves, and is one of the most important things for keeping people interested in your music. So, in the weeks leading up to the recording dates, I would focus mostly on the expression of the music and how I could convey it well. And I think that really helped, since by the time I got the admissions results back, I was accepted into 8 of the schools I applied to.”
In addition to his CMPI mentor’s support, Xavier also expressed his great appreciation for his private teacher. “Paula Kosower has been really open to helping me improve beyond just private lessons, including listening to recordings for feedback and scheduling extra lessons in a week just so we can cover all of my audition stuff in detail. While studying with her, I’ve really developed with both expression and technique, and I’ve grown to appreciate the compositions themselves in a similar way to how writers pay attention to how stories are written. She’s also been a role model for me, since she is really kind toward her colleagues, and gets excited introducing me to new music like someone would talk about their favorite movies. “
In Xavier’s own words, CMPI’s support goes far beyond financial. “I think the biggest things CMPI has given me support for are music opportunities and staff support. We are given playing opportunities, seminars that help advance us musically, and chances to meet with other CMPI fellows to talk. Going into junior year, which was my first year in the program, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in music, but having little knowledge of the community or the processes made me completely clueless on how to do that or how to prepare. But speaking to the counselors, advisors, and staff of CMPI, all of whom are well versed in the classical music scene, has tremendously improved my understanding of it, and now I’m here today with a much clearer idea of the journey. That’s probably the most valuable thing I’ve gained from this program.”
With all that he has learned thus far in his journey, Xavier gladly shares some advice to his younger peers. On the road to college, “as long as you keep up with the dates and timelines, there’s not too much to worry about on the application part. I would recommend sending off the recordings to your private teacher or other music mentor to get feedback before you decide which take to submit. Take as many performance opportunities as you can before the audition day so you can get used to the nerves and be able to perform the piece pretty confidently.”
“One last thing: you should really enjoy all the pieces you practice. If something you’re playing seems boring, there’s always a (musically appropriate) way to change that. And for the current/new CMPI fellows, don’t forget about those Concert Reports!”
TOP: Cellist Xavier Perry at the Fine Arts Building after a recording session with WFMT