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Chicago High School for the Arts (ChiArts) is part of CMPI’s Steering Team, providing support to students within CMPI and the program as a whole. ChiArts is Chicago’s first public high school for the arts, offering not only music, but also dance, visual arts, creative writing, and theatre classes, in addition to a regular high school curriculum. The program is entirely tuition-free and open to any student who qualifies by audition/portfolio. 

CMPI Fellow Kaylee Johnson, flute, just began her first year at ChiArts. Below she discusses how she got there and her thoughts about the program.

KayleeMy name is Kaylee Johson. I am a 14-year-old flutist from Chicago, Illinois. This is my 2nd year as a Cohort of Chicago Musical Pathways (CMPI). I am a Freshman at Chicago High School for the Arts (CHIARTS). I also began my first year at the Merit School of music as a member of the Sinfonietta Orchestra. I started my musical journey as a member of Sistema Ravinia. As a member I had numerous experiences playing in various venues in the Chicagoland area and competing in multiple competitions. I have also been a member of the Chicago Flute Club for 3 years and have enjoyed participating in Master Classes and attending various events. When I can squeeze in some downtime I love to crochet, go bike riding with my family, hang out with friends, and play with my dogs. I also began playing with the band at The Apostolic Church of God.

My last year of middle school was very busy with having mixed feelings about leaving my school and transitioning into High School. Also, it was my first year in CMPI and my last official year as a member of the Sistema Ravinia Orchestra. During my first year of CMPI, it was pretty stressful because I needed to make sure I was meeting all expectations along with school and extracurricular activities. However, having a mentor and being able to discuss my frustrations with someone who knew what I was going through was very helpful. I am eager to see what’s in store for me in my 2nd year.

The process of choosing a High School was a difficult one initially. I wanted to go to a school that had a great band and also offered other clubs as well. I narrowed my choice to Whitney Young and ChiArts. I ultimately choose ChiArts because of its focus on music and the smaller student body. Also, after meeting the instructors at ChiArts I felt more confident in my decision. ChiArts offered the incoming freshmen 3 days to get acquainted with the school without the upperclassmen. This is great because it did take me some time to get used to being at school for a longer time (8 am-5 pm) and finding my way around. Our day is longer because the first half is spent on academics and the last half is focused on our major. I am taking Music Theory, Keyboard Skills, Wind Ensemble, Flute technique, and Choral Experience this semester. during the afternoon. What I like about the ChiArts is that we get to take cool music classes that will help me be a better musician and I also get to hang out with like-minded people.

I had a quiet summer, spent most of my time with my family doing activities around the city, and spent some time in Lake Geneva Wisconsin. I also attended the Summer Flute Camp at Merit School of Music. This was a great experience because I learned more about flute technique, had an opportunity to meet guest flutists, and learned more about chamber music! During Chamber music, I really learned how to be in tune with the music like listening to all the parts and communicating with each other through the music.

This year I am looking forward to attending and playing in recitals, also playing in concerts with the Band and Orchestra at my school, and as a member of the Orchestra at Merit. I will be very busy but I am up for the challenge! See you out there!


Kaylee Johnson

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