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Just as March brings with it a growing sense of excitement and positive vibes, so too does Chicago Musical Pathways Initiative Fellow Adriana Koch.

A high school junior and oboist, Adriana looked at the unique challenges of the past several months of the pandemic and saw many things to be grateful for, and an opportunity to make a positive impact in the lives of other young musicians. Together with another CMPI fellow, Anika Veda, Adriana created a music mentoring organization last May called Sharing The Stand, which serves young students across the country.

CMPI Fellow Adriana Koch (R) with accompanist Mio Nakamura.

“We started Sharing The Stand because, right now, music is more accessible than ever,” Adriana explained during a recent interview. “We wanted to create a healthy outlet to this pandemic for young musicians through music.”

Using remote learning platforms, the organization benefits students and teachers alike. The educatiors “in the program get teaching experience as college and high school students, and our students get to participate in free lessons, masterclasses, and recitals. Many of our students have never had music lessons or have ever played in a recital before, so this really is a rewarding experience for all of us.”

Another rewarding experience that Adriana deeply appreciates is being a part of CMPI. “CMPI has been a tremendous help in my growth as a musician. One of my favorite things about CMPI is our family mentors. My mentor, Megan Robbins, has helped my family and me through my musical journey throughout the past 2 years. She has helped me through a teacher switch, the college selection process, and much more.”

While some may understandably feel confined by the temporary restrictions brought about by the pandemic, Adriana has remained grateful for the benefits of being able to start and run Sharing The Stand, as well as for being able to maintain her active participation in such groups as CMPI, the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra, and the Midwest Young Artists Conservatory.

In addition, Adriana appreciates being able to attend school from home. She says, “School is going pretty well! Learning online isn’t too big of a deal for me because I prefer to work from the comfort of my home. One thing I do miss is having physics labs in person. My musical endeavors have been successful as well. Despite being online, I am still learning and growing as a musician. My teacher can describe what to listen for and work on very well over Zoom, despite the usual technical difficulties. I think the past 8 months or so is the most I have ever grown as a musician, despite being in a pandemic.”

Adriana has some practical advice to share with young musicians who are continuing to diligently work on their music and practicing at home. “Don’t underestimate the impact of recording yourself. I record myself during most practice sessions and then listen back to hear what I am missing when I am playing. It’s crazy how much goes unnoticed when I am playing, rather than listening. Most of what I hear are unintentional mistakes. When you watch a recording, though, be sure to acknowledge the things you are doing well, not just the things that you are doing wrong. This is important because it can be discouraging to spend all day finding the flaws and errors in your recordings but not think about things you did well.”

Keeping a positive mindset, such as Adriana does, truly makes a difference.

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