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CMPI Viola Fellow Bryce Kayser just finished his senior year of high school. Starting this fall, he will begin his undergraduate studies at the University of Colorado-Boulder! But before he leaves, we were able to ask him (and his parents!) some questions about his background, time with CMPI, and advice for other CMPI families.

Why did you choose the viola as your primary instrument?
My parents thought it would be a good idea for me to start playing an instrument. Initially, I was going to play the violin, but at the school instrument orientation, too many students were in line to explore the violin while almost no one was in line for the viola. We thought they were virtually the same and headed towards the short line, and that is why I chose the viola.

Are there any other musicians in your family?
I have a few family members who have casually played instruments. My grandmother played the flute and my mother played the trombone.

How did you learn about CMPI?
I learned about CMPI from Anthony Devroye, a music professor at Northern Illinois University’s School of Music, who recommended I join the program.

How did CMPI benefit you?
CMPI has provided me with many helpful resources: a mentor, money for a new instrument, lessons, books, and a summer program. CMPI also provided me with opportunities to participate in many different masterclasses and attend various performances both in person and virtually. I also got feedback on personal recordings from many different professional musicians, including a violist from the CSO!

How was your audition experience and how did you decide on which school to attend?
My audition experience was completely remote due to COVID-19. I had my actual auditions over Zoom, in my living room, so I didn’t have to deal with any of the struggles of transportation, which was nice. But I didn’t get to meet any teachers in person or get to visit any of the campuses. I decided to go to CU Boulder because I really liked the teacher, it’s a great city, and I was offered a scholarship. I see myself doing well there.

Any advice for rising seniors for their audition season?
My advice would be to stay organized and use a planner. There are tons of dates you need to be on top of for months leading up to the audition and it can get very busy around the holidays and finals.

Who is your musical inspiration?
I have had many wonderful music teachers in my life who have inspired me. My private teacher, Michael Hining, has shown me what true dedication to one’s students looks like and the musical transformations that are possible for students. He has guided me the most through my musical journey and exposed me to a level of intensity and passion that I didn’t know existed. My high school orchestra director, Patrick Pearson, and my director in the CYSO, Allen Tinkham, have inspired me and shown me what is possible in the world of music.

What are your favorite activities outside of music?
I love getting outside, especially during the warmer months. So, walking my dog, Bear, or going on walks with the family puts a smile on my face. I also love watching anime—that’s one of my favorite things to do in my free time.

What is your favorite music/genre to listen to?
I listen to many different genres of music. I’ve been listening to classical since I was young and it’s one of my favorite genres, but I also really enjoy Reggae, alternative rock, and J-pop.

Any highlights/achievements from your high school career that you want to share with CMPI?
I was principal for the CORE Chamber ensemble, CYSO, in 2019. I was principal violist for the ILMEA district orchestra in 2019. I won the concerto competition at Oak Park and River Forest high schools and received the 2021 National High School Orchestra Award at OPRFHS.

Do you want to share any of your dreams or aspirations with the readers?
I want to inspire others to pursue their dreams in music. I am going to be studying viola performance and music education next year in college. I want kids to have a positive musical experience just like I did and inspire them just as my mentors have done for me.

Do you have a favorite viola joke to share?
How do you prevent your violin from being stolen? Put it in a viola case. 🙁

Insights from Bryce’s parents

How did CMPI help you in supporting Bryce’s musical journey?
CMPI provided multiple educational opportunities via workshops, masterclasses, performances, and group educational experiences that exposed Bryce to a larger musical world view and showed us many different inroads for his future development as well as various channels of financial support that aided us immensely.

Would you like to share any words of advice to CMPI parents?
Most every student facing a rigorous and challenging environment may feel like giving up or stopping at some point.  Sit down with your child and talk to them, let them know that nothing of value comes without sacrifice and hard work and let them know how important it is that they work through those tough times and keep pushing through. Often these low spots are short lived and parental encouragement and understanding can go a long way in working past the tough times. Remain 100% supportive, always. Stay engaged and show interest in what they are playing and going through.

TOP: CMPI Viola Fellow Bryce Kayser on the Late Night Show with Stephen Colbert.

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