When the pandemic’s quarantine began, musical activities suddenly transitioned to virtual options. So, too, did the college application process. CMPI violin fellow Olivia Molina had to negotiate these factors throughout her final year of high school as she applied to various music programs for college; she took virtual trial lessons, submitted online pre-screening recordings, purchased a new violin bow, and continued her weekly violin lessons via FaceTime.

A young Olivia Molina took to the violin at an early age.

Olivia received trial lessons from teachers at Vanderbilt University, San Francisco Conservatory, University of Michigan, and Oberlin Conservatory. She advises future college applicants to get a head start! “Don’t wait around. I started mine in October and emailed many teachers at different schools,” she said. Olivia noted the trial lesson is a meeting where both the student and the teacher can get a sense and determine if they are a good fit each other.

Olivia has been taking private lessons with violist Davis King for almost two years – including during quarantine. She learned all her college audition repertoire over FaceTime lessons with King. “We worked a lot on fundamentals, like slow vibrato, which gave me a strong foundation when I started my college repertoire. It’s sad to leave Mr. King because he’s really nice and an amazing teacher. Every other week he has a studio class that is, like, 3 hours long and everyone in his class plays in every studio class!”

Through a CMPI program, high school fellows receive a scholarship to help fund the cost of a quality instrument. For Olivia, she wanted to find a violin bow that served her well in the coming years. The process was time-consuming, but she did not settle until finding the one that best matched her instrument. “We did a lot of shopping, mainly in-store. I wanted the right bow, and my dad did a lot of research. It’s a blessing that CMPI makes available these funds, so I wanted to make sure the bow felt right and was perfect. We ended up finding a bow that I absolutely love! It is effortless to play on and matches the velvety sound of my violin.”

Olivia Molina cmpiDuring the pandemic, when performance space was rare, CMPI secured venues for senior fellows to record their college audition videos. “I recorded my videos at PianoForte. Knowing that it was going to be virtual eased my nerves. It was a little weird because the hype was not there, and you don’t have that exciting feeling you get when playing live. Most of my auditions were submitting videos in place of the traditional live audition.”

After getting multiple acceptance letters and weighing the pros and cons of each school, Olivia has decided to continue her education next year at…Oberlin! She advises future applicants to be confident during the process. “I was hesitant about applying to certain schools because their standard is high. Just apply! You do not want to have that thought of what if? You’ve done all you can to prepare for the opportunity.”


TOP: CMPI Violin Fellow Olivia Molina poses with her Oberlin acceptance packet.


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