This year, CMPI seniors are adapting to the new virtual process of engaging prospective colleges. For example, new violin fellow Ixchel Camacho currently is taking trial lessons with professors from colleges she is interested in attending. She has had three trial lessons so far, including one in person!
For Ixchel, this included an 11-hour train ride to Rochester, NY, to tour her first prospective school – Eastman School of Music. Luckily, the train was mostly empty and she could sleep most of the way. When she was getting closer to Rochester, however, Ixchel woke up and enjoyed seeing the change of scenery, the difference in landscapes, and sunrise compared to Chicago.
Ixchel has had virtual trial lessons at University of North Texas, Northern Illinois University, and Boston Conservatory at Berklee; she enjoyed the trial lesson with Saul Bitran at Berklee, who is also a member of Cuarteto Latino Americano. In the process of having trial lessons, she has gained a clearer understanding of each school’s philosophy.
Ixchel’s musical studies began when she was eight years old in her native Oaxaca in Orquesta la Tezoateca. At first, learning the violin was not an altogether positive experience; her mother insisted she practice one and a half hours every day to develop her skills. Orquesta la Tezoateca performed at Church, Fiestas, and other community events in Tezoatlan, Oaxaca. Eventually, the orchestra’s founders, Patricia Garcia and Ruben Luengas, invited violinist/violist Ana Martinez, a Sinfonica de Oaxaca member, to give the students of Orquesta la Tezoateca lessons. “I played the most challenging pieces I knew at my first lesson for Ms. Martinez,” she says. Ms. Martinez was very dedicated and realized Ixchel’s passion for the violin early on. She started Ixchel on scales, arpeggios, Vivaldi, and Bach; “she helped me a lot,” says Ixchel. Ms. Martinez suggested Ixchel apply for music programs in Illinois and helped her prepare for auditions.
Once in Illinois, her high school teacher, Mr. Fox, encouraged her to study with a college-level violin teacher. Ixchel searched for teachers online and eventually found Francois Hankins. She inquired about taking a trial lesson, drove to his studio in Elmhurst, and immediately clicked with him. “He also moved from a different country to study music in the Midwest when he was young, and we both have distinct cultures and language so I could relate easily to him,” she says.
Ixchel currently plays in the Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Music program at Midwest Young Artist Conservatory. Her end goal is to become a violin soloist and chamber musician. Now, Ixchel is focused on college applications and preparing the audition repertoire to the best of her abilities.