Skip to main content

What is CMPI? 

Made possible by a $3.5 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the mission of the Chicago Musical Pathways Initiative (CMPI) is to identify and develop gifted and motivated orchestral students from underrepresented backgrounds for acceptance into top-tier conservatory, college or university classical music programs in preparation for careers as professional musicians.

To achieve that mission, CMPI provides robust supports for each student and family accepted into the program, including:

  • Up to $12,300 in yearly financial assistance to cover the costs of weekly private lessons, instrument purchase and maintenance, college application and travel expenses, summer music camp tuition, and more.
  • Monthly mentoring from a professional musician
  • Access to exclusive masterclasses and workshops led by world-class faculty
  • Consistent guidance and feedback from panels of professional musicians through semi-annual juries and advisory meetings
  • Access to free concert tickets from the Chicago Symphony, Chicago Sinfonietta and Lyric Opera of Chicago
  • Membership in a robust, like-minded community of students, families, teachers, mentors and staff members

CMPI leverages its partnerships with more than 18 music organizations in Greater Chicago to provide resources and training tailored to the individual needs of each student. CMPI’s aim is to guarantee an outcome – acceptance into a top-tier music school – for each student in the program. In its inaugural 2019/20 season, 100% of CMPI’s seniors were accepted into music schools (including the Curtis Institute, Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, DePaul University, University of Texas at Austin, and Northern Illinois University) and offered financial aid totaling more than $3 million.

In its second year of programming, CMPI has expanded its offerings to include individual and group coaching from a performance psychologist, group lessons in the Alexander Technique, and a special mock audition intensive course provided by musicians from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

CMPI holds yearly auditions for new students. All rising 6th-12th grade students who play orchestral instruments are eligible to audition if they come from backgrounds underrepresented in classical music (including African-American, Latinx, American Indian, Alaskan Native, and/or South Asian and Pacific Islander), or if they come from low-income households or would be the first in their family to attend college. Applications are accepted online at

Are you interested in joining CMPI’s next cohort?

Apply Today!