Chicago College of Performing Arts

The Center for Arts Leadership is a newly launched center for empowering students and alumni of the Chicago College of Performing Arts through experiential learning and growth opportunities in community engagement, social justice and career development.

Jade Garcia


by Jade Garcia (MM Clarinet Performance ’21)

So last school year I spent a lot of time thinking about transitions. It was one of those things that you notice once and then start seeing everywhere. My reality was that I was in the middle of a very big transition in my life, moving far away from my people and my home to start grad school in a big city. Everything in my life was changing, shifting into a new reality and a new present that I was not yet familiar with. I was the farthest I have been outside of my comfort zone in all areas of my life. Socially, I was navigating new relationships while living off-campus far from other students. Musically, I was practicing more than ever, and holding more responsibility in ensembles than I was used to. And academically, I was studying music in an entirely new way that revealed so much to me about classical music and the ways that it reflects our world and its values. 

In all of these areas, my mind kept coming back to the realization that it’s all about the transitions. Transitions are where choices are made. They are where your interpretation of some particular piece becomes unique. They are where you decide how to end a note and begin a new one. To me, music is a reflection of our humanity and I see these transitions in my life as pivotal in a similar way. Transitions are increased points of sensitivity where expectations are either met or subverted. And, where your heightened awareness makes you see things in a different way. They are where you make decisions about what you’re bringing with you and what you’re leaving behind. What you are going towards, and what you are working away from. These moments, and the discomfort that comes with them, define who we are. 

At the moment, our world is going through a monumental transition. The loss, sadness, frustration, and chaos caused by the unbelievable amount of tragedy in our country is impossible to express in words and I constantly struggle with attempting to process it. To cope, I find myself rooting down wherever I can, in things that never lose their value or clarity. Right now that is the love that I have for my family, friends, and music. Along with that, the belief that community is one of the most essential aspects of our lives. 

It is with these beliefs and ideas that I first reached out to Allegra in the Center for Arts Leadership about how to better engage the community at CCPA to support each other and bring some positivity and clarity to our present. Thus began a rethinking of an already established program in CAL, the Peer Connection Program, and the organization of the new CCPA Student Collaboration Collective. With so many tremendous issues in the world today, I think that it’s important to take stock of where you fit in and what you can offer. I have been studying music seriously for almost a decade and a half and throughout that time I have grown as a musician, administrator, and person. I offer all of these parts of myself to try to make something fulfilling for my friends and colleagues at CCPA. 

The Peer Connection Program was formed last year with the collaborative effort of Rachel Johnstone, Raphael Maranon, Delaney Spielman, and myself after discussions about the needs of students to connect across the Music Conservatory. The PCP offers the opportunity for older students to mentor younger students, giving practice in leadership and support to students as they transition into the unique world that is music school. These connections are more relevant than ever as we continue to learn in a remote setting, but aim to continually grow our network as musicians and our support systems as well.

The CCPA Student Collaboration Collective is something that I put a lot of love and energy into forming for all conservatories. The idea is that students from theater, dance, and music will join together to form a collective, working to create art that speaks to them. We don’t often get the chance or space as art students to experiment, brainstorm, and collaborate with artists outside of our specialties. The hope is that with my administrative support (resource creation, rehearsal scheduling, performance programming, etc.) students will feel empowered to have conversations and work towards projects that are uniquely theirs. Whether that be a recording of a preexisting work that they have always wanted to study, or a new composition, or maybe even a wild and unstructured group improvisation. It is their choice to make, and their experience to share! 

It all comes back to finding something to hold us steady within this transition, and this liminal space we find ourselves in. These programs are tangible, and aim to offer clarity, support, creativity, and hope that will be present no matter what changes the university is forced to make, or changes the world experiences. It is with so much of my love and energy that I hope my work for CAL this semester brings others stability and peace in a time of such pain and uncertainty. Nothing would make me happier than to see our community come together in this transition, and root itself into humanity and artistry to bring hope forward with us and leave solitude and hate behind. 

With much love,


About the author

Jade Garcia is a musician and mentor who strives for an emphasis on thoughtfulness and connection in all that she does. She currently studies as a Masters student in Clarinet Performance at the Chicago College for the Performing Arts while working as a part of the conservatory’s Center for Arts Leadership. Through her years of study she found music as a reflection of humanity and an access point for music students to gain deeper understandings of themselves and the world around them. It is this mindset that guides her work both as a clarinetist and as the Collaboration and Community Engagement Assistant for CAL. 

Haley Henning • September 4, 2020

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  1. David Kjar September 4, 2020 - 11:54 am Reply

    So great to read this, Jade. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with the community!

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