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April 19, 2021

From Pre-College to Conservatory: Pathway to Success Begins at CIM


Henry Rogers, young white man with light brown curly hair, holding his violin.
Henry Rogers

Violinist Henry Rogers, 17, is currently enrolled in the Young Artist Program (YAP) at the Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM). In 2019, Henry moved from Princeton, New Jersey, to join CIM Pre-College, a curriculum-based program designed for advanced musicians seeking to pursue a career in music performance. His applied lessons with Joan Kwuon along with the comprehensive Pre-College curriculum led to a successful audition for YAP in the 2020-21 school year.

This year, Henry auditioned for and was admitted to several top-tier college conservatories, including CIM. Nina Takács, CIM’s Preparatory Admissions Manager, chatted with Henry about how CIM helped forge his musical path from Pre-College to YAP to conservatory.


Describe your musical background – how did you get started on violin? How did you know you wanted to pursue music as a career?

My parents noticed that I had a unique focus on music from a very young age. They chose violin as it was often recommended as a good instrument for children to start on, partly because of the size. I started violin at the age of 4 and piano a year later, but violin always remained my primary instrument.

At age 12, I began studying with Sally Thomas in New York City, and it was while studying with her that it became clear I wanted to pursue it as a career.

What drew you to CIM and motivated you to apply as a high school student from outside Cleveland?

I thought a lot about how I could place myself on the path to a top-tier conservatory, and I realized that I needed to make a drastic change in order to develop to the level that was necessary. A friend from Meadowmount told me about their YAP experience, which was presented as a way to start conservatory studies prior to graduating high school, and that fully captured my interest and attention. I explored many options and CIM looked to be the most comprehensive, with immersive and rigorous programs students under college age. While the idea of moving to Cleveland was daunting, it has proven to be the right decision.

How did CIM Pre-College help you grow?

I was able to take classes through CIM’s Pre-College Program, including music theory and piano as a secondary instrument. Those classes, along with my teacher, Joan Kwuon, helped me develop more rapidly than I ever had before. I told myself that I had to be in the mindset of a conservatory student, and I therefore adopted the habits and lifestyle of those students regarding work ethic, practicing, etc., to prepare for upcoming events and auditions, including my successful audition for YAP.

Lumiere Quartet - from left, two young women playing violin, one young woman playing cello and one young man playing viola
Lumière Quartet, from left: Célina Béthoux and Moonhee Kim, violins; Ania Lewis, cello; Henry Rogers, viola
 

Once admitted to the Young Artist Program, how did you see yourself improve?

One of the aspects of YAP that I enjoy the most is the chamber music experience, specifically my quartet this year. Other YAP students and I founded the Lumière Quartet and we competed in various national competitions this year, winning both the 2021 Chicago National Chamber Music Competition and the Rembrandt Chamber Musicians’ Annual High School Competition. We were just selected to compete in the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition, and we will be traveling to Chicago in May to perform outdoors.

How did YAP help you prepare for your conservatory auditions?

YAP is, in my opinion, the single most elite and rigorous program in the nation for musicians still in high school. It is the only program that immerses students in a conservatory by having them take the undergraduate classes and follow the majority of the undergraduate requirements. There is no other one quite like it (and I’ve done the research!).

As a result, I felt that I was in a very good position heading into the audition process and was relatively confident, with a good shot at getting into the majority of the schools I applied to.

What are your plans for the future?

By May 1, I will be committing to a school to pursue my undergraduate studies in violin performance. I’ve been accepted to CIM, Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, New England Conservatory and The Juilliard School – all among the most selective schools in the nation. I am extremely excited for the opportunities that will come over the next few years, and I’m always looking to take that next leap for whatever comes my way.

What are your prevailing thoughts on your CIM experience?

My decision to come to Cleveland was the best choice I’ve ever made regarding my career. I’ve developed so much since I came here. My playing has matured so much in a short time frame. I think the combination of intense work, being surrounded by such elite players and general life experiences caused my playing to change so much beyond technical proficiency.

CIM opened a new set of opportunities and granted me an entire network of connections that I wouldn’t have been able to achieve anywhere else. If I hadn’t come to Cleveland, I wouldn’t have the same opportunities that I do now regarding my future. I’ll always be grateful for CIM being such a supportive institution. My time at CIM has tremendously shaped who I am, both as a musician and a person.


Advanced students entering grades 8-12 can audition for CIM’s Pre-College program, a comprehensive course of study that prepares them for acceptance into CIM’s Young Artist Program, a college music school or conservatory. Pre-College program students take weekly hour-long private lessons with top faculty, attend classes in piano, music theory and eurhythmics, and participate in an ensemble. Learn more about the program and apply here by May 15!

Young Artists at the Cleveland Institute of Music immerse themselves in lessons, chamber music, ensembles and classes that prepare them for auditions and acceptance into a conservatory. Applications for the 2022-23 YAP program will open in September 2021. Learn more about YAP here!