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November 19, 2021

Student Leaders Talk About the Unique, Supportive Community at CIM


Julie-Michelle Manohar
Julie-Michelle Manohar, Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) leader.

By: Ella Sobkowicz

CIM’s Newsroom includes a student-led blog with posts covering a variety of topics, including the CIM admissions process, student life, and interviews with faculty, students and alumni. Undergraduate soprano Isabella (Ella) Sobkowicz is currently studying with Mary Schiller, and is a regular voice on the blog.


For over 100 years, CIM has set itself apart by building a strong community of musicians. From our relationship with The Cleveland Orchestra, which nearly 30 alumni are members of, to our community outreach, including CIM’s partnership with Judson Manor and students teaching lessons at Cleveland School of the Arts, to our nearly 600 performances a year—these are just a few of the elements that make our CIM community special.

CIM’s student organizations such as the Student Government Association (SGA), Black Student Union (BSU) and Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) help our community continue to grow stronger. These organizations help build and create connections between students—and ultimately these connections show up in the music students perform together.

SURJ leader Julie-Michelle Manohar said, “The work of this organization has opened my eyes to the ways in which our community is complacent, and how to best instill positive change. First, we must acknowledge the issue, work to dissect it and try to figure out the root of the problem, and propose ways to affect change. The most effective way to do this is by simply starting a conversation. Our meetings are designed for free, open dialogue on the various social issues pertaining to race.”

The community at CIM is small, but mighty. As a result of our small student body, everyone is well known, seen, and cared for. Students lift each other up, challenge each other and celebrate each other.

Faculty and student bassoonist

“This community of musicians is warm, friendly and supportive, which I am grateful for. Being in a small, tight-knit community allows me to engage in meaningful conversations with so many different people, broadening my horizons,” explained Manohar.

In addition to a tight-knit community of students, our professors and administration all know and care about each other. Their relationships and collegiality play a huge role in how CIM thrives. In addition, the faculty at CIM care about each individual students’ success, potential, craft and overall well-being. In the halls of CIM, it’s common to be asked how you are doing, as faculty and staff truly care about the answer.

SGA vice president Erika Cho said, “My favorite part of CIM’s community is how it’s so relatable. Everyone is so humbled and understands each other’s struggles because they were our own at some point. Of course, being at a music school means we have goals we want to accomplish, but it’s not competitive in a ‘personal’ way where we always try to be better than the next person—it’s competitive in a collaborative way where we all feel comfortable to help each other grow.”

CIM’s location is another contributing factor to what sets us apart. The Conservatory is a ten-minute walk from Severance Music Center where The Cleveland Orchestra performs, and students have free access to all Cleveland Orchestra performances. We are right next to Case Western Reserve University, who we have a 50-year relationship with; students have full access to all Case resources—from classes, to libraries, to gyms.

“Studying in Cleveland provides the opportunity to interface with a culturally and artistically diverse population, which allows me to further develop my artistry beyond my formal education. I also feel Cleveland gives you the best of both worlds—the hustle and bustle of city life, as well as the greenery and quietness of a small Midwestern city. I can always get a proper change of scenery, which is important to refresh the individual and artist,” explained Manohar.

Interested in learning more about the CIM community and experience? Hear student leaders and staff talk about life on and off campus.


Photography by Daniel Lozada.