"Meet Our Students" Olachi Oleru (CC'16)

What year are you at Columbia and What are you majoring in?

I am a senior in SEAS majoring in biomedical engineering with minors in mechanical engineering and music. 

How long have you been a participant of the MPP?

I have been in the Music Performance Program since my freshman year.

How have you benefited by MPP programs and performance opportunities?

The MPP is amazing because it allows students to study with world renowned musicians with whom we would never otherwise have the chance to study.

Any tips on how a student might be able to fully take advantage of all the musical offerings at Columbia?

One of the things that I like best about the MPP (the jazz program in particular) is that students are put in groups with others according to their skill level. A huge part of becoming a better performer is listening and reacting to other players, and it is much easier to do that when the other players are on a similar performance level.

How do you balance the busy academic schedule with practice time? Any tips?

Balancing practice time with school was really a struggle for me. But I made the choice to set out a certain number of hours a week to practice. People say that you make time for the things that you care about, and that's true. Plus, making music is therapeutic, think of it as self-care.

What was the most memorable musical experience in your life?

My most memorable musical experience was one that was completely improvised. I was at an open mic and two people just happened to have instruments. They had never met, but the way that they listened and interacted with each other was so compelling, you could literally feel the audience connecting with them as well. Being a part of the MPP has helped my develop these types listening skills as well.

What does making music mean to you?

To me, making music is mostly listening to music. Once you've listened to enough music, making music becomes natural. I'm still trying to get there myself.

Anything you would like to share with the readers? (favorite food, summer activities, favorite quote, etc)

I don't have a favorite food, but I have a favorite singer. Well, two. Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone are tied for my all-time favorite.