By ERIC SCHELKOPF
A music school set to open in February in Northfield aims to connect to the community through music.
Michael Poupko, director and teacher at the North Shore Music Institute for eight years, will use his experience to open a new school and live music agency for events. Our Music Institute will serve the North Shore suburbs of Winnetka, Northfield, Northbrook, Glenview, Kenilworth, Wilmette, Glencoe and Highland Park.
OMI, located at 400 Central Ave. in Northfield, will hold an opening reception on Feb. 1. I had chance to talk to Poupko about his vision for OMI.
Q – Great to talk to you. You will be launching Our Music Institute in February. How did you come up with the idea for the school and is this just the right time to do it?
Thanks a lot for the interest and for taking the time to talk to me. In a way, I came up with the idea for OMI over the past twenty years. You could even say 30 years!
OMI represents a coming together of just about everything I’ve picked up throughout my life as a musician, music teacher, music school director and business owner. I’m putting it all into this to promote music education and community for customers, students and staff, alike.
In this age of technology, people tend to do more things on their own and often times the sense of “we’re all in this together” gets lost. That’s an important concept for me. Hence the name, Our Music Institute.
Q – How will Our Music Institute be different from other music schools? What are some of the main things you want to convey to students through Our Music Institute?
Aside from having an unparalleled staff of teachers in the area, Our Music is different form other music schools in that we try to be forward thinking while keeping our roots strong. We’re offering traditional music lessons as well as DJ classes, family music classes, music technology classes and collaborations with schools and local park districts.
Also, I really want students to feel part of something. It’s easy to go on YouTube and learn lots about playing your instrument, but music is a conversation and a way for us all to connect. I see OMI as a vehicle for encouraging a sense of community within the context of music.
Q – Our Music Institute also will be a live music agency. Is it your hope that your students will be able to take what they have learned to a live music setting?
I've been involved with live music in all kinds of settings and situations for more than 20 years at this point. I know the business and I’ve collected a vast network of top-level musicians and performers suitable for virtually all scenarios.
I’m really excited about advocating for and providing opportunities for professional musicians and students, alike. Students will have opportunities to perform live and sort of graduate to professional gigs if they’re interested and ready.
Q – You were director and teacher at the North Shore Music Institute for eight years. What did you learn from the experience and how will you be taking what you learned into this new school?
I’d say that the biggest things I’ve learned as director of a community music school have to do with the value of connecting with people and community. It means everything.
Q – I understand that Our Music Institute will strive to be part of the community. In what ways will you be doing that?
OMI will be connected to the community in many ways. It’s very important to me.
We’ll be offering classes and live music collaborations with various park districts and community organizations. I’m also work closely with the community as a board member of the Winnetka Northfield Chamber of Commerce.
Q – Aside from Our Music Institute, you are a working musician. What can people expect this year from your various musical projects?
I’ve been a working as a musician for more than 20 years and that aspect of my life is continually expanding. In the near future, I will definitely be hyper-focused on making Our Music Institute the best it can be for the community and the professionals musicians involved.