Coming from the prestigious Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA), Justin Kopczynski could easily have headed to an elite conservatory for college, but he chose Columbia. “Columbia’s campus is in the heart of Chicago,” he cites as one reason. “The teachers not only have a passion for what they teach, but they also work or have worked in the same field they are teaching.” He (and his parents) were also impressed with the opportunity he has to pursue his passion, jazz guitar, while earning a degree from a four-year liberal arts college. “My major directly relates to my creative passions,” he says. “I’ve been playing guitar for about ten years now, and have been studying and playing jazz for the past five.”
The Californian first heard about Columbia through a friend at LACHSA who was a year ahead of him in school. “After hearing all he had to say about the school, I knew it was a real option for me.” He headed to the Midwest to pursue a B.A. in Jazz Studies with a focus on instrumental performance. He’s also immersed himself in the readily accessible Chicago music scene, living near campus, where seeing professional live performances every night is a real possibility.
As he wraps up his freshman year, Justin can’t believe how quickly it went by, and looks forward to the next three. “First and foremost, music comes to mind when envisioning my future,” he says, adding, “Columbia is doing such a great job of opening up different doors and pathways for my creative passion, I’m not sure specifically what the future holds. The next three years will tell.”
Audio: Performances by Justin Kopczynski