Lauren Chipman

Lauren Chipman"I make my living as a professional musician," Lauren Chipman says with a smile. "It's really exciting."

When we first met Lauren at age 17, she was already on the road to being a great violist, but she learned a valuable lesson rehearsing with Christopher O'Riley that she has carried with her since.

"Music came easily to me and at the time I didn't really know how to practice. I remember putting together my From the Top piece with Chris for the first time and it was really tough. I hadn't prepared with an accompanist." At USC studying viola performance, Lauren says she finally learned how to practice.

After graduating from college, Lauren began playing with major symphonies around Los Angeles and started a string quartet. She was headed down a path as a classical musician when she received a life-changing phone call.

"It was Matt Sharp, the lead singer of the indie rock group, The Rentals," recalls Lauren. "He was looking for a violist."

Lauren had never played outside of a classical setting, but she and Matt hit it off, and before she knew it, she was playing viola, keyboards, and even singing in the band. "After a few records and tours, I went from playing simple string parts to being truly creatively involved," says Lauren.

Today, in addition to touring with the Rentals, Lauren plays with a string quartet that plays arrangements of rock songs, and she also writes and records her own films scores.

But lest you think Lauren has given up on her classical roots, nothing could be further from the truth. "I still love classical music, and I've discovered that I love teaching - both kids and adults," she explains. "I teach with a strong technical foundation, but I always encourage my students to compose their own songs and write parts for rock songs. I mean, that's what I do!"

Lauren couldn't be happier with where her passion for music has taken her. "My musical life is so varied and so full in ways I could have never imagined back when I was on From the Top," she says. "I absolutely love it"