Thirteen-year-old violinist Andrés Engleman pushes for excellence both in his private studies and his participation in the Honors Chamber Program.
Community School student Andrés Engleman started at Colburn in the fall of 2016 in the Ed and Mari Edelman Chamber Music Institute, the Community School’s comprehensive chamber music learning experience. He now studies privately with violin faculty member Aimée Kreston.
This interview has been edited for style, content, and clarity.
Tell us about your start at Colburn. What drew you to enroll at the Community School?
As soon as I heard about Colburn and its reputation from one of my old teachers, I knew I wanted to come and study there at some point in my educational career. I was extremely excited when Aimée Kreston, my current teacher, invited me to play at one of her studio classes a few years back. It felt more legitimate and important than I had ever imagined due to the impressive facility, its location in the creative heart of downtown LA, and the caliber of the students. It was an honor to join her studio a few months later!
How did you get started playing the violin?
When I was around three years old, I visited an exhibition with all the orchestral instruments available for children to play and experience. I barely even remember this, but when I held the violin, I asked my parents if and when I could start playing this instrument. They said no, I was too young. I continued to ask “am I old enough yet” every month or so, and when I was four and a half, we finally found a program that accepted very young kids. I played piano for six months as an introduction to music, and at the end of the six months my parents asked if I was enjoying piano and wanted to continue with it instead of violin. “No,” I said, “I want to play violin.”
Tell us about the Community School programs you are involved in right now? Why did you choose them? What has been impactful about them?
I’ve been involved in the chamber program for many years now. I had really enjoyed being in a quartet before I came to Colburn, so I really wanted to continue ensemble music. There’s something so fun about playing music with other people. You get to meet new people and experience their playing style and make friends.
Last year, I took Music Theory for the first time. I hadn’t ever taken a theory class, so it was an interesting new experience, and it really does help me identify all the roots of the music I play. It makes so many of the choices composers made make complete sense. Music Theory sounds like the kind of thing that could have the potential to be dry, but everyone raved about the class and the teacher, including just random students we’d run across in the elevator. And everything they said ended up being true!
What are your musical goals? How has Colburn helped you achieve them?
I normally do have a specific piece in mind that I want to work towards. Even when I was really young, I would hear a piece and would imagine myself playing it eventually. I look forward to getting new pieces and playing something fresh and challenging. I really like figuring out the piece, like a puzzle. I even like making my own fingerings, and my teacher has been really supportive of that. Of course she lets me know if I need to get them from an official source, but it teaches me the process of finding the best fingerings on my own. It’s really cool that she lets me do this and has that kind of confidence in me.
What has it been like working with your violin teacher Aimée Kreston?
I have noticed the incredible amount of progress studying with her over the years. It’s awesome to look back to when I started with her; the progress has been incredible!
What is one great thing about Colburn that people don’t see unless they are taking classes or working with a teacher?
Something that all students can say is that the teachers and faculty are incredibly kind and helpful. At Colburn, all the teachers are 100% committed to helping the students improve to the best of their ability. This is an incredibly important element to me especially, because the teacher can make all the difference.
Throughout my many years in the chamber program, both of my coaches have not only been good instructors but amazing coaches that have taught us things that aren’t simply about music but about approaching things in life, like collaboration, creating friendships, learning how to be dependable, and many more. There hasn’t been one moment, even during the time of the pandemic, that I haven’t found myself with something engaging and rewarding to do through Colburn.
What do you see for your future? Will you continue to pursue music?
I don’t know if music as a profession is in my future; I’m still young and I have a lot of time to think about that. Either way, playing music will always be a part of my life. The skills and mindset musicians develop are important parts of any career. But I don’t have any idea what will happen, so music could very well be my career!
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Learn more about Ed and Mari Edelman Chamber Music Institute.
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