Faculty Spotlight: Eleanor Núñez

Eleanor Núñez joins the Community School as Director of Bands.

This interview has been lightly edited for content, clarity, and length.  

What brings you to Colburn?
I’m so excited to be joining the faculty at Colburn! Colburn is the top music school on the West Coast, and it’s personally so fulfilling to work at an institution whose values of musical excellence and achievement align with mine. I love how Colburn’s Band Program reflects LA’s diverse population, especially the large presence of Hispanic Americans. I’m a Spanish-American conductor, music educator, and pianist currently living in Southern California. Spanish is my first language, and although we rehearse in English, it’s really cool to connect with students on a deeper, cultural level. As the Director of Bands, I’m hoping to grow the program, make music with more students, and train the next generation of young music professionals. 

What is your philosophy behind teaching? 
My teaching philosophy is that band is like being on a sports team: we all need to work together in order to achieve our musical goals, and we can’t do it as solo artists. In band, every single person matters. Every instrument is important, every musical entrance is important, and the active participation of each member is what allows us to make music together. A soccer team without defense or a goalie would not make a successful team. Sure, they would still be able to play, but they wouldn’t be able to win. The same goes for band: we need every single instrument and section to participate fully in order to make the most beautiful music possible. Plus, it’s more fun with the more students we have in attendance! 

What do you hope to achieve for the Band Program?
I am looking forward to growing our Wind Ensemble and Concert Band to a full ensemble size, taking both groups to festivals, and sharing our music with the wider community. As we grow, our repertoire will increase in difficulty, and we will be able to explore more genres and styles. My long-term goal is to have both of our bands be invited to perform at the Midwest Clinic in Chicago. The Midwest Clinic is a national band conference where established music programs with the top, most musical, and most well-prepared ensembles are invited to perform. It is a huge honor to receive an invitation, and I think it’s well within our reach. 

What do you see upcoming for the Band Program?  
One of the exciting events that I’m looking forward to this school year is Colburn Band Day on January 5! Colburn Band Day is an all-day music-making event open to any band student in Southern California that can play at an intermediate level. We will meet in Olive Rehearsal Hall for coffee and pastries, read through and rehearse fun music, break out into master classes, have a meal together, and then perform a concert for our parents and friends in Zipper Hall. Making music together is always fun, but this one-day event is truly unlike anything our students have participated in before. 

Why is it important to join bands at Colburn?
Joining Colburn’s Band Program is more than just playing in band: it’s joining a culture of excellence, friendship, and creativity. Students have the opportunity to receive private lessons from the best LA musicians, many of whom work in studios as recording artists, perform with professional ensembles like the LA Philharmonic and Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, and actively work as music professionals in Southern California. There are also opportunities for students to deepen their understanding of music and theory in musicianship classes. This type of instruction mirrors what colleges and universities offer their music majors, and it’s truly amazing that our students receive this level of instruction at the middle school and high school levels. 

What sets Colburn’s Band Program apart from other Bands? 
The most apparent difference between Colburn’s Band Program in comparison to a high school program is the fact that we rehearse once a week. We achieve in one day what a high school program achieves in a week. Because of that, our rehearsals are extremely fast-paced, and I demand a very high level of attention to detail and retention of those details. 

Another big difference is the facilities the students get to rehearse in. Yes, we are across the street from Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion which is inspiring just to see every day. But more than that, our own Olive Rehearsal Hall is an acoustically flexible space that gives me the ability to change the way the room sounds when we play in it. We are constantly listening to how the ensemble’s sound resonates within the room, and I show the students how opening and closing the acoustic curtains change the way we sound and play. It directly affects our articulation, how we tongue, and how much space we provide in each phrase. These listening concepts are usually reserved for college programs that have acoustic flexibility within their rehearsal spaces, and having the opportunity to teach our young students how to listen in this advanced manner will serve our program and the students’ personal growth for years to come. 

Learn more about Eleanor Núñez

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