Music Academy Spotlight: Jeanne Marquez

Jeanne Marquez

Jeanne Marquez, 16, studies violin with Joan Kwuon in the Music Academy. Jeanne, a Kohl Scholar, currently lives in the Philippines.

This interview has been edited for style, content, and clarity.

How did you get started playing the violin?
When I was five years old, a violinist had a mini concert in our church and then I really got interested. For my sixth birthday, my dad bought me a violin.

My first teacher really exposed me to classical music. I just have this connection with classical music that I can’t even explain. It’s hard to describe how I love classical music.

How did you end up studying at Colburn?
Well, in 2016, I saw [Music Academy student] Kevin Miura in the Menuhin Competition. I got inspired and saw that he was studying at Colburn. I looked at the Colburn website and then became really interested. I thought that it would be nice to be in LA. I have two grandaunts that are currently living in California. So, I thought that if I studied abroad, it would be more comfortable to live there near family members that I am close with.

Is this your first year?
Yes, I just transferred.

How has it been going so far?
It’s still going great. I can remember the orientation day at the start of the year. We needed to introduce ourselves, and I was so nervous because Kevin, who inspired me to look into Colburn in the first place, was right there. And then seeing all the talented musicians on my computer, like, “Am I really here? Did I really get into Colburn?” It’s a dream come true.

For the past 10 years, I have been studying in a regular school. So transferring here really altered my routine from the last decade. Here, it was an adjustment for me to have music subjects. I never had a chance to study music history and music theory. I also never had lessons in piano playing. Learning all these new things were a great challenge.

Good practice and study habits are the things that I remind myself to do every single day. It is really a big pressure on my shoulders, especially since I’m representing my country, the Philippines. I am trying my best to make my co-members of the orchestra and the other Filipino musicians here and in the Philippines proud of me.

Colburn is not just an ordinary school—it is really my dream school. Hopefully the weight of that pressure will not affect my studies negatively. I’m doing my very best to turn it into a positive effect.

Tell us about the orchestra that you’re in in the Philippines.
The name is Manila Symphony Junior Orchestra [(MSJO)]. It is a string orchestra, and I have been the concertmaster since 2019. It was built in 2014 and that orchestra really shaped me into who I am today. I am a very proud member of the MSJO.

MSJO gave me a lot of opportunities, like solo and chamber performing experiences and traveling abroad. The orchestra won the first prize in the 2018 Summa Cum Laude International Youth Music Festival in Vienna, Austria. Playing with them gave me a wider perspective of how music works, and gave me a lot of opportunities to perform everywhere in the Philippines and in Europe.

What has it been like getting to know your teacher?
Ms. Kwuon is really fun to have lessons with, and she’s really detailed. Her approach in teaching me is very different from my past teacher. She helps me understand harmonies more, which I’m really not good at. So it’s another instance for me to step out of my comfort zone.

Ms. Kwuon is also helping me improve both of my hands. We are working on accuracy for my left hand and making my right hand more relaxed. I’m still adjusting to it but I can somehow feel the difference from what I was used to. Her smile during lessons is very contagious; [it] helps me feel at ease even though we just communicate through our screens.

You are the recipient of the Kohl Scholarship. What was it like to find out you got it?
When I got into Colburn, I was thinking of how much will it cost me to study abroad—the flights and then the dorm, food, and tuition. And then the School emailed me and my parents that I was selected for the prestigious Kohl Scholarship. I couldn’t believe it! I’m so grateful to the Kohls for making this possible for me and my family.

What are you looking forward to most when we’re able to be on campus?
I really want to meet my friends face-to-face, and I look forward to chamber music. I really miss playing together with a quartet. It’s hard to imagine the whole quartet in your head while playing the excerpts that was given. And [Music Academy Young Artist Performances]. I want to watch them live without the internet disruption.

Any idea what you want to do with your music in the future?
Ever since I was young, I planned my future ahead of me, but COVID has led to a lot of disappointments. In response to this situation, I’m currently just living day by day and thinking of the ‘go with the flow’ quote in my head. There’s this uncertainty of life that we cannot predict. The only thing I can do now is to make the best out of every day that is given to me.

One thing I promised myself, whether I take music in college or not, is that I will teach here in the Philippines, my home. I want to give back all the experiences [I had]. I can say that I am very lucky to have great opportunities given by my past teachers and my mentors in my orchestra and by Colburn and the Kohls. They worked hard to give us the best music environment we could experience. I would forever nurture that and in return, I will let the next generation experience what I had. So I really want to teach kids and promote the future of classical music here in the Philippines. That’s one thing for sure.

The Colburn School is committed to its “Access to Excellence” vision: every young person who seeks to study music or dance at Colburn should have the opportunity to do so. Scholarships and financial aid across all of the academic units provide the best in performing arts education for students from all around the world, and for our local community. At the Music Academy, Kohl Scholarships provide full tuition, room, and board to four violinists and two pianists each year.

To learn more about Music Academy scholarship opportunities at Colburn, visit this page. To learn more about how you can support our students, please contact us at or make your gift here.