Trombone, Tuba, Euphonium, Trumpet, Piano, Voice
Greetings! I am Ms.Cuellar, a music instructor trained in various genres and styles, eager to contribute developed knowledge in low brass pedagogy and wind band literacy. During my childhood I gravitated towards bettering my musicianship and loved to sing and play the guitar. Most days I spent listening to different recordings and learning ways to better my technique. In middle school I joined the jazz band where I played the guitar and where I was first introduced to wind instruments. I couldn’t help but wonder what It might be like to take a trumpet solo, or learn a smooth lick on the saxophone.
It wasn’t long before I picked up the alto- saxophone in the 7th grade and joined the concert band. Eventually, I switched over to the brass section and learned one of the most unique instruments of the wind family. At first I felt that the trombone would be too difficult and it perplexed me with its slide. I knew I wanted to be a part of the band and after giving it a try I quickly fell in love with the idea of being a trombonist. My senior year of highschool I served as the band president and brass captain, which allowed me to grow into a refined musician and prepared me for college and beyond.
After graduating highschool I attended one of the top public HBCUs. While a student at Florida A&M University from 2016-2020 I served in different leadership capacities within the music department. I spent most of my time participating in various ensembles. I even left my own piece of history behind when I was given the privilege to serve as the first woman to be principal of the trombone section. I also served as the student assistant to the director of bands, and the President of the FAMU collegiate chapter of the National Association for Music Education. As a student musician and scholar I also helped to re-colonize the Beta Phi chapter of Tau Beta Sigma National Honorary Band Sorority Inc. and became a member in 2018. While in college I had the privilege to network with some amazing musicians such as Wycliffe Gordan, Scotty Barnhart, Vincent Gardner and was the assistant conductor of Javacya’s Elite Chamber Orchestra where I performed with notable musicians such as the distinguished violinist , Rachel Barton Pine. Patrice Jackson , Associate Professor of Violin at Boston Conservatory, and Khari Joyner , a world renowned cellist who served as a Teaching Assistant for Joel Krosnick in the College Division at Julliard, (and as substitute faculty at Sarah Lawrence College and Columbia University).
When did you begin playing Trombone, and why?
I began playing the trombone in the 9th grade due to my band director having a dire need for it in the instrumentation. I remember asking to play any other instrument but the trombone because the slide seemed too difficult to maneuver. I just couldn’t wrap my brain around how I could possibly figure it out without it having any valves or keys. I soon grew to love my trombone and the other low brass instruments I play..
What other instruments do you play, and what is your experience with them?
Along with the trombone I also play the euphonium (or baritone), the tuba, and sometimes the trumpet. While in college I took advantage of every ensemble and opportunity to play and perform. I was fortunate to be a part of a music department that fostered the ambition of its students to study multiple instruments and genres. I performed with the Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band, Marching Band, Trombone choir, and the tuba euphonium ensemble on a number of occasions which helped me to take gigs later on that required stylistic flexibility.
What are your personal goals as a musician?
My biggest goal is to continue to make and share music as a teacher and performer for the rest of my life. I would like to continue to find inspiration for learning and playing and follow it wherever it may take me. Specifically I would like to one day open a Public conservatory for the performing arts that is available to a lower socioeconomic community. Giving inner city youth an opportunity to build on their talents free of charge.
Do you have a memory of a time when a musical concept or technique really clicked? Something you’ll remember forever?
I remember the moment when I learned how to read music for the first time. It was very intimidating when I was first learning how to play the trombone. For a while I would play all the music by ear. Once I got the concept of flats and sharps and memorized the note names, everything I had already learned when I began playing by ear finally clicked. This opened me up to feel I could someday be a professional musician capable of playing the most challenging pieces.
What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) teachers?
My favorite piece of advice is from a mentor of mine; Dr. Richard Beckford (FMU Director of Bands) .” Identify your purpose. Pursue your passion. Fulfill your destiny.” These three sentences always help me remember to stay on track with the things that fulfill and inspire me on a daily basis.
What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument
What was most challenging was overcoming my fear that I may not be smart or talented enough to be an excellent musician. Once I left that false idea behind I quickly overcame many of the mental blocks that I had put up when committing myself to learning an instrument.
What is your biggest musical achievement?
My biggest musical achievement would have to be when I started teaching. The feeling of being able to give back to students just like me has been very rewarding to say the least. There is quite a bit of joy that comes from being the type of teacher or mentor that I would have admired when I was younger.
Favorite thing about teaching?
One of my favorite things about teaching has to be the bond that is built between student and instructor. Having someone that guides you towards reaching your musical goals is essential and to see students flourishing and rising to the occasion is so exciting to me. I hope to see many of my former students carry on with music throughout their lives in the most extraordinary ways.
What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?
Some advice I would share with student musicians at any level is to not give up. Playing that concerto or learning your 12 major scales may seem like a daunting task, but if you take some time to really learn and understand what you are doing one day those things that seemed impossible become effortless. This advice works in general in life too. Learning music isn’t just for those becoming professional musicians one day, it’s also for those that want to become a more resilient, well rounded individual.