COD’s Music Professor Hits All the Right Notes

Classical Guitar and Music Theory Adjunct Professor, Jesus Palominos has a love for music stems back to the cartoons he listened to as a young boy. As a visually impaired child, the animated music told a story that fascinated him. “I have a difficult time articulating how I feel, so sound is the best way to express my emotions” he says. “When I play music at a concert or at a recital, I lose myself in the sound and express how I feel with my hands. Music is an extremely powerful medium.”

When Jesus was 13 years old, his high school science teacher noticed that he would hang out at the music building. One day, she asked him why he hadn’t signed up for classes. Jesus shared that he was interested in a guitar course but he didn’t own a guitar. A week later, his teacher gifted him with his very own guitar, which he lovingly still plays today.

Even though Jesus joined the class two weeks late, within a few days he caught up. “I was fascinated that I was able to teach myself to read music so quickly and to play the songs that everybody else was playing. From that point, I never stopped.”

At age 19, Jesus came to COD where he was reading and writing at a second-grade level. With the support he received from the faculty and staff, not only did he graduate from COD, but he went on to attend California State Fullerton where he earned his bachelors and master’s in music studying with some of the world’s greatest classical guitarists.

After graduation, Jesus was hired to as a Music professor at COD. “Now, I’m the one helping and supporting my students. It’s an incredible privilege,” he shares. As an instructor, Jesus has formed connections with his students by relating to their sense of worry and doubt. “For many students, it’s their first time attending a junior college. Students fear whether or not they can accomplish their goals,” he explains. “It’s critical for teachers to relate and guide them through a new, unfamiliar world from day one.”

The pandemic changed the course of every instructor’s life. But for Jesus, he had to develop a way to teach his students in order to keep them engaged online. “I started recording my own videos so that my students could rewatch them. As someone who is visually impaired, I had to research and train myself with cameras, lighting and microphones.” With online classes being such a visual medium, it’s incredible that he produced 36 videos over two years.

Jesus is motivated by helping his students recognize that they are capable of so much more than they believe. “I’ve had many students tell me they have no musical ability and that they don’t know if they can pass the course. But, by the end of the semester, they are playing songs and reading music. Music teaches you that when you work hard, when you study, when you feel passionate about it and if you want to learn something, you can do it!”

Jesus describes his COD working experience as an ongoing journey where he gets better each year. His passion and motivation for changing the lives of his students is not just impactful, but obvious to those around him. “Some of my proudest moments is when I’m walking through campus and my students run up to talk to me. They express how music really changed them. They may have been going through a hard time in their life and how playing music relieves them from pain even if it’s just for one hour,” he shares. “I know I’m doing something positive and making a difference in somebody’s life, and who doesn’t want to do that?

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