Zuniga helps program grow

The Los Medanos Music Department has undergone many changes regarding classes and staff for the 2016 fall semester.

Last spring semester, several music classes had been cut from the music department. Many of these classes had been prerequisite and required classes for music majors, which was an inconvenience to some music majors who had been planning to graduate or transfer in the fall.

The cuts included music classes such as Applied Music (Music 8), Musicianship I and II (Music 13 and 14), Class Voice (Music 65), Chamber Chorale (Music 77) and Jazz and Vocal Popular Techniques (Music 67), all of which have made a grand return for the fall 2016 semester.

These classes were cut due to a combination of low student enrollment and a lack of available teachers who could teach them.

During the spring semester, the department had been in the process of hiring a new professor to ensure that some of these classes were available to students by the fall. By the end of March, Luis Zuniga had been hired.

Zuniga was previously at San Antonio College in Los Angeles before he received a call from the Contra Costa Community College District office.

Now Zuniga is teaching a wide variety of music classes.

Zuniga expressed enthusiasm for his part in the LMC Music Department — especially for his position as the new professor for both the string and concert ensemble.

“I definitely want to see growth as far as numbers. We’re trying to make the program grow by recruiting our own students from LMC, community members and high school students,” explained Zuniga. “I’d also like to see the growth of the musicians in the ensemble as well. To learn, to get better individually, and therefore make the group better.”

Zuniga encourages LMC students who may be interested to join the LMC ensembles.

“The main thing about LMC is that we offer a large amount of music classes for music majors and non-music majors and many of the classes are available to any LMC student,” said Zuniga. “If you play a band instrument or an orchestra instrument, you are certainly welcome to come play with us. Again, we are in the process of growing.”

Zuniga also expressed his desire to get the LMC bands to have a more noticeable interaction with the community and perhaps hold concerts outside of the Los Medanos Recital Hall.

“LMC is part of this East Bay community and I want to see us be more proactive — doing activities out in the community so people get to know who the band is,” said Zungia. “Ideally, we can have concerts in which we interact with other high schools in the area and other community associations.”

Along with Zuniga’s involvement in helping fill the teaching positions for the music department, Silvester Henderson has been able to once again take on the role of instructor for multiple vocal classes that he had been unable to teach last spring semester.

Full-time faculty members like Henderson have a workload ceiling. In the 2015 fall semester, Henderson had exceeded the limit, unaware he was going to be re-elected as Academic Senate president for the following semester. Upon his reassignment as Academic Senate president — which counts toward the limit —Henderson was unable to helm any of the vocal classes that LMC provided during the 2016 spring semester, as he would have exceeded the workload limit. Since the election results came back only two weeks before the 2016 spring semester began, the district had no time to find and hire another faculty member to teach the classes in Henderson’s place. Therefore, all vocal classes — with the exception of Gospel Choir — had been canceled for the semester.

Fortunately, surpassing the working load percentage will not be an issue this semester, enabling Henderson to teach the once-canceled vocal classes for the fall semester.

However, to avoid a possible repeat of the spring semester, Henderson will be switching between Chamber Chorale and Gospel Choir every semester to avoid going over his workload limit.