Connections that last a lifetime | Home Again

By Joanne Peterson | May 29, 2014

Last week, The Beacon gave front page notice that something special was coming to downtown Edmonds on Saturday. And “something special” certainly describes the 14th Annual Edmonds Jazz Connection, an event sponsored by Edmonds Daybreakers Rotary and supported by lots of other organizations that believe in helping kids in and around our community. I hope you at least sampled the great jazz that drifted through town from three venues all day Saturday.

My favorite aspect of the Jazz Connection? It’s always those amazing kids. The event showcases hundreds of disciplined, focused and talented young people in love with music, kids who in high school (and even in middle school) have committed to practicing and excelling on an instrument – or several instruments – in order to be proficient enough to play in a select group. It’s likely their hard work will result in musical competence that will follow them through life.

Parents of these student musicians are to be commended for making sacrifices, too. It’s an expensive proposition to support a young person’s initial wish to sign up for band or orchestra. I recall a succession of instruments in our house, increasing in value as a beat-up family coronet led to a trumpet and then another and another, with private lessons becoming more frequent and more expensive.

And if you’ve had a young musician of your own, you are familiar with the unbelievably early hour those kids must be in the band room every morning! Then again, if you’ve had a young musician of your own, you’ve been privileged to sit through countless performances, blinking back tears of pride.

It’s good to hear of support being available to aspiring musicians who lack financial resources; Jazz Connection donations and raffle proceeds mean more music education support for local kids. The Daybreakers Rotarians presented $15,000 in college scholarships Saturday, divided among eight recipients.

The annual Jazz Connection brings together a most delightful collection of young people and their directors. I cannot praise the directors enough. Anyone who’s been a teacher recognizes the special bond a good instructor forms with students. This is never more obvious or admirable than when watching a group of youthful jazz musicians interacting with their leader.

My brother has attended nearly every Jazz Connection, arriving at the Masonic Temple before the first big band jazz group begins, taking a brief lunch break, and then staying until the last event of the afternoon. This year, I spent the entire afternoon there, too.

Admittedly, every year when I attend the Jazz Connection, I’m at first distracted by the Masonic venue. I sit in a folding chair in the old Masonic Temple, the same big room where as a teen-ager I attended Friday night dances called “Canteen.” So, listening to Jazz Connection teens playing “Stardust,” in my mind I am hearing “In the Still of the Night,” and I am 16 years old, slow-dancing. Sigh.

Back to reality, I hope you’ll attend the 15th Annual Jazz Connection next Memorial weekend. It’s going to be superb.

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