Jazz is alive and well in Langley, despite no plans for fall concert

Jazz piano student Lucy Rock, 14, plays a bluesy duet with her teacher of three years, Maureen Girard. - Patricia Duff / The Record
Jazz piano student Lucy Rock, 14, plays a bluesy duet with her teacher of three years, Maureen Girard.
— image credit: Patricia Duff / The Record

Hear that trumpet, that saxophone, that jazz piano?

It’s coming from the middle school and high school band rooms, thanks to a lot of community devotion.

Unfortunately, you won’t hear as much jazz this year in the high school auditorium.

Maureen Girard, president of the South Whidbey Association of Jazz Educators, announced that the annual fall concert won’t happen this year.

The organization is growing and is simply in need of some time to restructure itself and plan for the future, she said.

Thus far, four concerts have been presented every October at the South Whidbey High School Auditorium, and Girard said she’d like to thank the community for their success.

“They were all very well-attended, well-sponsored and wonderful concerts that brought world-class jazz talent to our community and educational opportunities to our local students,” Girard said.

Beyond entertainment for the community and the support of up and coming jazz students, the concert series presented a jazz workshop at the middle school last year with jazz saxophone player Butch Harrison. With proceeds from the workshop, the South Whidbey Association of Jazz Educators was able to contribute

$500 to the preservation of the endangered middle school band program.

“So there’s one great reason to keep the fall concerts going in the future,” Girard said.

But, Girard, who not only teaches the future jazz pianists of Whidbey but is an accomplished jazz pianist and singer in her own right, would never deprive Langley of jazz concerts completely.

Girard continues her House Concert Series at 88 Keys Piano Studio and Performance Space.

Next on the bill, The Mercedes Nicole Trio performs with Randy Halberstadt on piano and Clipper Anderson on bass at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19.

The series continues on Saturday, Oct. 17 with jazz trumpeter Thomas Marriott and pianist Bill Anchell, and then welcomes back world renowned pianist Jessica Williams on Saturday, Nov. 7.

Girard is currently at work finishing up a CD with Anderson and Marriott, recording at Sound Trap Studios in Freeland. The CD is set to be released in time for Christmas. Girard also has a film project in the works based on her life’s journey to become a professional musician.

Busy as she may be, Girard said she is grateful to be teaching in such a talented community.

A recent visit to the studio revealed the sounds of a bluesy duet between Girard and her student of three years, Lucy Rock, 14. The two were each seated at a piano,

176 keys under the spell of their nimble fingers.

“She knows the best way to teach me, and she makes it fun,” Lucy said of her devoted teacher. “Even if I don’t play for a living, I know I’ll always play because of what I’ve learned from Maureen.”

Girard was beaming.

“We do have fun. And that’s an important part of teaching, along with learning how to play well so you’ll always have the confidence to play,” Girard said.

Girard herself started piano lessons at age 6 with a concert pianist in New York.

“Lucy here has skills that will last her a lifetime,” she said.

The obviously proud-of-her-students teacher recently arranged a performance for some of her students at Island Coffeehouse & Books. The concert is at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20.

Girard continues to teach students of all ages both classical and jazz piano at her studio — a job she’s been in love with for the past 15 years.

She recently passed muster as an approved community-based instructor for the Columbia Virtual Academy. This means that Girard will be available for piano lessons to home-schooled students at no cost to the student. Columbia Virtual Academy is a nonprofit curriculum provider for families who choose home-based education for their children.

Girard can be reached at 221-0362, or visit her Web site by clicking here for more info about classes, reservations for the concert series or the South Whidbey Association of Jazz Educators.

The studio is at 5024 Saratoga Road in Langley.

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