Washington Jazz Society: Fostering love of music in area youngsters | Helping the Helpers

‘By building a foundation on music, that just gives them so many other opportunities,’ DeDe MacTaggart said

By: - November 29, 2022 6:30 am
Washington guitarist Dan Baker is the vice president of the Washington Jazz Society.

Washington guitarist Dan Baker is the vice president of the Washington Jazz Society (Herald-Standard photo).

By Brad Hundt

If there’s a saxophone from your days in marching band that’s gathering cobwebs in the corner of a closet, you might not want to put it out at the next yard sale.

(Capital-Star file)

Instead, the Washington Jazz Society could use it, and all kinds of other musical instruments, for its After-School Music Program.

Launched through a grant from the Washington County Community Foundation in 2018, it’s open to students in middle or junior high schools, with participants being provided with a free instrument and 36 private lessons from a qualified instructor.

Parents whose children have been enrolled in the program say they “have benefited enormously from the music education provided” and have called it “an amazing experience.”

The After-School Music Program is one of the ways the Washington Jazz Society is engaged in the community. Founded in 2007, the society’s mission is to educate the public about jazz. They do this through concerts featuring jazz musicians from the area and across the country. They also offer scholarships for young musicians and give them opportunities to show off their skills in front of audiences.

“We match the instruments up with students who need them,” said DeDe MacTaggart, president of the Washington Jazz Society, about the After-School Music Program. “Or sometimes we’ll sell them and use the money to pay the instructors.”

She continued, “You have kids that are already financially insecure, and so they have a spot in the afternoon where they don’t have anything to do. And by building a foundation on music, that just gives them so many other opportunities.”

Those interested in making a donation or becoming a member can visit the Washington Jazz Society’s website at washingtonjazzsociety.com.

This year, the Washington Jazz Society gave scholarships to brothers Ryan and Aaron Fulton, both of whom graduated from Canon-McMillan High School. Ryan double-majored in music education and trumpet performance at Duquesne University, and Aaron started at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., this fall, majoring in horn performance.

Aside from donating instruments for the After-School Music Program, the Washington Jazz Society can be supported through annual memberships that start at the $60 level and go all the way up to $1,000 a year. Donations are also accepted that can be earmarked for events, the Jazz Society’s scholarship fund, or its After-School Music Program.

Brad Hundt is a reporter for the Herald-Standard of Uniontown, Pa. Helping the Helpers is a joint effort of the Uniontown Herald-Standard and the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. Readers may email him at  [email protected].

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