Seven Lebanon Valley College student jazz musicians performed, learned from professional musicians, and explored food and culture during the Jazz Education Network’s Annual Conference in New Orleans in January. Dr. Jeff Lovell, Associate Professor of Music, and Dr. Justin Morell, Professor of Music, accompanied students on the three-day trip.

“Students worked with us throughout the fall semester to ready themselves to perform in the JENerations Jazz Festival,” said Lovell. “For the three-day immersive experience, they attended workshops, clinics, and concerts all devoted to jazz in the birthplace of jazz no less. Between the conference and the months of preparation and rehearsals, this was a significant experience that helped them grow as musicians.”

Lovell added this is the first time LVC students have attended this festival and the first time in his 12 years at The Valley that students have participated in any jazz festival.

To prepare for their performance in New Orleans, Emilie Whitewolf ’25 said the group rehearsed weekly and even toured a few local high schools to make sure they were performance-ready. Whitewolf, pursuing degrees in Digital Communications and Interaction Design, looked forward to showcasing her musical talent and learning from professional musicians.

A panel of adjudicators, including two of the musicians from the conference, evaluated the group’s performance and gave them critical feedback and comments not always available to college students.

Along with the performance opportunity, David Graff ’25, a Music major, most enjoyed the main concert series featuring internationally recognized jazz musicians.

“This trip made me a better musician because I was exposed to professional players and their sounds in person, and I got to hear what other students my age are playing, too,” said Graff. “Being exposed to musicians far better than yourself changes how you view the music you listen to and what new artists you’ll now be checking out.”

For Trent Coulon ’25, the trip was also personal. His father was born in New Orleans and their family has visited frequently. A love of music runs in their family.

“Ever since I was a newborn, my parents have taken me to concerts and live music performances, so I have always had a strong affinity for live music,” said Coulon, an Audio Music Production major who plays trombone. “As a musician, watching the pros do what they do best is always a treat—and more importantly, a great learning experience.”

From the festival to New Orleans itself, Adam Young ’24 appreciated each opportunity.

“Exploring the city and enjoying the food, listening to live music, and learning new insights in jazz. Getting professional experience from some of the top dogs in jazz was invaluable, as well as being able to sit in on performances with pros,” said Young, an Audio Music Production major.

Aaron Rudderow ’25, a Music major, also expressed gratitude for the experience. “I’m incredibly grateful to Dr. Lovell, Dr. Morell, and all the people who pulled strings behind the scenes to give us the opportunity to have this experience. I hope that LVC can do more things like this for its jazz program in the future.”