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Jazz I member gets into Berklee College of Music

Stand-out saxophone player receives full-tuition scholarship to prestigious conservatory

Kylie Williams, Staff Reporter

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To this day, 120 Berklee College of Music alumnus have received 283 Grammy Awards, including John Mayer and members of Imagine Dragons and Aerosmith. Next fall, senior saxophone player and Jazz I member Katie Webster will be attending Berklee in Boston, MA. On a full-tuition scholarship. While in Monterey, Calif. on a field trip with the jazz band, Webster auditioned, for a second time, to get into Berklee, and this time for the Jimmy Lyons Scholarship.

The scholarship only goes to one student on the West Coast (America and Canada) and Webster is the first girl to win, and next September at the Monterey Jazz Festival, she will be receiving the award on stage. With only four hours notice, Webster had to scramble to find a bass to play with her.

“I knew I could use Aidan Wa

rd-Richter and Casey Welch as drums and piano for my rhythm section, but I needed to find someone to play bass,” Webster said. “I found this bass player playing in a combo in the restaurant we were eating at, and I decided to ask him if he’d play at my audition.”

Webster first auditioned in Shoreline, but after a chaperone told her about the scholarship opportunity, she took a chance with a random bass player she barely knew, and got into her first choice of colleges.

“I was really drawn to Berklee because of their world class faculty and I’m a huge fan of two of their saxophone professors,” Webster said. “They also have a lot of female instrumentalists in their combos which was really appealing to me because a lot of times that is not the case for many other conservatories, and I found it really inspiring to hear girls rip these incredible solos.”

After college, Webster’s main goal is to make her own music and teach jazz and saxophone to others.

“The feeling I get when I play jazz is indescribable,” Webster said. “Despite all of the incredibly hard work it takes to become a professional musician, it’s worth it because the feeling of being able to create your own music and play music with other people is so great.”

Webster started playing music in fifth grade on the clarinet, but switched to saxophone in sixth grade when she heard jazz music.

Katie Webster

“When I first heard Cannonball Adderley, it was revolutionary to me,” Webster said. “Also, I saw Grace Kelly play when I was in seventh grade, she was very young, like 19, and as an 11-year-old seeing someone who’s not that much older than you go up and do something amazing is really inspiring.”

Among her many musical inspirations are her teachers: Gary Hammon, her private teacher, and Michael James, her jazz and wind ensemble teacher.

“Gary is always encouraging me and letting me know I can do anything, he’s the best mentor,” Webster said. “Mr. James is another really big inspiration, seeing him doing what he loves everyday. He never says it directly, but he believes that you can be successful in whatever you want to do.”

Throughout her three years in Jazz I, James has seen Webster develop as a player and leader.

“People look up to her as far as her solos, style and dedication and she really sets a great example for the other students,” James said. “I’m very excited that she has this opportunity, I think she’s earned it, and I’m looking forward to seeing what she does.”

Tera Richardson plays saxophone in Jazz I with Webster and credits her as a mentor in her own playing.

“Katie inspires me so much,” Richardson said. “She pushes me to reach my potential and is always helping me improve my musicianship. She’s taught me to be passionate and to practice things I don’t want to, because that’s what will make me better.”

An audition prepared in four hours with a stranger performing right next to her could be what makes Webster’s future. She went and did something she didn’t plan to do.

“Putting yourself out there, even if you mess up, is such a good thing because it motivates you and you can only get better from it,” Webster said. “I regret solos I never tried to take because I was too nervous. Messing up is fine; you can only mess up so many times before it can only keep getting better.”

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Jazz I member gets into Berklee College of Music