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Her music follows in the spirit of Judy Collins, Joan Baez and the likes of Joni Mitchell.

Her words have meaning and purpose. Her arrangements span the generations. But the best part of Ellensburg musician Jan Jaffee is that she’s willing to share it all.

The Central Washington University graduate left Ellensburg twice, but something about Ellensburg always brings her back. This last time was five years ago.

MUSIC TOWN

“This is a music town. I think there’s great support for the music here. All the businesses are supportive of the performing arts,” Jaffee said. “It’s such a variety. We have the concerts every year with the rodeo, the Night of Patriots, Jazz in the Valley and there are a lot of places that host musical events for the locals.”

Jaffee is a certified music instructor. She does private workshops and individual lessons, and lately she has been doing online lessons in the COVID-19 world.

“My goal is to bring people together though music. I’ve had workshops in the past. I’ve collaborated with other teachers in the area with things,” she said. “I work with guitar, piano and vocals … and ukulele. We had a preschool music class regularly until the COVID hit. I have a video that I usually use helps the lesson process.”

ZOOM LESSONS

Zoom has taken over the one-on-one part of teaching in this time of the pandemic, but it also opens the door to exploring other ideas and musical creativity. The wide range of musical instruments and vocal talent in the community.

Jaffee was also part of the Cornerstone Pie Sunday’s Unplugged concert series until COVID-19 restrictions disallowed gatherings. It is a nice setting in the back room that featured an intimate setting.

“I sing everything, that’s my main instrument,” she said. “I support it with piano and guitar. I’ve been doing that forever it seems. I’ve been performing since college. That’s still something I love to do and why I’m so grateful there are so many places to play in this town.”

QUILTERS PRODUCTION

Jaffee’s work with the Ellensburg Community Radio production of “Quilters,” which aired recently. “Quilters” was originally developed and produced at the Denver Center Theatre company as a celebration of American Womanhood. It became a record-setting regional theatre success before its presentations on Broadway and at the Edinburgh Festival.

It is the story of a pioneer woman and her six daughters. “Quilters” blends a series of interrelated scenes into a rich mosaic that captures the beauty, the terror and joy, along with the harsh challenge and rewards of frontier life.

“Production was fascinating from a disciplinary standpoint. We had to adhere to the COVID-19 regulations and there were people coming and going,” director Kelle Dvorak Vandenberg said. “Normally this would be a 10-person cast, but we opted to scale it back so we could double-cast the show.

“It was very complicated musically and it was challenging to scale it back for a smaller cast. Jan Jaffee was amazing in coming up with an unplugged version of the music. Jan was unbelievable and really helped bring out the music and the singing. I am so pleased and this would be nothing without the work that she did.”

CHALLENGES

As an arranger, Jaffee had her challenges, but rose to the occasion.

“It was very exciting and a great project to have during this isolation time,” she said. “It was a good learning experience for me and I was able to use some skills more than I had used in the past.

“For example, the recording production and piecing it up. The music was influenced by the monolog and what was going on 100 years ago. It was not hard to find musicianship to play. I worked with bassist Austin Clark, who’s a CWU student. I also worked with violinist Denise Dillenbeck. It was fun and gave us a very human element.”

It’s hard to know where the new normal will take musicians and public performance, but it is nice to know the beat goes on.

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