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Essentially Ellington

Essentially Ellington

The Essentially Ellington competition first started about 20 years ago as a way to expose high school students to jazz and music. It was originally open to only schools in the New York metropolitan area. Soon it expanded to include all 26 states east of the Mississippi, then eventually to all 50 states, U.S. territories and then Canada.

The festival is highly competitive with only 15 schools selected as finalists each year. The three-day festival allows students, teachers and musicians from across North America to participate in workshops, rehearsals and performances. The festival ends with an evening concert and awards ceremony featuring the three top-placing bands.

This year three schools from Western Washington are sending jazz bands: Mountlake Terrace High School, Edmonds-Woodway High School and Mount Si High School. We’ll be getting a peek behind the curtain of the festival by hearing directly from students about their experiences.


Photo Of Greta Chappell Greta Chappell

Senior at Mount Si


“Jazz to me is more than the music. To me, jazz promotes emotion, and I’ve never felt a wider spectrum of emotion than when I’m playing, or listening to, or learning about jazz.”


Photo Of Jack Bell Harper Thomas

Junior at Mountlake Terrace


“This group of students is so passionate about music and I share that passion. I play flute in the school’s chamber winds band. And if there’s anything the band director Darin Faul has taught me, if you can’t say it through words, you can say it through music.”


Photo Of Jack Bell Unathi Machyo

Freshman at Edmonds-Woodway


“This is my first time at the competition, and I am most looking forward to not only hearing all the other bands, but just simply being at the epicenter of one of the most incredible jazz communities in the world.”


Credits and Attribution