Two West Chester Music Students Win Prestigious Honor from Women In Jazz Organization

Alaina O'Neill and Sarah Irvin win Prestigious Music HonorTwo West Chester University students from the Wells School of Music were chosen for a special honor by the Women In Jazz Organization (WIJO), a New York-based organization whose mission is to achieve gender equality in jazz for a more rich, diverse, and successful art form.

Alaina O’Neill, a junior music education and voice major from Langhorne, PA, and Sarah Irvin, a sophomore tenor saxophonist from Thompsontown, PA, both were selected for the Women in Jazz Mentors program through an application process that included teacher recommendations and a video submission. In the program, students receive lessons, gain feedback, and attend discussion meetings and jam sessions, with a mentor with whom they are paired for the year. O’Neill and Irvin were chosen among students from top music schools around the country.

O’Neill, whose mentor is jazz vocalist Lauren Lee says, “During one of our meetings Lee was able to provide me with tips and tools so that I can work on my own. I have gained confidence in my capabilities, in part due to the many resources given to us upon admission into the program.”

O’Neill adds, “The benefits of this program are many. I can learn at my pace with a mentor that is hand selected for me. I am excited to grow alongside the future of the jazz community.”

Irvin’s mentor is saxophonist Virginia Mayhew.  She says, “Since my acceptance into the mentorship program I attended a jam session at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, NY, with others in the program, both mentors and mentees. In my first discussion with Mayhew, we talked about musicianship and she gave me exercises to work on. We discussed jam sessions and she encouraged me to take every opportunity to put myself out there.”

Irvin adds, “Being a part of this program is a great opportunity to meet other people who have similar interests and to gain a new support system. I've met so many other amazing musicians from schools like Berkeley, North Texas, Cincinnati Conservatory, and New England Conservatory that I wouldn't have met without this program. I'm learning more than just how to become a better musician, I'm learning how to be a professional in the jazz field and how to develop interpersonal skills which will help me in the future.”

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