Jolene Green seems to get a simple joy from playing music, and says she plans to keep on playing throughout her life.
“It makes me happy and I like performing when it makes other people happy,” she said.
A senior, at Whitefish High School Green plays the guitar, ukulele, the tenor sax and viola and sings. She is a member of the varsity band, the orchestra and the jazz combo Birdland. She has also played the solo tenor saxophone and viola with the Glacier Symphony Orchestra.
Green began playing music in the sixth grade, and says she enjoys getting the chance to express herself through music. She has been a member of the Montana All-State Band and Montana All-State Jazz Band, has earned multiple superior ratings at district and state Music Festivals, and spent multiple years on the University of Montana All-Star Wind Ensemble.
Most recently she earned the Buddy DeFranco Outstanding Soloist award at the Buddy DeFranco Jazz Festival at the University of Montana in Missoula.
Teacher Mark McCrady says Green has a very impressive resume as a high school musician. He points out that the jazz award is pretty big honor.
“This year, Jolene and three other high school students were given similar awards and featured on the concert with the UM Jazz I rhythm section,” he said. “Jolene played about four improvised blues solos in front of a crowd of 1,000 plus people and was fantastic.”
Green says the experience was “nerve-wracking” because she was only able to practice once before the performance.
“I like jazz because it’s the hardest technically to play and it’s rewarding to delve into it,” she said.
Green also enjoys being part of the Birdland jazz combo, which practices in the early morning hours before school begins.
“It’s really rewarding and worth getting up early to practice with like minded people who want to make beautiful music together,” she said.
Green also doesn’t mind bringing her music skills into other classes. She wrote and performed a political song for her government class.
“I write indie music and that was easier for me than writing a paper,” she said.
Following graduation from WHS, Green plans to attend Quest University Canada in British Columbia. She is hoping to eventually pursue a career in journalism, but says she also plans to continue studying and playing music.
“Journalism speaks to me — I want to travel and write — it fits me,” she says. “I don’t feel like I’m working when I play music.”