40 years later and all that jazz

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Photo credit: University of Alaska Anchorage

Karen Strid-Chadwick will direct her last jazz show on April 25.

Strid-Chadwick has been teaching at UAA for 40 years. She started as an adjunct in 1978 when UAA was still a part of Anchorage Community College. When her mentor, Wendy Williamson, whose name is now a part of UAA, retired, Strid-Chadwick was hired. She said that she just fell into teaching.

“I wouldn’t recommend what I did at all,” Strid-Chadwick said. “They needed someone to teach at ACC and I had just gotten my theory degree and I said, ‘Sure, I’ll do it.'”

Strid-Chadwick has taught jazz theory, history of jazz, private piano lessons and functional piano. She likes when students “get it” and are performing like they don’t need her anymore.

“Seeing the light bulbs go on, just seeing the students get better, just seeing the breakthroughs and when they go, ‘Oh, that’s how it goes,’ ‘Oh, I get it now.’ That’s the best part,” Strid-Chadwick said.

In her class for seniors, student David Peach has nothing but high regards for Strid-Chadwick.

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“She has a real good blend of encouraging you on and challenging you at the same time,” Peach said.

This is not Peach’s first time working with Strid-Chadwick. Peach played in the Wind Ensemble under Strid-Chadwick’s direction back in 1985.

“She’s a fun conductor, too; she taught us a lot,” Peach said.

In her tiny office with enough room for two pianos, Strid-Chadwick thought about the quickly-approaching last weeks of teaching at the university. She looks forward to tending to her home in Homer, reading books and, of course, continuing to practice music.

“I’m going to keep playing and stuff,” she said. “I think it’s just time to pass the torch to someone new, that’s all. I guess I’m not real emotional about it, I think they’ll carry on just fine without me. I think it’s all good.”

The last Jazz Week Benefit Concert of the semester is April 25 at 7:30 p.m. in the Fine Arts Building’s Recital Hall, featuring four jazz classes. Tickets are available at ArtsUAA.com.