Flagler Jazz Musician balances school and music gigs

By Rebecca Snowdale | gargoyle@flagler.edu

Keeping up to date with college work can be difficult, and having a job certainly doesn’t make things any easier. Working while putting oneself through school is not a lifestyle for the faint of heart, as it consists mostly of long nights, early mornings, and certainly the occasional all-nighter. This doesn’t phase Jonathan Hooper, a Flagler College student who doubles as a jazz musician downtown at Rhett’s Piano Bar.

Hooper has been playing at Rhett’s Piano Bar and Brassier , a high-end lounge in downtown St. Augustine, a couple of nights a week during the semester. When it comes to school work, he typically resorts to finishing projects and papers when he gets home from his gigs late at night. “I don’t mind going to work, especially when I have a lot to do, because it’s like a five hour break during which I just get to have fun,” said Hooper.

Hooper says he hardly considers performing at Rhett’s “work,” and despite the anticipated load of stress one would imagine comes with working at a high-end lounge while also balancing school work, is very grateful of the experience it gives him.

“When I first started performing at Rhett’s after it opened, I had never played anywhere for five straight hours. I especially hadn’t played jazz piano for such a long set,” he said.

Hooper was much more used to playing classical piano until his employment at Rhett’s, but says that jazz “requires a lot of creativity and is a lot of fun,” and jazz song include more improvisation.

This student-musician believes that playing professionally has improved his abilities. Despite the intimidating idea of working and attending college simultaneously, Hooper proves that keeping up with school and having fun at work is an obtainable goal.

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