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Scottsdale Community College - Learn. Grow. Achieve

George Benson Scholarship winners announced

Jonathan Boyd, 2017 George Benson Scholarship winner

Jonathan Boyd, a classical guitarist in training at Scottsdale Community College, is this year’s recipient of the George Benson Scholarship awarded by the SCC Music Department.

The scholarship, awarded annually, goes to the department’s top music student as determined by a Music Department committee.

Boyd and other music students and faculty will perform at the Annual Music Showcase Feb. 9 in the school’s Performing Arts Center. The showcase features an eclectic show of musical genres.

George Benson, the famous jazz guitarist for whom the scholarship is named, has been invited to the showcase. Last year, he attended and performed at the event, delighting audience members and students who were able to play with him.

Boyd’s selection reflects his strong musicality in guitar and his ability to draw deep emotional connections from his compositions, said Eric Rasmussen, SCC music faculty member and director of instrumental music.

“His way of playing with the dynamics and texture of a piece really tells a story,” noted Rasmussen. “That’s something you can’t teach and he really has a knack for it.”

Boyd, who was raised in Albuqerque, New Mexico, came to SCC three years ago as a rock guitarist who wasn’t sure which academic degree he would pursue when he arrived on campus. He began taking music courses two years ago and now will be graduating in May with an Associate of Fine Arts with an emphasis on classical guitar.

He has applied to Arizona State University’s Music Department and will start there in the fall if accepted.

“I was always self taught and I thought I was really good until I started taking lessons with my guitar teacher,’ said Boyd, half jokingly. “Then I realized how much more I had to learn.”

He loves his transition to classical guitar but he still has an ear for contemporary music. He also loves to beat box with his voice and plays the piano.

“I think his future is bright because he’s going to bring all that love for classical, world, and contemporary music together and create something really cool,” said Alex Zawilak, Boyd’s guitar instructor and an SCC adjunct instructor.

For the first time this year, a music student received an honorable mention George Benson Scholarship award. Tristan Lauzon earned the scholarship for his accomplishments as an upright bass player. He also performed with the various school chorale groups, as did Boyd.

“His growth over the last couple of years has been tremendous,” said Rasmussen about Lauzon. “He’s actually getting hired to work around town as a jazz bass player. He’s one of our hardest working students.”

Lauzon, who came to SCC as a electric bass player and had to learn to handle the upright bass, credits the Music Department with helping him grow into his instrument and style.

“I feel like this has been the perfect environment for me,” he said. “Being the only upright bass player here, I feel like I get a lot of focused attention from the different staff members.”

The Annual Music Showcase is free to attend and open to the public. The event starts at 7 p.m. so come early for the best seats. SCC is located at 9000 E. Chaparral Road.