“He played his first note, and his sound just kind of barreled through my head and through my body, and I was just like, ‘Whoa, that’s who I want to sound like, and that’s who I want to emulate,’” Adam Jonkman beamed as recounted the first time he heard the music of saxophone player Sonny Stitt on YouTube.
The musician is one of Jonkman’s favorite jazz artists. His work serves as both an inspiration and a reminder for Jonkman’s future ambitions as a jazz educator.
Now a fifth-year senior in Marywood’s Music Education Program, Jonkman came to the Motherhouse and Seminary Morgan Memorial Garden in mid-October to recollect his time at Marywood and the man he has become because of it. Still dressed in black from Marywood’s String Celebration, Jonkman took a seat on the marble bench outside of the library overlooking the Valley and the Sette LaVerghetta Center for Performing Arts.
He described himself as a regular high school student with average grades and an interest in music. In his own assessment, he was not as engaged or focused on his craft as he might have liked, but he knew the direction he wanted his life to follow, and that led him to Marywood’s Arch in the fall of 2018.
Jonkman was inspired to be a music teacher by his band director, Raymond Sinclair, at Cromwell High School in his hometown of Cromwell, Connecticut. Sinclair worked as a clinician at one of Marywood’s Wind Band Celebration Festivals, where he met the Director of Bands Dr. F. David Romines. When the time came for Jonkman to begin fielding schools, his teacher pointed him to Marywood, citing the experience he had had on campus.
“He thought Marywood would be a place where I could blossom, rather than be overtaken by a lot of other people, so I came here one fall and did college for a day, and I just absolutely fell in love with the campus and with the community,” Jonkman said. Of the six schools to which he applied, Jonkman only chose to audition at Marywood.
Upon his acceptance to the program, Jonkman undertook a daunting task for most high school seniors: assimilating to college. This not only meant acclimating to college-level assignments and deadlines, but moving three hours and almost 190 miles away from home. The challenges Jonkman faced are common for any first-year student in a new school, but this one also posed one of the greatest rewards for him.
“I have met countless people who really tried to build me up and made me into the person I am now,” he said, recalling his experience of the adjustment, which bled into his sophomore year. “As a freshman, I was really shy and was not really a very talkative kid, and there were a lot of juniors and seniors who really ripped me out of that and said, ‘No, you’re at Marywood, and that’s not who you’re going to be.’”
The turning point in Jonkman’s studies came as a by-product of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Whereas many students found difficulty in forced isolation, Jonkman found himself finally capable of connecting to his music in a way he had not experienced before.
“It gave me a lot of time to hunker down and really focus on myself, which was something I never was able to do a lot when I was younger, and I really was able to explore myself and my music–I had time to be one with myself and the instrument,” he said. “That’s when it really took off for me.”
Over the course of his time at Marywood, Jonkman made the dean’s list multiple times, served as Marywood’s NAfME-C Chapter President, and founded and presided over Marywood’s chapter of the Jazz Education Network. Currently, he serves as the Pennsylvania Collegiate Music Education Association’s State President. He has performed with Marywood’s Wind Ensemble, the Jazz Ambassadors, The Marywood Chamber Singers, the Concert Choir, the Symphony Orchestra, was involved in a number of the university’s musical productions, and was selected to perform as part of the student-faculty combo group at the Scranton Jazz Festival this past August.
Of all Jonkman’s experiences at Marywood, his favorite was being selected as a featured performer in the Jazz Ambassadors 2022 spring concert.
“It was really just a marker of how far I have come through the program,” Jonkman said. “Two years ago I was more lost through music and to be able to be a featured musician two years later just really let me see how far I have come as a musician and a student.”
Jonkman hopes to continue his study of Jazz into his graduate studies next year. After his graduation, he plans to apply the knowledge he has garnered to the high school and ultimately the collegiate level.
While he continues his journey and prepares to embark on the next phase of his life, he leaves new and current Marywood students with this advice: “Get involved, be yourself, and take risks, because if you don’t take risks, you never know what the rewards are going to be.”