The island jazz band, Som’tet, played one of the final live concerts at the Black Cat Cabaret before the venue’s closing (Elizabeth Shepherd Photo).

The island jazz band, Som’tet, played one of the final live concerts at the Black Cat Cabaret before the venue’s closing (Elizabeth Shepherd Photo).

Vashon Events offers ways to still connect with music

Efforts include live-streamed internet concerts and a ramped-up free musical instrument library.

Vashon Events, a leading presenter of live music on the island, has announced a suite of new, free initiatives to help island musicians and music learners keep the songs flowing in the age of coronavirus.

These efforts include promoting what could become the go-to island events of the coronavirus season — live-streamed internet concerts, presented on a variety of online platforms including Facebook.

The nonprofit group, led by Pete Welch and Allison Shirk, has put out a call to musicians detailing the way that Vashon Events can help promote such concerts. “Vashon needs music right now and you need tips!” Welch told island musicians in a recent Facebook post.

Vashon Events has laid out simple steps for musicians to set up live-streamed concerts, including picking a time and date for artists to schedule their events on Facebook and inviting Vashon Events to co-host and promote the virtual shows. Presenters can also add a way for audience members to tip remotely through the artist’s Venmo or Paypal account number.

Vashon Events is not taking money for promoting performances in this way, said Welch.

The nonprofit is also ramping up its free musical instrument library as a tool to keep home-bound school children busy and creative during school closures. All instruments and instrument cases in the library are well sanitized, said Shirk.

The library loaned out instruments to 107 families in 2019, up 50 percent from 2018. The typical check out time is three months and there is no limit to the number of times a family may borrow an instrument.

“It’s easy to borrow an instrument,” Shirk said, going on to explain that in the time of coronavirus, Vashon Events has built more sanitation and social distancing into the process.

All instrument rentals are arranged by filling out an online form at, and all pickups and drop-offs are also “no contact” — with pick-up and drop-off of instruments done at an outdoor location. Islanders can ask more about the sanitation process for the instruments by writing

Shirk and Welch are seeking tax-deductible donations of new instruments to the library, excluding large pianos and organs. What’s needed most now, Shirk said, is high-quality guitars, horns, woodwinds, small bass and guitar amplifiers and accessories like tuners and capos.

Currently, the library has 72 instruments and amplifiers, all of which were donated by islanders.

“Luckily, playing a musical instrument is something you can do anywhere, at home as well as at gatherings, alone as well as with friends,” Shirk said.

During March, Vashon Events has also waived its one-time, $20 fee for music teachers to join its online directory of music teachers — noting that many music teachers are now moving to online lessons.

Vashon Events’ efforts to organize a digital community of artists come at a difficult time for the organization. Its first major fundraiser of the year, “Come Together” — a community celebration of music by The Beatles — was scheduled to take place on March 13, at Open Space, but was postponed. For more information, and to make a donation to the nonprofit to supports its work, visit


Lessons galore, without leaving home

Many of the music teachers in Vashon Events music teacher’s directory are now offering online classes.

These include Adrienne Selvy Mildon, who is offering online sessions in piano, voice and French; Matthew Cheney, who teaches piano and guitar; and Kevin Nortness, who teaches saxophone, flute, piano trumpet and bass. Contact information for these and other teachers can be found at

Islander Chris Boscia is offering Spanish classes online. Contact him at bosciaemail@gmailcom.

Got a budding drummer at home? Now you can find lessons online (Angela Hodge Photo).

Got a budding drummer at home? Now you can find lessons online (Angela Hodge Photo).

Mode Music, a new music studio on Vashon, also offers an array of online lessons in piano, voice, ukulele, guitar, bass and drums. Visit Mode Music Vashon on Facebook, or to find out more., owned by islander Caroline Rockey, offers online art-making classes for all ages.

Andy James, island musician and longtime educator, is offering remote technology classes for youth that will include programming basics and game design. Visit to find out more.

Are you offering online lessons during the time of social distancing? Let us know at

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