Virginia Cowan Carlson and Jennifer Jabs Memorial Scholarship

Virginia Carlson Graduation Photo

Virginia Cowan Carlson University of Montana graduation

The Virginia Cowan Carlson and Jennifer Jabs Memorial Scholarship is awarded annually to a string player from the Rocky Mountain region for Suzuki teacher training.

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Virginia Cowan Carlson’s active life (1907-1987) began in the small town of Great Falls, Montana, with her final years spent in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado.  As a musician, she was committed to lifelong learning, always eager to try a new idea or experience, and devoted to finding a way to develop each student’s individual talent.  Virginia’s capacity to learn and love allowed her to grow forever, teaching violin and playing in community orchestras well into her later years. She never lost her youthful curiosity, openness, and energy. She exercised daily and encouraged others to keep fit as well, striving for her regular 1.25 mile routine, believing a walk “around the block is better than nothing, even if it is cold outside.” Her energetic lifestyle was reflected in her studio as well, evidenced by the many performances and musical events that she staged or attended in her community. Though she had two music education degrees from the University of Montana and Eastman School of Music, she was truly a student of life.

Virginia’s love of learning translated into a love of life. She taught her own family many wonderful lessons that continue to be passed along to the next generation of Suzuki students. Daughter and SAA Teacher Trainer Carol Tarr shared some of these favorite lessons she learned from her mother’s teaching philosophy:

  • Better to practice every day than to wait for the day before your lesson and do a lot.

  • When something is difficult, sleep on it. Most likely it will be easier the next day.

  • There is much to learn about music, playing and teaching. Keep learning by practicing, playing, reading and attending workshops/conferences as much as you can. Learning is a lifelong endeavor.

  • When possible, play with people that are better than you are. This makes you work harder and improve.

  • Try to find the best teacher for your child, even if it means driving 120 miles each way for lessons.

  • It is a privilege to play and learn about music. Treasure it and ENJOY!

Over the years, such powerful reminders have been passed along to Carol Tarr’s own cello students and teacher workshop participants. One such student was Jennifer Jabs (1969-1984), a devoted cellist who was killed in a tragic automobile accident at the young age of fifteen. A memorial concert was given by the Suzuki Association of Colorado to commemorate her life and raise student scholarships for upcoming musicians. This fund was eventually combined with the Virginia Cowan Carlson SAA Memorial Scholarship to enable both to benefit string players from the western United States who seek Suzuki teacher training. The award represents two powerful lives; one rich in experience and wisdom, and one full of youth and promise.

Virginia Later in Life

Virginia Later in Life

Jennifer Jabs

Jennifer Jabs, cellist