New professor Dr. Douglas Scarborough brings passion for jazz to Whitman

Mallory Martin

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Credit: Marie von Hafften

This year Whitman welcomes new jazz professor Dr. Douglas Scarborough to the music department staff. Scarborough has held teaching positions at the University of South Carolina-Upstate and Virginia’s Washington and Lee University. A singer, composer, trombonist and keyboardist, he has written and recorded two solo albums as well as toured with various artists and orchestras, winning three DownBeat Awards for his work.

When asked what he thought of Whitman’s student body, Dr. Scarborough had only positive things to say.

“Colleges run the gambit, they’re just like people. The students [at Whitman] are on the level of the top colleges . . . I’ve worked at all kinds and I’m glad to be back at this situation. Most everybody here . . . are what you would classify as overachievers. It creates this environment where everybody wants to get it right.”

Today Scarborough holds a full-time position at Whitman, but this is not the first time he’s taught on campus. After teaching here for a year in 2005-2006 as a visiting professor, he was elated to see the permanent position open for the 2011-12 school year.

Scarborough will be teaching a variety of classes in jazz, from the ensemble to courses on jazz’s rich history. He’s eager to enroll students unfamiliar with jazz as well as avid fans such as himself.

“There can be a room full of people who don’t own a single jazz record and that’s fine. I’ll show you what it’s all about,” said Scarborough. “I use jazz as a microscope; we can look at our country through the lens of music.”

Most of all, Scarborough wants to develop a connection with his students.

“I want to be approachable if any student has a problem,” he said. “I think learning in a classroom can be fun, but just because a class is fun doesn’t mean it has to be easy. If you’re doing it hands on, if you’re actively involved in it, it sinks into a deeper part of your brain; you don’t forget it.”

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