Jenna Cuene Wins Talent Jam 2018

Elizabeth Bolin, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

In a school filled with multi-talented people senior Jenna Cuene may be the epitome of well-rounded brilliance. In November, Cuene and her violin won the annual Talent Jam and took home the thousand dollar prize as well as the satisfaction of hours of hard work.

The Talent Jam is a competition for local young adults (high school through graduate students) to showcase musical talent. This is not the first time a Triton has won it.

Out of 100 applicants, only 16 are chosen to compete on the day of the Jam. “I thought it would be a fun idea to compete and collaborate with other musicians in the area,” said Cuene.

Voting is done by a panel of judges critiquing the technical performance, state presence, uniqueness of arrangement and overall impact. The winners are determined by audience votes via texting.

Cuene was returning from the state cross country meet and pulled an all-nighter to prepare for the show. “I decided to entirely rework the first violin piece I learned on my RC-30 loop station, ‘Secrets by Onerepublic.’”

An RC-30 is a loop recorder that allows musicians to layer beats and melodies on top of each other with the tap of a foot.

“It took me a few hours to figure out the exact sound of the beat I wanted to lay down. It might have had a little to do with my lack of sleep, but I even experimented with the wood and coiled binding of my bow to hit parts of the strings,” she explained.

Cuene said the most nerve wracking part of the process was the amount of things that could have gone wrong with one instant of carelessness.

“Throughout the last year I have learned how to manipulate the looper but almost every time I play an arrangement it does not go 100% perfectly,” she said. “There’s a lot of impromptu adjustments that have to be made while you are remembering what to play now and in a few seconds. If you make a mistake, the looper will repeat it the entire performance.”

Luckily, Cuene performed splendidly. “The most fulfilling part is the transition from the first moment of silence and just a simple beat to an entire theatre full of sound.”

Although winning was a fantastic feeling, Cuene’s favorite moment of the night was before the show even started.

“All 16 of the contestants were in the dressing room trying to calm our nerves and someone suggested we jam to a few songs we all knew in the spirit of Talent Jam. It was an experience I will definitely remember because these songs were the product of relationships music built in just a short amount of time.”