Elgin student of classical fine tunes on jazz piano
Contributed photo

Elgin Park Secondary jazz singer/pianist Jocelyn Teng was runner-up in the Chinatown Youth Idol contest earlier this month.

By Alex Browne
Arts Reporter

She's just going into Grade 11, but Jocelyn Teng has already turned heads at Elgin Park Secondary concerts with her jazzy vocals and piano playing.
The 16-year-old's talents won her second place in a field of 17 in the Chinatown Youth Idol contest Aug. 2, part of the fourth Vancouver Chinatown Festival.
Her Diana Krall-meets-Norah Jones style impressed judges enough to award her runner-up status, with prizes including a digital camera, jewellery valued at $500, $300 cash and a $250 scholarship from Pizzazz School Of Modelling and Personal Development.
Pizzazz owner Laurel Qelch has been a booster for Teng since she saw her perform at Elgin Park's grad fashion show and encouraged Teng to enter the Youth Idol contest, new to the Chinatown Festival this year.
"Laurel came up to me at the fashion show and said 'hey-I know this contest you should go into.' I thought why not? It'll be fun."
Teng was impressed but not intimidated by contestants, who ranged in age from 16 to 20. Performances included everything from classical piano to martial arts and hip-hop dancing.
But the personable Teng, who switched from classical pianist to her current hip persona, wowed the crowd with her rendition of the Harburg-Arlen classic Over The Rainbow.
"I jazzed it up," she smiled.
Does she see herself pursuing music as a post-secondary career?
"I really want to. I really love performing. My dad's a singer in Taiwan-I've been singing with him since I was around five or six.
"I told my parents on the phone this morning. They're really happy-my dad is proud."
Teng has been in B.C. for seven years, spending the last six in White Rock, attending Laronde Elementary before Elgin Park.
She lives with cousins, taking care of their house some of the time.
At Elgin Park, she plays piano in the jazz band directed by Guyle Coon, as well as taking advantage of every opportunity to feature her solo act.
"I play at jazz nights and school concerts and I was in Elgin Idol-I came first for that."
Teng has only been playing jazz piano for two years, studying with Bryon Tosoff.
"I played classical for eight or nine years. I realized it wasn't my style. I wasn't enjoying myself. With jazz I can improvise, play what I feel like."
Some of her favourite jazz-oriented artists are Krall, Ray Brown, Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra, and although she writes a little herself, she enjoys revisiting old standards.
"I look at the music, change it around a little-make my own arrangement," she said.
The singing is a recent addition to her act.
"I thought 'hey, there's a lot of songs I like-why not sing with the piano?"

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