Carolyn Bogott: Jan Muzik is a gift to Austin’s music

Published 5:08 pm Tuesday, April 30, 2024

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The word that best describes Jan Muzik is effervescent!

She bubbles over with enthusiasm for life and veritably vibrates when talking about music. Jan’s father was a college professor, and she said she always wanted to be a teacher. As a small child she lined up her dolls on a step to teach them.

Jan had piano lessons early. She and her teachers were not always well-matched. The drills of listening to and identifying chords and the practicing of scales required by her teachers were not her favorites.

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However, she realizes this may have contributed to her amazing gift of being able to move seamlessly from one tune to another and to improvise on any theme. Jan aways just wanted to play music, the more rhythmic the better. Rhythm and melody just seem to flow through her to this day.

As well as music lessons, she also did tap and ballet dancing, baton twirling, and loved acting in plays. While in high school, she was the accompanist for the music department and had her own small dance studio.

By the time she graduated from Greenway High school in tiny Coleraine, Minnesota, she was anxious to have her skills challenged in a larger setting. She went to St. Cloud State and majored in music education and minored in theater. While in college she did a USO tour with a theater group. They performed in Greenland, Iceland and Baffin Island with Jan playing the female lead in “Wonderful Town” and she also played piano interludes between scenes.

Jan met her husband Conrad during her college years. After she graduated from college, they married. Conrad was hired by Austin Public Schools in 1966, and that brought them to Austin. Their two sons were raised here.

Throughout all the years since moving here, Jan has been a “live wire” in the community music scene here. She shared her talents and enthusiasm for teaching for 28 years at the Catholic schools, as well as the public schools. At Pacelli, she had the opportunity to combine music and theater to put on musicals. She loved that!

“We had so much fun!” she said.

She also led church choirs for 39 years at St. Edward’s and at St. Augustine’s churches. Giving private lessons to many, many fortunate students was also a big part of her life. Jan hopes she helped all her students learn about life as well as how to play and enjoy music as a lifelong interest.

Working with Frank Bridges on Summerset Theatre  productions was another joy for Jan, using her love for musical theater. She and Conrad had fun running The Muzik Shoppe for eight years, renting instruments and selling music. For many years, this musical couple had a five- piece dance band called The Muzix, playing for many dances in the area. Their son, Danny, at age 12, became the drummer for this ensemble.  Another of Jan and Conrad’s joint enterprises was making recordings with their group, “Ecumenical Spirit.”

In retirement, Jan continues to have private students and to play for church services, funerals, and weddings.  Jan’s has lived her life by her own words of wisdom: “Enjoy life. Be kind. Be humble.”

What a wonderful legacy you have given to Austin, Jan Muzik!