Creative Music & the Women of GDS Jazz

Each note is another chance to create something new.
The microcosm of the GDS jazz and creative music program tells a story not unlike that of our founding, our values, and our ambitions. “Jazz itself,” director Brad Linde explains, “is a perfect metaphor for the school.” Born of a blending many cultural traditions, jazz emphasizes the creative process rather than interpretation. This year, the program boasts five different ensembles who are actively composing and performing—not only to our community but out in the world at clubs and competitions across the country.

This week, 33 GDS musicians returned with Brad—bless him—from a jazz festival in Reno, Nevada. The group was also joined by alumni musicians Maite Lopez '18 and Nicholas (Doudy) Tang '18. “With Brad Linde as band director,” Maite explained, “jazz band is no longer only a class but a community as well. He has been able to intrigue all kinds of people from around the school.”

Claire Cooper ‘22 has found a place in that jazz community. She learned to play saxophone in Lower School and now plays in multiple GDS bands. (She also joined the Middle School band for their Winter Concert this past Wednesday evening). She said, “GDS jazz brings something new to the table every day, which honestly really excites me. Before GDS jazz, I had started to get a bit bored of music. Playing didn’t excite me as much as it did originally when I started in 4th grade. GDS jazz helped me realize that it wasn’t my instrument that I was getting bored of, it was the sheet music I was always playing. Now, I’ve learned a whole new way of playing my saxophone. Playing notes that aren’t on the page feels really freeing. You can’t go wrong when each note is another chance to create something new.”

Brad takes students from the jazz and creative music program on several trips each year. Kat Liu ‘19 recalls a trip to Boston for the Berklee High School Jazz Festival when GDS players were able to catch the late night show featuring Harvard's and Yale’s big band performances. She said, “The way they were communicating with each other—each building off what others were playing—was super inspiring to me. I’d never seen that happening before live on stage. I’ve worked to use that inspiration in the creative music here at school.”

The attentive reader will notice the musicians mentioned above are women. What is rarely seen outside our community is the kind of involvement our female musicians are demonstrating in jazz and creative music as well as the support they find from their band peers and Brad.

“The jazz world is a chauvinist world,” said Berret Yuffee ‘20. “Brad makes a point to help the girls see women in jazz. We talk a lot about [the lack of female presence in jazz] and Brad is a mentor to many in the jazz community even beyond GDS. It’s part of our active dialogue and helps us be cognizant of people’s experiences, particularly in the context of historical—and ongoing—predatory behavior among older jazz men and female mentees.”

Maite added, “The school is on the right track I think, because I’ve noticed that over the past few years, more and more girls have joined because they feel connected with the jazz community. I nearly dropped band junior year, but staying was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I made some of my closest friends there.”

In the weeks before reconnecting with her GDS creative music community in Reno, Maite had told Brad, “I miss you guys.” A truly touching testament to the program and its director. When a school like ours hits the right notes—in music and beyond—it makes for a pretty tough place to leave.

Staff writer Danny Stock tells the stories of teaching, learning, competing, creating, and performing at Georgetown Day School. He is a former GDS second grade teacher and current parent.


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Georgetown Day School is a coed, preK-12, non-sectarian private school in Washington, DC with small class sizes and a diverse school community. Our comprehensive, innovative curriculum includes hands-on learning, honors and AP classes, as well as advanced-level math and STEM courses. An education is not just college prep and SAT scores. GDS teachers focus on providing the best education for each child, from elementary grades through high school. The school performing arts program includes theater, dance, and music. The athletics program offers competitive sports for student athletes, including cross-country, track, soccer, lacrosse, and crew/rowing. With our strong commitment to financial aid, an independent school tuition is affordable.