Visiting musicians from South Africa and Botswana were in residency at Brooklyn Friends School for two days in early January. They had participated on a panel with BFS Jazz Band teacher Jessica Jones in New Orleans. The panel was on recruiting and retaining girls in jazz programs and was presented at the Jazz Education Network’s annual conference.
Bassist Sibongile Buda, guitarist Daisy Mangwato and saxophonist Akhu Mogami worked with middle and upper school classes, teaching them South African jazz songs and discussing the music scene in South Africa and Botswana.
The residency culminated in a middle school collection that highlighted the three guests and included BFS’ three jazz band teachers, Jessica Jones on saxophone, Nikara Warren on vibraphone, and Peter Nelson (primarily a trombonist) on drums, as well as upper school jazz student Justine Brown on piano.
Having women role models in jazz perform on stage continues to be one of the important requirements for inspiring girls to participate in this male-dominated field. Students were enthralled to hear about this from the perspective of the only professional female saxophonist in Botswana! One sixth-grade trumpet player made a point of seeking out the performers to let them know that it was the “best jazz I’ve ever heard!”