Prep Jazz Band: Not Just a Band, but a Family


Nick Pickel, Staff Writer

Seattle Prep Jazz Band. A staple in the Prep Arts Program, but perhaps misunderstood. Prep Jazz band isn’t what like what is often seen on social media; a group of fifteen or so uncoordinated people lethargically playing music off a sheet. Prep Jazz Band is a group of passionate, amiable, hardworking, and talented musicians that goes much deeper than simply learning to play an instrument.  

Gabe Tanumihardja ’23 has been on Prep Jazz Band for three years. He plays the piano and has been dabbling with the EWI (electronic wind instrument) recently. He explains what he has learned that goes deeper than instrument knowledge, saying, “I learned how to work with a team. I learned how to work with others, seeing what they wanted to do in the song and how I could accommodate that with my playing. I also learned how much music can bring a group of people together. It’s like this big connecting thing that we all enjoy and that brings us together.” This is exactly the goal for Ms. Bost, who says the band has “grown as leaders and communicators, they have upped their discipline and perseverance, and they have struggled and triumphed.” 

Ms. Bost, Prep’s Jazz Band and Pep Band teacher explains jazz as “a Black American art form started in the early 20th century and it is everything – self-expression through improvisation and signature sound, boundary-pushing, cerebral and complex, full of feeling, a time capsule, a mood and a vibe.” Ms. Bost has taught at Prep for six years as Pep and Jazz band’s teacher, as well as Lit/Study and lunch duty in the Smith Café.  

Ms. Bost says she has “worked to create a collaborative environment where the students take ownership of their ensemble … I allow students to discuss our music with each other and make decisions about arrangements and activities.” She uses what she calls “Bost’s Law of Dispensability” which means she tries to get them so prepared to perform that if she were to not show up to the concert that night, they could run their show as if nothing was different. Jazz Band focuses on three main things over the year; music theory as it relates to jazz, the study and practice of musical improvisation, and musical styles. In Prep’s band this year, there is a rhythm section, horns, a violinist and a baritone horn player.  

Prep Jazz Band has a few performances throughout the year in which they get to show off the fruits of their hard work. Tanumihardja’s favorite song to play in Jazz Band is Roy Hargrove’s Strasbourg St. Denis, which he likes because “Not only is the melody fast and upbeat, but the chord progression flows very well.” But Jazz Band branches out farther than that, playing the subgenres of Jazz; swing, blues, Latin, funk, and soul. Members of Jazz Band get to experiment with their instruments and knowledge in all genres of music, making them musically very well-rounded. 

Tanumihardja notes how Jazz Band laid the foundation for his Prep experience, “Jazz band was the first sense of community I felt at prep. In my freshman year, the band atmosphere was so inviting and welcome. I felt that I fit right in. I think this really shaped who I wanted to be at prep. It inspired me to be more open and welcoming of others.” 

“Band culture at Prep is just playing music and crackin’ jokes,” Tanumihardja says as he comments on something that many Prep students can relate to, “[My] favorite part about practices is that it’s a chill time to just destress from school, and jam with friends. It really helps when you can take out AP Chemistry stress on the keys.” 

Seattle Prep Jazz Band seeks to help students to master their instrument in many subgenres of jazz. Furthermore, Jazz Band is an outlet for students to express their talent and creativity with a group of supportive, likeminded, and talented student musicians. Tanumihardja notes that, if you want to learn more about Jazz Band, are interested in joining, or just want to chat, “Come stop by at window in the Lee Family Arts Center and talk to Ms. Bost! Or come up to any of us in the band, we’d be happy to tell you all about it!” Ms. Bost would love to “get more women/non-binary players in our band” and wants to share her hope that “with the right priorities and with resources to back it, [I believe] Prep could become a School of the Arts for Seattle. We have top-notch faculty and committed, talented students, we just need to move toward that vision.”