Lisa Linde wins award, hitting a high note

by Olivia Hong, Features Reporter
photo by Sophia Davis

After 24 years as a teacher and conductor at South, Lisa Linde received recognition from the Massachusetts Instrumental and Choral Conductors Association (MICCA) in the form of the Paul Smith Hall of Fame Award. MICCA is a nonprofit organization that runs festivals for school choruses, bands and orchestras around the state.

Linde said that she was honored to receive the award as many previous Paul Smith Hall of Fame recipients had been her mentors throughout her career.

“I look at it, and I think I’m in the presence of all the people who I worship,” she said. “It feels almost impossible, like how did this happen to me.”

Benjamin Youngman, South’s chorus, orchestra, Music Technology and AP Music Theory teacher, who has worked closely with Linde for the past 23 years, said that the Paul Smith award is about more than just musical influence.

 “The MICCA award is a very prestigious honor,” he said. “It shows that you’re able not only to give good instruction within your school or your system, but outside of it.”

The award is presented to a candidate who represents the high teaching standards of the late Paul Smith Sr., former Director of Music of Abington Public Schools. Candidates are nominated online by peers who recognize their outstanding qualifications. 

Only two conductors can be admitted into the hall of fame annually. The MICCA Executive Board decides who best meets the qualifications, which include 10 years of conducting experience, being a model in the musical community and a promoter of musical growth.

Youngman said that Linde meets the high standards as an experienced conductor who actively encourages and spreads the values of musical education to her students.

“[Teaching] is always about trying to find the right approach for a specific student and trying to strengthen musical concepts within our students,” he said. “[Linde’s] consistency and perseverance is every single day. It’s not just ability, it’s intention.”

 In addition to directing the Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble, Honors Chamber Ensembles, Jazz Ensemble, Lab Jazz Ensemble and four levels of jazz improvisation courses, Linde also founded Jazzhers, an organization that is committed to shaping the future of jazz by empowering young female and non-binary musicians.

Jazzhers hosts three to four hour “Jam Sessions” every few months. Bella Patel, a freshman in Jazz Improv who attended one of the sessions, said that Jazzhers had a friendly atmosphere and that Linde helped her fit in with the more experienced musicians.

“Jazzhers was a very fun and welcoming experience,” Patel said. “It showed me that [Linde] cares a lot about our musical goals.”

Maria Garrett, a freshman in the Jazz Ensemble, said that Linde has always been very supportive.

“She’s good at encouraging people to do things. She told me to audition for Jazz Ensemble, even though I wasn’t going to,” she said.

Linde’s peers said that her care for her job shines through. Fine and Performing Arts department head Megan Crist, who has known Linde since 2005, said that Linde is easy to work with and that she wasn’t surprised Linde achieved the award.

“Her key strengths are her tenacity, her vision and her persistence,” she said.

Jocelyn Canton, a senior in Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble, said that having Linde as a teacher has been a positive experience.

“She’s an excellent musician and conductor. She’s an overall good teacher,” she said. “And when we play something well, she makes sure that we know that.”

Jared Wang, a sophomore in the Symphonic Band, Jazz Ensemble and Wind Ensemble, said that Linde helps drive students to their full potential.

“Linde truly cares about each and every one of her students,” he said. “She definitely knows how much to push her students, and she takes her teaching very seriously.”

Linde said that the award was especially meaningful because of the recent budget cuts and schedule changes.

“Mr. Youngman and I have been working so hard and feeling really like the arts aren’t appreciated in this building and in this district,” Linde said. “So to get an award from a bunch of peers who felt that I was working hard … it brought tears to my eyes.”

Youngman said that he is glad that Linde’s efforts were recognized.

“I just hope that everybody can admire Ms. Linde and appreciate all the hard work and what she’s given to us,” he said. “It’s really something that should not go unnoticed.”