Washington Middle School Drum Line director Aaron Walker-Loud has given new meaning to the term “teaching artist.” He is highly esteemed by Seattle Public Schools, youth programs and the Seattle arts community alike for his dedication to youth development and arts education. Over the years, his students have ranged from kindergarteners to high schoolers, but his impact has not been limited to academia. In fact, he has made tremendous strides in the Seattle arts community through his leadership at Seattle Jazz Ed (a 2014 Youth Arts Partner), and Arts Corps, where he filled the role of teaching artist.
In addition to his involvement with Arts Corps, Seattle Jazz Ed and Washington Middle School, Walker-Loud has recently been selected for the Arts Partner Roster– a list of artists and organizations compiled by the Office of Arts & Culture to pair teaching artists with educators at Seattle Public Schools and other community groups. This roster was created as a component of The Creative Advantage– Seattle’s arts education initiative that aims to restore access to the arts for all students by 2020. Last month, Walker-Loud showcased The Creative Advantage to the community at the Capitol Hill Block Party.
At the festival, top-of-the-chart artists graced stages on Capitol Hill to perform the hits that Seattleites know and love, along with several up-and-comers whose fresh sounds keep music-lovers coming back year after year. This year’s surprise performance featured the Washington Middle School Drum Line and students from Seattle Jazz Ed. It’s no surprise that Walker-Loud sought the opportunity to showcase the talent of his students to over 20,000 concert goers in order to demonstrate with style the importance of arts education. Walker-Loud, an artist himself, strives to integrate the arts into the lives of young people, and his projects never fail to attract public attention. The Drum Line performed with acclaimed Seattle rapper, Sol, who has also played a critical role in the promotion of The Creative Advantage. Watch Sol in our latest video.
Why do you believe that arts education is important in schools? How has your experience in Seattle public schools shaped you?
Arts education breaks down economic and cultural barriers between students and families in ways that other school subjects do not traditionally accomplish, while simultaneously drawing a creative energy from the student population that invigorates the spirit for learning in general.
What are you most excited to pursue in Seattle Public Schools? What benefits will the Community Arts Partner Roster provide in the execution of your goals as a teaching artist?
I believe that modeling successful and innovative partnering is vital to moving our educational community forward. Combining skill sets, experience and resources will not only enhance the learning experiences of our youth and the growth of all professionals involved, but will show our community through collaborative action that we are fighting for our youth’s success.
Your work with Seattle Jazz Ed has expanded student access to music in the Seattle area. What kinds of growth have you noticed among your students?
More adaptability, more openness to new musical ideas, more courage, more confidence while collaborating with professionals and more self-awareness.
You have been preparing the Washington Middle School Drum Line to perform at Capitol Hill Block Party and Bumbershoot as promotion for the Creative Advantage. What has your process been in getting your students ready for these performances? How do you motivate your students?
I give them opportunity to articulate their personal goals, motivation around the topics of professional development, facing challenges, building fan base, building endurance, professional collaboration and personal growth.
What type of performance can CHBP/Bumbershoot attendees expect from the Drum Line? What message are the students working to convey to the audience?
Talent x Work Ethic = Success
Photo Credit: Dave Lichterman