A series of historical arts workshops for children prompted its leader to form a group of kids to perform music from long, long ago.
What do you do? I’m the founder and director of Seattle Historical Arts for Kids, where students ages 6-18 learn performing arts of the Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque and American Colonial eras. I do several other things with music education as well. I spend a lot of my week teaching violin, which I also love and which is the bread and butter of my working life. (I suppose that means SHAK is dessert!)
How did you get started in that field? From 2004 to 2011, I ran a series of historical arts workshops for children, mixing crafts, music, dance and drama from a particular historical era. Over time, a culture of favorite shared material developed among returning kids. It was a parent who suggested we make a recording, which became a children’s historical CD, “Merry It Is!” Then the Early Music Guild invited us to give a live performance of that material on its family concert series, and the performing group took over.
What’s a typical day like? Most of my mornings are spent in lonely administrative tasks like scheduling things and arranging music, but sometimes I’m doing historical music enrichment in school classrooms. In the afternoons, I either teach lessons or meet with a SHAK rehearsing group. Right now, both the instrumental and theatrical groups are in the final stretches of preparation for Tales of the Middle Ages, performing March 1 at Town Hall. Sometimes I’m also working on a non-student performance project, playing early violin or medieval fiddle with colleagues in Seattle’s vibrant early music scene.
What’s the best part of the work? Both in my violin studio and in SHAK, I get to work closely with a small group of students, some of them for as long as 10 years now. It’s amazing to watch people grow up and to witness so many little moments of learning that add up over time. Recently, I watched a 9-year-old sit on the floor during a rehearsal break and kind of figure out quietly by himself how to read medieval music notation. I also love the fact that we’re empowering these very young people to be the bearers of very old cultural treasures for their own generation and the future.
Most Read Stories
- Seahawks-Jaguars game ends in ugly brawl, and an altercation with Jacksonville fans VIEW
- Asked & Answered: What happened to Tom the Guessing Doorman at Costco?
- One of last great Washington train rides coming to an end
- Sore losers? That’s too soft a label for how the Seahawks reacted at the end of Jags loss
- Things might have been ugly for Seahawks in their 30-24 defeat, but they don’t lose any ground
What surprises people about what you do? I think people are often surprised that children are capable of engaging really exuberantly with such sophisticated material. You just have to give them a foothold. Cultural history is often presented to Americans in terms of inferiority, the absence of modern conveniences and conventions, so I think when people see the old material we present, they are often pleasantly surprised by how much beauty and charm you can find in it that our present culture has actually forgotten.
Do you have a cool job or know someone in the Puget Sound area who does? Email us with your recommendations for people to feature in Cool Jobs.