Artist Q&A: Jason Wolf, Percussion

Few things have been more fun for me lately than collecting these wonderful little Q&As with our artists. So, here for you are words from percussion teaching artist Jason Wolf. His impressive residency lineup with Urban Gateways includes residencies earlier this year at Mays Academy in Englewood and Morton School in Humboldt Park. (Plus, don’t miss the awesome video at the bottom of the post!)

UG: What was the most inspiring moment you experienced during a residency?

Jason: One of the most inspiring moments I have had [as a teaching artist] was a high school performance called Culture Fest. I had four Urban Gateways high school groups for quite some time at one school (20 weeks maybe) and we were able to go much deeper than usual into different musical styles. The [Culture Fest] performance featured all 4 of my groups [plus groups from other schools] doing 4 different styles of music, and they were all great. The four UG classes added a ton to the overall culture fest and the kids had all come up with their own input on arrangements, solos, etc… I was really happy to see them come through the performance with such energy. As a performing artist you always want to see the kids really take some ownership of the material and give some energy on the stage!

Why did you decide to become a teaching artist?

I became a teaching artist because I truly love the music I play and teach. It was a natural progression to share that with other people. In addition, I love learning, and discovering new things that I find interesting. I always loved a good class (especially if it was something other than math!) so that led me to want to teach good classes as well. I also enjoy communicating and that is one main goal of a teacher.

What is your favorite thing about the arts in Chicago (what makes our arts community unique)?

For me personally I love the wide range of traditional music represented in Chicago. I love that if I want to find Cuban, West African, Middle Eastern, Brazilian, Japanese etc., it’s all out there somewhere. I also really love all of the dance that happens in Chicago. Dance is close to my heart because as a drummer, and traditional music lover, most of the best, and most authentic opportunities to participate in and experience these styles is in dance classes. I love the west African dance scene in Chicago. The dancers make it possible to be a drummer.

Did you have a New Year’s Resolution this year that you’re willing to share?

My NY Resolution is to take my sandwiches more seriously. I eat one almost every day and we can’t be having the same old, same old all the time.

And now, featuring Jason in Washington Park: