“Music has been my life path since I was very little. To be able to meet a kid that doesn’t have that and then to help them find it and help them find themselves is incredibly rewarding. It’s such a gift.” So says Aaron Katz, Plummer Youth Promise and On Point Music Program Leader.
“We are constantly trying different ways to engage our kids” says Executive Director James Lister, “it’s a major component to running a good residential program. Kids come to us with a variety of pasts, and it’s really difficult to engage them and really difficult for them to trust us.”
When I think about Aaron, “I see such a talented musician but also recognize that there’s a lot of talented musicians, and not everyone can engage our kids in a way that Aaron can. And the combination together is very, very powerful.”
One could say that Katz was born with drumsticks in his hands. Both his parents were musicians, his father a drummer and his mother a singer and music therapist. Katz has been playing the drums, teaching himself piano and composing songs for as long as he can remember.
By the time he reached Worcester Academy High School, he was playing in both school and community venues, including his high school jazz band and in orchestra pits for local community musicals. At age 16, Katz secured his first professional paid gig.
Katz received a full music scholarship to the University of New Hampshire. Just one semester short of graduation, the opportunity of a life-time came up and he left college to pursue his dream of being a full-time professional musician writing music and playing drums for his band Percy Hill. Katz played with Percy Hill for over 10 years, touring the country professionally and gaining a large fan base.
Katz credits those 10 years on the road as having taught him some valuable life lessons because “once you’ve literally lived in a van with a bunch of musicians you’ve seen just about everything.”
In 2007 Katz started playing with Callie Lipton in a new band called “The Dejas” and he moved to Salem, MA. He put up advertisements that were seen by the Plummer Youth Promise program director and Katz was hired part-time to start building a music program.
“It can be very emotional for me to see the kids take music on and become one with it, because it means so much to me,” says Katz.
When asked to think of a word that starts with “C” to conclude our “Key of C” campaign, Katz says “I would definitely say connection, because we’re learning to connect to ourselves, we’re learning to connect to others, we’re learning to connect to something bigger than ourselves, which humbles us and allows us to fully experience the human experience.”
Aaron says working with the kids is like getting a gift. Here at Plummer, we feel like he is the gift.