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Ten years after playing principal saxophone in AYWS, Jack Walker has built a career out of playing and teaching music right here in Atlanta.

As the Associate Band Director at Pace Academy, Jack co-teaches all band classes for 5th grade through 12th grade including jazz band, concert band and pep band. He also serves as the Assistant Director of the Metro Atlanta Youth Wind Ensemble.

Though Jack admits that his involvement in AYWS was particularly helpful in preparing him to be a music major in college and pursue his passion for music as a career, he also feels strongly that involvement in AYWS has other valuable applications for musicians. AYWS “allows an easy way to build close friendships with fellow musicians around the city and develop life skills such as dedication, discipline, character, social skills, and hard work. It helps prepare you for the real world and for any career, musical or otherwise."

Jack looks back on his time in AYWS as a valuable time for building friendships with other musicians that would endure through college and beyond.

It was also a time for challenging and stretching himself musically. When Jack traveled with the AYWS to Dallas, Texas, to perform the Lord of the Rings Symphony with the Dallas Youth Wind Ensemble, it was the first time he played a symphony in its entirety. The nature of the trip also made it feel like a professional gig (minus getting paid, of course).
 
As a teacher, Jack knows first-hand the importance of giving young musicians the opportunity to play at a higher level and have new and diverse musical experiences. When speaking to the importance of music, Jack says, “Music is a part of us all. It searches our hearts and grabs a hold of our emotions in a way that mere words do not. You can talk all day, but the power of melodies, dynamics, and tension and release creates a visceral experience that connects us to others, ourselves, and to God.”