By Esha Bhatti

For The Diamondback

University of Maryland student Aria McIntosh comes from a family of artists — her brother is a sculptor and her sister does photography, while her parents encourage artistic thought.

But Aria McIntosh, a junior journalism major, turned to DJing to express her creative talent.

“I had already for years been told by adults around me, ‘You have really sophisticated taste [in music] for a kid,’” Aria McIntosh said.

Aria McIntosh — also known as DJ Mixed Match — juggles her responsibilities as a college student with her role as a DJ instructor at Words, Beats & Life. She has worked at the Washington, D.C., based arts education nonprofit for about two years.

Aria McIntosh said she learned to DJ with a more difficult method using vinyl records instead of a controller.

During her classes, Aria McIntosh’s instructors would ask her to unscramble the speeds of two vinyl records containing two different songs, she said. The drill required her to pick up the pattern of the song and adjust it accordingly, she said, which could take the entire class time.

“It was definitely frustrating,” Aria McIntosh said. “You just have to listen and bang your head against them until you have a light bulb moment.”

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Now as an instructor, Aria McIntosh said she developed a curriculum to teach students the art of being a DJ, including a children’s book about the profession’s history and interactive music activities, such as clapping, to help students understand musical beats.

Aria McIntosh teaches her students to use newer DJ methods earlier in their lessons because of the frustration she remembers feeling when she first began taking lessons, she said.

Ethan Walker, a senior at Ivymount School and Thomas Edison High School of Technology and her colleague, said Aria McIntosh is not afraid of pursuing her music goals creatively.

“She’s a person that wakes up in the morning and knows exactly what she wants to create for the day and then goes and does it,” Walker said.

Not only does Aria McIntosh teach people to DJ, but she also performs at this university.

Aria McIntosh has her own radio show at WMUC — this university’s student-run radio station — and has performed at the station’s past three end-of semester-events.

Aria McIntosh performed at WMUC’s performance at last fall’s NextNOW Fest — an annual event that explores the intersection of art, technology and social justice — where she sampled songs from her “Femme Fatale” set. The set is a play on songs that hypersexualize women, she added.

Aria McIntosh has also applied her skills to teach her father, Dana McIntosh — a self-taught DJ — how to enhance his music with digital technology.

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Dana McIntosh began his DJ career in the early 2000s and sometimes performed at Nation, a now-demolished nightclub in Washington, D.C. His events drew crowds of hundreds of people, Dana McIntosh said.

Despite his more than 10-year-long DJing career, Dana McIntosh said his daughter has surpassed some of his music skills. Their common interest in music and DJing has allowed the pair to connect on a deeper level, Dana McIntosh said.

“She’s got an amazing ear for music,” Dana McIntosh said. “[DJing has] been like a co-learning experience.”