In Aaron Kierbel’s classroom, students are jumping up and down for the arts.
Tell us about your experience as a teaching artist.
I’m finding that as a teacher, I’m doing less teaching—I’m facilitating what’s already there. Kids are born and naturally have a desire to be curious, sing, move, spontaneous and creative. It’s just a natural thing.
When I ask a new class, “Who likes to sing, dance, or make music?” Every hand goes up. The kids jump up, dance, scream and start singing right away.
Why teach at the Workshop?
This is the coolest collection of [teaching] artists in the Bay Area. It’s a diverse group of people who are really open and nice. I think this place helps create that culture. I feel like artists across different mediums don’t always have the opportunity to get together, collaborate and commiserate. I just started realizing that so many cool inspiring ideas and people are under one roof.
What should our supporters know about your students?
Our students are going to inherit the world. What kind of education do we want to pass down? What kind of values do we want to teach them? A lot of these kids are living in a climate where the arts are usually way down on the totem pole.
Maybe our supporters grew up in an era where they benefited from an arts education. I would ask them to really think of the ways the arts enriched their lives. And I would ask them to think about the many kids that go to schools that are underfunded—as are their arts education programs. I think our students would benefit as much as or more than previous generations from an arts education.
What should arts education look like in our schools?
I definitely think that kids should start really young with heavy arts and music programs. It should be continued throughout their education. But as kids get older, the focus of schooling becomes more about testing and it’s all about performing for the test. I feel like the arts get left out. I’d like to see arts being taken seriously.
Catch Aaron in the classroom teaching here.
Aaron Kierbel is a drummer/percussionist. He studied jazz performance at Sonoma State and San Francisco State Universities, but his real music education came from endless hours soaking up live music in smokey jazz clubs in Los Angeles where he is from. He is currently the drummer for Rupa and the April Fishes, a dynamic world fusion group. Due to the groups's interest in global politics and current immigration issues, Aaron helped create "Catapulta," a multimedia show performed at the Brava Theater. He also regularly works as a volunteer bringing music into hospitals and juvenile detention centers.