Jubilation Foundation Teaching Artist Fellow Kayia Baker

Kayia Baker

St. Louis MO
Fellowship: 2021

“My favorite word: Recalibrate.”

Kayia taught music for seven years to grades K-12, and has worked as a church pianist for 29 years. She owned her own music school for nine years where she offered instruction in piano, voice, guitar, and percussion.

Kayia was hired to start a free piano school for Pianos for People and has overseen the growth of the student body and programming, including the introduction of summer camps and development of the Ferguson campus. 

What led you to become a teaching artist?
I was a church musician. I enjoyed teaching all the choir selections, and I especially loved working with the youth choir. One day while home on long-term sick leave from my corporate job, I saw a segment on the news showing a lady teaching a group piano class to little kids. I had a euphoric epiphany, I mean I couldn’t even sleep from the excitement of knowing I’d found my calling. I’ve always loved piano and wanted to teach but didn’t have any idea how to go about it.

I quit my job and set out to open a music school. I ran it for eight years until the 2008 housing market crash. Parents cut out extras like music lessons to survive the economic downturn. I was barely able to cover my overhead after that and went out of business. I became a substitute teacher, thinking I might get certified to teach in the public school system. HATED IT! Then came along this wonderful opportunity to start a free piano school. I am the Piano School Director since September 2014 and I have loved every minute of it! 

Describe your teaching philosophy:
Meet students where they are. I aim to encourage, motivate, and nurture them to explore their musical creativity in a self-directed manner. We always start off the lesson with “What do you want to accomplish in your lesson today?” or “What would you like to play?” This empowers students to know they have a voice and a say in what they want to do in their lives. My hope is they carry this proactive thinking beyond their lessons.


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