I love working with kids.

Although I am related to James W. Blake, the lyricist of "The Sidewalks of New York (East Side, West Side)," my parents are not musicians and they found my youthful dedication to music to be strange. It turns out one's parents don't have to be particularly musical to fall deeply in love with music. For me, it was context and peers. I grew up in a neighborhood that included a rich groups of peers playing jazz, gospel, classical and hip-hop music.

I attended Wesleyan University to study with the great composer and multi-instrumentalist Anthony Braxton, whose contribution to Conference of the Birds profoundly shaped my high school sense of beauty. It remains one of my favorite albums to this day. At Wesleyan, I was exposed to ethnomusicology, Yiddish music and dance pedagogy, studying with a variety of figures, including Mark Slobin and Eiko Otake. During these years, I taught piano lessons to learners of all ages and volunteered as piano instructor at Green Street Art Center. For my senior project, I developed a concert with the incredible children's music educator David Cordes called A More Human Dwelling Place.

During my time as a graduate student, I was a Regent's Central Fellow, a repeat winner of the excellence in ethnomusicology award and a recipient of the Dean's Prize Teaching Fellowship. Since receiving my Music Ph.D. in 2017, I have taught courses focused on music genres such as folk, gospel, jazz, hip-hop, blues and rock in UC Santa Barbara's Black Studies Department, where I continue to teach. My research on blackface minstrelsy is forthcoming in Cambridge University's Press's Journal Popular Music and I am currently pursuing grant research from the Center for Black Studies Research on the legendary blues musician Robert Lockwood Jr.

Over years of developing as a music teacher in context's as diverse as Reach Heights Summer orchestra camp as flute instructor, as a volunteer jazz history instructor at Niantic Correctional Facility and as a teacher of college students as a teaching associate and then lecturer at UCSB, I have spent a considerable amount of time attending to the literature on learning to learn. I am very excited to bring this experience and expertise to the joy of working with children.

In my free time, I play Scrabble with my partner Alexandra, teach the occasional swing dance class around town and am an avid dancer, studying salsa, tap, hip-hop, balboa, west African Dance and lindy hop, whenever I can.

Ph.D. in Music from UCSB
M.A. in Music from UCSB
B.A. in Music and African-American Studies from Wesleyan University

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Sonya Barriere

As an older sister I’ve always been a part of helping raise children. So for the past 14 years I’ve kept on doing that, and am now keeping up that tradition with Kindermusik. I love playing ukulele and singing for your children in class. Outside of breaking kids and parents out of their shells through music, singing and dancing, I’m also acquiring more skills to care for families. As an avid yogi I can occasionally be seen teaching Kindermusik yoga classes, and other yoga classes around Santa Barbara. Outside of the classroom I also pursue bodywork and have just begun my journey of massage school, starting of course with pregnancy massage.

Give me a wave and a holler if you see on my biking around town, swimming in our beautiful ocean, hiking our trails, singing and teaching Kindermusik or whenever I’m at a playground hanging out with kiddos.