Meet TeleBear's Summer Jammers: Kira Willey
First, let’s talk about your background. How did you get your start as a musician?
I started playing classical violin at the age of five. I continued through high school, took a break in college to play sports, and then picked up a few more instruments when I got out of school: guitar, ukulele, and mandolin. And I’ve always sung in choruses and choirs.
Over the years, you’ve combined your musical talents with a love of yoga. Tell us more!
When I began teaching kids’ yoga, I brought my guitar and, as a lifelong musician, it just came naturally to me to sing my instructions instead of saying them. This led to songs such as “Dance for the Sun,” a simple and fun way to teach kids the sun salutation in yoga, and eventually turned into my first album.
What made you gravitate toward using your talents to perform for children?
After leaving a job in the corporate world (not for me!), I began teaching music to young children in a parent/child program in New York City. It was a fantastic experience; I loved the energy of the kids, and felt that exposing them to music and movement was incredibly important. I soon realized I wanted to be able to teach on my own, and not follow someone else’s curriculum. I began teaching my own kids’ yoga classes shortly after.
Your focus on children and families has paid off. You’ve received multiple Parents’ Choice Awards, and your program, Fireflies Yoga, has been featured on PBS stations nationwide. What do you attribute to your success?
I’ve been working hard at it for a long time, and I believe really strongly in the importance of music, movement, and mindfulness for kids.
You’re also heavily involved in the education community, hosting workshops and assemblies for students, teachers, parents and administrators. Talk about some of your work there.
The work in schools is probably the most important work I do. I train teachers and school staff in mindfulness and movement practices they can use to calm their kids, help them focus, and release their anxiety. There are so many constraints on the teachers that it can be a real challenge to implement, with lack of space and very little time, but these tools are very simple; even just a one-minute breathing break can be very effective. My Mindful Moments for Kids program is now being implemented daily in several schools, and more will start this fall. PBS39 FOCUS program did a wonderful piece on it, which I've shared on my homepage, and the Rockin’ Yoga school assemblies I do with my band are a blast. They’re a great, fun way to introduce yoga and mindfulness to an entire school community at once.
As a close collaborator of PBS39, how did you come to be involved in TeleBear’s Summer Jam?
After learning that Musikfest wasn’t featuring children’s music this year in the way it has in the past, Teri Haddad, SVP of Education & Production, and I brainstormed ways to provide children’s entertainment during the ‘Fest. She and her team organized the event and lined up the sponsorship, and I hired the fabulous kids’ acts that will be performing!
You’re featured in the official event promo. How much fun was that to shoot alongside our mascot, TeleBear?
TeleBear was a champ that day—it was incredibly hot and we both had to dance in the sun for take after take. But, we had a ball!
You perform Thursday, August 11 from 2-4 p.m. What can those in attendance expect from your performance that day?
Oh, we’ll have so much fun. Lots of singing and dancing, and some simple and fun Yoga Breaks in between songs. We’ll get everyone involved—our shows are super interactive. Can’t wait!
Anything else you’d like to add?
See you at the Summer Jam!