#WCW - Aeryn "Professor" Goldstein

Who are you/what do you do (not just for a living but as a creator, teacher, generally inspiring person)?

I am Aeryn Goldstein! I love to create high-energy environments through rockin’ out with my band, Professor Goldstein & the Adjuncts, and teaching music and theater. By day I've taught everything from film scores to Shakespeare in K-12 environments from DC to Baltimore. By night I've fronted party bands, ska bands, garage-punk bands... and uh.... kept the hype vibe going! I’m a big fan of hosting shows and creating accessible spaces for people to enjoy live music. I love Dungeons and Dragons, vegan cooking, and long walks (preferably not on the beach-- I'm scared of the ocean.)

What pieces of yourself do you bring to your music? What pieces of your music have become part of you?

So I have a pretty loud personality, and I think that's what resonates most through my music. I listen to a lot of music with raspy/nasally vocals and honest content (Prince Daddy & the Hyena, the Mountain Goats, Against Me, Charly Bliss, etc.) and I take a lot of inspiration from that style of delivery because I find it's the easiest way to connect with my audience, which is my whole purpose of performing.

Tell us what you love about classroom teaching and why you chose that path.

Classroom teaching is literally a job where you get to hang out with kids all day. I've always loved watching kids grow up. The infinite ways that they find solutions, ask questions, and give hilarious one-liners never gets old! The job allows you to never stop growing personally and professionally.

You teach private music lessons in addition to teaching in public schools. Tell us about your journey as a musician and educator!

(1) My love for performing music can be traced back to three distinct memories: playing Star Wars at my 5th grade band concert; reading Moscow 1941 in middle school band class; and my first time playing with a rock band, jammin’ out on “Runnin’ With The Devil” after playing drums for two weeks. I took every opportunity to play music in high school (even though I was pretty bad at it, I loved every second of it). I played in band, orchestra, pep band, a jazz combo, sang in various musicals; I started a crappy garage-punk band, I started a ska band, I was part of several makeshift groups that played at our school's pops concert. I fell in love with the DC DIY scene in college and loved playing and going to shows with my party punk band Mountain Jew (yes, I am Jewish!). I suffered a little burn out by that point because as much as I “did” music, I never really took the time to hone my craft. However, I now feel that I've found a niche that I like in the music scene, and I'm sticking with it!

(2) I am a 3rd-generation music educator in my family. My mom teaches band, my grandparents taught band and orchestra. My dad's side of the family is made up almost entirely of teachers. I've always loved kids. I was always down for baby-sitting gigs in elementary, that turned into volunteer positions and employment at the Greenbelt camps, that led to teaching at those camps. After five years of study, I got my degree in music education and have had a blast teaching in Prince George's County!

How do these two settings enable you to explore your multiple passions?

Honestly, I'm just learning how to do them better and have more fun with them, which is a lot easier in the field than in study.

How does teaching inform your musical writing and performance, and how does your performance experience influence your teaching?

Two answers! One, I love writing educational nerd-rock songs like "The Ballad of Alfred Wegener" and songs that advocate for educational reform like "Frontline." Two, I have two goals when I stand in front of a class or a crowd: To keep them engaged as possible, and to have them take away as much of a positive experience as they can.

In our open mics, you often share originals that are based on historical or scientific fact, like “The Ballad of Alfred Wegener.” What prompted you to begin writing these educational pieces?

The first class I taught in a public school was kindergarten. While planning literacy-based lessons, I started making up tunes to their story books (along with storybook sing-along classics like Chicka Chicka Boom Boom). That experience, combined with my 21-year-long obsession with dinosaurs, got me started on a children's rock opera about paleontology (which I'll admit is on the backburner for now). When I started a Patreon, I took song commissions as well as cover requests and my 6th-grade science teacher father commissioned The Ballad of Alfred Wegener. I've gotten no further nerd-rock commissions, but if you're reading this: SUBMIT SOMETHING.

How do you instill a thirst for knowledge in your students?

Keeping things authentically relatable to your students never hurts! I was giving a 6 year old his first piano lesson, and while adjusting his posture I said, "We want Velociraptor arms to play the piano, not T-rex arms." And he said, "NOW you're speaking my language." I once took up a whole biology lesson taking answers from students about what roles certain Pokemon would take up in their ecosystems, which was an entertaining way for them to apply their knowledge. I ask my private percussion students how their Dungeons and Dragons games are going. There are so many ways to make your students feel more open to a learning environment, and I'm looking forward to learning more!

What social issues do you hope to address through your art?

My social goals align with Phenomenal Womxn's as far as education goes. We arts educators play a huge part in getting youth (and especially gender-diverse youth) involved with the arts. I've commissioned students to create album artwork, used them as one of my main inspirations for songwriting, and engaged them in activities centered around community organization (which they've taken to on their own, and it makes my heart grow so much).

What personal project(s) are you most excited about right now?

We, Professor Goldstein and the Adjuncts, are playing an outdoor, socially-distanced Schoolhouse Rock cover set on Halloween! Swing by 7401 Radcliffe Dr, College Park, MD around 3PM to catch us! We've also written 3 new records to come out in 2021-22 entitled "The Sad EP," the "Ins and Outs EP," and our first full-length album, "Songs About Dinosaurs." Listen to our most recent EP, "Tetrapods," on Spotify! I'm also hosting Phenomenal Womxn’s Open Mic Monday on 11/2; tune in on the Phenomenal Womxn YouTube channel to catch it! You can also email to sign up to perform.

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