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Cailey Arensman directs Earthbeat, birthplace of her passion

Katie Hankinson
Post Independent Correspondent

HEAR THEM

Earthbeat performs at 10 a.m. Sunday at Mountain Fair.

After over 20 years as executive director of the Earthbeat Children’s Music Choir, Snowmass local KC Johnson will hand the torch to longtime Earthbeat camper and staff member, Cailey Arensman of Glenwood Springs.

Arensman, who has been a part of the Earthbeat Choir since 2000, has acted as a camper, staff member and pianist for the choir, and now will take over as director at the age of 23.

Earthbeat, a weeklong summer music camp for kids ages 4 to 12, has offered camps from New Castle to Basalt, performing goofy tunes that get stuck in your head, medleys packed with everyone’s favorite classics and originals that have been heard nationally. Campers take the week to learn songs, work on art projects, create wild hats for the “Crazy Hat Day” competition, and audition for a chance to sing a solo at the Friday night parent concert.

Arensman started out just like this, under the direction of Johnson, when she started with Earthbeat in 2000. Since then, she has come out of her shell, performed solos in front of hundreds at local festivals as an Earthbeat camper, taught middle school choir, and is currently enrolled at the musical education program at the University of Northern Colorado. With her Earthbeat background, and love for music and teaching, Johnson said there could not have been a better choice for his successor.

“I’m really excited about finding ways to help Earthbeat grow and become better in the future. I think with the support of our wonderful staff and community we can have more camps, grow as a group, in size and musically, cover more repertoire and become an even more integral part of this valley.”Cailey Arensmanthe new director of the Earthbeat Music Camp

Johnson, the executive director of Earthbeat for 21 years and guitar player for the choir, explained that Arensman will bring something to Earthbeat no one else can.

“I want the very best, and I want someone to see around the corner that I can’t see,” Johnson said of Arensman. “I want someone who has vision and heart and the experience of Earthbeat. I want someone to take it to the next level. At my age and my experience, I can’t take it to where it needs to go. Cailey has what I’m missing.”

Arensman, a Glenwood Springs High School grad, has described Earthbeat as “the place where my passion for music and teaching began.”

“Earthbeat to me is a way to bring music to kids outside of the classroom and that is so valuable to this community,” Arensman said. “It was really valuable to me when I was growing up. I wouldn’t have developed a passion for music or teaching without doing Earthbeat as a camper and working there as a teenager. It takes music out of the academic atmosphere and uses pop, rock, folk or any kind of music you can think of and translates it into a relevant and important experience.”

Arensman is excited to take her experiences to create new experiences for present and future Earthbeat campers.

“I’m really excited about finding ways to help Earthbeat grow and become better in the future,” she said. “I think with the support of our wonderful staff and community we can have more camps, grow as a group, in size and musically, cover more repertoire and become an even more integral part of this valley.”

Arielle Lyons, 19, a Basalt resident who has been involved with Earthbeat since the age of 4 and currently serves as the choir’s art director, said, Earhtbeat “gives children a chance to express their creativity through music and art, while making friends and having fun. I think Cailey will be a great new mind for Earthbeat. She is young, has experience in music and loves children. I feel confident that Cailey can take Earthbeat to the next level through creativity, and with her knowledge of Earthbeat and music.”

The story Johnson likes to tell, to explain how he knew Arensman was the right person to take over, is what he describes as “everything Earthbeat.”

“On Monday, on our first day of camp in Glenwood this year, I knew I had made the right decision because I said, ‘Cailey, you deserve to make the same amount of money I’m making. I’m so proud of you. And you know what she said to me? ‘KC. I cannot take that raise.’’ And I asked her why, and she said, ‘I need to make sure my teammates are paid first.’ And my response was, and you wonder why I picked you to replace me. In a nutshell, that story says everything. It captures her spirit. Her love of kids, her fair factor and working with her teammates. She’ll fumble, she’ll bumble, she’ll trip her way into success.”

Johnson and Arensman will work together, alongside other Earthbeat staff members, during the Carbondale music camp, July 20 through 25, before Arensman will officially take over as director next summer.


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