On a recent afternoon, the sound of electric bass bounced off the walls, echoing from the lofty ceiling, down the hallway and into the snack bar of the newly formed teen center at the Kirkland Music Academy.
After setting the bass down, one of the four young adults behind the center, 24-year-old musician Gavin Craig, said he’s excited to get the center off the ground.
“I definitely looked back at myself and thought this was exactly what I would have wanted,” when he was younger.
After a soft opening a few weeks ago, the center has offered musical instruments for teens to come and play from 3-4 p.m. on weekdays, and soon to offer art-focused classes afterwards until 6 p.m.
Located adjacent to the Kirkland Music Academy, the large room housing the teen center used to be a piano repair operation and showroom, 23-year-old art instructor Alaina Zboralski said.
After the business moved, the music academy took over and began setting up the teen center, where the instructors hope to foster a creative and collaborative space. They hope to offer a place for teens to learn and explore a wide range of artistic endeavors like film production, band practice and performance, musical composition and visual art. But Zboralski was quick to point out they hope to make the classes a collaborative effort, where teens create the programs as they go based on their interest, as opposed to top down, linear learning.
“I think a lot of what we’re going to be doing is very hands on,” said film instructor Kraig Bryant, 21.
The center has a large stage, which Craig hopes to eventually turn into a venue where bands or musicians who practice at the center can put on shows.
While it served as a piano warehouse, the walls were covered with art, but these were reclaimed by the artist leaving behind blank, white walls.
Zboralski said she hopes it will eventually be filled with art from teens in one form or another.
A small snack bar sits at the front of the center, and may be expanded in the future into a cafe. The instructors are also looking into providing tutoring and a computer lab for students to use.
Zboralski also hopes the center provides something more than just an artistic outlet for teens.
“I personally would really love to get some kind of group together, a safe space for them to talk about things,” she said. “I feel like this would be a place where everybody could have a place.”
The center is on a shoestring budget, relying on donations and free equipment, but Craig said they’ll be reaching out to local businesses and schools for partnerships and support in the future.
“I think that what would be important in two years is just to be serving a lot of people,” he said.
Once it is more established, they hope to offer employment, internships and volunteer opportunities for teens at the center.
“I just see it expanding and constantly changing according to what the teenagers and we are interested in,” Zboralski said. “This is a place for them.”
The center is open for students enrolled in sixth grade and higher, and costs $50 a month for full access to all programs and facilities.