Comments from Teaching Assistants

Amethyst Violette - BM 1992

Music Lab sparked in me an excitement for teaching young children. It was a magical experience I will never forget.


Laura Shepherd - BM 2001

My work with the Preschool Music Lab helped me get my first couple of jobs after graduation teaching music and drama to preschoolers!


Chloe Robinson Groth - BM 2008 MMT 2009

MusicPlay was a unique experience for several reasons. I'll share two!

1) In MusicPlay, we witnessed first-hand the spontaneity and unpredictable nature of preschool-aged children. As direct participants in their learning, we weren't able to just sit back and watch how the teacher would react to their playful and surprising actions or ideas. Instead, we each had to be in the moment, anticipating their learning through a thoughtfully-written lesson plan, using our pedagogical training to engage with the children, and being flexible and creative enough to enjoy that spontaneity in each class.

2) MusicPlay was a firsthand look at the way music, motion, and play can be a bonding experience for parent (or family member) and child. The excitement and energy was never limited to the preschoolers. The parents seemed to relish the opportunity to be creative and playful with their children, and I often witnessed similar emotions between the children and parents. A child would be particularly enthusiastic about an activity, but sometimes, would feel shy and need some encouragement from a parent for another. Likewise, hesitation to do something a parent deemed "silly," was often quickly diffused by the unabashed joy the parent witnessed in his or her child as he or she participated in the activity. This interaction was valuable for us as teachers, in my opinion, because learning more about the child-parent relationship certainly informs our understanding of who each child is and how they engage with others.


Ruthanne Fisher - BM 2008

My time with the MusicPlay program brought me nothing but joy.  I always looked forward to Tuesday evenings and working with those special students and their families.  It was rewarding to see the children come to life during the class and develop a love for music as well as important social skills. The songs and games that we enjoyed together are still activities that I use in my classroom today, 5 years later.  And, I am excited to say that I will lead a children's music workshop for a local music school next month, and it is all thanks to my experience with Preschool MusicPlay!


Kimiko Glynn Hammons - BM 2008

MusicPlay has been one of the most educational and inspirational experiences in my teaching career. The mindset that it has taught me has helped me educate students of all ages more effectively and efficiently, while making lasting, positive impressions of music. It has helped me to be structured yet creative and open to teachable moments from my students. Without my experience with MusicPlay, these precious moments would have been lost. I am forever grateful.


Laurel Talley - BM 2005, BME 2006

My MusicPlay experiences were inspiring and enriching. My first introduction to these classes came at a point in my education where my passion and focus were on teaching middle school and high school students. The MusicPlay classes brought me into the world of teaching young children and showed me how much musical development is possible at that age and how important it is that music education start as early as possible. Of equal significance, I learned how joyful and fun these experiences could be for students, teachers, and their families. (I will NEVER forget my first time playing Rig a Jig Jig!)  Now, as a seven-year Suzuki violin teacher, I reflect on these early experiences often as I connect with my young students and strive to provide them with a robust, challenging, and jubilant musical education. And yes, we play A Rig a Jig Jig often. ;)  


Carianne Bennett - MMT 2012

MusicPlay taught me that teaching can be both fun and educational at the same time! All of the MusicPlay students I worked with were so excited to be in class moving, creating, and singing with their friends. MusicPlay students reminded me what it was like to have fun with music again, and for that, I can never thank them enough.


Jessica Corwin - BM 2004

Assisting in MusicPlay was the first time that I fully realized that the true goal of any music class should be to experience joy through music. This important lesson is one that has carried through to my career in an instrumental music classroom. MusicPlay also opened my eyes to the musicianship that young children are capable of; the musical play of children is every bit as expressive and artistic as the most masterful sonata or symphony performance.


Meghan Meloy - BM 2011

As an assistant in Peggy Bennett's MusicPlay classes, I loved watching students grow more musically responsive through play. The joy that emanated from the kids was palpable.    


Rebecca Redman James - BM 2008

How exciting for Oberlin to do this, because it really makes it clear what a tremendous program MusicPlay has become! I still can remember the very first class I attended. Dr. Bennett had been teaching Beethoven's 5th symphony and when the children were asked who the composer was, one child said ”Rimsky-Korsakov!” MusicPlay created a safe environment where I could experiment with my teaching and receive immediate feedback from Dr. Bennett, my peers, and best of all, the children and their parents. Being a part of such a heartwarming classroom experience allowed me to develop a positive teaching philosophy that I have used ever since.


Bronwen Davies Fox - BM 2008, MMT 2009

During all my three years now of teaching music in the public schools, I strive to create a nurturing atmosphere similar to the one Dr. Bennett engenders in MusicPlay, where young people are recognized as inherently musical beings and encouraged to express and grow their musicality and personality.  During MusicPlay, teacher, parents, and students join together to observe and celebrate each child in their musical journey.  My goal is to bring this recognition to all the students in my classes, from fourth-grade general music to the high school concert choir, and teach us all how to find joy in music.


Danielle Solan - BM 2005

My experience as a teacher and observer in MusicPlay amounted to pure enlightenment, as well as a lot of fun for all involved! I believe that Peggy Bennett has the best philosophy and method for teaching music to young children. What I learned in MusicPlay has served me beautifully during my five years of teaching K-5 elementary music in public school. SongWorks is the gift that keeps on giving, especially since it is so responsive to teacher creativity and open to influence from diverse song repertoires and ideas.


Caitlin Roseum - BM 2010 MMT 2011

MusicPlay erased, in my mind and in my teaching, the imaginary line between playfulness and learning. I experienced firsthand that playful exploration of music leaves a lasting mark on everyone involved - children, parents, and teachers. Those experiences brought inspiration and clarity to my own teaching, and I continue to hold those lessons very close to my heart.


Samanta Meese Smith - MMT 2010

Acting as a Graduate Teaching Assistant for MusicPlay was one of the highlights of my time at Oberlin.  No matter how difficult of a Tuesday I had, I always knew that I would be met with the smiling faces of the children and parents at MusicPlay that evening. MusicPlay was an experience unlike any other; children were able to play and have fun, all while learning about classical, folk, and popular music in a meaningful way. Their sheer joy and intense level of engagement always left me feeling refreshed and ready for student teaching the next day. 


Brandon Henley -BM 2011, MMT 2012

Observing, teaching, and participating in MusicPlay as a music education student at Oberlin was an invaluable experience in my quest to become a successful music teacher.  Although I now teach instrumental music, I often think back to what both Dr. Bennett and the children taught us about experiencing music and learning musical concepts.  Now, doubting whether I can effectively communicate complex musical concepts to young children is no longer an option.  I KNOW where there is a will, a little bit of fun and play, and an understanding of childhood development, there is definitely a way, and that is all thanks to my experience with the children in MusicPlay.