FIYou: Cathy Benedict

Cathy 3.jpgBy Joel Delgado ’12 MS ’17

Name: Cathy Benedict

Hometown: I grew up in Denver and taught music in Colorado then lived and taught music in New York City for over 15 years.

Job Title/Department: Assistant Professor – Coordinator of Undergraduate Music Education (Music and Performing Arts, CARTA)

Campus: MMC

In a nutshell: I help students think with great care about what it means to educate young people in and through music. I essentially work with those FIU students who want to be music teachers after they graduate. My particular focus is music with elementary ages, but I also teach the music and special needs class, and graduate courses – including music psychology and curriculum development

Number of years at FIU: This is my third year and I love being here. I love Miami!

What do you enjoy most about your job?: I know this sounds like a typical teacher, but my engagements with the students bring me great joy! I love their willingness to think and take risks and consider how innovation and creativity can and should be part of their everyday teaching.

What do you think students and your fellow faculty/staff should know about your department?:  First, the music department at FIU is filled with unbelievably talented professors. We have major thinkers in their respective fields and we have major performers who are well known throughout the world. Second, we have a university-wide choir that meets on Monday nights that anyone can join and you don’t even have to audition – just register for MUN1380/3383. Which means there is no reason everyone shouldn’t be singing!

Where is your favorite spot on campus? Why?: Out behind the School of Music there is an area that has a picnic table and trees – it’s very quiet and shaded (which is never easy to find).

What is one thing you wish everyone knew about FIU?: This is a school intimately tied to a community unlike any anywhere else in the world.  Miami calls for particular engagements and ways of knowing that blend intellect, urban smarts, cultural awareness, care and mindfulness. FIU graduates more Miami Dade public school teachers than any other university, many of whom are first language speakers of Spanish and generationally tied to this community.  There is NO place in the world as remarkable as FIU.

How is FIU “Worlds Ahead”?:  In the music education area we are focused on helping students think beyond what they think they already know. I know that sounds odd, but in the music education area we ask students each day to think about the music programs from which they came and question whether those programs reached out and offered something musical to every student.

Family snapshot: I have a 16-year-old daughter who spends weekends riding and jumping competitively and I am married to the best and brightest and caring person! I tell students all of the time that one’s partner should first and foremost allow and desire space for intellectual growth; care and generosity abide in respect and character. We have such a relationship!

Word that best describes you: Wonderment.

First paying job: Waiting tables at a hotel restaurant. However, throughout high school I also played trombone in a Big Band that played gigs every weekend.  I look back at that now and wonder how ethical it was for the people who ran the group to be using high school students and paying us as little as we were paid, particularly when there was a musician’s union in town.

Favorite TV show: Modern Family. But of course who doesn’t love Daenerys and her dragons on Game of Thrones?!

What is playing on your iPod?: This is the worst question to ask me. I rarely listen to music because I can’t just put it on without focusing on what I am hearing. So what happens is that I don’t play music because I don’t set enough time away to just listen.

Your proudest accomplishment: Writing a paper that interrogates the concept of pride as a strategy that furthers the neoliberal agenda and my article that uses Marx as a theoretical framework to interrogate codified musical methods of teaching (and being hooded for my doctorate).

What do you do when you are not working at FIU?: Well, I seem always to be reading or writing for one project or another, but we do try to go to a dog friendly beach every weekend and we usually see at least one movie a week. I’m also a huge fan of adolescent literature, always waiting for the next John Green, Ransom Riggs or Phillip Pullman novel to come out.