A Peek Inside … Music Education Assistant Professor Robin Giebelhausen’s Office
April 13, 2022 School of Music | College of Arts and Humanities
Colorful puppets, ukuleles create inviting space for songs and learning.
By Karen Shih ’09 | Maryland Today
Robin Giebelhausen believes it’s never too early to start a child’s musical education—and that includes her own little ones in utero right now.
The assistant professor of music education is 30 weeks pregnant with twins. She is taking every opportunity to sing to her babies, whether that is around the house or in class with her students.
“I want everyone to feel that they have access to music and can play music however they want,” said Giebelhausen.
This fall, she is launching an early childhood music program in the School of Music, to allow caregivers to bring in kids from birth to 5 years old to the University of Maryland for classes.
“Little kids love to play, and through play we can create opportunities for musical growth. They are not yet shaped by the world, so there is so much room for growth,” she said.
She took Maryland Today on a tour through her whimsical office, full of kid-friendly instruments and stuffed animals, in The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center.
Giebelhausen started as a pianist and a singer, but wanted a more portable instrument for teaching. “I tried guitar but it never fit my body. I found younger students have that same problem. Somebody suggested I try ukuleles, and that same solution worked wonderfully for elementary school students.”
Her collection of ukuleles includes her first one—still her favorite today—which she dubs the “Fluke Uke” after the name of the company that created it. Its unique flat bottom means she can stand it up when she is done with it, and she likes that it is “super durable. It’s been kicked across the classroom and stays together! And it has a lovely sound, despite that.”
She also has a banjo-lele, an electric ukulele that lights up, a left-handed uke (“it is a good reminder to me about how difficult it is to switch hands and what it is to be a beginner”) and a 3D-printed uke made in collaboration with people in the Clark School. “Hopefully it will be a way in the future to get students quick access to an instrument,” she said.
Read more in Maryland Today.
Photo by Stephanie S. Cordle.