Our Faculty

Here at the Benson School of Music, our top-notch teaching faculty are the best in the biz!

Our instructors are passionate about music, and are committed to nurturing the talents of our students. They create a supportive and inspiring environment that encourages students to explore their creativity and excel in their musical journey. 

Our exceptional faculty is here to guide and mentor students, helping them reach their fullest potential and embrace their love for music!

Our Faculty

Jennifer Benson, M.Mus – piano and theory, Mini Maestros Group
Tabitha Payzant, M. Mus – piano and theory, Mini Maestros Group
Elizabeth Johnson, B.Mus, M.Mus (in progress) – voice, piano, Kindermusik, Songbirds Group
Erin Lee, B.Mus – voice, piano, Musical Theatre Enrichment program coordinator
Leah Peddle, B.Mus – voice, piano, guitar, flute
Melody Rodgers, B.Mus, B.Mus Ed (in progress) – voice, piano, guitar, ukelele, Kindermusik, Songbirds Group, School Choir Director
Claire Hartlen, B.Mus, M.Mus (in progress) – voice, piano, guitar, Songbirds Group
Jenna Grant B.Mus (in progress) – drums, guitar, Rock Band Leader
Chloe Clarke B.Mus (in progress) – piano, voice
Paige Sargent B.Mus (in progress)  – voice, piano

Jennifer Benson

School Owner and Director, Piano Teacher

Hi! My name is Jennifer Benson (she/her), but most people call me Jen! I am the owner and director, and piano teacher here at the Benson School of Music.

I am super passionate about creating community and instilling a love and connection to music in my students. I was the co-founder/co-artistic director of the not-for-profit organization PlayPianoNL (2016-2019), an organization dedicated to fostering the sense of community among pianists by promoting artistic collaboration. This is a dream that I am so excited to continue pursuing through the Benson School of Music!

I am so privileged to work as a collaborative pianist and vocal coach at the MUN School of Music. I also LOVE working with various community ensembles, theater productions, music studios and teachers, and adjudicating festivals. In my spare time, I love to spend time with my husband and our two kiddos, read, and go for jogs with my dog Penny (…and binge-watch Netflix… who am I kidding?)

I am also a member of the Board of Directors for the Newfoundland and Labrador Registered Music Teachers’ Association (NLRMTA) where I am proud to chair Newfoundland’s ‘Canada Music Week’ celebrations – an annual event designed to celebrate Canadian music in all of its forms.

I attended Memorial University, where I received my undergraduate degree in piano performance (2010) and Master’s degree in piano performance/pedagogy (2014).

I am so honoured to work with each member of our Artistic Team at the Benson School of Music. I know that each teacher is dedicated to fostering a love of music in every student, and I learn from them every day!

Thank you for making music with us!

Tabitha Payzant

Piano, Theory, Mini Maestros Group

Hi folks! My name is Tabitha Payzant, and I am excited to join the fantastic team of teachers at the Benson School of Music this year. I have been noodling on the piano for a while, and have collected three music degrees over the past few years. I earned an undergraduate degree in 2016 at Mount Allison University, where I studied piano with Stephen Runge and Lynn Johnson. After that, I packed my bags and moved to Newfoundland to complete two master’s degrees in Piano Performance (2018) and Piano Performance/Pedagogy (2020) at Memorial University, studying with Timothy Steeves. 

Apparently, I just can’t get enough of the ol’ piano! When I’m not playing, you might find me teaching in a number of different places, including at MUN, where I have taught Functional Keyboard since 2018. If I’m not playing or teaching piano, you can likely find me working with the Tuckamore Music Festival, where I have worked since 2017 and am currently Festival Manager. 

Music is present in almost every part of my life. But when I’m not busy with my musical projects, my favourite activity is spending time outside with my four-year-old Labrador Retriever Opus, one-year-old Husky mix Poco, and five-year-old black cat Maurice. Anyone who knows me knows I love my pets to the moon and back!

My main goal when teaching is to give everyone an outlet to express themselves. Music lessons are a fantastic way to explore creativity, self-expression, learn to play some of your favourite tunes, and, of course, have fun!

Elizabeth Johnson

Voice, Piano, Kindermusik, Songbirds Group.

Hello! My name is Elizabeth Johnson, and I teach voice and piano here at Benson School of Music. I am currently a Masters of Performance & Pedagogy student at Memorial University studying voice under the direction of Dr. Caroline Schiller, and have recently graduated from my undergraduate degree at MUN, studying with Dr. Jane Leibel.

Singing and playing the piano has always been an important part of my life, whether I was performing for my family, in the Kiwanis Music Festival, or in community choirs. I am a Shallaway Alumni, and was involved in their apprentice program where I helped younger choristers in their singing and performing, led warm-ups, and taught them songs!

Currently, I am a member of Lady Cove women’s choir where we just got back from Italy, competing in an international competition! A fun fact about me is that I am a second degree black belt in TaeKwon-Do, and was previously the head instructor of the Little Dragons program, where I taught 4-7 year olds self defense, self control, and self confidence. Teaching has quickly become a passion of mine, and I look forward to walking into the studio every day.

My main mission as a teacher is to bring joy to my students and have them leave with a smile on their face, eager to come back the next week. I hope to foster a love for music within all of my students. I look forward to meeting and getting to know you!

Erin Lee

Voice, Piano Teacher, and Musical Theatre Program Leader

Hey there, my name is Erin Lee (she/her)! I was born and raised in St. John’s, NL, and have been immersed in the local music and theatre for as long as I can remember. I am trained in voice and piano and followed Canadian standard exam curriculums for both disciplines while growing up. I love teaching these instruments at the Benson School of Music. Over the years, I have tried to take advantage of every musical opportunity that has come my way: choirs, music festivals, summer camps, and workshops, you name it and I was probably there!

I am currently completing my final year of a double major in Music & Business Administration at Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador. Within my Bachelor of Music program, I have pursued a major in vocal performance under the direction of Dr. Leibel and was awarded The Dorothy and David Peters Scholarship in Music (2020) – awarded to the best student at the MUN School of Music who displays the aptitude, ability, and passion for concert performance. My love for music and performance really took flight when I started performing in local musical theatre productions. Some of my favorite credits include Glinda (The Wizard of Oz, HHM Productions), Silly Girl (Beauty and the Beast, Rennie’s River Productions), & The Fairy Godmother (La Cinderella!, Memorial University Opera Workshop).

I should mention that I’m involved in the community in more ways than just musically! I am a co-founder of the local Fridays For Future St. John’s Environmental group which advocates for climate justice through public demonstrations. I have served on the MUN Student Union, and I have served as treasurer, secretary, and most recently as co-president of the MUN Music Society.

Music has the potential to ignite a great sense of joy and accomplishment within ourselves. I believe it provides a beautiful outlet for fostering community while also developing indispensable skills. I would love to provide you with the tools to CREATE and LOVE music-making!

Leah Peddle

Voice, Guitar, Piano, and Flute

Hello! My name is Leah Peddle and I teach voice, piano, and guitar here at the Benson School of Music. I am currently studying Music Education at Memorial University. I graduated from the Bachelor of Music Comprehensive (Hons) program at Memorial University’s School of Music. I had the privilege to work with and learn from two fabulous musicians, Shelley Neville and Jennifer Benson during this program.

During high school, I ran my own private music teaching business teaching voice, piano, guitar, and flute out of a studio that my Dad built in my hometown, Lethbridge NL. During this time, I was a recipient of numerous awards in the Clarenville Rotary Kiwanis Music Festival including the Junior Rose Bowl in 2016 as well as the Adjudicator’s Award in both 2016 and 2017, and the Dr. Harold J Crew award for best performance in classical guitar in 2012 and consecutively from 2014 – 2019. Following this, I successfully auditioned for Memorial’s School of Music in flute and voice. Upon a successful audition I was awarded the Dr. Leslie Harris Memorial University Alumni Association Scholarship, one of Memorial’s top renewable entrance scholarships based on academic merit and proven leadership.
I was a chorister in the Atlantic Girls Choir where we competed in the Svátky Písní Olomouc 47th International Choral Competition in Prague in 2019, winning first place in our division! I was eventually a choral scholar with this group, leading vocal warmups and collaborative music activities with the younger singers.

In my spare time I love to travel, exercise, clean my house (I am a neat freak!), and spend time with family and friends. More specifically, my bond with my younger sister Kate who has autism has inspired my teaching goals. Through volunteering with the local Autism Society and Special Olympics with Kate, it has allowed me to recognize my passion for working with this community and has substantially influenced my employment endeavors. By combining my expertise and knowledge of working with neurodiverse students, I have successfully taught music to students who experience unique learning challenges. I have written multiple papers on the methods that I have personally learned in how to uniquely educate such individuals in music studies and have conducted extensive research in music therapy and special education.

Melody Rodgers

Voice, Piano, Guitar, Ukelele, Kindermusik, Songbirds group, School Choir Director

Hi there! My name is Melody Rodgers and I teach voice, guitar, and piano at Benson School of Music. I am currently working to complete my Bachelor of Music Education degree at Memorial University, and have recently graduated from the Bachelor of Music degree with a focus in voice, under the direction of Prof. Shelley Neville. 

I have been involved in music for my entire life through private guitar, piano, voice, drums, and clarinet lessons, involvement in choirs, school and community bands, and even dance classes! 

A fun fact about me is that I have the DELF B2 diploma and am fluent in French! 

I have 3 years of experience teaching music to students of all ages in one-on-one and group lesson settings and am always eager to meet new students and share my love of music! 

As a teacher and musician, I believe that music is for everyone! Experiencing the joy of music should be accessible to anyone, so my goal in all lessons is to tend to individual students’ needs and interests to nurture their growth as musicians and encourage a lifelong love of music. I hope to meet you and make music together!

Claire Hartlen

Voice, Piano, and Guitar

Hello! My name is Claire Hartlen, and I teach voice, piano, and guitar here at Benson School of Music. I am originally from Truro, Nova Scotia, but moved to Newfoundland in 2019 to study music here at MUN. I just completed my Bachelor of Music as a comprehensive major studying voice, and I am currently working on my Masters in Voice Performance & Pedagogy under the direction of Dr. Caroline Schiller.

Music has been a huge part of my life since before I can even remember. I come from a family of musicians and teachers which has fostered my love for both teaching and performing all kinds of music. I was a member of the Nova Scotia Youth Choir in 2018 and various other choirs before moving to Newfoundland and starting as a choral scholar at Cochrane Street United Church. In 2022 I performed with the Halifax Summer Opera Festival as Sidonie in Gluck’s Armide and I was most recently involved in MUN’s Opera Roadshow where I got to perform as Clorinda (an ugly stepsister) with Miss Erin and Miss Elizabeth while we toured Cinderella en route

A fun fact about me is that I used to be a competitive curler! I was an NL U21 Provincial Champion and an NS U18 Mixed Double Provincial Champion. I also used to teach at our Little Rocks program in Truro where I got to work with kids ages 8-12 and teach them how to curl!  

My main goal as a teacher is to create a safe space where students can grow and express themselves while fostering their love of music. Our lessons will be filled with laughter, so much fun, and lots of learning!

Jenna Grant

Drums, Guitar, and Rock Band Program Leader

Hi! My name is Jenna Grant, and I teach electric guitar and drum set at the Benson School of Music. I’m currently in the third year of my undergraduate degree at MUN Music, studying Percussion under the direction of Rob Power!

The guitar and drums have always been an important part of my life, whether through playing in school, the CALOS Youth Orchestra and Rotary Jazz Band, or even with my family! (especially jam sessions with my dad!) During the school year, I play in many MUN-based groups, like the Wind Ensemble and the percussion ensemble “Scruncheons.”

Recently, I held an Orchestral Chair position with the NSO, where I performed in many shows throughout the season and learned so much about orchestral playing.

Outside of school and work, I love to spend time with my family and our two budgie birds (Paco and Jojo), go for runs around my neighbourhood, and make music with my friends.

A fun fact about me is that I also worked as a camp counsellor with the City of Mount Pearl’s Summer Camp! I have worked with 5-12 year olds running various active games, talent shows, and other group activities. After one summer, I quickly realized that I wanted to teach, which is why I’m super excited to begin at the Benson School of Music this September!

My main mission as a teacher is to create a space that allows for creativity and freedom for students to explore their sound. I developed a love and passion for music at a young age, and I hope to pass on that passion to all of my students. I can’t wait to get to know you!

 

Chloe Clarke

Piano and Voice

Hello! My name is Chloe Clarke, and I teach piano, voice, and guitar lessons here at the Benson School of Music. I am currently a first year Bachelor of Music student at Memorial University studying piano.

I was first introduced to the wonderful world of music when I was 2 – I began in Kindermusik, and soon began taking piano, voice, and guitar private lessons! I’ve also taken part in countless community events and competitions like the Kiwanis Music Festival, the Rotary Music Festival, as well as various events with PlayPianoNL (PianoFest, PianoCamp, and the Grand Gala in 2018, which was an AMAZING experience. A bunch of people playing 10 grand pianos in one room!!!!)

I’ve always had a love and passion for music, making it a part of my everyday life. I am forever passionate about music education, and being able to share my love for music onto the next generation of children is something I am so excited about! Helping other children find love and happiness within their lessons is the most important aspect of teaching for me. I can’t wait to meet my students and help them meet their musical goals!

Paige Sargent

Voice, Piano, and Guitar

Hello everyone! My name is Paige Sargent and I’m excited to be teaching voice and piano at the Jennifer Benson Music Studio. I am currently working towards my Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance at Memorial University, studying under the wonderful Dr. Caroline Schiller. 

While I’ve been singing and playing the piano for over a decade, I grew up enjoying many instruments in concert band like euphonium, trumpet, saxophone, violin and more! I’ve also always been a huge choir kid and deep down, I’m a musical theater nerd at heart!

I’ve taught music lessons for many years with local youth, always with the main goal to help cultivate a love for music and making music a joyful activity!  It’s my belief as a music teacher that it is my responsibility to create an environment where everyone feels comfortable to be the best they can be, and work towards their own individual goals! 

I’m so excited to meet everyone and have fun making music with students!