Our teachers create a fun, informal, social setting that spurs engagement and supports each child's musical development.
Pete Sinjin, sometimes referred to as ‘Hootenanny Pete’, has been doing this a long long time…and yet every new class feels like a brand new opportunity for laughing, singing, dancing, and playing, (with just a touch of educating…).
He has literally been engaged musically with thousands of kids, parents, friends, families, and care givers for 15 years now, with musical experience way beyond that stretching back decades.
Beyond the scope of basic music fundamentals, Pete sees a greater role in encouraging the notion of community in his classes. He emphasizes the idea that to give kids the world they deserve to inherit, it’s essential that they receive experiences of communal celebrating, laughter, love, diversity, and much singing…
In good times and bad, music is our salve, our comfort, our motivation, and our inspiration. Pete wants all the kids (and grown ups) that pass through the Hootenanny doors to know that, feel it, and take it on with them into their own lives.
In his spare time Pete loves to paint. Check him out on instagram @petesinjin.
Kira Elisa Smith
When Kira Elisa Smith isn’t too busy emailing y’all or scheming up the next big Hootenanny event, she loves to dance. She hosts Hootenanny dance parties and occasionally teaches creative movement and yoga to any and every age! Kira has a MS in Dance Therapy from Pratt and is certified in Hatha and Kundalini Yoga, but her pride and joy is in gathering people together to celebrate and trying to make the world a better place.
Hannah Kasper Levinson
Hannah grew up in Ossining, NY and received a BFA in Painting from Tyler School of Art (Philadelphia and Rome) and an MFA from the Glasgow School of Art in Scotland. Her paintings have been exhibited near and far, including with Exit Art and Saatchi in New York. She has taught her process-based art classes for children in Los Angeles and NYC and is the art teacher at Brooklyn's Hootenanny Art Annex where she leads classes for ages 15 months through 2nd grade as well as collaborative family classes. Hannah loves to visit early childhood classrooms and after school clubs as a guest artist as well as organize art playdates and parties in private homes. Hannah’s passion for children’s art lies in open-ended materials, the capability of the child, and in a collaborative, social approach. Hannah lives in South Slope with her husband and two children. See Hannah's paintings at hannahkasper.com and follow @thisgreatforest on Instagram for her art practice for kids.
Performer and educator, Anath Benais holds a bachelor's degree in Hebrew Literature and Civilization from University Paris VII. She has been teaching language (French and Spanish) as well as music at preschool and elementary levels in New York City private schools since 2010. A registered "Music Together" instructor, Ms. Benais has formally trained in music and dance in styles and countries as diverse as classical and jazz in Israel to Middle Eastern dance and Arabic music in Egypt and France. In films, on stage, and on recordings, she has performed internationally as a vocalist, songwriter, actress and dancer, including at the BlueNote and City Winery in New York City. She is the musical curator of "The Rough Guide to Bellydance" (a CD/DVD set) as well as the narrator of the documentary "Corpus Christi." Having taught classical Egyptian dance for over a decade, Anath continues to build her own portfolio of musical compositions in Brooklyn, where she resides with her husband and young son.
Kim lives in Brooklyn with her daughter and husband and loves to design, sew and bake. Before teaching at Hootenanny, she found joy and success in the fashion industry for over a decade. Kim holds a BFA in Fashion and Textile Design from Moore College of Art & Design, the only all women's art school in the US. Kim encourages her students to be free and passionate and hopes to help cultivate strong artistic voices.
Mary Knapp is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, actor, certified teacher of Music Together LLC and private instructor for voice, accordion and piano. She made her Broadway debut last year in Natasha, Pierre and The Great Comet of 1812 and performs regularly in NYC with her 4-piece cabaret soul band Toot Sweet (with Tyler!) and Colombian dance band Cumbia River Band. Mary started teaching music together 3 years ago and is very excited to now be designing her own program for children! www.maryknapp.biz
Originally from Iowa, Cassie moved to Brooklyn in 2012 in search of a supportive, creative community of educators and artists, and to share her love of music, yoga, art, and theater with students of all ages. She now works as a music, yoga, and movement specialist at preschools, daycares, and yoga studios in Brooklyn and Manhattan teaching infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, as well as prenatal and post-natal yogis. Cassie is a nurturing, energetic teacher whose classes are imaginative, musical, collaborative, and FUN! Whimsical props, puppet play, live ukulele and singing, storytelling, and a whole lot of movement are a part of every engaging class. A seasoned performer and vocal teacher, as well, Cassie received her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Performance and her Master’s Degree in Music Performance from the University of Northern Iowa. She is also a certified Yoga Teacher, Children's Yoga Instructor, Kindermusik Teacher, Prenatal and Postnatal Yoga Instructor, and GoGo Babies Movement Instructor. To find out more about Cassie and her offerings, please visit www.get-brighter.com.
Melina Gac Levin,
Melina Gac Levin is an infant and toddler developmental specialist with over a decade of experience working with families and children both in and out of the classroom. Her passion lies in supporting young children and their families to find joy and comfort in themselves, each other and their community. She is enjoying experiencing things firsthand as the mother to a an active and curious toddler.
She holds a BA in Visual Arts from Columbia University, a dual Masters in Infant, Toddler and Family Development and Early Childhood General & Special Education from Bank Street College of Education. She is certified to teach children yoga through Asana Alphabet, and infant massage through Loving Touch International. Melina has presented workshops at Bank Street’s Infancy Institute and at the NYSAIS Diversity and Equity in Curriculum Conference. She is influenced by the writings of Magda Gerber and her studies in Body Mind Centering. She is looking forward to teaching graduate students in Bank Street’s World of the Infant class next Spring.
Stephen Taylor grew up listening to Sesame Street Jamboree records in Newton, Massachusetts and played in bands at Milton Academy and Middleburg College. He has been teaching Music Together since 2002 and has taught music at Poly Prep Lower School since 2007. He now lives in Kensington and loves making music with you and your family.
Michelle is a mom of two daughters, music therapist, early childhood music educator, sing-a-long leader extraordinaire, and occasional actress. She attended NYU's Music Therapy MA program and has worked as a therapist at The Heartshare School, Extreme Kids and Crew, Heartsong, and Baby in Tune. She has taught music at Lucy Moses School, Henry Street Music Settlement, Battery Park City Conservancy's Stories and Songs Program and Our Children's Center at CUNY. Michelle plays guitar, ukelele, and banjo, and has been teaching Music Together for many years. "I love encouraging my families to sing out loud, get silly, make live music and song part of everyday. I continue to marvel at the innate musicality of every young child."
Lydia was raised in rural Pennsylvania and could always be found barefoot and adventuring. Whether she was catching frogs in the crick or battling dragons in the woods (stick sword in hand and dramatics in full effect), Lydia found joy through imaginative, expressive play. Thankfully, she didn’t have to let go of that imagination as her life led her to working with young children. After starting a teaching position in a preschool, Lydia soon realized her love for yoga and movement. She quickly found that children have a hundred languages of expression and one of the most under utilized ones is movement. This led her to pursuing her certification in both Children’s Yoga and Special Needs Yoga. Since then, Namaplay was born and Lydia created a program for children to explore yoga, movement, meditation, BIG feelings and play in an open and joyous environment. Five years later she is still chasing dragons through the woods, only this time with the back up of her little yogis. Lydia considers herself extremely fortunate to work with such incredible kiddos and privileged enough not to have grown up too much yet.
Tom Motley has been helping kids create comics for over 20 years. He also teaches cartooning to adults at the School of Visual Arts. His contribution to the kids' comic, Cartozia Tales, was awarded a silver medal from the Society of Illustrators in 2016. His adult comics appear monthly in The Brooklyn Rail. cartozia.com
Tamara is a lifelong artist and teacher and has an MFA from CCNY. She loves building and creating and has made everything from welded sculptures, animated films, quilts, drawings, and large scale installations. As a teacher she loves watching young people’s minds grow as they make art. She taught in the NYC public schools as a classroom art teacher for high school drop outs for 10 years and then for elementary school children. As a public school art teacher her student’s work took over the classroom, then the hallways, then the whole school with installations and murals. Her art curriculum ended up as part of almost every class in the school. She believes an art project is as big as one’s imagination will allow it to become. During the summer months Tamra can be found giving private and small group lessons out of her home studio.
Danni Bellando received her BFA and BA from SUNY New Paltz, where she studied Painting, Visual Arts Education and Psychology. She hopes she can create balance among these three things within her artistic and teaching practices as they continue to intertwine with each other; both inspired and fueled by play, experimentation, and connecting with others. Danni views art-making as a way to better understand each other, ourselves, and humanity in general! She is extremely inspired by the unapologetic and honest nature of kids and their creativity. When not at Hootenanny, you can find Danni teaching Art at the Children's Museum of Manhattan, creating her own artwork, or soaking up some rays in the park.