TCU graduate now teaching TCU students


Marla Ringel directing Cantiamo (courtesy of TCU choral student)

By Caleb Gottry, Staff Writer

After teaching for several years at the high school and middle school level, a TCU graduate returned to teach in her alma mater’s School of Music.

Marla Ringel received her bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees from TCU. After receiving her master’s degree in music education in 2010, Ringel taught in the DFW area for several years. She received the honor of being named a “Top Teacher” by Fort Worth Magazine in 2012. She received her DMA in choral conducting from TCU in 2019.

Ringel said she originally wanted to be a band director but decided to transfer to TCU for a more choral-focused music education degree. It was in high school, however, when she knew she wanted to be a music educator.

“I was a high school drum major, and I remember just loving making music and also the leadership piece of seeing strengths in people and cultivating that and creating community in among that, and so there was never really a choice,” Ringel said.

In her time at TCU, Ringel said she participated in the TMEA and ACDA festivals that choral students recently participated in again this year. Overall, she said she appreciated TCU for the quality of music she got to sing.

Before returning to TCU for her doctorate, she taught choir for six years. She said she decided to pursue a doctorate to expand her skill set and dive into the history and theory of music at a higher level.

While earning her doctorate, Ringel studied with Christopher Aspaas, the current director of choral activities at TCU. She said even then, their teaching philosophies aligned.

“Yes, I was technically a student, but at the same time, it was a really cohesive working, symbiotic relationship in terms of our strengths and what we brought to the table,” Ringel said. “I think even if you asked him about that time, I was treated like junior faculty, not like a doctoral student.”

After many years in the Texas music education system, Ringel still believes that Texas honors music education. She said she only wished more high schools would balance fun and hard work.

Marla Ringel (Courtesy of TCU College of Fine Arts)

“I think at TCU, we’re really finding that marriage,” Ringel said. “That’s what I am really excited about to be a part of here at TCU. I think people get burnt out when they forget why they love doing something, but what we see in our students is this continued drive. They just keep showing up and achieving higher and greater things because they’re also finding great satisfaction and fun while they’re doing it.”

For the past school year, Ringel has served as the visiting lecturer of music education and directed Cantiamo, the women’s choir and University Singers, the lab choir for music educators. Recently the TCU School of Music hired Ringel as the assistant professor of education and the assistant director of choral activities.

“One of my goals is to continue to champion the cause of music education,” Ringel said. “It is one of the richest professions I could possibly imagine being a part of, both in terms of the people I get to work with and in terms of the music I get to make. I cannot imagine doing something that would be more fulfilling.”