East Central Division
Gary Pedersen has been active in MTNA, beginning as a student and continuing in local, state and national capacities in Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri and Michigan, where he has served as president and received the Distinguished Service Award. Pedersen has played, presented and adjudicated throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. A professor of piano at Eastern Michigan University, Pedersen holds degrees from the Universities of Central Missouri and Iowa. “As I look back, I am humbled by the legacy of MTNA members who have generously shared their expertise for the benefit our profession. I am honored to be considered for this position,” he says.
Lynette Zelis, NCTM
Lynette Zelis, NCTM, piano instructor and current president of the Illinois State MTA, is permanently certified by the ISMTA and MTNA. As a member of the Illinois State MTA, she has served as the Achievement in Music (AIM) state repertoire chair and on numerous local chapter board positions including president and vice president. Zelis received her music degrees in piano performance and pedagogy from Hope College and Northern Illinois University. She continues to perform as a soloist and chamber group musician. “MTNA has strengthened my teaching and education for years through the great people I’ve met, their magazine and conferences!” she says.
Jacob Womack, NCTM
Jacob Womack, NCTM, is instructor of piano and collaborative pianist at Concord University and maintains an independent studio. He is president and certification chair of West Virginia MTA. Womack holds degrees in piano performance, piano pedagogy and music education. In 2009, he received the MTNA Student Achievement Recognition award. “MTNA has opened many doors for me to pursue a career in music. As a student, I participated in MTNA-sponsored competitions and festivals. MTNA provides me with a wonderful network of colleagues and numerous opportunities for my students. It would be a privilege to serve as Eastern director-elect,” he says.
Wei-Yuh Christina Xie, NCTM
Wei-Yuh Christina Xie, NCTM, is an independent piano and theory teacher, and accompanist. She hold degrees from the Manhattan School of Music and the University of Illinois. Xie has served on the New Jersey MTA board since 2004 and as NJMTA president. She is the New Jersey and Eastern Division MTNA Competitions chair, and was named an MTNA FOUNDATION Fellow in 2017. “MTNA has been an important part of my professional music life; it has provided me with the opportunity to share music teaching experiences and to learn from my colleagues, and it is an important cornerstone for music education in the community,” she says.
Jody Graves, NCTM
Jody Graves, NCTM, maintains an active performing career in the United States and abroad. Graves is also a frequent public speaker, presenter and is currently professor of piano at Eastern Washington University in Washington State. “I have appreciated the educational and artistic standards that our organization embraces since joining in 1982. I believe MTNA must play a more important role than ever as a visible body of dedicated musicians who retain and uphold the vital contributions we offer to ensure that musical arts, of all types, are a necessary component of our culture, and not simply viewed as ‘extra-curricular’ activities,” she says.
Tawna Love, NCTM
Tawna Love, NCTM, has served MTNA in various positions on the local level, including program chair, vice president and president, and on the Idaho MTA board as president. She holds a bachelor of music degree from the University of Utah, and a master of music degree from Boise State University, where she recently completed her fourth year as an adjunct professor. She celebrates her 30th year of piano teaching this fall. Love is a lifelong member of MTNA, and has been active in local associations in Utah and Idaho, including Novitá, one of MTNA’s first non-collegiate student chapters.
South Central Division
Barbara Fast, NCTM
Barbara Fast, NCTM, coordinates group piano and teaches piano pedagogy at the University of Oklahoma. Additionally, she co-founded the Group Piano/Piano Pedagogy Forum. Currently serving as past-president of OMTA, she received the 2013 OMTA Distinguished Teacher of the Year award. “MTNA has provided me life-long support for professional development. At the local, state, national and international levels, MTNA offers music teachers opportunities for ongoing inspiration, mentorship and student activities. MTNA’s continual advocacy of the arts is crucial to maintaining the language of music as an essential component of our society. It is an honor to be nominated as South-Central Division Director-elect,” she says.
Lauren Schack Clark, NCTM
Lauren Schack Clark, DMA, NCTM, teaches piano at Arkansas State University. She is a FOUNDATION Fellow, was South Central Division Competitions chair from 2014 to 2017, and is chair of the Arkansas MTNA Competitions. She been a state and local association president, and ASMTA Teacher of the Year. She has performed throughout the United States, Europe and in China. “Being active in conferences, events, and competitions has helped me and my students grow immeasurably as teachers and musicians. We love the camaraderie, commitment to excellence, and support of professionalism. I am honored to be nominated, and welcome the chance to give back,” she says.
Linda Li-Bleuel, NCTM, began her music teaching career as an independent piano teacher and is currently professor of music at Clemson University. She has held the positions of president, vice-president of Conferences, and vice-president of Competitions for South Carolina Music Teachers Association. Li-Bleuel is an active solo/collaborative pianist and adjudicator. “MTNA is essential for building music relationships and communities. With current technology, I believe in its potential to become a significant globalized resource for music teachers and students. I would relish the opportunity to serve MTNA as it looks to new horizons in the United States and internationally,” she says.
Sandy Triplett is an independent piano teacher, presenter and adjudicator. She is an advocate and group teacher for the RMM program. She served as local MTA president, state IMT chair, Wellness chair and Tennessee MTA president. Triplett received Teacher of the Year from Greater Memphis Music MTA and the Distinguished Service award from the Tennessee MTA. “I have found membership to MTNA is my best investment. The business guidelines, teacher growth opportunities, and new possibilities for my students provided by MTNA has furthered my success as an independent studio owner. I embrace this opportunity to give back to my MTNA community,” she says.
Stephen Cook holds degrees from the University of South Carolina and the University of Southern California. Formerly, he served on the faculties of the Colburn School of Performing Arts and Whittier College. Cook has served on the Executive Board of the California Association of Professional Music Teachers. He is on the faculty of the Pasadena Conservatory of Music and associate dean at the California School of the Arts. “MTNA provides a breadth of resources and information for today’s teachers. It is my hope to continue to support their endeavors while enhancing a sense of community with all states within the Southwest Division,” he says.
Natalya Thran, NCTM
Natalya Thran, NCTM, is an independent piano teacher, adjudicator and lecturer. She earned an MM degree with honors from a Conservatory in the USSR and an MA degree from UNR. Thran came to the United States after winning a competition. Thran has served as president of the Arizona State MTA and held various board positions in NNMTA, EVMTA and ASMTA. Her students have won numerous state and local competitions and have represented Arizona in the MTNA Southwest Divisions Competitions. “MTNA is the quintessential organization that serves all needs for music teachers: professional development, motivation, building friendships and providing students with competition opportunities,” she says.
West Central Division
Andrew Cooperstock is professor of piano at the University of Colorado. Active in MTNA for more than 40 years, Cooperstock has served as judge for the national competitions, and he and his students have presented frequently at national, state and local meetings. A graduate of Juilliard, Peabody and CCM, he is a Steinway artist. “MTNA is crucial to the musical and professional development of students and their teachers, and I am committed to continued service to the organization as it carries on its vital mission in the future. I would be honored to serve as your division director-elect,” he says.
Kirsten Levorson, NCTM
Kirsten Levorson, NCTM, past president of Minnesota Music Teachers Association, is an independent piano teacher and accompanist. She earned a bachelor of music degree from Saint Olaf College, majoring in piano performance. She has served MMTA in many leadership roles on finance, human resources, marketing, convention planning, adjudication and syllabus development committees since 1985. “I would be honored to represent the West Central District. I am particularly excited about MTNA’s Global Initiative, as I have spent 15 years involved in development work in Tanzania. I have a deep appreciation for the benefits, complexity, and potential of cross-cultural collaboration,” she says.