2017 Award Recipients

Presented March 18–22
in Baltimore, Maryland

MTNA Achievement Award
MusicLink Foundation, Arlington, Virginia 

The MusicLink Foundation is celebrating 25 years of providing long-term musical training and opportunities to promising students in financial need across the country and into Canada. Founded by Joanne Haroutounian in 1992, MusicLink began as a program of the Virginia Music Teachers Association, linking students with teachers willing to provide low- or no-cost instruction for as long as students wish to learn. MusicLink business partners provide assistance with music, instruments and services. The 2,750 teachers and coordinators who have been part of the MusicLink Foundation over the years are proud to have reached more than 6,500 students, providing 460,000 hours of instruction, equivalent to $12 million of in-kind donation.

MTNA Teacher of the Year
Susan T. McDuffie, Macon, Georgia

The MTNA Teacher of the Year Award traditionally recognizes a teacher who has made a significant difference in the lives of students, has contributed to the advancement of music in their community and is an outstanding example of a professional music educator. The 2017 MTNA Teacher of the Year Award is Susan McDuffie. McDuffie is a graduate of Wesleyan College, where she majored in piano performance and minored in organ. Further study was at the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago. She performs as piano and organ soloist and collaborates with instrumentalists, vocalists, and other pianists including her son, world renowned violinist, Robert McDuffie, and daughter concert pianist Margery McDuffie Whatley. A former Wesleyan College faculty member, she has a private piano studio of flourishing talented piano students. Active in community affairs, she is the former President of the Macon Symphony Orchestra, the Macon Music Teachers Association, the Morning Music Club and the Macon Pharmaceutical Auxiliary. McDuffie recently received the GMTA Teacher of the Year javascript:void(0);Award and was recognized in 20176 as an MTNA Foundation Fellow. She and her husband Bill are parents of 4 children, 8 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren.

MTNA Distinguished Service Award
Benjamin D. Caton, NCTM, Johnson City, Tennessee

Benjamin D. Caton, NCTM, holds a PhD degree from Ohio State University and a pedagogy and musicianship certificate in Kodály. He is professor of music at East Tennessee State University (ETSU). In addition, he maintains a studio of pre-college students. Ben has served as president of his local Music Teachers Association for two biennia; Tennessee state MTA president; Southern Division president, president-elect, secretary and collegiate competitions chair; and a member of the MTNA Board of Directors and Foundation Board of Trustees and MTNA Secretary/Treasurer and National President. His honors include the Ohio Federation of Music Clubs Foundation for the Advancement of Music Award for Excellence, the John Phillip Sousa Award (while playing trombone in high school band) and being named an MTNA Foundation Fellow. In 2014, ETSU conferred upon him the Distinguished Faculty Award in Service. His articles have appeared in Clavier, Music Educators Journal, American Music Teacher and The Tennessee Musician.

Frances Clark Keyboard Pedagogy Award
Modules by Paul Sheftel, New York, New York

Paul Sheftel is a leader in keyboard studies and has performed, lectured and conducted workshops extensively throughout the United States. His published materials and software are widely used throughout the country. A pioneer in the creation of instructional materials using MIDI technology, he has created electronic accompaniments for an extensive collection of his original piano music. As part of the two-piano team of Rollino and Sheftel he performed throughout Europe and the United States. He has appeared in two piano and solo recitals in many of New York’s leading concert halls including Carnegie Hall, Town Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Merkin Hall and Hunter College. He has served on the faculties of the Mannes and Manhattan Schools of Music, Westminster Choir College of Rider University and Hunter College and has served as piano editor for Carl Fischer.

Distinguished Composer of the Year
David Gompper, Iowa City, Iowa
Cycles for Violoncello and Piano: Commissioned by the Iowa MTA

David Gompper has lived and worked professionally as a pianist and a composer in New York, San Diego, London, Nigeria, Michigan, Texas and Iowa. He studied at the Royal College of Music (ARCM, MMus) with Jeremy Dale Roberts, Humphrey Searle and Phyllis Sellick. After teaching in Nigeria, he received his doctorate at the University of Michigan. He is professor of composition at the University of Iowa and directs the Center for New Music. In 2002–2003, Gompper was a Fulbright Scholar at the Moscow Conservatory. In 2009 he received an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York City, and in 2013 a Fromm commission (Harvard University). The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (London) is recording five works for a forthcoming Naxos release: four concerti for clarinet, cello, double bass and a double concerto (violin and cello), as well as an orchestral work entitled Sunburst.

State Affiliate of the Year
Oklahoma Music Teachers Association
Karen J. Harrington, NCTM, president

The Oklahoma Music Teachers Association is the 2017 MTNA State Affiliate of the Year. The committee was impressed with OMTA’s membership growth and its work to upgrade and improve the organizational infrastructure in order to more efficiently serve its members and students into the future. Recent accomplishments included:

  • Membership growth of 2.24 percent
  • 23.4 percent of members are nationally certified
  • Technology used in creative ways to promote membership, certification and to provide training for competition judges

Local Association of the Year
Lincoln (Nebraska) Music Teachers Association
Svetlana Yashirin, president

The Lincoln Music Teacher Association of Nebraska has been selected as the 2017 MTNA Local Association of the Year. Celebrating their 75th anniversary, Lincoln Music Teachers Association serves as a model for how a music organization can connect many parts of a community and advocate for the arts. They provide educational and professional growth resources for their members and students throughout the year. Also, their innovation in outreach initiatives, such as the Music Outreach Program demonstrates the strength of collaboration among many organizations.

MTNA Collegiate Chapter of the Year
University of Oklahoma
Jennifer Stadler, NCTM, president
Barbara Fast, NCTM, and Jane Magrath, NCTM, advisors

The University of Oklahoma Collegiate Chapter of MTNA is the recipient of the 2017 MTNA Collegiate Chapter of the Year Award. The University of Oklahoma chapter is active on its own at the university, as well as in partnership with the local association. The members maintain a library concert series, hold a high school student essay contest, present a fall festival, sponsor guest artist presentations and spearhead fundraising events. In addition, attendance at MTNA national conferences is a priority for professional development. The chapter website is impressive and displays the students’ connection to local and national programs that support the MTNA mission.

American Music Teacher Article of the Year
Merlin Thompson, Calgary, Alberta
“Understanding And Nurturing Parents: A Studio Music Teacher's Reflections On Parental Interest And Involvement”: Published February/March 2016

The 2017 American Music Teacher Article of the Year award is presented to Merlin B. Thompson, for his article “Understanding And Nurturing Parents: A Studio Music Teacher’s Reflections On Parental Interest And Involvement” This article was published in the February/March 2016 issue of American Music Teacher magazine. Thompson is one of Canada’s leading authorities on the Suzuki Piano Method. He holds a PhD in education research from the University of Calgary, a Master’s degree in Musicology from the Université de Montréal, and Bachelor of Music Performance degree from the University of Regina. In 1986, Merlin became the first Canadian to complete the three-year teacher apprenticeship program at the Matsumoto Talent Education Institute where he studied under Shinichi Suzuki and Haruko Kataoka—co-founders of the Suzuki Piano Method. Currently, Thompson is an instructor in music pedagogy at the Schulich School of Music (McGill University) and teacher mentor in the Werklund School of Education (University of Calgary). He is an active music education scholar whose works have been published in numerous international academic journals.

MTNA e-Journal Article of the Year
William Westney, Cynthia M. Grund, James Yang, Aimee Cloutier, Jesse Latimer, Michael O’Boyle, Dan Fang and Jiancheng Hou
"The Pedagogical Value of ‘Enjoyment’ in the Classical Piano Studio—A Research Report on a Transdisciplinary Study": Published April 2016

The 2017 MTNA eJournal Article of the Year Award is presented to William Westney, Cynthia M. Grund, James Yang, Aimee Cloutier, Jesse Latimer, Michael O’Boyle, Dan Fang and Jiancheng Hou for their article “The Pedagogical Value of ‘Enjoyment’ in the Classical Piano Studio—A Research Report on a Transdisciplinary Study” The article was published in the April 2016 edition of the MTNA e-Journal.

  • William Westney is Paul Whitfield Horn Professor of Piano at Texas Tech University.
  • Cynthia M. Grund is associate professor of philosophy at the Department for the Study of Culture at the University of Southern Denmark (SDU) at Odense.
  • James Yang is associate professor, director of the Human-Centric Design Research Lab and associate chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Texas Tech University.
  • Aimee Cloutier is a PhD student with the department of mechanical engineering, Texas Tech University.
  • Jessie Latimer is a PhD student in nuclear engineering at Texas A&M University.
  • Michael W. O’Boyle is associate dean of research in the College of Human Sciences and Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Texas Tech University.
  • Dan Fang is a PhD candidate in the department of human development and family studies, Texas Tech University.
  • Jiancheng Hou is currently a post-doctoral researcher in the department of psychology, the Ohio State University.

MarySue Harris Studio Teacher Fellowship Award
Karen Lien, NCTM, San Antonio, Texas

This year’s recipient is Karen Lien. Lien is owner of the You LOVE Piano studio. Before receiving her master’s degree in piano pedagogy from Butler University and starting her teaching career, she was a software developer and instructor. In 2009, her passion for music called her to pursue a career in piano teaching. Through the support from her family, friends and mentors, including Courtney Crappell, Lien Thickstun and Kate Boyd, her lifelong dream finally became a reality. She resides in San Antonio, Texas, and enjoys teaching students of all ages. In addition to teaching, she served as pianist and choral accompanist for First Chinese Baptist Church in San Antonio and has accompanied theater productions and choirs in Texas, Ohio and Japan.

Piano Technicians Guild Foundation Scholarship
Jihong Park, NCTM, Fort Lauderdale, Florida