2012 Teacher of the Year - Diane Higgins


  • Salem College, Bachelor of Music Degree in Piano Performance
  • Studied Piano under Dean Clemmons Sandresky
  • Studied Composition/Theory for 4 years under composer Margaret Vardell Sandresky
  • Studied Piano Pedagogy under Margaret Mueller
  • Received a scholarship to play violin with the Winston-Salem Symphony (4 years)



  • MTNA Permanent National Certification
  • Charlotte Piano Teachers Forum Monthly Programs (numerous)
  • UNCG-Focus on Piano Literature Seminars/Recitals (attended all except the first Focus)
  • NCMTA State Conferences (26)
  • NCMTA Piano Workshops (numerous)
  • MTNA National Conferences (14)
  • MTNA National Leadership Summits, Cincinnati, OH (9)
  • National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy, Chicago, IL (2007)
  • American Liszt Society Festival Symposium, Athens, GA (2011)
  • Nelita True Master Class Workshop, Raleigh, NC  (2011)


MUSIC ASSOCIATIONS (Membership & Positions Served)


  • Charlotte Piano Teachers Forum (President: 1997-1999)
  • Charlotte Music Club (Past Board Member)
  • Charlotte Music Teachers Association (Board Member, Charter Member)
  • Charlotte Federation Festival, sponsored by NC Federation of Music Clubs (Past Chair)
  • Friends of Music at Queens University, Charlotte, NC (Past President)
  • Friends of Music at Salem College, Winston-Salem, NC (Board Member)


  • NCMTA (President: 1999-2001)

President Elect-Conference Chair

VP MTNA Foundation

Treasurer (4 years)

Piano Teachers Chair

Piano Contest-Festival Director

Scholarship Foundation Chair

Junior Auditions Chair

  • NC Federation Junior Music Clubs

MTNA Southern Division

  • President (2004-2006)
  • Director (2006-2008)


  • MTNA National Board of Directors (2006-2008)
  • MTNA National Local Association Forum (Chair: 2006-2008)
  • Guild, sponsored by the American College of Musicians


  • MTNA National Foundation Fellow Award (2007)
  • UNCG Summer Music Camp Hall of Fame (2012)
  • Listed with Who’s Who in American Women, Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in the World, and Outstanding Musicians of the 20th Century


  • Independent piano teacher for over 35 years
  • Independent composition teacher for over 15 years
  • UNCG Summer Music Camp Piano Instructor for 18 years
  • Judged piano and violin competitions for 30 years in North and South Carolina
  • Charlotte Symphony Orchestra (former violin member)
  • Winston-Salem Symphony Orchestra (former violin member)
  • Charlotte Civic Orchestra (former violin member)
  • Organized the Annual Messiah Orchestra, sponsored by the Charlotte Music Club (for 12      years)
  • Boy Scouts of America Certified Counselor for the Music Merit Badge
  • For 2 collegiate summers, I received a scholarship to play violin in a collegiate orchestra under the baton of Andre Previn, principle conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra.



  • Performed violin with Charlotte’s Annual Messiah Orchestra for over 45 years
  • Performed piano accompaniments with the Charlotte Civic Orchestra concerts
  • Performed piano as an accompanist in numerous recitals
  • Performed piano, violin and hand bells in multiple church services
  • Performed piano, violin and hand bells in various church retreat services in Montreat, NC
  • Performed piano and violin in school programs
  • Performed piano in over 30 Charlotte Symphony ASID Home Tours
  • Performed piano in over 20 Fourth Ward Christmas Home Tours
  • Performed piano in over 15 Holiday House Christmas Home Tours
  • Performed piano and violin in private parties



National MTNA Conference

            New York City (2012)

State MTA Conferences

            North Carolina MTA 50th State Conference (2009)

            South Carolina MTA 50th State Conference (2010)

Colleges and Universities

            UNC-Greensboro Pedagogy Students (2012, 2010, 2009) (Dr. Paul Stewart)

            Salem College Pedagogy Students (2010) (Barbara Lister-Sink)

            Winthrop University Pedagogy Students (2010, 2009) (Dr. Matthew Manwarren)

            Elon University Pedagogy Students (2010) (Dr. Victoria Fischer)

            UNC-Charlotte Pedagogy Students (2011) (Dr. Dylan Savage)

            University of Georgia MTNA Student Chapter, Pedagogy Students (2012) (Dr. Peter Jutras)

Local Music Teachers Associations in North and South Carolina

            High Point Piano Teachers Association (2010)

            Raleigh Piano Teachers Association (2010)

            Greensboro Music Teachers Association (2010)

            Chapel Hill Music Teachers Association (2010)

            Durham Music Teachers Association (2011)

            Dutch Fork Music Teachers Association (2011)

            Columbia Music Teachers Association (2012)

            Greenville Music Teachers Association (2012)

            Winston-Salem Music Teachers Association (2012)

Composition Workshops for Teacher’s Studios and Music Schools

            Music Academy South (Raleigh) (2011) Jeannine Skinner, Owner

            Perkins-Brooks Piano Studio (Charlotte) (2011) Alisha Perkins Brooks, Teacher



Charlotte MTA

  • Music Career Fair:  Created and directed this annual Music Career Fair, which was open to colleges and universities (on the East Coast) from New England Conservatory to Florida State University to come to Charlotte and display their collegiate booths.  CMTA hosted the daylong event at the First Union Atrium (uptown) for several years.  A panel (of 6-12 people, including Jean Barr, Joel Harrison, David Tang, with WDAV radio celebrity, Mike McKay as the emcee) was secured each year to speak on careers in music.


Charlotte MTA and Charlotte Civic Orchestra
  • Charlotte MTA/Charlotte Civic Orchestra Concerto Competition:  Combined these two organizations to create a concerto event, which provided local students a venue to perform a concerto with an orchestra.  CMTA held the auditions, and the CCO provided the annual concerto concerts, featuring up to 6 winners in the following categories: piano, strings, woodwinds, brass, percussion, and voice.


Charlotte Piano Teachers Forum

  • CPTF Concerto Auditions:  Created and established this competition, which offers scholarships to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners in Elementary, Junior and Senior Divisions.
  • CPTF Website:  Worked with the website developer to launch the website.
  • CPTF Website Domain Name:  Secured the website domain name: www.charlottepiano.org
  • CPTF Logo:  Created the Treble Clef/Staff logo for the organization.


Charlotte Music Club

  • CMC Annual Messiah Concert:  Performed in the violin section and also secured the orchestral personnel for this annual event.



  • NCMTA Piano Section Banquet Guest Speaker (2010)
  • NCMTA Website:  Established the NCMTA website with a website coordinator, and secured the domain name of www.ncmta.org
  • NCMTA State Logo: The NCMTA board approved my music staff design for the state logo.
  • Nominated four North Carolina Teachers for the MTNA Foundation Fellow Award. (Sent out letters, collected over $1,000 per nominee, submitted data to the MTNA National Office.)
    • 2003: Paul Stewart, NCTM (MTNA National President)
    • 2004: Marie Burnette, NCTM (NCMTA Past President)
    • 2005: Vivian Dula, NCTM (NCMTA Past President)
    • 2012: Diane Blanchard, NCTM (NCMTA President
  • NCMTA Planning Senate:  During my presidency, I established the NCMTA Planning Senate with NCMTA Immediate Past-President, Barbara Furr, NCTM.
  • NCMTA Young Composers Competition (formerly, NCMTA State Composition Competition):  In response to escalating composition fees, this state composition competition was established with       affordable contest entry fees.
  • NCMTA Conference Sessions: 
    • Presented my Composition Session at the 50th NCMTA Conference at UNCG.
    • Served on two Panel Sessions at State Conferences


MTNA Southern Division

  • MTNA SD Competition Registration: Converted the competition registration to email.


  • MTNA Student Artwork National Competition:  This national online competition was established to give students another venue for musical creativity.  Winners were announced at the MTNA Conference.
  • MTNA Music Achievement Award Program:  The words “community involvement” were added to this program, in order to promote student activity within the community.
  • MTNA Competitions:  I submitted the category name changes for the MTNA National Competitions: from “Jr. High, Sr. High and Collegiate” to “Junior, Senior and Young Artist”.
  • MTNA Constitution Change:  I made the motion at the MTNA National Conference to change the SPAC and DPAC “presiding leader title” from the MTNA President to a person elected within the body of the group.  Motion was approved.
  • MTNA Local Associations Forum Chair:  Served as National Forum Chair for two years.
  • American Music Teacher Magazine:  Four book reviews were written for the AMT.  While serving as Southern Division President and Director, six articles (per year) featuring activities from MTNA Southern Division were written.


PIANO  STUDIO (General Overview)

  • Active      Teaching Studio for 40 years
  • Student      Ages:  4-18
  • Apprentice Student Teachers: Graduating Seniors and advanced high school students are given the      opportunity to become Apprentice Student Teachers.  Each Apprentice Teacher is assigned a beginner      piano student.  The Apprentice Teacher receives weekly guidance from me with regards to piano literature,      technique, student performance opportunities, and billing.  Apprentice Teachers have taught      students during the following years: 2012, 2011, 2010, 2008, 2007, 2003, 2002, 1999, 1997, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1995, 1994, and 1993.
  • Graduating Senior Recitals:  Each Graduating Senior is given the opportunity to plan their own Graduating Senior Recital.  Under my guidance, the student is responsible for securing the venue, setting the date/time for both the performance and dress rehearsal, selecting the repertoire, printing the program, sending invitations, and planning a reception.  Graduating Senior Recitals were performed in the following years: 2012, 2011, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2003, 2002, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1995, 1993, and 1992.
  • Studio Master Classes:  A Studio Master Class with Guest Clinicians is offered to older students who are preparing for area competitions.  CD Recordings of these Master Classes are available for each student.

  • Summer  Composition Camps
    • Week-long composition camps are available to Charlotte area students during the summer
    • The  Composition Lab is equipped with 5 computers and flat screen monitors
    • Each camp will hold up to 6 composition students (available to ages 5-18)
  • Community Service:  Piano students are encouraged to perform often within the community.  Younger students play for residents at assisted living facilities for Halloween, Christmas and Valentine’s Day.  Older students perform for one hour each at home tours, area hospitals, and nursing homes. 
  • Competitions:  Students may also choose to participate in area musical competitions.  For performance preparation, piano lessons may overlap 5 minutes so that students can perform for each other. A recording is made of the performance so that each student can critique himself or herself.
  • Student Recitals:  Two annual piano recitals (with solo and duet/duo performances) are held in May.
  • Studio Websitewww.higginspianostudio.com
  • Studio Newsletters:  Newsletters are distributed in the fall and spring.
  • Students with Music Careers:  The studio has had numerous students who have made a career in music, in teaching, performing, conducting, or music therapy.  Several students have received scholarships to study music at a university.  One former student has achieved National Certification with MTNA. 
  • Auditing Teachers and Student Teachers:
    • Students from UNC-Charlotte (Pedagogy Classes) have earned credit by auditing my piano studio.
    • For several years, area teachers have audited my summer composition camps.


COMPOSITION (Student Honors)

  • National Piano Explorer Magazine (sponsored by Clavier Companion Magazine)
  • Winning student compositions were published in this national magazine in the following years: 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008.
  • International Piano Composition Contest, sponsored by American College of Musicians (Guild)  Composition students who were listed as First Prize Winners are included with the following years: 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007 and 2005.

  • NC Federation of Music Clubs Junior Composers State Contest

         Composition students received First, Second and/or Third Prizes in the following years:  2012, 2011,   

         2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006 and 2005.

  • NCMTA Young Composers Competition (formerly, NCMTA State Composition Contest)

         Composition students were declared state winners in 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008.

  • Parent/Teacher/Association (PTA) Reflections Composition Contest

        Composition students received Local, State, Regional and/or National recognition in the following

        years:  2012, 2011, 2010, and 2008.



  • UNCG Focus on Piano Literature Student Recitals

            Students were invited to perform in recitals for the following years: 2012, 2010, 2008, and 2006.

  • Charlotte Music Club Auditions

            Winning students received First Prizes in 2009 and 2007.

  • Charlotte Piano Teachers Forum Auditions

            Student winners and finalists were listed in the following years:  2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007,

            2006, 2005, and 2004.

  • NCMTA State Conference Master Classes

            Two students were invited to perform for the Master Class with Robert Vandall (2011)

            One student was invited to perform for  the Master Class with Dr. James Giles (2010)

  • NCMTA State Conference Recitals

            Students performed in State Recitals during the following years:  2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007,

            2006, and 2005.

  • NC Federation of Music Clubs Festival

            Two students received 12 Consecutive Superiors.


  • National Music Week Essay Contest (sponsored by the National Federation of      Music Clubs)

National Winners received First Prizes and cash awards in the following years:  2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008.  The winning student essays were published in both the national and state magazines. 

  • Music Theory AP Exams 
Many students have earned either a 5 or 4 on the AP Music Theory Exams.  Several students did not have the Music Theory AP course available in their high school, so they chose to study this course in my studio.  The exam was ordered and taken through their school.