In Memory

Helen Marie Burnette, age 77, died on April 7, 2017, in High Point.  Marie, who was the daughter of the late Herbert H. Burnette and Helen Esta Short Burnette, was born on February 9, 1940, in Draper (now Eden).  She was a graduate of Morehead High School.

A memorial service will be held on Wednesday, April 12, 2017, at 11:00 a.m. at Emerywood Baptist Church, with visitation in the Gathering Area following the service.  Rev. Dorothy Bowen Klass and Rev. Meg Lacy will officiate.  The committal service will be at 2:30 p.m. at Ridge-View Memorial Gardens in Eden, next to her parents.

Marie was a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (formerly the Woman’s College) where she earned a B.M. in Piano, a B.A. in Organ and Master of Music in Organ.  She was an independent music teacher in High Point, and taught piano and organ for more than 50 years.  Even from her childhood, she knew she wanted to be a piano teacher.  She would bring students home from Junior High to teach them piano.  She was certified by the NC Music Teachers Association and the Music Teachers National Association.

She was president of the NCMTA, the first independent music teacher to have that position.  She served as national secretary of MTNA and was the national chair of the Independent Music Teachers Forum of MTNA and secretary-treasurer of the Southern Division of MTNA.  Marie was honored in 2004 as an MTNA Foundation Fellow.  In 2008 she was selected as the NCMTA Teacher of the Year; she was the first recipient of this award.  In 2009 she was selected as the MTNA National Teacher of the Year.  Mayor Becky Smothers declared a resolution recognizing Marie for the national honor.  She is listed in several editions of Who’s Who.  Included are the International Who’s Who in Music, Who’s Who in America, and Outstanding Musicians of the 20th Century.

Marie was a founding member of the High Point Piano Teachers Assoc. in 1972.  She held every office in the organization several times.  She was honored in 1997 for her 25 years of service to HPPTA.  Marie performed the premiere performance of Robert Vandall’s “High Point Toccata”, which the group commissioned for its 25th anniversary.  Margaret Goldston dedicated a composition, “Danza de la Senorita”, to Marie in 1994.

Marie planned special “theme recitals” for her students each year.  Themes included a play about Mozart, weather, ensembles, animals, cats, food, sports and travel.  She presented programs about theme recitals to music teacher groups with a related article published in Keyboard Companion.  Articles were also published in the American Music Teacher and Music Educators Journal.

She had served as organist and/or choir director at Asheboro Street Baptist Church (now Friendly Avenue Baptist Church) in Greensboro, First Baptist Church in Kernersville, Green Street Baptist Church in High Point, and First Church of Christ Scientist in High Point.  Marie retired after 16 years as music associate/organist at Emerywood Baptist Church, where she was a member and also sang in the Sanctuary Choir.

Marie was on the boards of the High Point Community Chorus, Music for a Great Space, NC Organ Festival, the Musical Arts Guild of UNCG, secretary of the Friends of the High Point Library, vice-president of Piedmont Artists, and secretary of the Musical Art Club of High Point.  She was a member of Pi Kappa Lambda, music honorary society; Mu Phi Epsilon, international music fraternity; American Guild of Organists, Harriet Elliott Society of UNCG, NC Zoo Society, Citizens for International Understanding and the High Point Literary League.

Her interests included reading, attending concerts and travel.  She traveled to all 50 states and 47 foreign countries.  Highlights of her travel included a safari to Kenya, with a hot-air balloon ride, a choir trip to Europe, homestays in Japan and Indonesia, dog-sledding in Alaska, and riding a camel in Egypt and an elephant in Thailand.

Survivors include her aunt, Mrs. Augusta Phelps of Lynchburg, VA; and 20 cousins.  Also surviving are her namesake, Amanda Marie Benson of Cary, and her mother Myra Benson; as well as her goddaughter, Elizabeth Calvert of Salisbury, and her mother Grey Calvert Ward.  Myra and Grey were Marie’s college friends.  Other survivors include the Emerywood Birthday Club, the High Point Piano Teachers and her special friends, Dorothy O’Connor, Dorothy Bowen Klass and Diane Higgins, and her dear feline companion, Callie.  Appreciation is expressed to her caregivers, Rhonda Mock and Michele Aldrich.

Memorial contributions may be sent to UNCG, Office of University Advancement, for the Marie Burnette Piano Scholarship, PO Box 26170, Greensboro, NC 27402-6170.


Diane Blanchard, NCTM, has been elected as the
MTNA Southern Division Director-Elect for 2016-2018.

Her term will begin at the end of the MTNA National Conference on April 6, 2016. She will automatically become the Southern Division Director for the term 2018-2020. Diane would like to thank her friends and colleagues for their support during the election. She is honored to represent NCMTA and the Southern Division. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to serve at this level for an organization that has been such a huge part of her professional career and personal life.

She always says, “All my best friends are music teachers!”