MTNA Foundation

MTNA Foundation Fellows

This national award is bestowed upon outstanding individuals who have made a significant difference in the music world for their distinguished service to the music teaching profession.  Donations made on the honoree’s behalf by his/her peers will assist in bringing music study and appreciation to students, music teachers and communities nationwide.


“When you make a contribution to the MTNA Foundation Fund, you are helping us work for a more musical tomorrow through programs that nurture the creation, performance, study and teaching of music. Young students are recognized for their pursuit of excellence in performance and composition through the MTNA Student Competitions. MTNA supports the creation of new music through its Composer Commissioning program. MTNA state-affiliated associations commission a work that is entered into the Distinguished Composer of the Year competition. The winning composition is premiered at the MTNA National Conference.”


“The Music Teachers National Association Foundation Fellow program offers a meaningful method for honoring deserving individuals while supporting the efforts of the MTNA Foundation Fund through a donation to the Foundation Fund in an individual’s name.”

                                Our Foundation Fellows from North Carolina
                     2019 Kerry Carlin, NCTM
Kerry Carlin, NCTM, is professor emeritus at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, where he taught for 34 years. He is dedicated to North Carolina MTA, having held nearly every position including president. During his years of teaching college piano, group piano and piano pedagogy, he developed the technical skills and enhanced the musical knowledge of more than 3,000 students. Recognized as 2018 NCMTA Teacher of the Year, a former student’s letter of nomination stated, “Dr. Carlin was effortlessly able to see my needs and meet them precisely, see my weaknesses and address them gently, and see my strengths and expand them beautifully.”
                   2019 Margaret Goldston
The late Margaret Goldston, a dedicated teacher and composer, conducted teacher workshops throughout North America. She studied composition with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Robert Ward. Margaret graduated from Louisiana State University and was honored as LSU’s School of Music Alumnus of the Year in 1991. A former Composition/Theory chair for the North Carolina Music Teachers Association, she was commissioned by Clavier magazine in 1990. Margaret was named the Composer of the Year in 1983 and 1994 by the North Carolina Federation of Music Clubs. Her compositions are published by Alfred Music and Galaxy Music and are still widely used today.
                                                                         2015 Dr. Thomas Swenson, NCTM
Dr. Thomas Swenson, NCTM, President of NCMTA, has also held offices as President-Elect, Vice President of Membership, and Piano Section Chair. He received the Bachelor of Music Degree from Minnesota State University, Masters of Music Degree from UNCG both in Piano Performance, and his Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma in Piano Pedagogy.


Thomas currently chairs the Piano Department and serves as Director of the Music Academy of North Carolina (MANC), working with pre-college and adult students. He also serves as adjunct instructor at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. He formerly taught at Salem College (where he was Director of the Center of Musical Excellence), the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, the University of Oklahoma, and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.


Thomas has presented sessions at the MTNA National Conference, Music Educators National Conference, the World Music Symposium, and at numerous state and local conferences, and workshops. Several of Thomas’ articles and reports have been published in Clavier Companion and the online Piano Pedagogy Forum.


Since 1997, Thomas has served as piano instructor at the UNCG Summer Music Camp. In recent years, Thomas has also taught a Recreational Music Making course to adults traveling throughout the world, as part of the Creative Learning Institute for Crystal Cruise Lines. Thomas also enjoys tennis and music technology.

2012 Diane Houghton Blanchard, NCTM

Diane Houghton Blanchard, NCTM, an independent music teacher, maintains a private studio in Morehead City, North Carolina. She received her Bachelor of Music degree (Summa cum laude) from Meredith College, where she was a student of James Clyburn. She also studied music at Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ. With an interest in educational development, Diane completed two years of coursework in Elementary Education at Francis Marion College as well as completing training from Kindermusik International.

As an active member of NCMTA, Diane is currently serving as State President.  She has also served as Certification Chair, Treasurer, and President-Elect.  Diane has served as the District Festival Chairman of the NC Federation of Music Clubs.  Her past positions in Raleigh Piano Teachers Association include President, Treasurer, and Secretary. Diane holds professional certification from MTNA. She has been an adjudicator for numerous organizations.

Diane was raised in eastern North Carolina where she studied piano with Marjorie McKinnon, a member in the 1940s and 50s of Phil Spitalny’s All-Girl Orchestra in New York. Diane grew up playing in the NCMTA Piano Contests, the Federation Festivals, the Federation Royalty Competitions, and the Guild.
2007 Diane Higgins, NCTM

Diane Higgins was honored as a MTNA Foundation Fellow at the MTNA Foundation Gala in Toronto, Canada in March 27, 2007.  She is an independent piano and composition instructor, who has maintained a music studio in the Charlotte area for over 30 years.  She earned her Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance at Salem College, where she studied with Clemmons Sandresky.   Diane’s composition students have won first place prizes in local, state, regional, national and international competitions, and several of these compositions have been published in the National Piano Explorer Magazine, sponsored by Clavier Companion Magazine.


She has served on the Board of Directors of MTNA, as both Director and President of MTNA Southern Division, and as National Chair of the MTNA Local Associations Forum.  Her articles and book reviews are published in the American Music Teacher.  Diane’s NCMTA responsibilities include serving as President, President-Elect (Conference Chair), Vice-President (MTNA Foundation), Treasurer (two terms), Piano Contest Director, Piano Teachers Chair, NC Scholarship Fund Chair, Junior Competitions Coordinator, and fall Piano Workshops Chair. 


Diane is also past President of the Charlotte Piano Teachers Forum and the Friends of Music at Queens University of Charlotte. She has served as a board member with the Charlotte Music Club and the Friends of Music at Salem College.  She is a charter member of the Charlotte Music Teachers Association, member of the National Guild of Pianists, served as district chairman of the North Carolina Federation of Music Clubs Festival, and was founder/director of the Charlotte Music Career Fair. 


For 14 years, Diane has served as a UNCG Piano Camp faculty member.  She holds national permanent certification from MTNA, and has adjudicated piano and violin competitions in both North and South Carolina. 

2005 Vivian Dula, NCTM

Vivian Miller Dula is a college piano instructor and Director of the Preparatory and Adult Music Program at Elon University, North Carolina.  She also teaches private and class piano lessons in her home studio in Burlington, NC.  A graduate of UNC-Greensboro, she received the Bachelor of Music degree in piano as a student of Alleine Minor.  She continued private piano study with Inga Borgstrom Morgan.


On the national level, Vivian has appeared on three MTNA Conference Programs in Houston, Louisville, and Milwaukee. 


She has served MTNA Southern Division, as Vice-president, Secretary-Treasurer, and Adjudicator Chair for the division competitions.


On the state level, Vivian served as State President of North Carolina MTA.  She has also served as State Piano Clinician and has been a Staff Piano Instructor at the UNCG Summer Music Camp.


On the local level, Vivian has a large teaching studio and she has served 3 years as Secretary for the UNC-G Musical Arts Guild,


Vivian holds national and state Piano Certification from MTNA and NCMTA.  As a frequent adjudicator throughout North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, she has judged Junior, Senior and Young Artist MTNA Competitions at NCMTA State Conferences, and she has judged Piano Certification for Virginia MTA.  She has had articles published in Keyboard Companion magazines in 1990, 1995, and 1998.
2004 Marie Burnette, NCTM

Marie Burnette was honored at the Music Teachers National Association conference in Kansas City, MO as an MTNA Foundation Fellow.  She was recognized at the Foundation Gala on March 29, 2004.


Marie is a native of Eden, North Carolina.  She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Organ, and a Master of Music in Organ.


Marie is an independent music teacher in High Point, NC.  She has taught piano and organ for over 40 years.  She is certified by the NC Music Teachers Association and the Music Teachers National Association. 


Marie was the first independent music teacher to serve as president of NCMTA.  She also served as state secretary, historian, IMTF chairman and district certification chairman.  Recently, Marie was on the committee to select the 2004 NCMTA Piano Contest Repertoire.


She has served as national secretary of Music Teachers National Association.  She was the national representative to the Virginia, South Carolina, Alabama and Nebraska state conventions and the South Central Division meeting held in Arkansas.  On the national level, she has served on the constitution, code of ethics and nominating committees.


She has served as the National Chairman of the Independent Music Teachers Forum MTNA and Secretary-Treasurer of MTNA Southern Division.


Marie is one of the founding members of the High Point Piano Teachers Association.  She is currently serving as vice-president; however, she has held every office more than once since the founding of the association in 1972.  She played the premiere performance of Robert Vandall’s “High Point Toccata”, which was commissioned by the High Point group for their 25th Anniversary. 


Marie is active as a judge for piano festivals throughout North Carolina, Virginia, and South Carolina.  She has presented programs for MTNA, as well as many local associations.  Her articles have been published in the American Music Teacher, Music Educators Journal and Keyboard Companion.


She is a member of Emerywood Baptist Church, where she was the music assistant/organist for the past 15 years.  She continues as a substitute organist at various churches.


Marie is a member of Pi Kappa Lambda, Mu Phi Epsilon, and the American Guild of Organists.  She has served on the boards of the musical Art Guild of UNCG, High Point Community Chorus, Piedmont Artists, Music for a Great Space, NC Organ Festival, and Friends of the High Point Library.  She has traveled extensively, including trips to all 50 states and to 47 foreign countries.

2003 Dr. Paul Stewart, NCTM
Paul Stewart, NCTM, is chair of the keyboard division at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG), where he teaches piano performance studies and pedagogy.  He holds a D.M. degree in piano performance from Florida State University, an M.M. degree from the University of Illinois and B.M. and B.M.E. degrees from Indiana University.  

Paul has served as MTNA treasurer.  During 2000-2001, he served as chair of the National Convention Planning Committee for the Minneapolis and Washington, D.C. Conventions.  As a member of the MTNA FOUNDATION Board of Trustees, 1996-1998 and 2001-2003, Paul has chaired both the MTNA FOUNDATION Teacher Enrichment Grant Committee and the MTNA Awards Committee.  As a 1996-1998 and 2001-2003 member of the MTNA Board of Directors, Paul was a national representative to Wisconsin, Indiana and Nevada and chaired the MTNA Polices and Procedures Committee (1996-1998).  Paul's service to the Southern Division began in 1986 as local chairman for the MTNA Southern Division Meeting/Auditions and continued as college audition chair, vice president for auditions and president.  

Paul's involvement with the North Carolina MTA goes back to 1973 when he chaired the state Baldwin competition and includes service four times as site chair for state conventions, vice president for conventions and state president, 1985-1987.  Paul is a frequent adjudicator for MTNA-related competitions and has given a number of workshops for local Music Teachers Associations.  His recent performances include Schubert's Trout Quintet (2002), solo piano recitals in North Carolina (2001) and a premier performance of Jupiter's Moons, a six-movement work by Judith Lang Zaimont that Paul commissioned for the 2000 UNCG Focus on Piano Literature.  His article, "The Piano Music of George Rochberg and the New Romanticism," appeared in American Music Teacher in January 1989.