School of Music News

School of Music Celebrates Three Students Placing First 
in Prestigious National Competition

MTNA Announces 2020 State Performance Competition Winners

Nov. 19, 2020 -- Three Puget Sound music students placed first across several categories in this year’s prestigious Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) Performance Competition. The annual competition involves thousands of students from across the country and recognizes “exceptionally talented young artists and their teachers in their pursuit of musical excellence.”

Each state holds its own competition with participants judged by a panel of professional musicians. Performers must demonstrate a variety of musical styles with varous lengths and other requirements. Winners at the state level advance to the division, and then to the national competition.

MTNA announced the following winners on Nov. 13 in the “Young Artist” tier (ages 19-26):

  • William Lum ’23, euphonium, placed first in the California state Brass Competition. William is a student of Affiliate Artist Ryan Schultz.
  • Ivan Tarasenkov ’23, piano, placed first in the Washington state Piano Competition. Ivan is a student of
    Dr. Tanya Stambuk.
  • Jules Tan ’23, violin, placed first in the Washington state String Competition. Jules is a student of
    Dr. Maria Sampen.

All three students will proceed to the Division Competitions in 2021.

“I regularly encourage my students to participate in this competition and other such opportunities,” said Professor Maria Sampen. “It’s a great experience for them to showcase their talent and creativity on a larger platform, and to receive feedback from other teachers and musicians, as judges provide written comments to all the competitors.”

“Through their hard work, dedication, and artistry Jules, Ivan, and William have achieved something special,” noted Dr. Tracy Doyle, School of Music director. “They represent the university at the highest level and we are very proud of them.”

Competition Despite COVID-19

Planning for the MTNA Performance competition typically starts in spring, when the student and the instructor select repertoire, talk about the competition process, and practice the pieces. It requires strong initiative and drive on the students’ part; as well as the ability to think long-term, have nerves of steel, and the dedication to put in hundreds of hours of practice to prepare.

Students’ participation in the competition is above and beyond what is expected and is not a curricular requirement. It’s a huge feat, even in a normal year, when students perform in-person. This year, with COVID-19, students participated virtually by submitting video files of their performances, which were due by Nov. 2. While it’s a challenging endeavor, students who participate find the experience rewarding as they meet fellow performers and gain valuable feedback on their skills.

Faculty Commitment Contributes to Student Success

Puget Sound students have a history of high achievement in the MTNA Performance Competitions through faculty who are passionate about nurturing their students' talents. Several of Dr. Stambuk's piano students have moved on to Nationals, most recently, Brenda Miller '15 in 2018. Jules Tan ’23, is Dr. Sampen’s third violin student to win the Washington state competition -- Clara Fuhrman ’14, and Grace Youn ’13, were past winners. Grace won the Division competition as well and also went on to compete in the finals. 

After graduating Puget Sound, Brenda, a double major in biology and music, continued to pursue her dual interests: She earned a Master of Science degree in environmental education at Southern Oregon University while working as a church pianist. Clara and Grace are professional violinists. Clara is completing her Doctorate at University of Oregon and Grace is a very active performer and a teacher in a large violin studio in Austin, Texas.

For more information, visit the Puget Sound School of Music.

Senior-tier MTNA Competitions

Community Music Claims Winner

Students in Puget Sound's Community Music program also benefit from faculty's commitment to students' success. High-school student, Johnathan Lee, won this year's Senior tier (ages 15-18) in the Woodwind Competition.

Lee currently is a private student of saxophone instructor Fred Winkler and a chamber music student in Puget Sound's Community Music program. For more information, visit Community Music.

More Information

MTNA Competitions

The annual MTNA competition encompasses three tiers: Junior (age 11-14), Senior (ages 15-18) and Young Artist (ages 19-26). Competitions normally take place in-person, requiring students (and faculty) to travel to participate. State locations alternate between the west and east side, with Nationals as far away as New York City. Entry fees, travel costs, and accompanists contribute to the expense.

The virtual nature of this year's event resulted in a lower cost burden to participate.

For more information, visit MTNA Competitions.