UMTA Awards

UMTA offers awards for exemplary service. These include the Legacy Award, the AIM Teacher of the Year Award, and the Advocacy in Action Award. Looking for past winners? Find them in the UMTA Archives.

​UMTA Awards 2019 – 2020 Legacy Award Winner

The Legacy Award recognizes teachers who've created a great legacy for the music community. Criteria for consideration includes having a membership of at least 10 years in UMTA and MTNA, and service as an officer at the local or state level. Professional accomplishments, service to the community, and the nurturing and mentoring of students are also taken into consideration. Nominations are made and voted upon by UMTA Board Members.


Mary Louise Beckstrand
Mary Louise Beckstrand began her piano studies at the age of 6 in Kanosh, Utah. She continued her studies through college at USU, where she studied with Dr. Irving Wasserman and Betty Beecher, then the University of Utah, where she studied with Lenora Ford Brown.

Following college, Mary Louise and her husband, Linford settled in Bountiful, Utah with their seven children, where she opened her teaching studio. She joined UMTA and MTNA in 1981, and became active in chapter leadership - serving as Davis Chapter President from 1984-1985. She was UMTA State Vice President under Debra Gamero, and became UMTA State President from 1998-2000. Mary Louise served as UMTA State Competition Chair, and then MTNA Southwest Division Competition Chair, and organized the only competition to take place in Honolulu, Hawaii.

As UMTA President, Mary Louise suggested lowering the cost of state conference attendance to $25.00, which resulted in record numbers of UMTA members who attended the state conference during her term of office. She was also instrumental in creating a website for UMTA, which was the birth of www.utahmta.org. Mrs. Beckstrand also initiated the teacher recognition program which recognized teachers at the state conference banquet who had been members of UMTA/MTNA for 10,20,30, and 40 years.

Mrs. Beckstrand retired from teaching in 2010 and served 3 missions with her husband for their church. They served in The Netherlands, as directors of the Mesa Temple Visitors’ Center, and in Johannesburg, South Africa. After returning from South Africa, Mrs. Beckstrand resumed teaching her grandsons, the oldest of which will be finishing Level 10 of AIM in the spring of 2020.



Elaine Leggat
When she joined MTNA in 1981, Elaine Leggat had already been teaching piano lessons for over twenty years. Throughout her 55-year career, she believed in the power of music to enrich the lives of her students, and helped each one develop a genuine love for all kinds of music, from classical to religious to popular. She felt that each student, regardless of their future professional pursuits, should have basic skills that could be used in their homes and communities – playing by ear, leading music, composing, sightreading, accompanying. LDS students learned to play 20 hymns before leaving on a mission.

Her years were organized around major music events: Student Achievement and AIM preparation began in the fall, Halloween and Christmas concerts happened during the holidays, mega piano duet rehearsals led to the annual ‘monster’ concert each Spring. Summertime, organized around a unique theme each year, included specific learning goals, a plethora of prizes from giant candy bars to movie tickets, and culminated with a “Concert under the Stars” in her backyard, with blankets, chairs, doughnuts and juice her husband, Robert, always arranged. Each student felt Elaine’s individual love for them, and when necessary, Elaine quietly and happily taught students free of charge. A committed and enthusiastic member of the Sandy Chapter of UMTA, Elaine served in almost every position available there, including President, and also served on the UMTA state board.

Elaine taught out of her home studio until her husband’s aggressive cancer diagnosis, and her own cognitive decline, led her to retirement in 2016.

​UMTA Awards 2019 – 2020 AIM Teacher of the Year

The AIM Teacher of the Year Award is sponsored by the State AIM Committee and was created to recognize teachers who have been exemplary in their contributions to, achievement in, and dedication to the AIM program for 5 years or more.


Lorna Kujanpaa
Lorna Kujanpaa, NCTM, has been a member of the Timpanogos Chapter of UMTA for 15 years. She has served as Chapter President twice as well as AIM Chairman for 4 years. Lorna became a Nationally Certified Teacher in 2012, a goal she was excited to complete! She studied piano under Mona Smith and earned her Associates Degree in Piano Pedagogy from BYU Provo. Lorna has taught for 35 years and says that UMTA is the best thing that ever happened to her teaching! She especially loves the AIM program and firmly believes that students who participate in AIM become well rounded musicians, ready to use their skills to enjoy music and serve for a lifetime. Lorna maintains her studio in Highland, UT and has been thrilled to help 5 students complete level 10 AIM in the last 3 years. She has also loved her role as accompanist for the Highland Children’s Choir for the last 11 years, and plans on continuing for many more. Outside of teaching, she frequently accompanies church choirs and ensembles, and enjoys sewing, camping, walking and family gatherings. Lorna and her husband, Paul, are the parents of 6 sons and 1 daughter, and the grandparents of 8 grandchildren.

​UMTA Awards 2019 – 2020 Advocacy Through Action Award Winner

The Advocacy through Action Award is a way for the Utah Music Teachers Association to honor community service in the arts throughout Utah. The award is presented to a UMTA member, UMTA chapter, community member, or organization, who has exemplified exceptional dedication to the betterment of Utah's music and arts culture. The recipient(s) must have made a significant and lasting impact on the overall music community, and embody the virtues bestowed on an award recipient.


Jack Ashton
Jack Ashton has had a profound effect upon the lives of hundreds of people, particularly the young people of Utah, with his passion for music and for individuals. A member of the Utah Symphony for 49 years, Jack spent twenty-five of those years in a leadership position as assistant principle 2nd violinist. In addition, he taught 30-50 private violin students every week for 60 years, and served on the music faculty at Olympus High School for 35 years, teaching theory and orchestra. He was also an instructor at Westminster, Snow College, and USU.

In addition to teaching, Jack organized 3 orchestras. For the past 31 years, he is the director of the Young Artist Chamber Players, an organization he founded with his brother Ted in 1985 for the purpose of “helping good kids play the hard stuff and get better.” He also conducts the Rocky Mountain Chamber Players. This group annually tours Utah and every three years, Europe. These tours have been life changing for the students and those lucky enough to be in the audience.

“Every once in a while, there is an individual who is so revered that when you say his name, it feels like a proper noun and a verb at the same time. Jack Ashton is one of those people. His integrity, humility and love for everyone is unparalleled, even legendary.” – Deborah Moench

​UMTA Awards 2018 – 2019 AIM Teacher of the Year

The AIM Teacher of the Year Award is sponsored by the State AIM Committee and was created to recognize teachers who have been exemplary in their contributions to, achievement in, and dedication to the AIM program for 5 years or more.


Suann Adams
Suann Adams does not remember ever learning to play the piano. By the time she began formal lessons, she was already playing fairly difficult repertoire. Maggie Gammel accepted Suann as a piano student when she was 9 years old. She has studied with with John C. Weis, Mary Rae Johnson, Reid Nibley, N. Jane Tan, Paul Pollei, and Seymour Bernstein.

Suann accompanied many choirs and musicals, played horn in many symphonies, and won top honors in various festivals on both piano and horn while going through school. She was the first runner up in music at the State Sterling Scholar competition for Utah in 1981.

Suann studied music, organ, and horn at BYU for five and one-half years, majoring in composition, she won an ASCAP award for composition. She was featured soloist on horn with the BYU concert band and toured with many different orchestras, including a trip with one of the first American groups to be allowed into China, the BYU Chamber Orchestra.

Suann runs a very successful music studio where she offers training in piano, french horn, organ, voice, pedagogy, composition, and music theory. She is one of the top five piano team specialists in the country, having received her training from N. Jane Tan.

Suann performs in the New American Philharmonic Orchestra, played in the pit orchestra for the Utah Musical Theatre for 10 years or more, and is a founding member of the Rocky Mountain Piano Team. She founded the annual Utah Piano Team Festival and has been AIM chair for the Ogden Chapter of the UMTA. -->

​UMTA Awards 2018 – 2019 Advocacy Through Action Award Winner

The Advocacy through Action Award is a way for the Utah Music Teachers Association to honor community service in the arts throughout Utah. The award is presented to a UMTA member, UMTA chapter, community member, or organization, who has exemplified exceptional dedication to the betterment of Utah's music and arts culture. The recipient(s) must have made a significant and lasting impact on the overall music community, and embody the virtues bestowed on an award recipient.

During her teaching career, Deborah Moench has created a legacy of excellence that has directly impacted hundreds of students, as well as, teachers, and audiences. Deborah began playing at age 9, and taught her first students at age 11. She was chosen as Teacher of the Year by the Utah chapter of the American String Teachers Association and Program Chair for the 2012 Suzuki Association of the Americas Conference. Her acclaim as a teacher was due to hard work and many hours of study with master teachers, Hiroko Primrose, who introduced her to the “Any Child Can” philosophy of Shinichi Suzuki.

She traveled to Matsumoto, Japan to be mentored by Dr. Suzuki and Miss Mori. She acknowledges a long list of wonderful teachers, including; William Starr, Doris Preucil, John Kendall, Linda Fiore, Gabe Bolkovsky, James Stern, and Michael McLean to name a few.

Being a “Student of Deborah Moench” has become a desired credential. From her studio have come 53 performances on Utah Symphony’s Salute to Youth and three concerto All-Star Evenings, featured soloists with the Gifted Music School Orchestra on the national radio program From the Top. Many of her students continue studies in the country’s top music schools and conservatories. Deborah’s commitment to music and arts culture is evident in her founding of the Rocky Mountain Strings (RMS) with Ramona Stirling in 1997. RMS serves to bring concerts throughout the state, as well as, serving as a musical ambassador from Utah with tours throughout Europe, Russia, and South America.

As a founding Board Member for the Gifted Music School, non-profit music school in Salt Lake City, Deborah helped create the first pre-college, full-scholarship conservatory in Utah. She worked with the GMS to found the first Suzuki Strings school in Utah, as well the Deborah Moench Suzuki Strings Teacher Training Program for professional development for educators. Her commitment to high level Suzuki pedagogy and her belief in on-going personal development as a teacher benefits not only teachers associated with GMS, but also teachers throughout the state. “Mrs. Deborah Moench is one of the great violin teachers of our generation — legendary will be the proper adjective in looking back at her life’s work.” Eugene Watanabe, Artistic Director Gifted Music School -->

​UMTA Awards 2018 – 2019 Presidential Award

UMTA Website Committee
​Thank you to the UMTA website committee: Eric Huber, Patrice Hunt, NTCM, Dr. Christie Sowby, NCTM, and Tori Dimond for your service. The members of the UMTA Website Committee spent hundreds of hours this summer to redo the UMTA website. The end result is arguably now one of the best websites for a music teachers organization in the country. UMTA awards the Presidential Service Award to the UMTA Website Committee for their dedicated service and sacrifice which will impact every UMTA member for years to come. -->