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Greenwood School of Music on OSU-Stillwater campus.

OSU pianists take home top prizes in Music Teacher Association competitions

Monday, November 28, 2022

Media Contact: Elizabeth Gosney | CAS Marketing and Communications Manager | 405-744-7497 |

On Nov. 6, Oklahoma State University Greenwood School of Music pianists prevailed once again in numerous categories at the annual Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) and Oklahoma Music Teachers Association (OMTA) competitions in Edmond, Oklahoma. 

The Music Teachers National Association is the largest organization of teaching musicians in North America and is one of the more reputable student competitions in the United States. The Oklahoma Music Teachers Association is the state affiliate of MTNA. This year, OSU piano majors won every prize awarded in the MTNA Young Artist collegiate division, and claimed prizes in OMTA collegiate categories A, B and C. Their victories registered more winners and placements than all other state institutions’ piano programs combined.

“Because piano music contains an extraordinary number of notes, and memorization of all their music is mandatory, the students work for six months or longer on the pieces they perform in these competitions,” said Dr. Thomas Lanners, professor of piano in the Greenwood School of Music. “Serious piano students like these typically practice three to six hours per day, and most begin studying the piano as early as the age of 4 up through about 8 years of age. Therefore the serious piano performance majors we accept as freshmen each year have often studied fairly intensively for a decade or more.”

In the OMTA competition, Eva Cole took first place in the collegiate freshman and sophomore category (A). In the collegiate junior and senior category (B), Elizabeth Grice took first. Blake Hilligoss was recognized with an honorable mention in the graduate category (C). In the MTNA Young Artist collegiate division competition, Yian Wang took first place, Elizabeth Grice was awarded second place (Alternate) and Blake Hilligoss was third. As a winner of the MTNA competition, Wang will compete at the MTNA South Central Division level in January for a chance to play in the national finals. 

Lanners said these students’ triumphs in the competition reinforce the importance of the music culture that OSU has worked so hard to achieve. Their success here will translate later into their musical endeavors.

“Competitions are only one component that helps us build these students into the finest musicians they can be,” said Lanners. “Success in MTNA/OMTA competitions often translates to success in future graduate study at prestigious institutions around the country, and for some into eventual professional careers in this ultra-competitive field.”

Story By: Allie Putman, CAS student intern |

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