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Piano teacher is tops in Georgia
by Joan Durbin
November 13, 2013 08:41 AM | 9540 views | 0 0 comments | 195 195 recommendations | email to a friend | print
LaNelle Nash first touched piano keys when she was 9 years old.

“My first piano teacher was my aunt. She probably influenced me quite a bit,” Nash said. “When I was 11 years old, I said this is what I want to do, and that’s never changed.”

A Roswell resident for 36 years, Nash has been teaching piano for one year longer than she has been married to Tom Nash, who became her husband in 1958.

This month, her many years of devotion to instructing others in how to play the instrument she loves have been recognized by the Georgia Music Teachers Association, which named Nash Georgia Music Teacher of the Year for 2013.

“It was a complete surprise to me,” Nash said.

Initially, she was of several members nominated from the North Fulton chapter of the association. A chapter vote sent her name on to the state level, and a vote of all state chapters confirmed Nash as the 2013 honoree.

“We take great pride that a teacher with your illustrious teaching career and outstanding record of service to the association will be the GMTA nominee for the [national] Teacher of the Year award,” Robin Engleman, GTMA president-elect, wrote to Nash.

“GMTA salutes your dedication to the teaching profession and to the association. Your influence as a teacher and leader is an enduring legacy.”

Nash gives lessons in her home and currently has around 20 students. Over the years, students have ranged in age from as young as five years old to a gentleman in his 70s. Most of her students have been with her for many years.

In a revved up era of instant communication via tablets, laptops, and Twitter, some might see playing classical or jazz piano as somewhat old-fashioned.

Not Nash. “I think people realize they can get great enjoyment from playing piano and it can take them to a whole other world. If you’re troubled in any way, playing piano helps so much,” she said.

As a hobby or avocation, playing piano is a stress reducer that has some advantages over traditional pastimes like sports, she said. “I tell my students you don’t have to wait for a partner or team, you don’t have to wait for the sunshine or the rain to stop. It’s a gift you give to yourself for a lifetime.”

A Yamaha grand piano is what she most often uses for teaching, but Nash has a total of five pianos at home, including a Kanabe grand her parents gave her when she graduated from high school.

Though she never considered any other career (“I absolutely love what I do”), Nash said it does require a certain temperament.

“You have to have a lot of patience and you really have to be a good psychologist because you have to know how to encourage students and when you have to push them to make them exceed what they think they can do,” she said.

A founding member of the North Fulton chapter of the music teachers association, Nash has also been editor of the GMTA newsletter as well as its photographer.

She is chairman of the Roswell Alpharetta Federated Music Club, past president of the Greater Atlanta Music Association, and a member of the National Guild of Piano Teachers as well as Mu Phi Epsilon, the international professional music fraternity.

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