Meet the Nominated Officers for 2016-2018


Corie Benton is the Orchestra Director at Pope High  School in Cobb County, Georgia.  Mrs. began her teaching career as an Orchestra Director in Plano, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, Texas.  While in Plano, her orchestras received superior ratings at the annual University Interscholastic League (the equivalent to Large Group Performance Evaluation).

Mrs. Benton is a graduate of Loyola University New Orleans, where she received her Bachelors Degree in Music Education. Since moving to Georgia, she has worked in Cobb, Clayton, and DeKalb counties.  While there, she increased exposure of the program in the county and within the school community.  Under her direction, the programs increased in size, became semifinalist for the GRAMMY foundation, received superior ratings yearly, presented a string workshop at the annual GMEA Conference, performed at the annual GMEA In-service, as well as students participate in various orchestras in the Atlanta metro area.

Throughout her tenure as a music educator, Mrs. Benton has been very active in the music community.  She has presented a workshop at Georgia Music Educators Association In-Service (2013); performed at GMEA In-Service twice and had students perform in 2015. As an active clinician and freelance artist; Mrs. Benton is a regularly requested Adjudicator at workshops and clinics in Fulton, Cobb, Clayton, Henry, Fayette and Gwinnett counties.  She is a member of MENC, GMEA and ASTA.

Nancy Conley is the Director of Music Education at Clayton State University, where she coordinates the music education program, teaches courses in music education, and supervises student teachers. In addition, she is the instructor of applied violin. Ms. Conley serves as the faculty advisor for the CSU Chapter of Collegiate NAfME (National Association for Music Education) and co-directs the Clayton County Honor Orchestra, an auditioned group comprised of middle and high school students.

Ms. Conley received the B.M. in music education and performance from Ithaca College and the M.M. in performance from Binghamton University. She is a candidate for the Ph.D. in music education with a viola performance cognate at Michigan State University. Prior to joining the faculty at Clayton State, Ms. Conley taught at the Crane School of Music at the State University of New York at Potsdam, where she taught string technique and pedagogy classes and directed the National String Project. While at Crane, Ms. Conley developed a Musician Wellness course and the Lab Ensemble, a course that encourages pre-service music teachers to use improvisation, arranging, and composition in the classroom.

Before pursuing her doctoral degree, Ms. Conley was a public school music educator in upstate New York, where she taught elementary, middle, and high school instrumental music for seventeen years. An active performer while teaching, Ms. Conley played with the Binghamton Philharmonic, Tri-Cities Opera Company, and the Edgewood String Quartet. As a doctoral student, Ms. Conley performed with the Lansing (MI) Symphony, and was a member of the Orchestra of Northern New York in Potsdam while teaching at the Crane School of Music. She currently plays with string quartets in the Atlanta area.

Ms. Conley has taught in various summer music programs, including several years at the New York ASTA String Institute at Ithaca College. She has conducted Area All-State festivals in New York State, and served as a clinician at other school music festivals. Ms. Conley is a frequent clinician in Atlanta-area schools.

Ms. Conley has presented her research at the both the state and national level. Presentations in 2016 include the Georgia Music Educators In-service Conference, the American String Teachers Association National Conference, and the NAfME Music Research and Teacher Education National Conference. Her research interests include the use of improvisation as a tool for teaching and life-long learning, social justice in music education, teacher education, and musician wellness. Ms. Conley holds the certification for Music Learning Theory Elementary General Music Level One, and has completed teacher training for Suzuki Violin Level One and Two.

Ms. Conley is a member of the American String Teachers Association, College Music Society, NAfME: The National Association for Music Education, Suzuki Association of the Americas, and Mu Phi Epsilon.


Kinsey Edwards has been teaching orchestra eight years at Lanier Middle School in Buford, Georgia. She earned her Bachelor of Music Education degree in 2008 from Furman University, and her Master of Music Education degree in 2014 from the University of Georgia.  She presented at the Georgia Music Educators Association In Service Conference in 2009 and co-wrote an article about that same presentation that was published in the Georgia American String Teachers Association journal the following fall.  Kinsey was chosen as teacher of the year at Lanier Middle School and selected as one of 25 semifinalists for Gwinnett County in 2012. She also participated in the Gwinnett County Teachers as Leaders program in the same year.  Kinsey conducted the Oconee County District Honor Orchestra in Walhalla, SC in February of 2011 and also the GMEA District 3 Honor Orchestra Clinic in Columbus, GA in 2012. She is currently working towards earning her Educational Doctorate in Music Education from the University of Georgia and recently presented a Research Poster Session at both the 2016 Georgia Music Educators Association In Service Conference and the National Association for Music Education Research Conference.

Stephen Lawrence began his musical career at the age of twelve, studying violin, cello and later piano.  During his grade-school career, Stephen served as a concertmaster for several orchestras including the Loyola University Symphony and Chamber Orchestras, Metropolitan Youth Symphony Orchestra of Atlanta, Atlanta Public Schools Youth Symphony Orchestra, MYSO String Quartet, William Grant Still Memorial Orchestra, and many more.  At the age of eighteen, he graduated high school receiving the highest honors at North Atlanta School of the Performing Arts.

Stephen earned his bachelor’s degree at Loyola University New Orleans in Music Education specializing in String Education, under the guidance of Dean Angeles and Virginia Olander.  While pursuing his degree, he received awards such as the Gayle Merrick Jones Scholarship and the Wirth Music Scholarship.  During the summer of 2013 Stephen received his Masters in Music Education degree from the University of Georgia.

Currently, Stephen is the director of orchestral and guitar activities at North Atlanta High School’s Fine and Performing Arts Department.  He is also a board member the Local School Council at NAHS and a board member for the Fabrefaction Theater Company in Atlanta.  Stephen has served as a clinician and coach for orchestra programs in Atlanta Public Schools, Cobb County Public Schools, DeKalb County Public Schools, Gwinnett Public Schools and Henry County Public Schools. Stephen is also the 2nd violinist of the Idalia String Quartet.


Elisabeth Copeland recently completed coursework at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music for the degree Master of Music Education. Primarily a cellist, Elisabeth began study at the age of 7 in her 3rd grade school orchestra program. Since then, she has continued to find fun and exciting ways to be involved in music throughout high school, college, and graduate school.

During her graduate studies, Elisabeth specialized in teaching beginning strings to a wide range of ages, from 1st grade through collegiate undergraduates, teaching in both homogenous (violin only), and heterogeneous (violin, viola, cello, bass simultaneously) group settings. Elisabeth loves working with beginners, especially those in the ages near and around 5-8th grade, because she believes that setting up proper technique will lead to an extremely fulfilling musical life. Also, she believes nothing to be more fun than to watch students progress, learn, and engage in music through means of learning a musical instrument. She currently serves as an orchestra director at the Paideia School, Atlanta, teaching grades 5-12 strings.

Mr. Carl Rieke graduated from St. Olaf College (Northfield, Minnesota) in 1997, receiving his Bachelor of Arts in Music Education. He received his Masters Degree in Instrumental Conducting from Georgia State University in 2003.

From 1999 until 2006, Mr. Rieke was Director of Orchestras at Shiloh High School in Gwinnett County. While teaching in Gwinnett, he was a co-conductor of the Gwinnett County Youth Symphony. Under Mr. Rieke’s direction, the Shiloh High School Chamber Orchestra, Gwinnett County Youth Symphony, Metropolitan Youth Symphony Strings, and the Southern Crescent Symphony were featured at the Georgia Music Educators Association (GMEA) state conference. From 2006-2015, Mr. Rieke taught at Ola Middle School (OMS) in Henry County where he was named Teacher of the Year for the 2011-2012 school year.

Mr. Rieke has had the privilege to conduct many orchestra camps and clinics around the metro area and State, including the Encore music camp in Atlanta (of which he is now a co-owner), the University of Georgia Music Camp and fall festival, the Atlanta Suzuki Summer Institute, the American String Teachers Association (ASTA) summer camp, the Gwinnett Tapestry Festival, the Clayton County Honor Clinic, the New Ulm Minnesota Suzuki pops camp, and one of the 2009 Alabama All-State Orchestras.

Mr. Rieke has been an All-State Orchestra organizing chair for seven years and served as the GMEA Orchestra division chair (2007-2009). He was the GMEA Vice President of Performance Evaluations from 2013-2015. Mr. Rieke has also served as Secretary for the Georgia Chapter of ASTA and was named the Georgia ASTA “Orchestra Director of the Year” in 2010.

Elections coming soon…

2016 Chapter Awards

The Georgia ASTA chapter recognizes professionals and colleagues that have enriched the lives of young people. The board will award recipients on Friday, January 29th, 2016 at the annual luncheon.

The available awards are:

  • Educator of the Year
  • Advocacy Award
  • Industry Award (individual or business)
  • Lifetime Achievement Award

If you would like to nominate a business or individual, please complete the application below by Friday, January 8th, 2016. Multiple nominees are welcomed, but each must have a separate application and rationale.

Click here to complete the 2016 GA-ASTA Award Nomination Form

2016 Luncheon

We are so excited to announce that this year’s GA ASTA Luncheon, which takes place during the GMEA conference in Athens on January 29, 2016, will be held at the Last Resort Provisions at 1653 S. Lumpkin St., Athens, Georgia.

We invite you to come join us for good food and fun times. The board will recognize outstanding educators through awards and mini-grants and of course, as always, there will be fabulous door prizes!!

Seating is limited and tickets must be purchased directly through the Georgia ASTA chapter. Lunch is a choice of fried chicken or shrimp and grits and you will need to make your choice when you purchase your ticket. Included with the main course will be corn soufflé, turnip greens, pimento cheese mashed potatoes and a hushpuppy (among other yummy things!).

Tickets WILL NOT be available at the door or through GMEA. Tickets will be mailed to you (or delivered to you at the state level of all state auditions) and must be presented at the door/table to ensure seating and that you get the lunch that you ordered! No ticket, no lunch!

Tickets are $41.50 with credit card but if you pay with cash or check (send with information below to address below), you receive a discount of $1.50. Please complete and mail the PDF order form or use the online credit card payment at the bottom of this post.



(Updated 1/20/16)

2016 Mini-Grant Application

Each year, the Georgia chapter of ASTA awards money to individuals or groups to fund special projects, field trips, and enhance string instruction throughout the state.

To apply for a grant, fill out the application below by January 8, 2015.

Recipients will be notified via email and recognized by the board at the ASTA luncheon on Friday, January 29, 2016. The board reserves the right to award any amount up to or for the full amount requested. If you received a grant in the Spring of 2015 you are not eligible this year, but may apply Spring 2017.

Complete the 2016 GA-ASTA Mini-Grant Application

Welcome back!

What a fantastic year we have planned!

Fall Workshop 2015

Mark Laycock, Associate Prof of Music at Wichita State University, will be our clinician for the 2015 Fall Workshop on Saturday, September 12. He brings a plethora of knowledge from the podium, which will be the center of his sessions; A Conducting Master Class and Paths to a Musical Expression. The workshop will take place at Sutton Middle School (the old North Atlanta H.S.) from 8-3pm. As in previous years breakfast and lunch will be provided. Mandarin Strings has graciously offered to host lunch again this year, which will be supplied by Maggiano’s Little Italy. Please RSVP by September 4th.

Mark will need five volunteers for the conducting master class..if you are interested please respond to Jennifer Floyd in a separate email by Monday, August 17th. Repertoire for this session includes: Brook Green Suite by Holst; Serenade for Strings by Leyden; and On a Hymnsong of Phillip Bliss by Holsinger. Music will be provided.

More News…

Georgia State will host the annual GA-ASTA Chamber Music Workshop, Friday & Saturday October 2-3rd. More information about the workshop and online registration can be found on If you have any additional questions, you can contact Tania directly at

Finally what you’ve all been waiting for, the ASTA luncheon location for 2016! Last Resort Provisions!!!!

Download this document regarding details all of the events above plus a few announcements from UGA and KSU to name a few.

I hope this is year proves to be the best yet. Have a great week and I look forward to seeing all of you at the Fall Workshop on the 12th of September!

Jennifer Floyd, President
Georgia ASTA

2015 Mini-Grant Application

Each year, the Georgia chapter of ASTA awards money to individuals or groups to fund special projects, field trips, and enhance string instruction throughout the state.

To apply for a grant, fill out the application below by January 9, 2015.

Recipients will be notified via email and recognized by the board at the ASTA luncheon on Friday, January 30, 2015. The board reserves the right to award any amount up to or for the full amount requested. If you received a grant in the Spring of 2014 you are not eligible this year, but may apply Spring 2016.

Complete the 2015 GA-ASTA Mini-Grant Application