At the 2015 Gala All-State Concert, the Council of Past Presidents conferred a Distinguished Service Award to Renée Westlake.

Renée Westlake

Westlake_photoRenée received both her BA in Music and ME in Curriculum and Instruction from Montana State University in Bozeman. She received a Supervisor Endorsement from The University of Montana and recently completed her doctorate in Educational Leadership at MSU.

An educator in the Bozeman Public Schools music department since 1976, Renée has taught at all levels and retired this past June after serving the past 13 years as the Fine Arts Supervisor. In addition, she teaches private flute lessons and played in the Bozeman Symphony for 27 years.

Renée has been active in NAfME/MMEA and has been President of the Montana General Music Teachers Association, the Montana Music Educators Association, and the Northwest Division of NAfME and has served on the National Executive Board of NAfME.

Renée has received numerous honors, including NAfME’s Lowell Mason Fellow and NAfME Distinguished Service for Lifetime Achievement in Music Education. She has co-authored three NAfME publications, and is currently finishing filming for a new collaborative NAfME publication and project on building relationships with students through rigorous music education.

MMEA and countless teachers and students have benefitted from Renée’s outstanding leadership. Her service has indeed been distinguished!


The Council of Past Presidents gave special recognition to three long-time members for Lifetime Achievement at the 2015 Conference General Session. Besides the respective careers as music educators, the three have continued to serve their profession in very meaningful ways after retiring.

Bill Larson and Jerry Arthun have retired for a second time, once from education and now from Eckroth Music. Together they represent forty years of traveling music store representatives. An entire generation of music teachers has come to rely upon them not only for store services, but also as mentors.

Jerry Arthum

jerry_arthunJerry has been with Eckroth Music since 1996 as Manager and as School Sales Representative in eastern and central Montana. Jerry had arguable one of the largest sales territories in the country, driving from billings to towns such as Plentywood, Baker, Malta, Hardin and dozens of towns in between.

Having grown up in and taught in Wilsall, Jerry understood small school situations. Jerry’s school visits were a ray of light to many young teachers in remote eastern Montana schools. His insight and advice often gave a new teacher a point in the right direction, or a veteran the help he/she needed.

A regular at the MBA Rendezvous, Jerry is well-known for his instrument repair clinics and especially for advising band directors what not to attempt in instrument repairs. Having worked as a Repair Technician, Jerry was the perfect person to have visit your school a week before festival when your only bass clarinet wasn’t working.

Prior to working for Eckroth Music, Jerry spent 25 years as a teacher in Wilsall and teacher and administrator in Columbus and administrator in Montana. He also served 34 years in the National Guard. His experience and dedication to music education make Jerry an extremely valuable resource to all of us and to the music educators of Montana.

Bill Larson

Bill LarsonBill Larson has worked for Eckroth Music since retiring from Great Falls in 1994. His sales area evolved over the years, but at times included all of central Montana as well as the Flathead. Like Jerry, Bill has been a tremendous resource for many aspiring teachers, and also a mentor for much of MMEA’s leadership.

Bill remains active in MMEA serving on the council of Past Presidents and, of course, he and Jerry have been exhibitors at MMEA conferences longer than most of our members have been teaching.

A Nebraska native, Bill came to Montana as the band director at Great Falls High School where his groups earned a reputation for excellence, appearing several times at NW MENC conferences. In 1984 Bill succeeded Larry Williams as Music Supervisor for the school district, a position he held for ten years before retiring.

A search through MMEA and MHSA history show the influence Bill has had on music education in Montana. Bill has been president of MBA, MMEA, MENC-NW, and Chair of the MHSA Music Committee as well as hosting numerous All-States, MMEA conferences, AA festivals, and District Music Festivals.

His efforts and leadership have not gone unnoticed. In 2005 he was designated a Lowell Mason Fellow by MENC, and he holds Distinguished Service Award from both MENC and MMEA.

Dennis Granlie

D.GranlieCROPPEDDennis Granlie grew up in Glendive and taught in Lavina, Roundup and Glendive before moving to Great Falls in 1979 to direct bands at C.M.Russell High School. He followed Bill Larson as Music Supervisor in 1994 and retired from the school district in 2005.

Shortly after he retired, Cadenza Editor Ed Harris was diagnosed with ALS and forced to resign. Dennis took over as Editor for the January 2006 issue.

Like Bill, Dennis was highly active in leadership roles as MBA, MMEA and Northwest president and MHSA Music Committee Chair. He also chaired the National Federation Music Advisory Committee until 2007.

During his time as MHSA Music Committee Chair, Dennis introduced the first rubric adjudication forms and convinced the Committee to adopt them.

Besides his work with Cadenza, Dennis initiated the MMEA Mentor Program and volunteered as Mentor Chair to connect retired teachers with those new to the field. In 2009 he published “Teaching and Managing Performing Ensembles,” a guide to young music teachers which MMEA provides to each first-year teacher in Montana.

Dennis, too, is a Lowell Mason Fellow and has been presented Distinguished Service Awards from MMEA and MENC, as well as a National Citation from the National Federation of State High School Associations.