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About Cate, A Natural Instructor

Cate Bryan, NCTM, a native of Sioux City, Iowa, began taking piano lessons at the age of 5. By age 12, she began to compete at both the Iowa Music Teachers Association (IMTA) and Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) up through her high school graduation, under the tutelage of IMTA members Aris Montgomery, Sally Hodges, and Dr. James March. Most notably in her junior and senior years of high school, Cate was a Level F winner at both local and state auditions and placed honorable mention in the 2001 MTNA piano competition.


Studying piano seriously in high school led Cate to a music scholarship at Hillsdale College, where she graduated summa cum laude with a piano performance major, under instruction by Drs. Robert and Susan Rathmell.  She also completed a classical studies major, under instruction from Dr. Joseph Garnjobst, Dr. Lorna Holmes, and Dr. David Jones. She combined both majors in her senior piano recital by composing and performing a song cycle from Virgil’s Aeneid called The Dido Series with soprano Hannah (Dixon) McConnell in 2005. Fifteen years later, she was most delighted to present the world premiere of the complete song cycle, known as The Aeneid Series, at the Eta Sigma Phi National Convention at St. Olaf College in March 2019, with soprano Hannah (Dixon) McConnell and tenor Christian Sanders.


Although Cate began piano lesson instruction during her college days, she spent the past decade working in financial services (insurance, investments, and government relations), state government (Iowa Senate), and federal government (U.S. Senate) while teaching a few piano lessons in the evening hours.  She transitioned to full-time teaching in March 2018 and now teaches individual piano lessons to 50 students, offering instruction through in-person or virtual formats.

She is a member of both IMTA and MNTA. In 2019, she was Vice-President and President-Elect of the Des Moines Music Teachers Association (DMMTA) Chapter, and in 2020, she held the role of President. Currently, Cate is now Treasurer of DMMTA and First Vice-President, State Auditions Chair of IMTA.


Her studio officially became a Steinway studio in September 2018, when her 1917 Steinway Model M arrived from Denver, Colorado. Since then, Cate has become an official Steinway Verified Teacher, effective January 2021.  

Cate also became a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music (NCTM) in Piano through MTNA in 2020, a prestigious designation that requires competent completion of five separate projects.

As of August 2022, Cate is now a Board of Trustee member of the Terrace Hill Endowment for Musical Arts, which supports the annual Terrace Hill Piano Competition.


Cate and her husband Ben reside in Waukee with their rescue beagle, Dusty Rose. They are members of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Waukee, where Cate volunteers and plays piano during services. Cate is also a member of the Sigma Alpha Iota Alumnae Chapter of Des Moines, Iowa Federation of Republican Women, Capitol Region Republican Women, the Business Women of Waukee Club, Cinematheque (Classic Film Club), and the Official NASCAR Fan Council.


When not teaching, playing, or composing, Cate has spent from 2018 onward, working with Governor Reynolds to change the culture of harassment in both the public and private sector workplace, which ensures the protection of all of our young piano students when they enter the workforce. 


In her free time, Cate enjoys reading, running, traveling, watching Cary Grant films, and cheering on the Green Bay Packers.

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