Owner, Educational Director; Piano and Voice Teacher
In 2010, Kathy Lollar retired after a thirty year career in public school music education. She received her education locally by attending Permian High School and Odessa College. She earned her degrees from The University of Texas of the Permian Basin (B.A. in Music Education; M.A. in Elementary Education.) During her career with the Ector County Independent School District, she taught music at Gonzales Elementary and choir at Permian High School, Hood Junior High School and Nimitz Junior High School (all in Odessa, Texas.) For Kathy, retirement from public school certainly did not mean retirement from music education. Kathy’s goal was to offer West Texas children a place express their musical creativity without the constraints place upon them in the public school setting. Additionally, Kathy wanted to give local music educators the opportunity to teach children according to their own special needs and abilities. Her professional dreams came true when her husband, Steve, enabled her to open West Texas Music Academy. WTMA opened in May of 2011 and it has been a joy for the Lollars.
Owner, Business Director
(Bio written by Ms. Kathy.) Let me tell you about my husband, Steve. A man of many talents, he is an amazing singer and artist. During our 39 year marriage, Steve has walked beside me every step of the way helping to make my dreams become reality. In 1996, Steve’s dream of a college education became reality when he earned the Associate of Arts Degree from Odessa College. While I spend my time teaching students at West Texas Music Academy, Steve Lollar fulfills the duties of business manager. Making my dreams come true yet again, Steve takes care of financial matters, new student interviews, and all the business and logistical aspects of the Academy. If you’ve ever been to WTMA, you will know that Steve is the happy greeter at the door and he will make you feel like the most important person in the world. Because of his lifetime of management experience, West Texas Music Academy has become a reality.
Ruth Kyle has earned multiple degrees in the areas of music and school counseling. She holds both Bachelor and Master degrees in Music Education from Southern Oklahoma State University as well as a Master of Education Degree in School Counseling from East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma. Ruth has owned and run her own private piano studio prior to moving to Odessa. By day, she is a counselor at Odessa High School. By evening, she returns to her real love, teaching piano lessons at WTMA. Ruth and husband, Tom, are active in their church. They live in Odessa with their sons, Josh and Sias.
Connor Leggett graduated from Midland Classical Academy in 2010. Throughout his grade school and high school years, Connor studied both guitar and piano. He went on to Texas Tech University where he earned his Bachelor of Music in Music Education Degree in December, 2014. Connor is the guitar teacher at Ector Middle School in Odessa. In addition to his teaching, Connor serves as guitarist and music assistant at the Christian Church of Midland.
Josh Tucker was a highly acclaimed member of the Permian High School band and drum line. The recent graduate now attends The University of Texas of the Permian Basin where he pursues a degree in psychology. When WTMA was in search of a drum teacher, Permian High School’s band directors had nothing but praise for Josh and gave him the highest recommendations. We have not been disappointed. Josh teaches students the rudiments of rhythm and the basics of percussion technique. Students in Josh’s studio will have a great advantage when it comes time to audition for the drum line at their school. If you see a guy walking around WTMA with a pair of drum sticks, that would be Josh. When it comes to teaching percussion, Josh Tucker never misses a beat!
Piano – Voice Teacher
Jane Mehringer was raised in a family where music was a constant. Jane began playing piano at an early age at home and began taking private lessons in the second grade. Her musical education took her to Odessa College where she earned an associates degree in music after studying with Dr. Charlotte Whitaker, Sherry Talley and Dr. Kathryn Hoppe. Jane has worked as accompanist for many West Texas churches and schools. She enjoys teaching private lessons and has a knack for making people feel at ease. Jane is the mother of two adult children and the proud grandmother of two.
Linda Loudenback is a master teacher with extensive experience in teaching public school general music as well as piano lessons in both one-on-one and group settings. Linda received her Bachelor’s Degree in music and elementary education from California State University in Long Beach. She has completed several graduate classes to add to her formal education. She and her family have lived in several states over the years. Eleven years ago, Odessa was blessed when the Loudenback family settled here. Linda served as music teacher at Odessa’s Travis Elementary for a decade, while her husband pastors a church. Her son, Daniel, is the former Director of Fine Arts for ECISD. Her daughter-in-law, Sarah, is a clarinet teacher. Her daughter, Nancy, is a social worker. Her son-in-law, Brent, is an elementary music teacher in Midland. The Loudenback family name is synonymous for music in West Texas.
Victoria Garza is a junior Music Education major at The University of Texas of the Permian Basin. Having played violin for nine years, she is thrilled to share her gifts with the students at WTMA. Victoria graduated from Odessa High School in 2012 as a Texas Scholar and as a recipient of the Award of Excellence for Orchestra. During high school, Victoria was concert master for two years and earned a spot in the All-Region Orchestra all three years. Under the direction of John Madura, Victora will continue to grow and learn to be a better musician and teacher by graduation with a Bachlelor of Music degree with an emphasis in Music Education. Ms. Garza hope to continue her studied in post-graduate work as well. WTMA students thrive under the energetic instruction of Victoria Garza.
Alyssa Guerra is the Associate Director of Choirs at Odessa’s Wilson and Young Medal of Honor Middle School where her students have received superior ratings for vocal solos and ensembles and have earned places in the All-Region Choir. Most recently, Alyssa’s tenor-bass choir earned a Sweepstakes Trophy by making first division ratings in both concert and sight-reading events at UIL Contest. Alyssa received her Bachelor of Music Degree with Teacher Certification from the Texas Tech University School of Music where she studied under Dr. Carolyn Cruse. During her time in the University Choir, Alyssa performed as a soprano soloist in Orchestra Hall while on tour in Chicago. Ms. Guerra has taught voice lessons for several years in a Lubbock music academy as well as in the Lubbock public schools. In 2010, Alyssa was a member of the Texas All-State Choir. She resides in Odessa with her little dog, Talula.
Nancy Mitchell is a long time Odessan. The Odessa High School graduate studied piano locally with Mrs. Dorothy Billingsley. She earned her degree in piano performance from Abilene Christian University under the tutelage of Dr. Leonard Burford. While attending ACU, she performed solo piano recitals both her Junior and Senior years. She was also active in the Acapella Choir, and has always loved all things musical. Nancy began student teaching her Junior year, and she continued after graduation. She began teaching piano lessons in 1964 in Odessa.
Mrs. Mitchell became familiar with the group teaching method of Dr. Robert Pace in approximately 1968 when the famed piano pedagogue presented a clinic for Odessa piano teachers. The group teaching concept appealed to Nancy and soon thereafter, she traveled to New York City to study with Dr. Pace. Her training in NYC resulted in graduate credit at Columbia University Teachers College. While there, she also had the privilege of studying jazz improvisation with Dr. Bert Konowitz, and soon began to apply those concepts to her lessons. In 1972, Nancy returned to New York for further training with Dr. Pace. She earned qualification to train other teachers in the method. She conducted classes for teachers all over Texas while maintaining a large studio of students in Odessa.
During this time, Nancy incorporated a concept that was new at the time, “Music for Moppets” written by Helen Pace. This is an introduction to piano method for very young children, ages 3 – 5. Nancy has always had a special fondness for teaching children of this age. For older beginners, Nancy offers pairs and group lessons utilizing the Robert Pace method.
Nancy taught piano lessons in Odessa from 1964 until 1990. At that time, she took a break from teaching to pursue other interests. As of late, Nancy has missed working with children and is ready to return to piano teaching. We are very glad that she chose to share her talents with the students at WTMA.
Odessa native, Melody Drinkard, is a graduate of The University of Texas Of the Permian Basin. Melody has taught elementary music and keyboard at several Odessa schools throughout her career. She is available to teach private lessons in piano at WTMA.
Laura Ashley Smith
Voice / Piano Teacher
Laura Ashley Smith has a passion for music and teaching. She has a heart for students and enjoys being a part of their growth. She received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music Education from Sul Ross University. During her time at Sul Ross, she studied voice and piano, performed lead roles in musicals, taught children’s choir, led worship in a local church, and taught private piano and voice lessons. She was named “Woman of the Year” at Sul Ross her senior year. Laura Ashley went on to earn the Master of Arts Degree in Christian Ministry and Worship from Liberty University. She worked for Ector County ISD as assistant choir director at Odessa’s Bonham Jr. High School. During this time, she met and married her husband, Shawn, who serves as the Executive Student and College Pastor at Odessa’s First Baptist Church. Laura Ashley has a great desire to be a part of his ministry. As a result, she resigned from full time public school education. As a part time private piano and voice teacher, she has touched the lives of many Odessa students. West Texas Music Academy is thrilled to have Laura Ashley Smith on our teaching staff.