Piano Professor’s Article on How Cueing, Breath Work Support Young Musicians’ Well-being Awarded American Music Teacher Article of the Year

Lesley McAllister, D.M.A., received recognition for her article, “The Language of Awareness: How Cueing and Breath Work Impact the Music Lesson”

April 12, 2024
Lesley McAllister

(Photo Courtesy: Lesley McAllister) 

Contact: Shelby Cefaratti-Bertin, Baylor University Media & Public Relations, 254-327-8012 
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WACO, Texas (April 12, 2024) – The Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) has recognized Lesley McAllister, D.M.A., professor of piano, director of piano pedagogy and director of the keyboard studies division in Baylor University’s School of Music, with the honor of American Music Teacher Article of the Year for her article, “The Language of Awareness: How Cueing and Breath Work Impact the Music Lesson.” This is the second time McAllister has had an article recognized by the journal.

“It is truly an honor to have my article recognized by American Music Teacher,” McAllister said. “At a time in our country when youth mental health is in crisis, teachers need information on how to support student wellbeing.”

As a certified RYT-200 yoga instructor, McAllister has a unique understanding of the connection between the mind and body. Her article focuses on combining her passion for music and yoga by enhancing musical education through the careful use of language, tone and pacing to create a more relaxed and efficient learning experience for students.

“I’m grateful that members of the Music Teachers National Association recognized this article as a resource for using breathwork and cueing in music lessons to promote awareness, reduce tension and enhance performance,” McAllister said. “In so doing, music teachers have additional tools to provide a caring community for their students, which is at the heart of Baylor’s mission.”

With a holistic focus on music students, McAllister’s article creates a guide for music educators to ensure that they focus on the way that educators speak, make eye contact and carry themselves which all have an impact on both what students learn and the quality of learning. 

“Dr. McAllister’s knowledge and advocacy of issues related to wellness is of great benefit to all musicians as they navigate the world,” said Gary Mortenson, D.M.A, dean of the Baylor School of Music. “Her concern for the complete human being shines through her work with her students here at Baylor and impacts the thinking of musicians around the world.” 

The MTNA selects an outstanding feature article written expressly for American Music Teacher, a refereed journal featuring all areas of the music teaching profession. McAllister’s article was published in the June/July 2023 issue. MTNA is a nonprofit organization of collegiate music teachers who work to further the art of music education through research, performance and composition. 


In addition to teaching piano pedagogy, Lesley McAllister, D.M.A., teaches courses on performer wellness and class piano and directs the Piano Laboratory Program for children in the community. Her research interests include imagery, mind-body relaxation techniques for performance anxiety, mental rehearsal, and yoga for musicians. She has served as co-investigator with the Mind Body Medicine Institute at Baylor and co-authored an article in Frontiers in Psychology that studied load and fatigue monitoring in musicians using an online app.

In 2019, McAllister was awarded the Outstanding Faculty Award in Research for Tenured Professors at Baylor. She also received a Centennial Professor Award for research in 2021 and is a 2023-24 Baylor Teaching Fellow. She has presented at numerous national conferences, as well as international conferences of the Performing Arts Medicine Association symposium and International Society of Music Educators.

Currently the Wellness Column Editor for Piano Magazine, McAllister has authored two books on musician wellness – The Balanced Musician: Integrating Mind and Body for Peak Performance and Yoga in the Music Studio, published by Oxford Press in 2020. She received the Outstanding Service Award from the Frances Clark Center for Keyboard Pedagogy in 2023 and was honored with the Collegiate Teacher of the Year Award from the Texas Music Teachers Association in 2022.

In June 2023, McAllister began a three-year term as Faculty Regent on the Baylor Board of Regents. She serves as Faculty-in-Residence at Collins Hall, where she lives with her husband Scott and two children, Cooper and Camden. She holds degrees in performance from the University of Houston and Florida State University, studying with Nancy Weems and Leonard Mastrogiacomo, as well as a D.M.A. in piano performance and pedagogy from the University of Oklahoma, where she studied with Jane Magrath.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.


Celebrating more than 100 years of musical excellence, the Baylor University School of Music provides transformational experiences that prepare students for careers in music. Students thrive in a Christian environment characterized by a nurturing resident faculty, an unwavering pursuit of musical excellence, a global perspective, dedication to service and devotion to faith. They investigate the rich musical and cultural heritage of the past, develop superior musical skills and knowledge in the present, and explore and create new modes of musical expression for the future. While preparing for future leadership roles, students join with School of Music faculty in enhancing the quality of community life, enriching the larger culture and making Baylor a place in which heart, mind and soul coalesce. Baylor’s School of Music is a member of the National Association of Schools of Music and the Texas Association of Music Schools. Degree programs include bachelor’s and master’s degrees in performance, music education and academic majors, as well as doctoral degrees in church music. Degrees leading to the Bachelor of Music Education conform to certification requirements of the Texas Education Agency. Visit the School of Music website to learn more.