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Dr. Karen Lyle Munson

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Dr. Karen Lyle Munson, September 9, 1941-January 8, 2021

Dr. Karen Lyle Munson was born on September 9, 1941 in Corpus Christi, Texas, the first of five children to Kenneth Elwyn Munson and Lillian Lois (Nolen) Munson.  She was home schooled through first grade and entered second grade shortly before her seventh birthday.  Most of her school years were spent in Beeville Public Schools where she excelled in all her studies.

Karen began piano lessons at age six, and music became her true passion in life.  She enrolled in band class in the fifth grade, and became an excellent oboist as well as pianist.  The family moved to La Pryor, Texas when she was a sophomore in high school.  By then, she was so advanced as a pianist, that she travelled to Uvalde to take lessons from Professor Stein at the college there.  While at La Pryor High School, Karen was captain of the girls’ basketball team, and represented her school at district and regional tennis tournaments. She graduated from La Pryor High School as Salutatorian in 1959, continuing her education at Texas Lutheran College, and later at Southwestern University at Georgetown, Texas.  At Southwestern, she was awarded a National Methodist Scholarship, the Mary Lynn Webb Starnes Award for Excellence in Music and Academic Achievement, and was a member of Alpha Chi Honor Fraternity.  She earned her Bachelor of Music Degree, graduating with honors in 1963.         

 Soon after receiving her bachelor’s degree, Miss Munson won the Beebe and Lavalle Piano Competition in Houston, Texas.  As part of the prize, she was able to spend a semester studying at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria where she attended piano master classes with Carlo Zechi and Friederick Wuehrer.

Upon her return from Austria, she opened a private studio in Lockhart.  She taught piano, class piano, beginning voice and violin, composition, music theory, music appreciation; she coached other instruments, as well.  In 1971, she earned her Master of Music Degree from the University of Texas at Austin, with a major in Theory and minors in Piano and Music Literature. She was a member of Pi Kappa Lambda Music Honor Society at UT.    

After completing her master’s degree, Miss Munson began teaching piano, applied piano, and piano pedagogy at Baylor University.  She later taught at Texas A & I University, and Humboldt State University in California.  At Humboldt she taught class piano, applied piano, theory, harpsichord, organ, directed reading in piano literature, and accompanying.  She also did a performance and recruitment tour along the California coast for Humboldt State University.

In 1978, Karen was a clinician for the state convention of the Texas Group Piano Symposium in Houston where she presented her compositions and ideas for initiating keyboard instruction through accompaniments and contemporary techniques of writing.  She was a prolific composer, writing several books for teaching class piano, and frequently composing music for instrumental or vocal soloists or for choir with piano accompaniment.  She was awarded the Kent Kennan Composition Scholarship in 1982 and received her Doctor of Musical Arts with a major in Composition at the University of Texas at Austin in 1990.

Dr. Munson was an outstanding accompanist throughout her career, accompanying voice classes, opera classes and recitals for the Leonard Bernstein Commemorative Concert at Texas State University from 1990 through 1994.  She taught class piano, applied piano, music appreciation, and beginning band at San Marcos Academy from 1993 through 2015, and was often called upon for her accompanist skills for musical performances.  She was also a solo performer, and had given recitals at Uvalde, Southwestern University, Texas State University, University of Texas, San Marcos Academy, and in Houston on live FM radio.  Throughout her career, she loved providing music for various churches, the most recent being the First Christian Church at Lockhart.

Dr. Munson was preceded in death by her parents and one brother, Kenneth Munson, Jr.  She is survived by three sisters, Eileen Nelson and her husband Marion of Stillwater, OK; Nancy Day and her husband Bobby of Colorado Springs, CO; and Mary Bass of Burnet, TX.   She is also survived by nieces Kate Harlan, Melinda Nelson Smith, Michel Nelson Pilarski, Melisa Nelson Pedigo, and Amanda Bass; by nephew Patrick Harlan; by two great nephews, Austin Smith and Rigel Harlan; and by three great nieces, Arista Harlan, Taylor De La Cerda, and Brooke De La Cerda.

A memorial service is planned for Dr. Munson’s 80th birthday, September 9, 2021.  Memorial contributions may be made to First Christian Church, P. O. Box 336, Lockhart, TX 78644. 

Arrangements in care of Pennington Funeral Home, 323 N. Comanche St., San Marcos, Texas 78666.

512-353-04311 ~ www.penningtonfuneralhome.com

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