We had the good fortune of connecting with Dr. Tia Dionne Roper, Flutist & Music Educator and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dr. Tia, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Playing the flute came naturally for me. It was almost instinctive from the first time I picked up the instrument as a 10-year-old 5th grader. I excelled in music lessons, school band, and in youth orchestras. I was accepted to and attended The Juilliard School’s Pre-College Division and NYC’s LaGuardia High School of Music and Art & the Performing Arts. It’s great to find your calling when you are young as it gives you a lifetime to revel in your passion!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
This Georgia Peach is originally from the Big Apple. Classically trained, I received my Bachelors Degree from the Manhattan School of Music, Master in Music Degree from Boston University, and Doctorate from Rutgers University. I love playing in symphony orchestras, presenting solo recitals, and recording. My self-produced album, “The Magic Flute,” was submitted by the head of Albany Records for Grammy nomination consideration. It successfully advanced to the first round ballot in the category of Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance in collaboration with pianist Mitchell Vines. I’ve been exceedingly fortunate to have given concert performances around the globe including Switzerland, the Barbados, Japan, Venezuela, Russia, England, and throughout the United States. My goal is to give concert performances on all 7 continents!! Call me Africa, Australia, and Antarctica!!
I recently began to broaden my musical sphere by delving into jazz and improvisation. I’ve always LOVED jazz, but began exploring the performance of this great genre during the pandemic. I most recently performed with the Dexter Tolson Band and as a member of the Atlanta Jazz Players. As an artist, it’s imperative that you keep learning and studying your craft from different angles and perspectives.
In addition to all of this, I’m a huge advocate for arts education. As such, I’m a mentor, a towering proponent for volunteerism, and I am the Band Director at Mill Springs Academy – a private school in Alpharetta that is dedicated to students with learning/developmental differences and neurodivergent diagnoses. My students amaze me! Music is a universal language and for those who struggle to communicate through words, music is their fluent form of speech. I love seeing my pupils express themselves through music and they in turn love it as well. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to create an environment filled with joy and confidence through music!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love this question! Atlanta has so much to offer and each season has it’s own exceptional treasures. I’m going to hypothetically say that my bestie is visiting me during the springtime.
On day 1, we’d take an early morning hike at Sweetwater Creek State Park. There are so many beautiful trails. We’d walk the Red Trail for it’s scenic water views, stunning vegetation, crisp air, and if we’re lucky a glimpse of small wildlife…IF my pup, Nola, doesn’t chase them away.
Day 2 – In keeping with the nature theme, we’d visit Atlanta Botanical Gardens. The Atlanta spring climate is conducive to the most beautiful flowers and plant life. The exhibits in the garden are breathtaking as well.
Day 3 – We’d see a performance of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Fingers crossed Tchaikovsky’s 4th Symphony is on the program. Dinner and drinks at 5 Church Atlanta or Legal Seafood will follow.
Day 4 – We’d sleep in (haha!!), have brunch at Flying Biscuit in midtown (their grits are delicious). By the way, anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE brunch!! We’d people watch in Piedmont Park for a bit and then walk those grits off by leisurely exploring the Beltline.
Day 5 – My BFF and I would catch a show at City Winery. It’s one of the best venues for live music!
Day 6 would be High Frequency Fridays for sure! Every first Friday of the month, the High Museum presents a fun-filled social gathering with live DJs spinning great music to dance to. There are specialty cocktails. You can also take advantage of the setting and visit any and all art exhibits – pretty awesome to do when the museum is officially closed to the general public for the day!
Finally, Day 7 would be a spa day to unwind – Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa perhaps with a relaxing dinner afterwards at Houston’s.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
It takes a village. That being said, the queen of the village is my mother, Thelma Roper, who has a collection of every single concert program from every single show I’ve EVER performed in!! She is my biggest cheerleader, my anchor, a shoulder to cry on, a beautiful spirit to laugh out loud with. Mom has stayed up with me for hours filling out college & music scholarship applications. She’s purchased my instruments, obtained private lessons for me. She champions my goals and there is no bigger encourager! I remember having the best conversations with my dad, George Roper, Jr., during long car rides to and from early morning rehearsals & auditions. The same with my brother, George Roper, III. He accompanied me to rehearsals in Manhattan after school when I was too young to travel on my own. On our way, we’d always pick up the best snacks and lunches to eat as we traveled on the NYC train. I say all of this to say: Shoutout to The Roper Village!!!
Nilsa LaSalle Photography Bob Curtis Photography