A music teacher for 19 years, Dr. Sharla Bender has a passion for mentoring students of all ages and skill levels in piano and violin. Her introduction to formal music began with violin lessons in 5 th grade and continued through several degrees, including a Bachelor of Music from Huntingdon College. a Master of Music, and a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Alabama. During graduate school she studied with the late Amanda Penick who was the 2008 National Music Teacher of the Year as well as the host of a 28-year-long series called The Pianist at Work by Alabama Public Television. Sharla believes that music is meant to be shared and enjoyed. She partners with her students so that they can fully develop their musical talents.

Sharla most recently served as a music professor at Urshan College in Florissant, MO from Spring 2014 - Spring 2019, where she taught piano lessons and music classes such as Ear Training and Sight Singing 1- 3, Class Piano 1-2, Music Appreciation, Piano Literature, and Piano Pedagogy. She continues to serve as an adjunct professor of piano there.

Sharla has a variety of experience, including her years as an instructor of the Academy of Performing Arts, an adjunct professor of music at Faulkner University, as well as successfully running her own private studio in her home states of Alabama and Missouri. She has also performed in the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra, as a featured soprano soloist with the Urshan College Chamber Choir, and in recitals around the community. Sharla became a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music (NCTM) in April 2019.

A long-time member of the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA), Sharla enjoys giving back to the community. She has served as the Program Director for the St. Louis Area Music Teachers’ Association and is currently serving as the President-Elect for that organization. She has also served as the Chair for the MO Young Artists Competition.