Tia Roper-Penn is a Usdan alumna, and she became a "Lifer" in 2010 in recognition of her combined ten years as a Usdan student and teacher. She was a student at Usdan in 1992, and she became the Center's principal flute teacher in 2002.
As a young woman growing up in Queens,Dr. Roper-Penn was a student at the Juilliard Pre-College division, from which she was graduated with honors. She received her Bachelor of Music Degree from Manhattan School of Music; her Master of Music degree in Music Performance from Boston University, and her Doctorate of Musical Arts from Rutgers University. She won grand prize in the 2004-2005 Artists International Debut Recital competition, and received critical acclaim for her Carnegie Hall recital debut. Dr. Roper-Penn was a winner of the New York Flute Club Competition, was awarded first-runner up in the Frank Bowen Young Artists Competition in New Mexico, and won the grand prize in the National Association of Negro Musicians competition.
Dr. Roper-Penn recently looked back at her student days at Usdan:
"As musical artists, we often seek inspiration from three things: our emotions, nature, and striking visual images. Emotions are evoked from our day-to-day interactions with others, but are also inspired by our surroundings. These themes of visual inspirations and nature are clearly embodied through the picturesque landscape of Usdan. Being in an environment of such beauty and serenity was an ideal setting for me as a student which helped to cultivate and develop my talent. Seeing world-renowned performers on a daily basis at assembly further motivated me and was a catalyst to perform with a greater sense of lyricism and confidence. Today, I am an educator and successful musician. I use these Usdan memories to motivate my work. However, I now have a new inspiration: my Usdan students!"
A distinguished concert artist as well as an educator, Dr. Roper-Penn is also a collaborative and orchestral artist. She holds principal flute positions in the New York String Orchestra, the Boston Civic Symphony Orchestra, and the Pacific Music Festival Orchestra in Japan. She has performed as a soloist with the Queens Symphony Orchestra and as a flutist with the New York City Ballet Orchestra, Brooklyn Philharmonic, New England Philharmonic, and Westchester Philharmonic. In addition, she is a founding member of Alchemy Winds, flute and oboe duo. She has given concert performances in Russia, Switzerland, the Barbados, Japan, Venezuela, and throughout the United States. In addition, Dr. Roper-Penn is the recipient of the ASCAP Leiber & Stoller Scholarship, Richard & Mica Hadar Foundation Scholarship, and American Symphony Orchestra League Scholarship.
Dr. Roper-Penn is committed to teaching as an integral part of her musical life. She taught at Grand Street Campus High School, and is the flute coach for the Carnegie Hill Orchestra of the InterSchool Symphony Orchestras of New York. In addition to her teaching at Usdan. she is a member of the faculty of the Bloomingdale School of Music.