Welcome to the Beta version of CCC&TI's new website! Let us know if you have questions--we're here for you.

Meet the FA Music Instructors

Justin Butler

Justin Butler is an award winning multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and educator. Mr. Butler is the Director of the Associate in Fine Arts Music degree program at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute. He previously held positions as a Teaching Artist at Appalachian State University and served on the music faculty at Milligan College for ten years where he taught guitar lessons and guitar pedagogy. Justin has performed at major venues and festivals across the USA, Canada, and Japan as well as live on WNCW-FM, PBS’s UNC-TV, and CBS affiliate WJHL-TV. Justin was also a recipient of a Regional Artist grant awarded by the NC Arts Council and the Caldwell Arts Council.

Mr. Butler received music performance, academic, and leadership scholarships to study music at The Hayes School of Music at Appalachian State University, where he earned an Undergraduate and Masters Degree in Music Performance. Justin also studied Suzuki method at the Hartt School and University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

Photo of Justin Butler

Luke Benton

Luke Benton is a composer, educator, and violinist who has called Western North Carolina his home for 20 years. Before graduating from Hickory High School in 1997, he shared dual roles as the concertmaster of the Western Piedmont Youth Symphony and as a fully contracted member of the professional orchestra. Mr. Benton holds multiple degrees in music composition, studying with Drs. Michael Schelle and Frank Felice at Butler University (Indianapolis, IN); Dr. Nigel Osbourne at the University of Edinburgh (Scotland, UK); Drs. Robert Carl and Larry Alan Smith at the Hartt School (University of Hartford, CT); and Ingram Marshall at Yale University (New Haven, CT). Mr. Benton’s music has been commissioned and performed by the Western Piedmont Symphony, the Lenoir-Rhyne University Wind Ensemble and Concert Band, the Hickory High School Orchestra, the Charlotte (NC) Children’s Choir and Youth Chorale, the New Mexico State University Percussion Ensemble, the Hartford Independent Chamber Orchestra, the Vienna Saxophone Quartet, and Alarm Will Sound, to name a few. His music has been praised as “strong-minded and lovely” by the Indianapolis Star, “wonderfully elegiac and elegant” by the Hartford Courant, and “artfully envisioned” by the Edinburgh Evening News. His most recent work, a commission for the Western Piedmont Symphony entitled TERMINAL STAR, was featured on the January 18, 2015 broadcast of Carolina Live for WDAV 89.9 classical public radio. Additionally, Mr. Benton’s music can be found in the catalogue of Colla Voce Music, Inc.

Photo of Luke Benton

After nearly a decade’s absence, Mr. Benton returned to Hickory in late 2005, where he rejoined the Western Piedmont Symphony as a section second violinist. He also began his professional teaching career at Lenoir-Rhyne University where he continues to instruct music theory, composition, First Year Experience, and film music/aesthetics courses. In 2009, Mr. Benton met his wife, Laura, at Randolph’s Billiards in Hickory. They were married in October 2010, bought a home in June 2012, and welcomed their first child, Owen, in December of that same year. He began teaching courses at Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute in the fall of 2013, and he continues to instruct courses in American Music, Introduction to Jazz, Music Appreciation, and the History of Rock.

Charles Smith

Charles Smith has taught music appreciation since the spring of 2004. In addition to classroom and online instruction, he also delivers applied percussion lessons. He is a 1992 graduate of CCC&TI with an AA in Pre Liberal Arts. He is a 1994 graduate of Appalachian State University with a BS in Music Industry Studies (focusing in merchandising) that includes a minor in business. He also holds BM (1996) and MM (2003) degrees in music performance, also from Appalachian State University. He has completed additional graduate coursework in field of digital communications at East Carolina University (2007).

He is a member of the music honor society Pi Kappa Lambda, as well as the academic honor societies Pi Kappa Lambda, Alpha Chi, Phi Kappa Phi, Gamma Beta Phi.

Charles has been a member of the Western Piedmont Symphony since 2000, serving as both principal timpanist, as well as a featured soloist for Laura Kaminsky’s avant garde work for percussion and orchestra, ‘Terra Terribilis’ (2009). He also performs with the Hickory Choral Society, Symphony of the Mountains, Asheville Choral Society, and Asheville Symphony Orchestra. He has worked alongside Bela Fleck, Charlie Daniels, Chris Brubeck, and Edgar Meyer. Various performances with these ensembles have been aired nationally on American Public Media, as well as statewide on UNC-TV and WDAV.

Photo of Charles Smith

Outside of the orchestral realm, he is a founding member of the Just Friends Jazz Trio. He also enjoys performing on steel pan, both in solo and group settings. Outside of the musical arena, he works in Corporate Education & Development for BB&T Insurance Services.

Robert Steadman

Robert Mitchell Steadman Jr. began guitar studies at the age of 14 under the guidance of his father.

In the summer of 1999 he auditioned for and was accepted to the music program at Brevard College, Brevard, NC, where he studied with Roger Allen Cope. Upon completing his B.A. in Guitar Performance (2003), Robert continued his studies with Dr. Douglas James at Appalachian State University, Boone, NC. Upon completion of his M.M. in Guitar Performance (2006), Mr. Steadman has continued furthering his musical knowledge with Suzuki Guitar and Music Together Training, and has performed in Master Classes for Andrew York, Scott Tennant, Martha Masters, Stephen Robinson and Brad Richter.

Mr. Steadman maintains an active teaching schedule and performs in the mid-Atlantic region.

His first CD, a self-titled collection of classical guitar performances, was released in 2011.

Photo of Robert Steadman

Celia Sexton

Celia Sexton is an honors graduate of Pfeiffer College with a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education, holds a Masters of Music degree in Music Education from Converse College, and is a member of the music honor society Pi Kappa Lambda. Ms. Sexton is director of the CCC&TI chorus ensemble and teaches Applied Music for voice and piano students. In addition to teaching at CCC&TI, Ms. Sexton is an Associate Conductor for the Hickory Chorale Society. She was the director of the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church Chancel Choir and Youth Singers for 25 years. Ms. Sexton also formerly held the position of Music Minister at Holy Trinity, and has taught high school and college music courses in the Hickory, NC area.

Ms. Sexton frequently serves as a voice adjudicator both locally and throughout the state. She also presents vocal workshops for area choirs. Ms. Sexton has held both local and state offices in the North Carolina Federation of Music Clubs and is a past President of the Hickory Music Club.

Photo of Celia Sexton

Kim Gant

Kim holds a BM in Voice performance/Pedagogy, and an MA in Music Education from Appalachian State University.

She was awarded academic and talent scholarships as an undergraduate, and a graduate assistantship as a graduate student in music. She has been a music instructor at the secondary and post-secondary school levels as well as an active church musician in both choral and handbell directing. She was a prior member of the handbell group “Hickory Rings” during it’s inception in 2012. She has maintained a private studio in Hickory, NC as a voice and piano instructor for the last 25 years, and is also a faculty member in voice/piano for The Harper School in Lenoir, NC.

Kim is a current member of the Hickory Music Club, and was a prior member of the Hickory Choral Society for 15 years as a singer, and also served on the HCS board for two years.

Photo of Kim Gant

Dr. Shawn Roberts

Dr. Shawn Roberts is an active and eclectic performer, serving as Principal Percussionist with the American Prize-winning Western Piedmont Symphony since 2010, accompaniment for the Appalachian State University Dance Department, and active percussionist with the Hickory Choral Society, Piedmont Chamber Singers, NC Brass Band, and da Capo Brass. Notable performances include the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the Lotus Blossom World Music and Arts Festival in Bloomington, Indiana, and Director of the West Virginia University Steel Band during the induction of Ellie Mannette into the Percussive Arts Hall of Fame. Dr. Roberts founded World Wide Productions in 2005, overseeing various musical and artistic endeavors, including Eya! Afrolachian Drum and Dance Troupe performing and teaching traditional music and dance from a variety of countries across the African continent, the Caribbean and Middle East.

In addition to performance, Dr. Roberts is passionate about community programs. He conducts numerous workshops in schools both public and private, has served as a scholar and coordinator for Mapping the Beat, a program under the aegis of Arts Bridge America and funded by National Geographic, partnered with Upward Bound, Gear Up, and the Western Youth Network in creating music programs for underprivileged youth, and residencies with the Duke University Talent Identification Program (TIP) serving academically gifted children across North Carolina.

Photo of Dr. Shawn Roberts

He received his Doctorate of Musical Arts from West Virginia University where he focused on non-Western percussion while maintaining performance in Western traditions. He holds an MM in Percussion Performance and a BM in Music Education, both from Appalachian State University. Dr. Roberts currently teaches humanities courses at both Caldwell Community College and Appalachian State University, as well as private and group instruction through the ASU Community Music School.

Cindy Tate-Gibson

Cindy Tate-Gibson (MMT, MT-BC) has worked as a music therapist since 2005. In addition to being a music instructor at CCC&TI, Ms. Tate-Gibson is adjunct lecturer in music therapy at Appalachian State University. She holds the Master of Music Therapy degree with a focus on body-centered therapy from Appalachian State University. She has served children with autism and other developmental disabilities through the public-school system in Watauga County as well as through private practice. Ms. Tate-Gibson is an advanced trainee in the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music (GIM) and offers GIM sessions for adults. She has a particular interest in women’s issues, which was the focus of her thesis research.

Photo of Cindy Tate-Gibson