McDonald is acknowledged throughout the musical world as one of the foremost performers and teachers of the harp. From 1975 to 1985 she was the head of the harp department at the Juilliard School of Music. At IU she chairs the harp department. She is the founder and Music Director of the USA International Harp Competition. She has been the Artistic Director of the World Harp Congress since its inception and is Honorary President of the Association Internationale de la Harpe, Paris, France.
A native of Illinois, her artistry has carried her around the world many times, placed her in the top rank of her profession and earned her teaching posts in many parts of America--all at once. She simultaneously held posts at the Juilliard School of Music, the University of Arizona and the University of Southern California.
McDonald has served on the jury of most of the major harp competitions in the world, including Israel, Rome, Munich, Gargilesse, and Geneva.
She teaches harp master classes throughout the world. Students from the Americas, Korea, Japan, Europe and China come to study annually in Switzerland where she has her summer home. Her students have held principal harp positions with the New York Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera, Philadelphia Orchestra, Detroit Orchestra, Pittsburgh Orchestra, Orchestra Nationale de France, and numerous others. In 1989, she founded the USA International Harp Competition held every 3 years on the campus of Indiana University. Over 200 harpists have competed for prizes which included a gold concert harp and recitals throughout the world.
She has made 13 recordings of much of the major solo repertoire for the harp, and has published numerous volumes of harp music, including original compositions and transcriptions.