Ongoing Need for Advocacy

A message from IMTA’s Arts and Advocacy Chair, Karen Thickstun

In our current economy and federal environment, there is an ongoing need for advocacy. If we don’t advocate for our profession, who will?

Recent budget proposals sent to Congress proposed the elimination of all funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The NEA’s current $148 million budget represents just 0.012% of federal discretionary spending. This equates to 45 cents per capita.

Why is it important to keep the NEA?  How does the NEA affect my teaching in my small part of the country?

The NEA provides federal funding (taxpayers’ money) for states to disburse as they see fit. In fact, 40% of the NEA budget is distributed to the 50 states!  In Indiana, the Indiana Arts Commission (IAC) allocates this money to nine different regions. In my region (Indianapolis), arts organizations can apply for operating support and project support. The Butler Community Arts School has received grants from the IAC for the past ten years to provide need-based scholarship assistance for underserved youths in central Indiana. Several of these youths are now music majors or young alumni in the music profession.

Americans for the Arts has created a reference sheet to help each of us talk about the arts — 10 Reasons to Support the Arts.

The argument you employ will depend on who you are talking to…You might want to focus on job creation, and emphasize that the arts create and support 4.1 million jobs, which is a larger share of the economy than transportation, tourism, or agriculture. Or you might want to focus on how the arts develop creativity and innovation — skills that are desired by businesses. Or how the arts can revitalize and strengthen a community.

Advocacy is not just about lobbying Congress. It is what we do every day to support arts organizations and the arts in our schools and communities. Simply being visible and present in your community is advocacy.  AND, it’s good business! The community knows who you are.

Karen will be presenting her second webinar Business Planning for the Independent Music Teacher – Part 2: “Nuts and Bolts.” with MTNA on Friday, May 11, 2018 at 12:00 NOON Eastern Time. Visit the Members Only  area of the MTNA website to register.

In case you missed it, Part 1 “The Big Picture” will be available on the MTNA website in the Members Area.

WVMTA AIM Festival Article in Paper

This article was printed in the Tribune-Star in Terre Haute on 4/8/2018 regarding the WVMTA.

Carrying the Right Tune

119 students participated in Wabash Valley Music Teachers Association Achievement in Music Festival.

The 23rd annual Achievement in Music Festival for piano students in the Wabash Valley took place on March 10 in the Fine Arts Building at Indiana State University.

A total of 119 students from the studios of 11 member teachers of the Wabash Valley Music Teachers Association participated at one of 13 progressive levels, prep through Level 12.

The AIM Festival is a non-competitive event between students; participation ensures a musically well-rounded goal to master specific content for each year’s study. The required syllabus, developed by the Indiana Music Teachers Association, outlines requirements in five areas: piano repertoire, keyboard/ technical skills, sight playing, written theory and aural recognition.

All Wabash Valley Music Teachers Association members, who maintain membership in the Indiana Music Teachers Association, volunteer their time to help organize the event and evaluate students of their colleagues in the various skill areas. Guest judges from other parts of Indiana are hired to evaluate the solo performances of each student.

Students prepare all year for AIM day with the goal of demonstrating competency and earning a medal designed for that level. The following member teachers provided the instruction and opportunity for students to participate in the 2018 AIM Festival: Jason Allen, Donna Bowles, Lynette Browne, Lois Clouse, Lai Ping Ho, William Hughes, Joyce Mattick, Dilya Meehan, Janet Palmberg, AIM chair Margaret Roby and Larysa Tudorica.

Wabash Valley Music Teachers Association teacher Lois Clouse (left) and her student greet students at the registration table for the Achievement in Music Festival, March 10 at Indiana State University.
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MTNA Performance Competitions

Indiana’s state round of the MTNA Performance Competitions will be held at Ball State University on Saturday, November 3, 2018. Entry deadline is 3:00 pm EASTERN TIME on Wednesday, September 12. Teacher dues must be paid by this time. For competition details please consult the website at Beyond this, you may direct questions to Jim Helton, MTNA Competitions Chairperson:

Indy Teacher Groups to Welcome Dr. Paul Wirth

Dear Piano Teachers,

Indiana Piano Teachers Guild, Indianapolis Piano Teachers Association, Greater Indianapolis Music Teachers Association and the University of Indianapolis will welcome Dr. Paul Wirth to Indianapolis on FriSat, March 2-3, 2018 at University of Indianapolis.
Dr. Wirth has many irons in the fire. His first love though is the Wirth Center for the Performing Arts in St. Cloud, MN., founded in 1981. He released the first GRAVI DVD in 2007. It was just put on YouTube in 2018. You and your students can watch it here.
This is the explanation of the GRAVI DVD recording on YouTube:
“With 26 years (at the time of release) of experience teaching young artists at the pre-college level, Dr. Paul Wirth first explains, and then demonstrates the teaching of his successful “Gravity Based Technique.” Clearly, and in great detail his step-by-step method of teaching students the art of piano technique is revealed in this 90 minute DVD. Joined by 8-year-old student Serena Lu, the joy of technique is evident throughout the teaching demonstration, as advanced concepts – “the single most important skills any pianist can learn” – are applied to the pre-college age group.”
The following Testimonials are taken from Dr. Wirth’s website. He has given workshops all over the world, including MTNA’s National Conventions. He is a wonderful speaker.


“After seeing your last presentation, the technical ideas, and the ways you motivate your students re-energized my teaching. My students are playing more freely and with better dynamic control, and it has been exciting for us all! Thank you so much for your insight and willingness to share it with others….”
–Nancy Bachus
Pianist, Teacher, Editor and author of the Alfred “Spirit” Series
“Paul Wirth’s exceptional results with his students are well documented by their outstanding achievements in competitions, auditions, solo recitals, and orchestral appearances. At the 2007 National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy, Dr. Wirth’s two presentations of gravity-based technique brought enthusiastic response from the audience. This GRAVI-DVD was made primarily in preparation for those presentations. Dr. Wirth’s logical approach and his well-articulated explanations render these concepts easily understandable and most helpful to all piano teachers. The examples of student performances are highly impressive.”
–Marvin Blickenstaff
The Frances Clark Center for Keyboard Pedagogy
“I just can’t be complimentary enough about it.  It’s lucid as can be, it’s convincing, it’s beautifully constructed, there isn’t one wasted word, and the demonstrations all along the way are just excellent …. Paul Wirth is masterful, and the perfect person to be putting this pedagogy down into a concrete form. I also think that someone can actually learn to do this method by watching the DVD.  I never thought that it would be possible without a lot of close, careful, personal training – but the Gravi-DVD is so clear and logical and appealing, that I’ve changed my mind.”
–Hans Boepple
Pianist/Teacher of Young Artists, Santa Clara University, CA


9:45 Arrive and check-in
10:00 The Gravi DVD Part one
11:45 Break
12:00 College Masterclass
1:30 Lunch
3:00 The Gravi DVD Part two
5:00 Finish for the day
5:30 Dinner with Dr. Wirth (Contact Natalie Todd at )
9:45 Arrive
10:00 The Lesson Notebook: A book to Judge by its Cover
12:00 Lunch
1:30   Preparing students for Recitals and Competitions
3:00   Break and Set up for masterclass
3:15-4:15 First Intermediate Masterclass
4:15-4:30 Break and pictures
4:30-5:30 Second Intermediate Masterclass
5:30-5:45 Picture
5:45 Finish
Dr. Paul Wirth’s information:
Pianist/Teacher of Young Artists
Artistic Director and Co-Founder: Wirth Center for the Performing Arts 
Artist in Residence, University of Northwestern, Roseville, MN
We hope you can come and join us. All teachers and students who want to come for an incredible day of discovery and learning are welcome to attend!  For questions, contact Sally Eppert or 317-507-3171 or Natalie Todd.

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2018 State Conference Call for Proposals

The conference committee for the 2018 IMTA State Conference to be held at Sweetwater Sound in Fort Wayne on October 5-6 is now accepting proposals on all aspects of music teaching and learning.

Both full session and lightning sessions submissions are welcome.

See details, along with the online submission form on the Call for Proposals page here on the IMTA website.

For questions regarding the IMTA State Conference please contact DJ Smith, Conference Laison.

Opus Festival 2018

Hello to all the teachers of IMTA!

It is time again to encourage your students to write music and submit their pieces for the 2018 OpusComposition Festival.

The Opus Composition Festival is a competitive event designed to encourage students to create and write music.  This event promotes creativity and educates students in the art and craft of musical composition. All students who enter receive a special certificate of participation, a ribbon, and a judge’s comment sheet.

Winning entries are offered an invitation to be performed at the 2018 IMTA State Conference. Additionally, winning entries will be offered a reimbursement of entry fees into the MTNA Composition Competition.

Entries must be postmarked no later than Saturday, March 17, 2018

Please refer to the for the rules and detailed guidelines.


Caroline Ahn
IMTA Opus Composition Chair

Opus Festival Forms and Deadline Extension

The entry forms for the 2018 Opus Composition Festival are now available.

Both the entry form and the guidelines are available on the Opus page or you can download them from here:

Opus 2018 Entry Form
OPUS 2018 Guidelines

The entry deadline, normally the first Saturday in March, has been extended to Saturday, March 17, 2018. For questions regarding the Opus Composition Festival, please contact Caroline Ahn, Opus Chair.

Two Indiana Students, Winners in East Central Division Performance Competitions

Music Teachers National Association is pleased to announce the results of the Performance Competition for the East Central Division (ECD).
Included in those results, Indiana is proud to announce we have two winners, two alternates, and two honorable mentions from our state.

  • Junior String, Abigail Ko, Violin, student of Mimi Zweig
  • Young Artist String, Clara Scholtes, Violin, student of Mauricio Fuks


  • Chamber Music (Wind), Empyrean Saxophone Quartet, students of Otis Murphy
  • Senior String, Lydia Rhea, Cello, student of Hans Jensen

Honorable Mentions:

  • Senior Woodwind, Benton Westbrook, Saxophone, student of Otis Murphy
  • Young Artist Woodwind, Ting Hua Liang, Saxophone, student of Otis Murphy

The winners now advance to the national competition which will be held at the MTNA National Conference in Orlando, Florida in March 2018. Alternates will be the representatives should the winners in their category be unable to compete.

Good luck to both Abigail Ko and Clara Scholtes as they compete in March!

Here is the full slate of results for the ECD Performance Competitions:

Chamber Music Wind

WINNER Zenith Saxophone Quartet (MI) John Nichol
Parker Fritz, Soprano Saxophone
Diego Kieliszewski, Alto Saxophone
Ben McDonald, Tenor Saxophone
Taylor Huitema, Baritone Saxophone
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