MSMTA History

The Maryland State Music Teachers Association (MSMTA) was organized at a meeting at the Peabody Conservatory, Baltimore, Maryland, and was officially voted into the Music Teachers National Association that same year. Originally, MSMTA was a part of the Southern Division of MTNA, but when the Eastern Division was formed in 1961, MSMTA became a part of that geographical area of MTNA. Elizabeth R. Davis served as MSMTA's first president (1957-1961). Mrs. Davis was a talented pianist and renowned teacher who held office on the Board of Directors until the time of her death in 1965.

When Emerson Meyers became the second president (1961-1964), a Certification Program was initiated, more Standing Committees were formed and the first chapter was created. Prince George's County music teachers group became our first Local Association in 1963, and was recognized by MSMTA as the Southeast Chapter. The Southeast Chapter was renamed Prince George's Music Teachers Association in 1964. Dr. Gail McDonald was the first president. In that same year, Mr. Meyers became president of the Eastern Division of MTNA, and Dr. Allen Garrett finished that term as MSMTA president.

While Dr. Allen Garrett held office (1964-1966), Montgomery County Music Teachers Association became the second MSMTA Local Association in 1965, with Jeanne Tourin as MCMTA's first president. The annual Spring Festival, chaired by Gertrude Brown, was conceived in 1965, and has since grown into four different solo and ensemble events. Dr. Garrett moved to Pennsylvania, and his term was completed by Gertrude Brown.

When Gertrude Brown became MSMTA's fourth president (1966-1969), she originated and chaired the first Concerto Competition in 1967. In later years, the competition was divided into Junior and Senior Concerto Competitions. The Elizabeth R. Davis Memorial Piano Competition was established in 1968 with Elza Marques-Guard as chair. The Towson MTA (later renamed Greater Baltimore MTA) was founded in 1967 and became MSMTA's third Local Association with Olga Grether as president. Anne Arundel MTA joined the MSMTA in 1968 with Nina Ingraham as president. Mrs. Brown remained active in MSMTA for more than 40 years and served both the State and National association boards in various capacities.

Under Julio Esteban's leadership (1969-1971), the MSMTA Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws and Code of Ethics were published. In 1971, Mr. Esteban had the unusual distinction of resigning from the MSMTA to assume the Presidency of the Music Teachers National Association, and led that organization through its Centennial celebration. Neil Tilkens completed his term of office.

Before assuming the MSMTA presidency, Neil Tilkens had been the Maryland Music Teacher newsletter editor since 1964. During his presidency (1971-1973), the Student Activities Program and Certification Program were expanded. Andreas Makris, National Symphony Orchestra member and composer, was commissioned to write a composition for MSMTA. Mr. Tilkens performed and gave workshops at many MSMTA conventions, was a guest lecturer for many Local Associations, and served as an MSMTA Board Member for more than 34 consecutive years.

Under Jack Thames' leadership (1973-1977), the Theory Testing Program was conceived and first chaired by Winifred Hyson in 1975. MSMTA's second memorial competition was created in honor of David Burchuk, founder of Dale Music, and chaired by Helen Blachly. A music teachers group which had formed in Laurel in 1971 became the MSMTA's fifth Local Association in 1974, with Patsy Stott as its president. Frederick County's music teachers group, established in 1970, became our sixth Local Association in 1976, with Dorothy Freed as its first president.

Dr. Gail McDonald became the eighth president of MSMTA (1977-1981). During her presidency, the MTA of Bowie, which formed in 1968, was affiliated in 1978 with Mary Jo McGovern as its president. The Eastern Shore MTA affiliated in 1980, with Patti Collett at the helm. Vera Driver was the first president of Howard County MTA, which affiliated in 1978. A new Standing Committee, Program Resource, was added to the Board of Directors. In 1979, the Student Recognition for Private Music Study, chaired by Ann Matteson, was established. The Leveque French Music Competition, chaired by Claudette L. Horwitz, came into existence as a MSMTA Student Activity. Dr. McDonald was a signer of the Articles of Incorporation in 1960 and has remained very active in both MSMTA and PGMTA since her presidency.

President Elza Marques-Guard (1981-1985) initiated the Keyboard Musicianship Program with Dr. David Kreider, who was the first chair. Carroll County MTA became an MSMTA chapter in 1983, with Gladys Harrison as its first president. In 1985, Southern Maryland MTA was established, with Carol Heinick as president. Mrs. Marques-Guard, who performed at both the Eastern Division Conference and the National Convention, was a Board member for 34 years. She served as the first chair of the Elizabeth R. Davis Memorial Competition, and chaired that event for many years.

During Doris Chase's terms of office (1985-1989), MSMTA became computer literate. Under her leadership, the Gottlieb Memorial Competition was established by Douglas Guiles and chaired by David Holmes. The Junior Piano Concerto, chaired by Douglas Guiles, came into existence, as well as a competition for a junior concerto composition. The Student Scholarship for Performance Award was conceived and first chaired by Mrs. Chase to give an annual award to enable each local association to honor a student for distinguished performance in a competition. Charles County MTA became the twelfth chapter in 1987, with Judith Dalton as president. Mrs. Chase performed in MSMTA convention events, served on the MSMTA Board in various capacities, and chaired the Spring Festival for Piano Solo for many years.

When Claudette L. Horwitz assumed office as the eleventh president of MSMTA (1989-1993), she conceived and established the Distinguished Music Achievement Award with Myrna Lyons as chair. Mrs. Horwitz chaired the Music Theory Testing Program for thirteen years, and inaugurated its Five-Year Theory Awards. While serving as Piano Ensemble Festival chair, she introduced the tradition of awarding ribbons to the finalists of each event. These awards were then adopted for all the Spring Festivals. Her other positions included two terms each as Membership VP, Student Activities VP, Publications VP, and Member-at-Large. She incorporated the concept of paid advertising into Membership Directory and became MSMTA's first Web Coordinator, working with Steve Cross to produce MSMTA's web site. The site has now expanded to include on-line registration and downloadable forms for student activities. Greater Columbia MTA became the thirteenth Local Association with Constance Fischel as its first president. Mrs. Horwitz served as Secretary of the Eastern Division of MTNA, and has now served as a Board Member of MSMTA for 37 years. She is currently serving as Treasurer, overseeing the MSMTA budget.

Under the leadership of Ann Matteson, (1993-1997), MSMTA became the first state in MTNA to have a web page and go online with Steve Cross as our first webmaster. Carroll County was the first local association to post its own web page. Advertising became a standing committee, first chaired by Claudette Horwitz. A Composition and Commissioning Committee was established with Mary Ann Parker as the first chair. Her committee created the Composers' Circle Composition Festival, which has been held at each convention since 1994. Laurence Tai's commissioned work, a Piano Quintet, was performed at the 1996 convention at Frostburg State University. Dr. Pamela L. Quist was commissioned to write a composition which was performed at the 1998 convention. In 1997 the MSMTA election process was amended to poll the entire membership via mail ballot, with terms beginning on July 1st. A Multimedia Committee with lending library was established with Bonnie Kellert as first chair. Miss Kellert also conceived the Junior Distinguished Musicianship Award in 1996, chaired by Myrna Lyons. Other standing committees formed were: Community Outreach and Education, Martha Sallet; College Faculty, chaired by Drs. Barbara Maris and Linda Cockey; Technology, Helen Smith Tarchalski; Web Page Committee, Claudette Horwitz, Web Coordinator; and MusicLink, Elizabeth Goethe, chair. The Doris Chase Sonata Award was established in 1994. Douglas Guiles chaired this as well as the first MSMTA Concert of Winners in 1995 for the winners of the Junior Concerto Competition, the memorial competitions, and the Doris Chase Sonata Award. The first Honors Concert of Winners for the MTNA-MSMTA competitions, Elizabeth Goethe, chair, was started at the 1995 convention at Salisbury State University. The fourteenth local association, MTA of Greater Calvert was affiliated in 1994, with Tracey Ernst as the first president.

Judith Ferencz (1997-2001) assumed the leadership of MSMTA in 1997. She came well qualified, having served twice as president of Carroll County MTA and chair of their High School Examinations for nine years. Mrs. Ferencz was MSMTA Vice-President for Publications, MSMTA Publicity Chair, and editor of the Newsletter, Directory and Student Activities Bulletin. Under her direction, all these publications underwent entire redesigning. In 1997, she obtained fully automated postal rates for MSMTA mailings, cutting costs and receipt time in half. She was instrumental in setting up the annual Jordan Kitts Grants for our teachers in 1998, and the MSMTA Day at the William Kapell International Competition. The Honorary Patron Membership was created in 1998 with S. Cross and Associates, Jordan Kitt's Music and The Violin House of Weaver as the initial inductees. She implemented Directors and Officers Insurance for all board members, and conducted MSMTA's first member demographics survey in 1999. In 2000, Mrs. Ferencz formulated a Policies and Procedures Handbook - an outline of responsibilities for all Board officers and chairs. MSMTA became the pilot state for digital updates of membership information from MTNA. In 2000 the MD State Legislature declared a Maryland Music Teachers Day, an award which we received on behalf of all MD music teachers. Mrs. Ferencz served as a clinician at MSMTA conventions, an adjudicator for many MSMTA activities and was active on the Web Page Committee. In June of 2003, she was reelected to serve as Vice-President for Publications, but passed away suddenly following surgery in August. The Jordan Kitt's Grants have been renamed The Judith Ferencz Grants in her memory.

Gary Dinn (2001-2003) became the fourteenth president of MSMTA in 2001. He had previously served as president of Prince Georges MTA, and as Student Activities Vice-President for MSMTA. He also chaired the By-Laws/Parliamentarian standing committee and was Vice-President for Current Membership. Mr. Dinn directed the entire revision of the MSMTA Theory Testing Program, and began the process of acquiring an MSMTA Foundation to fund all student activities.

Joselyn Makowski (2003-2007) was the fifteenth president of the MSMTA. She is a former president of the Montgomery County MTA, and has served the Association for many years as Publications Vice-President. During her tenure, she was instrumental in setting up free web pages for each of the local associations. Mrs. Makowski assisted Judith Ferencz in arranging for the Jordan Kitt's teachers' grants. She also served as MSMTA Convention Chair for the conventions at St. Mary's and at Hood College in Frederick. Mrs. Makowski was Recording Secretary during Ann Matteson's presidency, and has chaired the Publicity standing committee.

Carol Wolfe-Ralph (2007-2011) assumed office early due to the resignation of the previous president for personal reasons. During her time in office, she was a huge proponent of online registration for MSMTA events. This feature of the web site is proving essential to the sanity of the chairs of our larger events! She also provided the impetus for a revitalization of the MSMTA Convention, moving it to the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. This venue and the energy Dr. Wolfe-Ralph brought to the job has helped make this annual event one of the "...best state-level events..." the MTNA representatives have attended! Dr. Wolfe-Ralph is now able to devote more time to her horses and pursuit of a Master's in Finance and Accounting.

Junko Takahashi (2011-2013). In her first two months as President, Junko has arranged to reinstate the Jordan Kitt's Grants and will explore more options for outside resources to secure and expand our students' performance opportunities. She hopes to expand the string events to enhance our non-piano membership. Junko plans to work on Community Outreach and Education to position the MSMTA as an important part of the Maryland community. Junko has directed and edited the new edition of the 2011 Membership Directory with support from a large number of advertisers in the music business.


MSMTA continues to evolve and to expand upon its rich heritage by striving to elevate and maintain a high standard of music study through professional growth and cooperation among its teachers, and by providing a wealth of varied and enriching musical and educational activities for students.

Claudette L. Horwitz
Updated September 19, 2011

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