MTNA: A Big Umbrella

When I was president-elect of the California Association of Professional Music Teachers in 2008, I undertook a special project. Some of our student programs dated almost back to the founding of our organization in 1968.

People live differently nowadays, I reasoned, so it’s a good time to take a look at what we music teachers do and see what revisions might be needed, without eliminating any of the strong points that attracted teachers and students in the first place.

I wrote up a survey and sent it to CAPMT members, asking their opinion. We had about a 22% return rate, which is very high compared to that of many other surveys.

One comment that came up over and over again was: our piano programs needed more selections in popular styles. “I’m losing students to the guitar,” one teacher wrote. “To them, it’s more cool.”

Her statement perhaps explains certain sales figures. According to the Music Trades Industry, a total of 3,302,670 electric guitars were sold for the year 2007 in the United States, compared to 62,536 total pianos. 1

What does this mean for MTNA? I have what I call my “big umbrella” theory. In my opinion, high-level music making and teaching exist in a wide range of forms,  and styles, including popular music, jazz and improvisation. I would like MTNA to be a “big umbrella” that shelters outstanding student programs in each of these areas. There already are some fine programs at the local and state levels.

I believe that any type of music that brings students to music study is inherently good and should be encouraged.

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Notes:

  1. Cited in Danielle Baldassini “The changing role of the piano”, Blast Magazine, March 1, 2010

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