History of OMTA
In 1913, the Superintendent of Oregon Public Education began the process of establishing music in the public schools and the accreditation of teachers for that purpose. It soon became apparent that some organization was needed, so in 1915, with the cooperation of the Musicians Club of Portland, delegates from throughout the state drew up the incorporation papers for the Oregon State Music Teachers Association. John Claire Monteith was elected president at the first annual Conference, November 30, 1916. A year later the name was shortened to the Oregon Music Teachers Association.
In 1927, the University of Oregon was asked to draw up standards for teacher accreditation, and the first Syllabus Bulletins began in 1928. A major revision in 1955 defined Syllabus as “a program of study for teachers of music to be used with pupils studying music outside of school for high school credit.” Unfortunately, the Attorney General of Oregon ruled in 1959 that “such certification (of teachers) while it is not illegal was extra legal and outside the law.” After this ruling, OMTA continued to expand its Syllabus program and develop its own merit plan of certification. OMTA Certification as we know it today was put into operation in 1963.
Through the years, many other projects have been undertaken by the organization. During the Depression a Sickness and Distress Fund was established to help members. Later, these funds were converted for use in providing student scholarships. Other funds have been contributed, and there are now a great number of scholarships and grants available for students and teachers.
Between 1981 and 1986, Nellie Tholen contributed $50,000 to OMTA, with interest from the amount to be used for a Teacher Improvement Fund. A Baroque Festival, Ensemble Festival, Student Composition Celebration, Sonatina Festival, and Extended Study of Musicianship and Repertoire (ESMAR) have joined the OMTA Syllabus program, giving students added opportunities for performance and evaluation.
Nellie Tholen also made a significant contribution to the Oregon Community Foundation, to further the art of piano teaching in Oregon. Generous grants from this trust have helped to fund our OMTA State Conference for many years, making the conference affordable for all our members through travel grants, free student and new member registrations, and housing rebates. In addition, in 2014 OMTA was awarded a five year grant to provide continuing education programs across the state and to bring more continuing education opportunities to OMTA’s rural and under served local districts.
The official publication of OMTA is Music News which is published monthly from September through June. Additional information and communication is now offered through the bi-annual Oregon Musician journal and the OMTA website. Annual conferences are well attended and provide members an opportunity for networking and continued professional growth. OMTA is divided into 13 districts which hold local meetings, workshops, and recitals to benefit members, their students, and their communities.
In 1950, OMTA affiliated with Music Teachers National Association and has since benefited through participation in its various programs for teachers and students, such as group insurance, national certification, the Independent Music Teachers’ Forum, national courses of study, the American Music Teacher publication, student performance and composition competitions, and the Composer of the Year commissioning program.
In 1976, the History Books of OMTA were placed in the Oregon Historical Society building on Park Avenue in Portland. Members may arrange to see them by appointment. Also on file are memory books from some OMTA districts.
In 1997, OMTA was classified a non-profit, 501(c)(3), corporation.
In 2016, OMTA was chosen as the MTNA State Affiliate of the Year in recognition of our work towards inclusiveness, support, and continuing education of our member teachers. A suite by Kenji Bunch was commissioned to commemorate the honor and will be available for teachers to use with their students after its premiere at the 2017 OMTA State Conference.