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A decade of advancement.

In December 2006, I complete my 10th year as executive director of MTNA. As humans, we assign special significance to certain time-related milestones--years, decades, quarter-centuries, and the like. In reflecting on the last 10 years, I feel a profound sense of success and happiness in my work as executive director of Music Teachers National Association. The decade was spent advancing the MTNA mission: to advance the value of music study and music making in society and to support the professionalism of music teachers. Every activity, program, and service was an outgrowth of this important mandate.

When I began in December 1996, my "big audacious goal" was that MTNA should be the "preeminent music teacher association" in the country. As our mission prescribes an agenda that is both internally and externally focused, my efforts have had the same focus. Thus, aggressive actions, especially in the areas of partnerships, governance, the internet, and membership programs, have been undertaken to assure our place in the lives of our members and in the music community as a whole. We have embraced risk and recognized that we live in changing times. The world has become much more competitive during this past decade, especially for "mindshare" of our members. As an association, we depend upon the commitment of volunteer leadership to accomplish our mission. As a profession, we depend upon students making musical choices in the midst of other activities that clamor for their time and attention. We have had to change constantly and find better ways to tell the MTNA story, to reach out to new music teachers, and to bring imagination to our programs and services, so that our association advances and so that the music teaching profession remains viable.

Internally, the past decade was about transforming MTNA into what it needed to be in terms of accountability to the members and fidelity to its mission. The bylaws were changed to give every member, not just a small group of 70 or so, the opportunity to vote personally for the leaders that represent them. Forums and advisory councils for each constituency within MTNA were established to give opportunity for input and influence on national policy and programs. The Code of Ethics was revised and a formal process for ethics complaints was established. Formal evaluation processes were established for the chief executive as well as the Board of Directors itself to ensure the effectiveness of both entities. The mission statement was clarified so that it could be more faithfully implemented. This statement is even on our membership cards for all members to know and support. I believe we are now more accountable to our members and faithful to our mission than ever before in our history.

In addition, our programs and services have been improved and expanded. Our conference is more compelling than ever, with a balance of pedagogy, business, technology, group teaching, master classes and wellness sessions. The competitions have been revised to make them more student-friendly. In addition, the MTNA Young Artist Piano Competition is the only student competition in the world at which the winner receives a Steinway grand piano. Certification has been upgraded to include standards, alternative means of becoming certified and to be more aggressively marketed. New services for the members such as Music for Everyone, Self-Assessment Tools, insurance, legal consultation, professional help-line, and the StAR program have been implemented. For our leadership, ASCAP music licensing for all MTNA-related events, the Leadership Summit and the IRS group exemption process have been established. The American Music Teacher magazine has been substantially improved with the addition of new columns, color, larger font and quality of feature articles. And the continued expansion of our technology strategy has the potential to transcend barriers and positively impact our membership in ways not possible even five years ago.

Externally, MTNA now has enhanced visibility with the music industry and other music associations. Our image is now as an organization that is a vital part of the national scene. Much of my personal effort over the past 10 years has been in the development of strategic alliances with the industry and other associations. Strategic alliances allow us to allocate operational responsibility and financial risks and rewards among multiple organizations while preserving our own organizational identity and autonomy. The list of alliances is extensive: National Association of Teachers of Singing, Piano Manufacturers Association International/National Piano Foundation, National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy, Group Piano/Piano Pedagogy Forum, From the Top, National Association of Music Manufacturers, American Pianists Association, Music Educators National Conference, Arts Education Partnership, International Association of Jazz Education, Cliburn Foundation, International Association of Electronic Keyboard Manufacturers, Supportmusic.com, National Music Council, Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, Piano 300, National Association for the Advancement of the Arts, and on and on. Plus, our alliances are now truly international: the Canadian Federation of Music Teachers' Associations, Royal Conservatory of Music, European Piano Teachers Association, Beijing Music Festival, International Society of Music Education, International Music Council.

In addition, MTNA has been featured in such national non-music publications as Real Simple, Better Homes and Gardens and Working Mother magazines, along with quotes in many national newspapers. This past year, MTNA had over 68,000,000 impressions in newspapers and magazines across the country. The new Fisher-Price partnership and the inclusion in the Profile series, which is planned to be broadcast on Bravo, Lifetime and the Voice of America, will expose MTNA to millions of parents and other potential music makers.

Financially, MTNA has grown in net assets from $597,000 in May 1996 to $2,259,943 as of May 31, 2006 (both amounts include the FOUNDATION assets). Several changes to the MTNA FOUNDATION FUND have increased its efficiency and effectiveness. The reclamation of the MTNA Scholarship Fund in the late 1990s more than doubled its assets. The merging of the FOUNDATION with MTNA four years ago reduced the overhead costs of our fundraising efforts. The Katrina effort, which raised almost $42,000, showed the potential of our members to respond to the needs of other music teachers. The FOUNDATION Fellow program was established and is one of the most successful fundraising ideas. The net assets of the FOUNDATION have grown from $106,000 in 1996 to $1,372,000 today.

As executive director, my role has been, and is, to oversee the implementation of our strategic mission, both internal and external. Over the years, one of my most important roles is to make sure that the skills and appropriate contributions of both the volunteer leadership and professional staff are maximized. I have communicated this important truth multiple times: an association like MTNA can be successful only when these two vital components are working together efficiently and effectively. Much of my work has been concerned with creating an environment in which both volunteers and professionals in our association find fulfillment, success and happiness in their respective roles.

Certainly, as CEO, staffing and the operations of the National headquarters is a priority. Over the past decade, our staff has expanded from 12 to 19 full-and part-time employees. I have assembled an exceptional staff, dedicated to service to our members. Stability of tenure is also exceptional, especially in the management area. In addition, the priority to bring staff salaries in line with current trends has been accomplished in most areas. The headquarters has been transformed to one of the most beautiful association offices I know, complete with artwork from our state affiliates to a boardroom without equal.

I believe MTNA is a better organization now than it was 10 years ago; its "stock" has increased in value to our members and to the industry. That's the bottom line in evaluating the effectiveness of the chief executive--is the organization operating efficiently and effectively, utilizing its resources appropriately and advancing in ways that are considered progress by the stakeholders? I believe all of these are true and that the past decade was an unqualified success for MTNA.

Gary L. Ingle

MTNA Executive Director
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Title Annotation:Dear Reader
Author:Ingle, Gary L.
Publication:American Music Teacher
Date:Dec 1, 2006
Words:1330
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