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It's time: start a collegiate chapter.

Ah, spring, a time of renewal and flesh air! Time to deep clean the house, organize closets and clean up the yard to prepare for summer--and while you're at it, why not organize a new MTNA collegiate chapter at your institution?

Students benefit from membership in student organizations in general. Participation in groups allows students to enhance their educational

experience, deepening their understanding and experience of the world of the musician. Membership in student organizations also gives students a sense of greater inclusion and helps them feel that their individual talents and abilities are appreciated. Perhaps this might impact retention of students at an institution.

Membership in an active MTNA collegiate chapter offers several benefits in addition to those noted above. First, since MTNA is a primary association for both independent music teachers and collegiate music teachers, students participating in MTNA at the collegiate level can expect to develop a number of networking opportunities at the local, state and national levels. Interacting with professionals working in the field students aspire to join is invaluable. Local networking can be particularly advantageous for those students who plan to stay on in their communities/states after graduation and open their own studios. Forming connections with professionals also is beneficial for those who plan to pursue advanced degrees in music by allowing them to become familiar with different degree programs available nationwide, meet and interact with professors who administer them and make informed decisions about which graduate programs will best serve their needs. The most immediately appreciable benefits of participating in a collegiate chapter are the chapter activities themselves. A few ideas include:

* Attending state and/or national conferences as a chapter. Some fundraisers that have been successful for various chapters include selling or auctioning services (refreshments at various events, leaf-raking, cleaning, snow removal--the possibilities are endless!) and holding special-interest concerts. There also may be funding or special services available for your chapter through your institution (see below).

* Hosting symposium/workshops, either through extending an invitation to a music professional or directly participating in such a session (as evidenced by chapter presentations at various state and national conferences).

* Engaging in service projects to benefit the institution or the larger community. Working with local MTAs can be particularly fruitful. MTNA collegiate members also might collaborate with other on-campus organizations in projects of mutual interest.

* For those students who are developing studios, taking advantage of shared recitals, round-table discussions about repertoire and how to best meet students' needs, and a referral service (perhaps maintained online through the chapter website) can provide immediate, practical benefits.

Now that you are convinced you need a collegiate chapter at your institution, here's how to get organized and gain official recognition:

Find a faculty member to serve as your faculty advisor. This person often spearheads the initial organization of the chapter and acts as a liaison to State MTA and/or MTNA.

Contact Heidi Nienberg at MTNA national headquarters to request a packet for organizing your collegiate chapter, which contains complete procedural information for holding your first organizational meeting and a sample to aid you in writing your chapter bylaws.

Advise your state collegiate chapters chair of your intent to form a chapter. This person can be a great resource in answering procedural questions or helping you reconcile any potential difficulties between MTNA guidelines and your institution's expectations (see below).

Consult your institution for any special governance procedures required for student organizations. Each institution's expectations/requirements for student organizations is different. Some institutions require all student organizations to be recognized by the institution; some do not. It is imperative to understand your institution's policy from the outset. It is advisable to apply for recognition as an official student organization on your campus at the same time you apply for MTNA recognition, as this likely will save you time in the long run and can entitle your chapter to some considerable services or benefits. For example, a few services offered by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's governance body for student organizations are free banking services, availability of very affordable travel insurance and grant opportunities for special activities. The guidelines for bylaws suggested by MTNA are very general, which will allow you maximum flexibility for writing bylaws that also will conform to the expectations for bylaws of student organizations at your institution.

After you have held your first organizational meeting and elected officers, forward all the required materials and dues, as detailed on the collegiate chapter affiliation application, to your collegiate chapters state chair. He or she will ensure all the required materials are in order and will forward your materials to the appropriate person or committee of your state MTA. Your application typically needs to be approved by your state MTA before your application materials are forwarded to national headquarters. It is helpful if you include a postage-paid envelope with your application materials for this purpose.

Fortunately, this process can be accomplished in just a few weeks with the right planning and execution. Best wishes and bon voyage to your new collegiate chapter!

Brenda Wristen directs the piano pedagogy and keyboard skills programs at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is the author of numerous journal articles and conference presentations and an active clinician and adjudicator Wristen is collegiate chapters chair for the Nebraska MTA.
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Title Annotation:Forum focus: collegiate chapters
Author:Wristen, Brenda
Publication:American Music Teacher
Date:Apr 1, 2004
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