The goal of the Utah Music Teacher Association’s Tooele chapter is to strengthen its students through instruction, ideas and support for teachers, performance, testing and competition opportunities. The results are showing that goal is hitting the mark.
The Tooele Valley chapter was nominated to compete in the 2017 Southwest division for National Association of the Year.
“The teachers of the Tooele Chapter are a tribute to the power and influence of a handful of dedicated teachers,” said UMTA’s state President Cheryl Rytting. “They have made their town a better place and enriched the lives of hundreds of students over the years.”
The state of Utah boasts 20 different chapters and is in the southwest division with Hawaii, California, Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico.
“We’re an association of music teachers that try to promote and help educators in their teaching and also help the community be aware of music and the arts,” Rytting said.
Although Tooele did not go on to win at the national level, the fact that they were noticed shows that teachers in the program are motivated and enthusiastic. The success of the chapter continues to build momentum.
Currently, eight teachers comprise the Tooele Valley Chapter. Stansbury flute teacher Katrina Young got involved three years ago to help her students get prepared for flute competitions.
“This group has given my students more playing opportunities and they’ve been able to connect with other teachers to make our music community even stronger,” Young said.
At 10 a.m. on the first Thursday of every month, teachers meet at Tooele Valley Academy of Dance for a monthly meeting. In March, Rytting from West Valley City, visited the Tooele Valley Chapter as a guest speaker where she shared ideas with the group.
At a recent meeting, Rytting shared the story about the tortoise and the hare. The story opened a discussion about students and how in their music study, they all do things differently and at their own speed. Local teachers appreciate the support that Rytting continues to lend through interactions.
“The fact that they were chosen from the division speaks highly of what they do,” Rytting said.
In the summer of 2000, three teachers — Valerie Evensen, Janean Christensen and Janel Hale — created the Tooele Valley Chapter. At that time, state UMTA president Leslie Bishop drove to Tooele to help organize the chapter.
Since then, many new programs have been instituted. One is that music teachers can test students on their applied music knowledge, and prepare them for future college-level classes and for audition opportunities.
“We have a testing program called Achievement in Music (AIM) that has levels one through 10 in technique, sight-reading, ear training, written theory and performance,” said Grantsville piano teacher Jenean Christensen.
“We teach the students the best that we can for them,” Christensen said. “The program helps so that we don’t leave any gaps.”
UMTA held its last group recital on March 23. There, 40 students participated in a concert to showcase their talent. Every year, usually during the fall, the local UMTA chapter also hosts an ensemble concert to give students an opportunity to play together.
UTMA continues to plan engaging activities and in June, the group plans to perform at the Tooele Arts Festival. The students will perform music from “Peter and the Wolf,” complete with narration.
Another past innovative activity is when students accompanied a movie at the Grantsville City Library, like the old-time “silent movies.”
On the state level each fall, music teachers gather at a statewide music teachers conference. Jennifer Trimble, a new member to Tooele’s chapter, participated in the 2017 two-day event at Salt Lake Community College. This year’s event is scheduled for Nov. 2-3 at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi.
“There were a lot of classes I could take that helped improve my teaching,” Trimble said. “I’ve been impressed by all the tools for teachers.”
Trimble teaches “Let’s Play Music.” She said she realized she needed to do more networking to help her students. She wanted to know other teachers so that she could recommend her students to more advanced programs around the time the student reaches eight years old. She came up with the idea of having a network of teachers for students to choose from. As a result, this year she hosted an expo.
More than 140 people attended the expo, which was held in Grantsville, with 47 teachers participating. Trimble also compiled and distributed a 22-page directory, which informs the community about the county’s teachers and venues for holding recitals.
“I really wanted to have a strong network of quality teachers that I could refer my students to so that I would know they were getting a good education,” Trimble said.
Trimble received a lot of positive feedback following the event and she has already scheduled next year’s two-day event for Feb. 22-23. As of right now, however, she has not settled on a location — but it will be held in Tooele County.
Trimble plans to build on the previous year’s expo by offering a networking luncheon, workshops and presentations. It will also highlight student performances.
A donated piano from the Mundi Project in Salt Lake City is another positive outcome for the local chapter. The Mundi Project’s aim is to give youth access to music education and performance opportunities. The donated piano allows the Tooele Valley Chapter to hold recitals.
In Tooele, Christensen would love to have a nice hall with two pianos and seating for at least 150 people. Right now, the Academy of Dance studio is the closest thing Tooele has to offer. It accommodates 75 chairs.
Where most music teachers teach from their own home, a local venue that will accommodate a nice-sized audience is still a dream.
Tooele resident Christina Ashby is one of those instructors who dreams of better facilities. She teaches two days a week from her in-home studio. She said she grew up loving music and before she began teaching from home, she was teaching choir at Grantsville High School.
Ashby now teaches piano, guitar and voice to over 55 students. She said UMTA has been a great resource. It has provided her with fresh ideas and a connection or network to other teachers who are providing similar services to music students.
“I really wanted the association of other teachers and to be able to discuss ideas and challenges,” Ashby said.
The yearly fee for national and state chapters is $95, but for new members that amount is cut in half.
The UMTA following in Tooele continues to grow and develop into one that rivals other states in the West. As individual teachers step up to share their talents with one another and the community, it will only get stronger, participants said. The chapter’s teachers are reaching for goals that will benefit tomorrow’s music students with a stronger music curriculum and a well-connected network to support them.
Rytting has noticed those goals and how they’re being achieved.
“The members of the Tooele chapter are a tribute to the power and influence of a handful of dedicated teachers,” Rytting said. “They have made their town a better place and enriched the lives of hundreds of students over the years. That’s what UMTA is all about.”
For more information or to join Tooele’s chapter, visit www.utahmta.org.