History of BCMTA

The Broward County Music Teachers Association was established in the autumn of 1965. In its first month, there were 20 paid members.  Today, membership has grown to more than 60 members.  In its first year, there was one activity, Student of the Month.  Today, BCMTA offers more than 15 different activities throughout the school year in which teachers and their students may participate.  BCMTA teachers have become involved not only at the local level, but also at state, divisional, and national levels.  In 40+ years, this association has become one of the largest and most active music teacher’s associations in South Florida.

The Broward County Music Teachers Association was organized in 1965 by Clarissa B. Nichol.  At the request of the Music Teachers National Association, Clarissa called an organizational meeting of the studio teachers in Broward County at Overbrook Music Company on September 15, 1965.  Mrs. J. Lorton Francis, Miss Margaret Strassberger and William N. Worley served as the nominating committee.

On October 11, 1965, the Secretary-Treasurer of the Florida State Music Teachers Association, Merle Sargent, came to Broward County as an official of MTNA and FSMTA.  Her purpose was to preside as chairman pro-tem and to install  the BCMTA officers.  Her theme for the installation was graciousness, ability, versatility, enthusiasm, and leadership.

The first regular meeting of BCMTA was held November 8, 1965.  Clarissa Nichol presided as the first president.  There were 20 members present.  Yearly dues were set at $5.00, and future business meetings were held monthly.  The first activity to be created by the association was Student of the Month.  Each month a student was selected by the executive board to perform at the business meeting.  Students were selected based on his or her teacher’s recommendation.

In the first five years of the association, the membership grew to nearly 40.    The Student of the Month continued throughout these five years, and some new activities were added.  On April 27, 1969, BCMTA held a Ten Piano Festival at Plantation High School.  It was the first multiple piano festival in Broward County, perhaps even in the state of Florida.  Ten matched Wurlitzer console pianos were shipped in from Overbrook Music Company especially for the festival.  The program consisted of piano duets and duo piano music played simultaneously on 10 pianos. In June of 1968, BCMTA held its first Spring Student Recital.  On June 6, 1970, the first Student Day was held.  There were almost 10 students entered.  June Tillman served as adjudicator for them.

In the years from 1971 to 1975 there were many changes in the membership, yet the number of members remained the same.  The association became very involved in the fight to keep music education in our public schools during these years.  Many letters were written to school principals and superintendents expressing the need for music to remain in the education and in the lives of our schoolchildren.  In 1971, rules for student recitals were developed and accepted.  Soon thereafter, a Fall and Spring Recital became the standard.  The Student of the Month program continued, and another 10 Piano Festival was held in May of 1971.  Upon Edna Horn’s death in 1971, a memorial scholarship was established in her name.  The $50.00 scholarship was for a gifted, but extremely disadvantaged elementary or middle school student.  Students were nominated by a school teacher and then approved by members of the executive board.  A monthly newsletter began in February of 1972.  In 1973, there was a long debate between members of the board and the association, that all local members must belong to their state and national organizations.  This was to become effective in June of 1974.  On February 19, 1974, it was finally voted 9-1 to accept the motion that “no new active or provisional member will be accepted into local membership who does not elect both state and national membership”.  BCMTA celebrated its tenth anniversary on October 22, 1975 with an open house at the home of Clarissa Nichol.  A recital of advanced students was presented.  The event was attended by all past presidents.

In the years from 1975 to 1980, BCMTA saw a large period of growth.   Membership  expanded  to  nearly  60  members.   On October 29, 1976, Dr. Ruth Schmidt established an annual music scholarship award.  The $200.00 award was granted on the basis of a 20-minute performance audition.  The first Schmidt Scholarship competition took place on March 20, 1977 at Hale Piano & Organ Company, with four students competing.  In 1977, the Clarissa B. Nichol Student Aid Fund was established.  In 1978, Robert F. Messingschlager established an annual piano scholarship.  Prizes were set at $500.00 for first place, $300.00 for second place, and $200.00 for third place.  The prizes were granted based on a 20-minute performance audition. On April 11, 1979, BCMTA held its first faculty recital at Hale Piano & Organ Company.  The program included seven teachers and consisted of solo piano, duo piano, flute and voice.

The Student of the Month was discontinued in 1979.  In 1980, an intermediate level scholarship competition for instrumental students was established.  To establish a scholarship fund for this   event,   the   Clarissa   Nichol   and   the   Edna   Horn  awards  were discontinued and funds from these awards were incorporated into a new intermediate scholarship fund.  Prizes for the competition totaled $150.00 and were awarded as:  the Clarissa Nichol Award (first), the Edna Horn Award (second) and the BCMTA Award (third).  Prizes were based on a 12-minute performance audition.

In the years from 1981 to 1985 membership did not see much growth but again went through many changes.  During this period of time, much effort was put toward setting very specific guidelines for the 3 scholarship competitions BCMTA had now established.  By October of 1982, revised rules for all three scholarships were written and approved.  In October of 1981, a referral system was established for placement of new students.  In October of 1982, Clarissa Nichol was proclaimed an Honorary Lifetime Member of BCMTA in recognition of her founding and serving the association.  In January of 1983, a faculty benefit recital was established to raise money for the scholarship fund.  In September of 1983, Clarissa B. Nichol passed away.  The first prize in the Intermediate Competition is now given in her memory.  In November of 1983, the amounts of the Schmidt Scholarship Awards were increased to $200.00 for first place, $150.00 for second place, and $100.00 for third place.

In the years from 1986 to 1990, membership grew to more than 70. More attention was given to scholarship competition rules, and changes were implemented as they came to be approved by the board.  Faculty benefit recitals continued until 1988.  In June of 1988, BCMTA established its fund raising Pianothon, in which students attempt to secure pledges for performing.  Fifty percent of the proceeds were donated to a local charity.  The percentages donated to charity were later modified to seventy-five percent to the scholarship fund and twenty-five percent to a charity. The first Pianothon was held on February 4, 1989, with 120 students raising more than $2500.00.  In 1989, it was decided to divide the Intermediate Competition:  Intermediate A for fifth and sixth grade students, and Intermediate B for seventh and eighth grade students.  In the fall of 1989, a lending library of video and audio tapes was established for all members to use and enjoy.

From 1991 to 1995,  BCMTA  membership grew to 80. In March of 1991, the association established a fund for summer camp scholarships.  Awards were based on need and teacher recommendation.  1993 offered three new programs:  in recital format,  a Mini Masters for lower level students,  A Symphony of Sound for  voice  and  instruments other than piano, and a composition contest for students composing in the divisions of elementary, middle school, and high school.  In 1994, the Schmidt Competition was re-named the  BCMTA High School Instrumental Competition, as it was no longer funded by Dr. Schmidt.  In 1995, due to the large numbers of students participating in District VI Student Day, it was decided to try a two-year experiment to hold Written and Aural Theory examinations in November (the Saturday before Thanksgiving) and the Performance examination the following March or April.  In the fall of 1995, BCMTA began a 14 year collaboration with the City of Pompano Beach to administer its piano competition, which has included thousands of students over the years. Also in 1995, a banner and tablecloth with the BCMTA emblem were purchased to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of BCMTA and first displayed on June 17, 1995 at a luncheon at the Riverside Hotel in Fort Lauderdale.

Between 1996 and 2000, our membership rose to 100, making BCMTA the largest local in the state of Florida.  During this time, the experiment of dividing Student Day examinations into fall and spring was accepted and approved by both the executive board and the membership at large.  Mini-Masters Recitals have continued to be a favorite, but Symphony of Sound Recitals were discontinued in 1996.  Pianothon became a two-day event and has enabled our association to become financially sound.  In 1996 BCMTA and District VI planned and hosted the 62nd Annual FSMTA Conference, chaired by then District President Marie McGuire, and held in Deerfield Beach’s Hilton Hotel with Nelita True as guest artist.  This conference proved to be one of the most successful conferences in state history, netting a $4500 profit, the most ever.  Monies were used to repay the state for the loan of seed monies and contributed to the scholarship funds of BCMTA, PBMTA, and Miami MTA.  In the fall 1997 Dennis Alexander conducted the District VI Enrichment Day and in January 1999 Ivan Davis was featured in a dual meeting with MMTA.

In 1999-2000, we were enriched by workshops conducted by Dr. Vicki McArthur for District VI and a duet recital by Ed and Ann Louise-Turgeon for BCMTA/MMTA. This season saw the enrollment in Student Day grow to over 300, where it has remained to the present.  2000 saw the beginning of a 3-year sponsorship by FJH Publishing for the District VI Enrichment day, featuring such composers and clinicians as Nancy and Randall Faber, Melody Bober, Suzanne Guy and Joanne Smith.

In 2001, BCMTA incorporated as a 501C3 not for profit corporation, and became Broward County Music Teachers Association, Inc. In 2001, Pianothon was renamed “Musicthon”, to embrace all instruments in this performance event. A contest was held for the redesign of BCMTA’s piano-dominated logo to encourage inclusion of more instruments in our organization. The winning logo was designed by 8 year old Staci Hill of Davie. In May, 2003, Catherine Gavin was elected to an unprecedented second consecutive term as President. The Mini and Grand Masters recitals had been losing momentum over the past few years, and were discontinued in 2002.

Plantation Women’s Club formed a musical bond with BCMTA by underwriting annual scholarships in the amount of $500 to $700 from 2001 to 2005. These scholarships were awarded to seniors from Plantation who planned to pursue a musical career through study at a Florida college.

In the fall of 2005, hurricanes forced the cancellation of two attempts to hold an open house. BCMTA combined this event with its annual Holiday Part at Covenant Village in Plantation – a successful solution!

In 1999, BCMTA established the bi-annual Distinguished Service Award, to honor someone outside the organization who has made a significant contribution to the South Florida cultural community.  Recipients have been: 1999 Tim Smith, arts critic for the Sun Sentinel newspaper; 2001 James Judd, Music Director of the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra; 2003 Peggy Barber, Founder and Conductor of the Nova Singers; 2005 Jeffri Bantz, Former Director of the Florida Singing Sons Boychoir, and Director of Music of First Presbyterian Church in Pompano Beach; and 2007 Myra and Bob Weaver, Founders of the Florida Youth Orchestra.

BCMTA holds regular general meetings, with programs presented by members and guest clinicians to expand our minds and enrich our teaching and listening experiences. BCMTA continues to administer many fine programs and competitions for its students. The level and quality of student performances are consistently the highest caliber, attesting to the fine teaching by our professional members.