History of Decatur Area Music Teachers Association
In the fall of 1971 a Piano Pedagogy Class was offered in Decatur by the University of Illinois. The instructor was Dr. James Lyke. After the class was completed in the spring of 1972, the group continued to meet to share ideas and discuss studio policy. In the early fall of 1972, Dr. Lyke suggested that they form a local Chapter under Illinois State Music Teachers Association (ISMTA). They met in the studio of Mildred Corwin and Dr. Lyke explained how to form a local Chapter.
Dues for the Decatur Area Music Teachers Association were first paid in October of 1972. The first order of business was to extend an invitation to teachers within a 50 mile radius of Decatur to join. Teachers in attendance at the first meeting were: Mildred Corwin, Ruth Mills, Faith Penwell, Pat Hoffman, Myra Luce, June Pedigo Helen Kershaw and Edna Gentry. Meetings were held at Macon Music, Inc on the first Monday of the month.
During the year of 1974, DAMTA members were introduced to the Minnesota Theory and Performance Syllabus program. In the fall of 1975, plans were made to hold the first Theory and Performance examinations. Arrangements were made to have the exams at Millikin University. The first theory exam was held in January of 1976 and the first performance exam was held in April. Students who participated in the exams received ISMTA pins and certificates.
A new ISMTA Organ Syllabus was written under the direction of Dr. Gary Zwicky. The first organ exam was held on April 15, 1978 at Millikin University. A spinet organ was furnished by Emerson Piano House, Decatur. Kaeuper Hall pipe organ was used for exam students as they progressed to a console organ.
In 1978 a new ISMTA Performance and Theory Syllabus was written. The new syllabus was used at the 1979 Theory and Performance Exams. Organ students performed theory from the ISMTA Performance and Theory Syllabus and Literature from the Organ Syllabus.
The first First Multi-Keyboard Festival (MKF) was held at 7:30 p.m.on Nov.11, 1978 at Forsyth Elementary School. Guest Conductor was Georgia Gher Luttrell from Southeast High School, Springfield, IL
17 teachers entered students with 186 students participating. Students were assigned a rehearsal time with the director during the day. There were twelve grade levels playing. Twelve pianos were furnished by Emerson Piano House, Decatur.
Meetings were held at Macon Music, Emerson Piano House, Baldwin Music Store and a few meetings at Byerly’s Music Store at Hickory Point Mall. Beginning in 1981, the meetings were held in the Teachers Lounge at Millikin University School of Music.
On April 9, 1983, the first Honors Recital was held in Kaeuper Hall after the Performance Exams. Each teacher would select a student to play.
In November of 1983 the Mult-Keyboard Festival was moved to Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, IL
Dr. Gary Zwicky of the music department served as director until the last festival in Oct. 1992.
Twelve pianos were on stage and furnished by the University Music Department.
Rehearsal was an all day activity. All students, depending on what grade level they were playing, would gather for the first time in a warm up room. DAMTA teachers would work and direct the students before going to the concert stage for a final rehearsal with Dr. Zwicky. Music activities were planned throughout the day to keep the students that were not rehearsing busy. All of the festivals would end with the teachers playing a number. The students truly enjoyed the day.
At the last 1992 festival there were eight grade levels with 113 students participating.
Revision of the ISMTA Organ Syllabus began in 1990. Chairman being Dr. Gary Zwicky. Serving on the revision committee: Irma Waddington, Pat Derian, Mary Rea and Glee Cumbow.
First revision of the ISMTA Syllabus began in 1996, Chairman being Mary Veverka. Second revision was completed in 2014. The Syllabus is now known as ISMTA Achievement in Music (AIM).
1997 – 98 was the first year for “ISMTA Member of the Year.” Irma Waddington was selected by DAMTA Members.
From spring of 1999 to the fall of 2003, Music Festivals were held each year at Hickory Point Mall. Students as well as teachers performed. Due to the expense of having pianos moved in, the fall of 2003 was the last festival.
During the fall of 1999, Millikin began construction on the Music Building. DAMTA held their meetings at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1360 W. Main Street, Decatur, IL. Meetings are now held at Perkinson Music Center, Millikin University.
Special thanks to Pat Hoffman for her information on the early organization of DAMTA
Written by Irma Waddington