The Music Teachers’ Association of California®, incorporated in 1897, is a professional organization dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in music education. With over 4,700 members, there are 62 self-governing, affiliated branches throughout the state—from Humboldt County to San Diego County—which coordinate their own activities as well as participate in state-wide events.
HISTORY OF MTAC
On March 2, 1897, seven music teachers of San Francisco gathered together under Volmer Hoffmeyer, a Danish engineer and conservatory-educated musician, to craft and sign the Articles of Incorporation for the Music Teacher’s Association of California. They had been meeting for five years in the interest of maintaining high standards in the teaching and promotion of music in the city.
Hoffmeyer compiled the constitution to support:
- “The promotion of the science of teaching music and the protection of the Corporation’s members of the said Corporation in their vocation.”
- “Cultivation of a taste for high class [sic] music; encouragement of musical composition by the members, and bringing meritorious works to the notice of the public.”
- “Issuance of diplomas to competent instructors of music, and promotion of the employment of such instructors by the public.”
These ideals, though written over 100 years ago, remain as the foundation for the work of the MTAC.
By the turn of the century, more than 20 members met regularly at the 26 O’Farrell Street Headquarters in San Francisco to plan recitals and conduct business.
However, following the April 18, 1906 earthquake, membership plummeted to eleven teachers. San Francisco was in charred ruins, but miraculously MTAC’s records and minutes were salvaged from one of America’s greatest natural disasters. Determinedly, the Association hosted a recital not two months later.
A PERIOD OF GROWTH
As San Francisco rapidly reinvented itself, the Association entered a period of growth. Other counties were invited to join and prospective members no longer needed approval.
In July 1911, the Association hosted its first ever Annual Convention, and membership skyrocketed to 100.
Also in 1911, the momentous decision was made to invite the Southern California Music Teachers’ Association to join forces. The entire roster of the Southern California Music Teachers’ Association became members. The second Annual Convention was held in Los Angeles in 1912 at the Gamut Club.
War and Depression
Despite two World Wars and The Great Depression, the organization boasted 650 members in the 1920s and established two of the Association’s most powerful educational programs: Certificate of Merit® in 1934 and Cal Plan in 1941.
As the world’s political climate calmed after the Second World War, the Association created new avenues for students and teachers to excel.
In 1950, Helen Adele Daum, founder of Certificate of Merit®, created one of MTAC’s most distinguished programs: the Young Artist Guild. By 1951, membership stood at 1,450 in twenty-eight branches.
In 1954, Composers Today and the Improvisation Programs were created.
In the 1970s, VOCE and the Piano Concerto Competition were formed.
Classic programs continued to thrive. By 1978, 8,600 Certificates of Merit® had been issued, and the first day of the 1980 Annual Convention was filled entirely with student performances.
In 1981, the Contemporary Music Seminar was established by Dr. Bob Bennett, with Friends of Today’s Music sponsoring the annual commissioned work.
A Century of Dedication
In 1997, the members gathered to celebrate the Association’s 100th year at their Annual Convention, held at the Sheraton Palace Hotel in San Francisco. The Convention was a great blend of the old and new—longtime members were honored, and the event featured student and professional performances, teacher education, and a commissioned work.
In 1897, seven people created a legacy; today more than 4,700 members are part of that growing legacy. With twelve budding educational programs and active branches, the Association continues to adhere to the ideals that guided the founders over 100 years ago. Their vision is fulfilled every day in the lives of the students, teachers, and volunteers who help run the Music Teacher’s Association of California.
For more information, contact:
MTAC State Office