MTNA Elections 2017: A Personal Connection

Are you a current member of MTNA (Music Teachers National Association)? If so, this month, we have the privilege of voting in the National Elections for the Board of Directors.

When I first joined MTNA, like many, I was guilty of not voting due to the feeling of not knowing any of the candidates. Making a decision based on a short printed bio is hard. Each one has solid credentials, and is a highly qualified and capable candidate, or else they wouldn’t be on the ballot of a national organization. It’s true.

My non-voting didn’t last for long though because I consider the ability to vote for anything a privilege and duty.

On this year’s ballot, Indiana is proud to have one of our own – someone I literally sat next to at our last state board meeting, and I hope I can give you a bit more personal insight into one of the candidates for President-Elect, Karen Thickstun.

In the photo below, Karen is second from the left, and I’m third from the left.  On a side note, can I just say I serve on the best state board ever?! I just love these people…


Organizational Impact

Professional organizations have been a part of my career as early in my college education as I can remember. As a former public school teacher, I was a member of Music Educators National Association (MENC) for years.

When I made the career switch to an independent music teacher, the moment I found out there was an organization for independent music educators, I was in. Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) is now my professional association. Eight years later I’ve never looked back.

It’s not only an organization that has given me professional opportunities and education but one that has connected me with professionals like myself all over my state and country. Many of those connections have developed into a treasure trove of colleagues who challenge, encourage, and inspire me to be the best I can be as a professional.

Karen is one of those people.


The Karen I Know

From the moment I met her, I was impressed with her professionalism, kindness, deep insight, and business savvy. She’s taken her free time to critique proposals for me, not just via email, but on the phone – giving her advice a more personal touch.

I love this next photo because it brought together three people that rate as high as my rating scale goes: Dr. Lori Rhoden, with whom I studied piano pedagogy at Ball State University, Joy Morin of Color in My Piano blog, and on the far right, Karen, who is Instructor of Piano Pedagogy, and Director of the Butler Community Arts School in Indianapolis, Indiana.

We were enjoying lunch during the MTNA Conference in San Antonio (2016) at Schilo’s German deli.

I won’t tell you all her professional qualifications as you can read her bio here, but I will tell you a few things you may not know.

  • Karen strongly impacts MTNA’s future as co-advisor of a very successful collegiate chapter at Butler University. By imparting a solid mentoring relationship with students, many have proven to be committed MTNA members themselves. Recently, a former Butler member, Karen Lien, won the MTNA Studio Fellowship Award.
  • From experience, I can tell you that she embodies MTNA leadership.  She has devoted many years to serving essential roles at the state and national level including most recently as MTNA Vice President and just prior to that, Secretary-Treasurer.  Her understanding of the organization runs deep.  This gives her an incredible knack for balancing working knowledge of past precedent with necessary innovations for the future.
  • Karen is incredibly well-researched in contemporary business practices. Having economically-savvy minds in MTNA leadership is very important to the future of the organization. Her tri-annual column in the American Music Teacher journal continues to benefit teachers across the country and is just one example of her commitment to our profession.
  • She has proven herself a highly-effective advocate of our organization. As Vice President of MTNA, Karen was able to partner with the amazing MTNA staff to concentrate efforts on growing the membership.  Through the work of many, MTNA saw growth in national membership for the first time in many years.  I was VP of Membership for our state at the time and thus privy to her membership emails, which gave great vision, insight, and encouragement to membership leaders at the time. I was always excited to read her thoughts.


If you haven’t yet exercised your right to vote, this is my personal plug for Karen Thickston for President-Elect.

Voting will take place through 3:00 pm, EST, on March 1st.  You may cast your vote here.



    • LOL. Oh, that’s too funny. Do you know each other via a particular avenue or just from being mid-west collegiate-teacher colleagues? Being the foodie I am, I’m sure I picked out the restaurant. German food isn’t my go-to but I LOVE a good Reuben on Rye!

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