This article originally appeared in the Winter 2015–2016 • Volume 1, Number 2 edition of CAPMT Connect, The Journal of the California Association of Professional Music Teachers.
How to Start a Collegiate Chapter of CAPMT/MTNA
Dr. Brandon Bascom, NCTM •
Fresno City College MTNA Collegiate Chapter Advisor
CAPMT State Honors Competition Chair
As a university student, being a member of an MTNA collegiate chapter was very beneficial to
me in learning how to network, in choosing future schools and programs of study, and in
establishing my career as a music teacher. I was a collegiate member for five plus years,
although my activity fluctuated. As a collegiate member, I attended one state conference. I
was also able to take advantage of the collegiate door-monitoring program and attended four
national conferences for free.
The main requirement for forming and operating a functioning collegiate chapter is time. An
advisor is needed to donate his or her time to help oversee the chapter. Officers are also
needed to volunteer their time to plan, and help run the chapter. I have listed some
additional requirements and other things to consider below.
One of the first steps needed to form a collegiate chapter is to find out about the institution’s
requirements for starting an officially recognized club or organization on campus. Each school
with which I have been associated has had their own system of student government with
different policies for each club on campus.
The following things should be kept in mind:
• Funding is sometimes given by a campus student government organization to clubs.
This funding has helped members of my chapters attend national conferences.
• Some student government organizations require the chapter to complete some sort of
application. Furthermore, some require a member of the proposed club’s leadership to
attend meetings. Meetings at different schools have been as few as once a semester,
or as many as once a week.
• The institution may have requirements that must be reflected in the chapter bylaws in
order for the organization to be approved at the institution level.
• Meeting times and places often have to be scheduled in consultation with the
• MTNA’s Collegiate Chapter web page states, “Each prospective collegiate chapter
must submit an online Collegiate Chapter Application. Upon approval by the state
association and national office, your collegiate chapter will receive notification and a
certificate from MTNA.” See http://www.mtna.org/collegiate-chapters/starting-acollegiate-chapter/
• It also states that “each chapter must have at least three student members, as well as a
sponsor or advisor who is an active member of the state and national associations.”
• Bylaws are required of each chapter, and must be submitted with the proposed
chapter’s application to MTNA’s national office. A sample of bylaws can be found in
the Collegiate Chapters Handbook, which can be downloaded at
• The suggested officers to make up the Executive Committee of a collegiate chapter
include president, vice-president, treasurer, and secretary. It is also helpful to have
someone act as an historian to take pictures of chapter activities, as well as someone to
handle publicity by letting others know about upcoming activities.
MTNA lists example past activities of successful collegiate chapters (see
This is a helpful resource to new chapters.
Another great template that has worked well for me is to pattern collegiate chapter meeting
activities after the Nationally Certified Music Teacher project requirements (see
https://www.mtna.org/process/teacher-profile-projects/). At my present institution, pedagogy
courses are not currently offered. Advising a student chapter is a way for me to ensure that
our students receive the same information and materials.
I have seen departments require all piano majors to be members of MTNA. The costs of
membership fees/American Music Teacher subscriptions are justified as a textbook. I have
mixed feelings about this idea. While it does help increase membership numbers in a chapter,
and potentially funding for a chapter, forcing membership does not always result in
When I was a graduate student, the local teachers’ chapter invited all members of the
collegiate chapter to attend their meetings. This gesture was valuable to me as a student
getting ready to transition to the real world. It helped me see how a chapter operated, and
how its members put on events, including a festival serving hundreds of students. I would
encourage local chapters to extend the same invitation to collegiate chapters in our state. I
would also suggest that, if possible, students attend the business meetings at a state
conference or a regional meeting at a national conference to get a feel for how meetings are
administered. Students will learn the language of Robert’s Rules that MTNA uses, including
the process for the proposal and passing of motions (see http://rulesonline.com).
While time is precious and often safeguarded, I believe that the benefits of this investment
are great for the advisor and the students. Being involved as a student provides great
leadership experience as well as valuable training, at a fraction of what this might normally
cost. Becoming an advisor is a great way to give back to students, and to help mold the
future of our organization.