Board of Directors



Rebecca Grooms Johnson, NCTM
Columbus, OH

MTNA President Rebecca Grooms Johnson, NCTM, is a nationally respected leader in the field of piano pedagogy. She holds a PhD degree in music education, specializing in piano pedagogy from The Ohio State University. Johnson is an experienced independent piano teacher of all ages and levels of students and has taught piano, class piano and piano pedagogy for many years at the university level. A member of MTNA for more than 30 years, she holds the Permanent Professional Certification designation. Johnson has served MTNA in numerous local, state and national leadership positions. At the national level, she served as vice president of the Board of Directors; Conference Chair of the 2012 New York City National Conference and the 2013 Anaheim California National Conference; and president-elect. She currently serves as MTNA national president and will hold the office of immediate past president from 2017–2019. Johnson chaired the MTNA National Certification Commission from 2008–2011, and worked with commissioners to write and implement a new certification process. She was honored to be inducted as an MTNA Foundation Fellow in 2009. A widely published writer, Johnson contributes a tri-annual feature titled “What’s New in Pedagogy Research” in MTNA’s journal American Music Teacher. She is an associate editor for Clavier Companion magazine, and produced a two-year series of 12 articles exploring current piano methods. An active clinician, Johnson has presented numerous workshops at State and National Conferences.


Scott McBride Smith, NCTM
Lawrence, KS

MTNA President-elect Scott McBride Smith, NCTM, is a visionary leader in music education. He is the Cordelia Brown Murphy Professor of Piano Pedagogy at the University of Kansas, a position he assumed in 2010 after teaching prizewinning students in Irvine, California, for 30 years. As CEO of the International Institute for Young Musicians, he leads a summer program that trains gifted young performers from around the world. His philosophical and cognitive approach to music has resulted in appearances before teachers groups across the United States, as well as in Europe, Asia and South America. Smith is co-author of the college text The Well-Tempered Keyboard Teacher and associate editor of Clavier Companion. He is co-author and editor of the groundbreaking series American Popular Piano and co-author of Christopher Norton’s Guide to Microjazz. He is a chamber music coach as well as a piano teacher. The Wakarusa Trio, a university-level group coached by him, were the 2013 MTNA Chamber Music String winners. His pre-college trio, Trio Aer, made its Merkin Hall debut in New York as the Grand Prize winners of the National Young Artist Chamber Music Competition in 2013. Smith received his doctorate from the University of Southern California, where he was co-winner of the Outstanding Graduate in Piano award. He is a past president of the California Association of Professional Music Teachers and a former member of the Music Teachers National Association Board of Directors.

Thickstun_Karen 2.jpg

Vice President

Karen Thickstun, NCTM
Nashville, IN

MTNA Vice President Karen Thickstun, NCTM, is coordinator of piano pedagogy at Butler University, where she also directs the Butler Pedagogy Symposium, Butler Piano Camps and Butler Community Arts School, and advises the Butler MTNA Collegiate Chapter. She maintains an independent studio in Nashville, Indiana. She holds a bachelor’s degree in piano performance/economics from Duke University, a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree in piano pedagogy from Butler University. Thickstun served as director of the East Central Division and member of the MTNA Board of Directors from 2008–2010 and chaired the Local Association Forum. Thickstun has served on the MTNA nominating committee, Standing Rules committee, Local Association of the Year committee and is currently chair of the Affiliate Grants committee. Thickstun authors a tri-annual column, “It’s All Your Business,” for American Music Teacher. She has presented multiple sessions at MTNA National Conferences and at other conferences. Thickstun has been active in the Indiana MTA as president, trustee, trustees’ chair, newsletter editor, syllabus chair, conference chair, commissioning chair and arts advocacy chair. She received the Distinguished Service Award in 2002 and the Teacher of the Year award in 2008. As founding director of the Butler Community Arts School, Thickstun provides leadership and vision. Serving 1,700 children through private lessons, group classes and camps, instruction is provided by 90 Butler University students that Thickstun mentors in professional teaching practices. Working with after-school programs, community centers and United Way agencies, Thickstun has developed a network of community partners to provide access to the arts for inner-city youth. To fund outreach classes, Thickstun has written and received numerous grants.



Sylvia Coats, NCTM
Derby, KS

MTNA Secretary-Treasurer Sylvia Coats, NCTM, retired in May 2014 after 27 years as professor of piano pedagogy and class piano at Wichita State University. She authored Thinking as You Play: Teaching Piano in Individual and Group Lessons, published by Indiana University Press. The Sotto Voce Trio, of which Coats was a member for 25 years, produced three CDs of their commissioned works. Her credits include articles in Clavier Companion and American Music Teacher and presentations at conferences throughout the United States and internationally in Brazil, Greece, Italy, Malaysia and China. Coats has held many offices in MTNA including the Board of Directors, National Certification chair, and West Central Division Young Artist and Chamber Music Competition chair. She recently completed a term as president of the South Central Kansas Music Teachers Association.

Christensen__Kenneth.jpgImmediate Past President

Kenneth J. Christensen, NCTM
Bozeman, MT

MTNA Immediate Past President Kenneth Christensen, NCTM, has appeared as a soloist and collaborative artist throughout the United States, England, China and the Phillipines. As a collaborative artist, he has performed with renowned singers the late Jerome Hines and Pablo Elvira from New York's Metropolitan Opera Company and with composers and conductors John Rutter and Sir Richard Wilcox. Christensen's piano duo "2 Pianos 4 Hands" performed its New York recital debut in April 2006 at Carnegie Hall. Christensen holds a bachelor's degree from Montana State University and a master's degree from the University of Montana. While on the faculty at the Montana State University School of Music, he received the prestigious "Award in Excellence in Teaching." He resides in Bozeman, Montana, where he is active as an independent piano teacher and is in demand as a clinician, adjudicator and presenter. Christensen has been actively involved in MTNA for 16 years, serving in leadership positions at the local and state level as secretary and treasurer, president-elect and president for the Montana State MTA. Leadership at the national level includes MTNA Northwest Division President from 2004-2006 and he served on the MTNA Board of Directors from 2006-2008. Christensen has been a member of MTNA's Summit Planning Committee, Membership Committee, Collaborative Performance Task Force, Pedagogy Saturday Committee, State Affiliate Grant Committee and Partnership Review Committee. He was past chair of the Collaborative Performance Forum and was chair of the 2009 Conference Planning Committee. 

Ingle_G.jpgExecutive Director & CEO

Gary L. Ingle
Cincinnati, OH

Gary L. Ingle is Executive Director and CEO of Music Teachers National Association (MTNA), the oldest music teacher association in the United States. Founded in 1876, MTNA is a professional association of 24,000 studio music teachers who teach in independent and collegiate settings nationwide. MTNA's mission is to advance the value of music teaching and music making to society and to support the professionalism of music teachers. Dr. Ingle is a career professional in association management and academia. Prior to his December 1996 appointment to MTNA, he was executive director of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Music Fraternity in Evansville, Indiana. At Phi Mu Alpha, he oversaw the fraternity's work with more than 200 collegiate chapters across the country, as well as the activities of the Sinfonia Foundation. Dr. Ingle's academic career spanned 10 years with Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Missouri. During his tenure, he attained the rank of full professor of music and served as Chair of the department of music, as Dean of the Casebolt School of Fine Arts, and ultimately as Vice President for Enrollment Management. As a conductor, he directed his choirs on four international tours: to continental Europe, to Great Britain, and two to the Far East. While in Asia, his choirs sang for the Far East Broadcasting Company and in Olympic Stadium in Seoul, South Korea. A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Dr. Ingle holds the doctor of musical arts degree with emphases in conducting, voice, and higher education administration from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees in music at Samford University in Birmingham. Additional studies include the Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham. Dr. Ingle currently serves as the president of the National Music Council of the United States, which represents the U.S. to the International Music Council (established by the United Nations and a part of UNESCO). Since April 2008 he has served on the Board of Directors of the International Music Council. In October 2007 he was elected to the Finance Commission of the International Music Council at its biennial General Assembly in Beijing, China. He also served on the Steering Committee for the IMC's first World Forum on Music held in Los Angeles, California in 2005. Dr. Ingle is a member of the advisory board of From the Top, the public radio program dedicated to encouraging, supporting and celebrating the commitment of young people to music and the arts. He is also is a member of the editorial advisory board for the magazine, Making Music: Better Living Through Recreational Music Making, a magazine devoted to the health and wellness benefits of music making. Since 1998, he has served on the Board of Trustees of the American Classical Music Hall of Fame, serving as secretary of the board from 2000-2003 and currently as the chair of the Professional Organizations Advisory Council.A frequent speaker and panelist, he has given addresses in 44 states as well as to music associations in Canada, the United Kingdom, China, Eastern and Western Europe, and South America, including the International Society for Music Education, the European Music Teachers Association, the International Music Council, the National Association of Schools of Music, NAMM: The International Music Products Association, the College Music Society, Piano Technicians Guild, Canadian Federation of Music Teachers Associations, the Global Summit of the Music Products Industry, the Music Publishers Association, and the Music Council for the Three Americas. Dr. Ingle is listed in the International Who's Who in Music, Who's Who in America, Outstanding Young Men of America, Community Leaders and Noteworthy Americans, the Dictionary of International Biography and other prominent biographical resources.


Steiner_Christine.jpgChristine Steiner, NCTM
East Central Division, Wooster, Ohio

Christine Geiser Steiner, NCTM, of Wooster, Ohio, has a degree in music education from Heidelberg University and is an independent teacher of piano and theory. Steiner is past president of Ohio MTA and served MTNA as East Central Division certification commissioner, and junior and senior high competitions coordinator. She holds Level III certification from the Early Childhood Music and Movement Association and is also certified by the American Guild of Organists. Steiner has been a member of MTNA her entire career. She held many local, district and state positions in Ohio MTA. She is passionate about collaborative music making and served many years as a conductor for the All-Ohio Piano Ensemble.

Hwalek_Ginger.jpgGinger Yang Hwalek, NCTM
Eastern Division, Bangor, Maine

Ginger Yang Hwalek, NCTM, of Bangor, Maine, has taught applied piano, class piano and music history, at the University of Maine for the past 18 years. She also teaches 12 students at her home studio. Hwalek holds a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University, a master’s degree from Wichita State University and a doctorate degree from Northwestern University. She was previously the director of Maine Summer Youth Music held on the campus of the University of Maine. Hwalek has served MTNA as Eastern Division president, member of the Board of Directors and Senior Performance Competitions coordinator. She was named 2006 MTNA Teacher of the Year.

Hahn.jpegChristopher C. Hahn, NCTM
Northwest Division, Missoula, Montana

Christopher Hahn, NCTM, is a professor of piano and piano pedagogy at the University of Montana. With Hahn as their advisor, the UM Keyboard Society received the 2010 and 2016 Collegiate Chapter of the Year Award. Hahn has served MTNA at all levels and in many capacities, including state president and as a member of national committees. He is in demand as a performer, teacher, adjudicator and clinician.


Frush_Sherry.jpgSherry P. Frush, NCTM
South Central Division, Abilene, Texas

Sherry Penkert Frush, NCTM, is an independent music teacher, collaborative pianist and adjudicator. Frush joined MTNA in 1970, became certified in 1975 and earned Permanent Professional Certification in 1995. She has served in numerous local, state and national positions and as Texas MTA president. Frush holds degrees in piano performance and music education. She was named an MTNA Fellow (2013) and Teacher of the Year for Texas (2006) and Abilene (1988, 2004).

Chance_Kevin.jpgKevin Chance, NCTM
Southern Division, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Kevin Chance, NCTM, is assistant professor at the University of Alabama, and he holds a DMA degree from the Eastman School of Music. Chance has served as president, vice president, immediate past president and certification chair for the Alabama MTA. For Southern Division, he has served as Senior Competitions coordinator and is the current Southern Division Competitions chair.


Field_Sue.jpgSue Field
Southwest Division, Redwood City, California

Sue Field was born in London and left the United Kingdom with her husband Michael in 1982, after attending Lady Spencer College in Oxford. She majored in piano performance and voice. In the United States, Field sang with Opera Colorado and the San Diego Opera and has worked for 25 years as a vocal soloist, pianist/organist and music director. She established her voice/piano teaching studio in 1990. Field has been CAPMT president since 2010 and is vice president/programs for San Francisco NATS and a member of ACDA.


Klingenstein_Beth_Gigante.jpgBeth Gigante Klingenstein, NCTM
West Central Division, Bismark, North Dakota

Beth Gigante Klingenstein, NCTM, author of The Independent Piano Teacher’s Studio Handbook, formerly maintained an independent studio, taught at Valley City State University, and is currently the executive director of the North Dakota Council on the Arts.