By NATHAN CONE • APR 17, 2015

The group was founded one hundred years ago at the St. Anthony Hotel in downtown San Antonio, and on March 30, 2015, today’s members—and some of their talented students—gathered to celebrate the occasion with words and music.

Hundreds of children in San Antonio and the surrounding area take private music lessons. If you, your child or grandchild is among them, there’s a good chance your teacher is part of the San Antonio Music Teachers Association (SAMTA).

SAMTA provides “accountability and stability” for teachers, says the group’s president, Dorothy Yan. In addition to professional resources and training, SAMTA offers judged theory and performance contest events for students to encourage high achievement.

For the centennial event, national Music Teachers Association President Dr. Gary Ingle was invited to speak at the luncheon. You can hear his remarks in the audio link above. Yan says working with the national organization has been inspiring to the local board. “It gives you a sense of belonging,” Yan explains, remarking on how many individuals came together to make the centennial event happen.

Performers at the event included Virginia Kane, whose delicate rendition of “Forest Violets,” written by the first SAMTA board president, John Steinfeldt, brought a hush over the room. Jacquelyn Matava sang music by Richard Strauss and Henry Purcell, and Heather Stagg played music by Brahms and San Antonio composer Dr. Peter Petroff.

A highlight of the event was Thomas Steigerwald’s performances of Chopin and Alexander Scriabin. Chopin’s “Etude in C Major” was brought to explosive life by Steigerwald.

All of the performers were students in San Antonio at one time or another. Now, many of them are teachers themselves or pursuing degrees in performance or pedagogy.

Deborah Moore, on the SAMTA board’s Centennial Committee, sums up the influence of music teachers on a student’s life when she said, “music teachers are unsung heroes.”

“They are the ones that have ignited that spark,” she continues. Whether students go on to a career in music or not, Moore says, “at some point in our life, whether it be in joy or sorrow, we’re going to draw from those memories [of playing music]…if you have that in your soul and in your heart, it will be very meaningful.”