Ruth Thomas, associate professor emeritus of music at Tusculum College, has been nominated as a Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) Fellow for the State of Tennessee.
Thomas’ recognition is an honor bestowed by her peers. With the nomination, Thomas’ former students, peers and friends can make a donation to the Music Teachers National Association Foundation Fund in her name. The Foundation Fund supports programs that nurture the creation, performance, study and teaching of music, according to Deane K. Gray of the Smoky Mountain Music Teachers Association and the Tennessee Music Teachers Association Executive Board.
“We are excited to honor Ruth for a lifetime of dedication to her students, to her community and for her exemplary service to the Tennessee Music Teachers Association and to the Music Teachers National Association,” said Gray.
Thomas joined the College’s music department in the mid-1960s with her husband, Arnold, who passed away in recent years. The two decades that the couple served the College was marked by the success of the well-respected choral program that significantly touched the lives of students.
As a team, the husband and wife directed the Tusculum College Singers, creating three choirs from a small group of singers: the mixed chorus, men’s chorus and women’s chorus. She accompanied the men’s and mixed choruses on piano and directed the women’s chorus. According to former students, Thomas was always calm and cheerful - a trait which was needed during last-minute rehearsals before choir tours.
Teaching such classes as music theory and history, she also found time to teach piano in a studio at Tusculum, which she continues to this day. Her students found she had high expectations and helped them achieve results that they had not thought possible. Her attention to detail in playing music was not just valuable in regards to piano, but also one that benefited her students later in life.
Tusculum College has not been the only benefactor of Thomas’ talent and dedication. She was the founder and former conductor of the Greater Greeneville Chorale. She is also the long-time pianist and organist at Greeneville Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
Contributions can be made at the MTNA Web site at www.mtnafoundaton.org and designated for “Ruth Thomas Fellow” fund. Contributions can be made in any amount, but must be made by January 31, 2010. A minimum of $1,000 must be sent in her name in order for her to be named Fellow.
Each year new MTNA Fellows are recognized at the national conference. The March 2010 conference will be held in Albuquerque, N.M. New Fellows are honored at the closing Gala, and are recognized in “American Music Teacher” magazine.