Ruth Thomas, associate professor emeritus of music at Tusculum College, was recently honored as a Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) Fellow for the State of Tennessee.
Thomas’ recognition is an honor bestowed by her peers.
“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 Deane K. Gray of the Smoky Mountain Music Teachers Association and the Tennessee Music Teachers Association Executive Board.
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.
Thomas received her honor at the 2010 annual conference in Albuquerque, N.M., during the closing Gala, and she will also be recognized in “American Music Teacher” magazine.
Thomas’s trip to receive her fellowship was funded in part by contributions from the Tusculum College community, family and friends, and Thomas thanked everyone who helped and supported her along the way.