UMTA Awards

UMTA offers awards for exemplary service. These include the Legacy Award, the AIM Teacher of the Year Award, and the Advocacy in Action Award. Looking for past winners? Find them in the UMTA Archives.
The Legacy Award recognizes teachers who've created a great legacy for the music community. Criteria for consideration includes having a membership of at least 10 years in UMTA and MTNA, and service as an officer at the local or state level. Professional accomplishments, service to the community, and the nurturing and mentoring of students are also taken into consideration. Nominations are made and voted upon by UMTA Board Members.

​UMTA Awards 2021 Legacy Award Winners

Judith (Judy) Johnson, a member of the Provo/Orem chapter, has a long history with music and UMTA. Judy grew up in Wyoming, next door to her grandmother, who was the town piano teacher. When Judy was 12, her father was choir director and Judy accompanied. She learned early on to transpose pieces to a lower key so the choir could sing them.

Judy attended BYU, where she studied piano with Robert Cundick and theory with Crawford Gates. Judy also performed for the Program Bureau under Janie Thompson at BYU. Judy graduated in 1962 with an Elementary Education major and a Music minor.

Judy has been a member of UMTA/MTNA for over 50 years. Some of Judy’s earliest memories of UMTA include riding from Provo to Salt Lake to attend meetings with William Foxley (6th UMTA President: 1970-1974).

Judy has served as Secretary of the Provo/Orem chapter of UMTA. She also served as the Federation chair for 35 years. She has also played for many church and community functions over the years. Judy’s teaching career began when a neighbor asked her to teach a little boy that several piano teachers had given up on. Judy’s success with this student quickly led to many students. To better help her students, she completed extensive Robert Pace program training. She has also loved attending the UMTA conferences and chapter meetings. Judy said, “Music has opened so many doors for me my whole life. Music has been such a huge part of my life.”


June Christenson always knew she wanted to be a piano teacher—and she learned from the best, studying with Martha Greene, Florence Brinton and Gladys Gladstone. In high school, she accepted the challenge to learn the Grieg Concerto within a month and perform it as a substitute soloist with the Granite Youth Symphony. She placed twice in the Utah State Fair Competition.

Beginning as congregational pianist at age nine, June has shared music in her community playing for countless church meetings, funerals, and weddings. She has accompanied outstanding vocalists and instrumentalists, and directed and accompanied choirs.

June graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in Music Composite Secondary Education. She began teaching at age 14—which led to 60+ years experience, 700 private students, 300 studio recitals, and exhibits at 50 state and national conventions. She credits much of her pedagogy to UMTA workshops, meetings, and conferences where she soaked in wisdom from master teachers and composers.

Dr. Paul Pollei’s amazing pedagogy class inspired June to create and market 100+ teaching aids that promote better reading, rhythm, and theory skills, plus insights about composers, history, the piano, and practicing.

June has presented in UMTA meetings statewide and served as Magazine Coordinator, Music.ed You Chair, Chapter Secretary, Salt Lake Chapter President, and UMTA State Publicity Board. June has five brilliant children who played the piano under her tutelage. They return the favor with technology assistance and strong opinions. June and her husband pay forward their love of the arts by funding scholarships for deserving students.

​UMTA Awards 2021 AIM Teacher of the Year

Caroline Jennings received her master and bachelor degrees in piano performance from the University of Utah. Ms. Jennings became a Permanent Professional National Certified Teacher of Music in 2020. She has enjoyed serving in UMTA as the president of the St. George chapter, a member of the State AIM Board, and as local AIM chapter chairman. Caroline maintains an active private studio and is a part time professor at Dixie State University.

​UMTA Awards 2021 Advocacy in Action Award

In 2017, Heather K. Smith, NCTM, produced Utah’s first Silent Film Festival for Davis and Salt Lake City Chapters, held at the Bountiful Davis Art Center, where Heather served on the Executive Board.

This year the Davis Chapter repeated a similar event. Eleven films were presented at the Legacy Crossing Megaplex in Centerville. As a Co-chair, Heather organized 23 teachers and over 250 students in this all-day event. Sponsors, ticket- sales, and student participation fees combined to make the donation of two Boston upright pianos a reality for assisted living centers in Davis County.

Heather also organized the Davis Monster Concert, which raised funds for a piano at a Layton community theater. Heather is a certified Change Leader with the Utah Division of Arts and Museums. For her certification project, she oversaw the fundraising and creation of the Lenora Ford Brown recital venue at Bountiful Davis Art Center, including the purchase of two Steinway Grands.

As an educator, Heather was pivotal in expanding RCM adjudications in Utah. She is a member of the College of Examiners for RCM, and serves on the MTNA Development Committee and the MTNA Business Network.

Heather received a Bachelor and Master of Music in Piano Performance from the University of Utah, and a BS in Accounting from Maryville University in St. Louis. She is currently completing an MBA at Westminster College. Formerly the Assistant Director at the U of U School of Music, Preparatory Division, Heather now teaches private lessons and group classes in her home studio in Centerville, Utah.