2016 OhioMTA Conference

OhioMTALogoLast week, I attended the Ohio Music Teachers Association state conference, held November 12-14 in Columbus.

As always, my teaching batteries are recharged after enjoying three days of excellent sessions and wonderful conversation with colleagues. Our OhioMTA conference committee did a fantastic job organizing and running the conference this year.

I’ve created a summary of the conference below, in case you are interested in seeing what our state conference is like! During various sessions of the conference, I used the Periscope app to grab 5-10 minute highlights (those of you already on Periscope might have caught some of those!). Please enjoy watching those clips below.

Warning: Lengthy blog post ahead! 🙂

2015 OhioMTA Conference

THURSDAY November 12, 2015

1:00-1:50 Dr. Cecilia Yuhda and Dr. Ewelina Boczkowska. Chopin’s Mazurkas: A Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration. This session was a great way to kick-off the conference. The two presenters shared all about their collaboration as pianist and musicologist to study the Chopin Mazurkas.

2:00-2:50 Dr. Ya-Liang Chang. You Are Not Alone: Duet Repertoire that Ignites Studio Teaching and Enhances Collaborative Learning. We gained many duet repertoire ideas from this session.

3:30-4:20 Dr. Christopher Durrenberger. Get into the Action: Piano Technology for Pianists and Pedagogues. This session was both entertaining and informative! We learned about five different aspects of the piano action that any pianist can understand and identify issues regarding.


4:30-5:20 Dr. Jeffrey Russell. Strategies for Increasing Strength and Endurance to reduce Fatigue, Pain, and Injury in musicians. In this wellness session, we learned exercises that we can use to improve our body use both at and away from the piano.

8:00 Antonio Pompa-Baldi, solo piano recital. Our conference artist performed Chopin’s Sonata Op. 35, Grieg’s Sonata Op. 7, Schubert’s Impromptu Op. 142 No. 3, and Schumann’s Carnaval Op. 9. All attendees were hugely impressed by Pompa-Baldi’s command of pianissimo playing and his incredible musicality.

FRIDAY November 13, 2015

8:30-9:20 Leila Viss, JoyTunes showcase: Make Practice Time Fun. This session, given by Leila Viss of, was all about the Piano Maestro app. Leila is a dynamic and engaging speaker.

9:30-10:50 Antonio Pompa-Baldi Masterclass. Once again, our conference artist demonstrated the depth of his musical understanding as well as his eloquence.

11:00-11:50 Bradley Sowash. Why Teaching Creativity Matters. Here in Ohio, we are fortunate to have Bradley Sowash as an active member of our association! He helped a great deal with the conference planning this year. His session was funny, engaging, and informative.

12:00 – 1:00 Lunch. Here is a photo with two fellow teachers, Bonnie Rowe and Twinkle Ratnasamy, from my district association, Northwest District OhioMTA.


1:30 – 2:50 Dr. Rozalie Levant, Keynote Presenter. The Anatomy of Musicality and One of Its Tricky Areas — Crescendo. Rozalie shared a variety of her ideas about codifying musicality in a way that can be taught to even our young students in an engaging, practical way. I wish there would have been more time to hear about her ideas, but I gladly bought her book after the session so that I can learn more!


3:00 – 3:50 Lightning (5-minute) Talks. College Faculty Forum, Independent Music Teachers Forum, Collegiate Chapters Joint Session. This was the first time our state has experimented with Lightning Talks for our conference, and I’d say it was a huge success! It was fun to hear from a number of different teachers within our state share their best teaching ideas.

  • Krysti Schey (pictured below). Growing Pains: Student Retention in the Tween Years
  • Gui Ran Cho. Understanding Students from Different Cultures
  • Michaela Boros. Making Five-Four Fun: Guiding Students to Succeed with Asymmetrical Meters
  • Heidi Williams. Islands and Opposites: Quick Ways to Teach the Black Key Melodic Minor Scales
  • Angelin Chang. Lightning Sight Reading: Instantly Boost Staff to Keyboard Note-Recognition Ability
  • Siok Lian Tan. 8 Practical Steps to Learning a Bach Fugue


4:00 – 5:00 Leila Viss. Teaching the Mobile Generation with Today’s Hottest Apps. Leila Viss had a second presentation, this time sharing about a wider variety of apps available for piano teachers. She is an engaging speaker!


I joined a group of seven teachers to walk to a nearby pizza restaurant for dinner. Afterwards, we walked back to the conference hotel and started a card game that I had brought along. The game is called IV-V-I, and I ordered it from It covers basic college-level harmony. I’ll warn you that it is a bit complicated to learn, but so fun! And it really helps you learn or refresh your familiarity with chords and the rules of harmony.


SATURDAY November 14, 2015

9:30 – 10:20 Dr. Andrew Hisey, Music Development Program. New Repertoire for All Ages. We learned about the changes in the new 2015 Royal Conservatory of Music piano syllabus compared to the previous 2018 syllabus and also heard a variety of repertoire from the new Celebration Series.

10:30 – 12:00 Rozalie Levant Masterclass.

12:30 – 2:30 General Business Meeting, Awards Luncheon. During the final lunch meeting, association business was covered and recognition was given to our 25 and 50-year members, Certified Teacher of the Year (woo, Lizbeth Atkinson!), our Teacher Scholarship winner, MTNA Fellow Nominee, and more.

* * * * *

As you can tell, the conference sessions were excellent. But I have to tell you that the other part of conference value is connecting and talking with other teachers. I had such great conversations with the teachers I traveled/roomed with as well as the teachers I met. It’s also good to put yourself out there and be interested in other teachers who are invested in the same work that you are. I feel honored to be a member of this organization. Serving on the board for OhioMTA (I’m currently VP for Membership) has allowed me to better see the inner workings of the organization and appreciate it even more.

Thanks for reading all of this! 🙂 Please share: Is our OhioMTA conference similar to your state conference? What do you find most beneficial about attending conferences?

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3 thoughts on “2016 OhioMTA Conference”

  1. Joy, I was happy to read in such detail about the programming and sessions at your recent state conference. I am in the midst of planning the state conference for the ‘other OMTA’ (Oregon MTA), next summer, and I was very interested in comparing topics, length of sessions, etc. with our usual conferences. I was wondering how many of your presenters were ‘local’ (i.e. from your own state association), with the exception, obviously, of the big names like Bradley, Leila and Pompa-Baldi? We too normally have a 2.5 day conference, but next year we are partnering with the four-day Portland Piano International festival, so our schedule will be expanded. Thanks for sharing. It sounds like it was very inspiring.

  2. Thank you, Joy, for this post!! Any chance you can post the photo of the duet repertoire {you showed it but it was too ‘shaky’ to read clearly} from Dr. Ya-Liang Chang. “You Are Not Alone” session? Am always looking to add to my list. Thanks!

  3. Dear Joy,

    thank you so much for sharing your impressions of all these conferences! I always enjoy reading them. Thanks for taking the time and writing about it!

    Many greetings from Germany,

    yours Carina

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