MTNA 2019 (4): Monday, March 18

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Here are more of my notes from the 2019 MTNA Conference in Spokane, Washington!

8:00am The Royal Conservatory of Music showcase: Well-Rounded Musicianship: The Pathway To A Lifetime Of Music Making, by Janet Lopinski and Elaine Rusk

First thing in the morning, I chose to attend the RCM showcase session highlighting the Celebration Series books (I LOVE these books and use them constantly in my teaching, especially the Prep A and Prep B levels. Yes, they are expensive, but they are worth it (IMO) and the accompanying Four Star Sight Reading and Ear Tests books. RCM always does a great job with their showcase sessions.

After that, I helped Paula Dreyer for a little while at her Little Gems for Piano booth in the exhibit hall again for about an hour.

10:30am Teaching Rhythm, Not Math! by Hannah Creviston

Hannah Creviston gave a 20-minute presentation “Teaching Rhythm, Not Math”. She discussed how rhythmic understanding should not be taught intellectually or mathematically; it must be felt and internalized. She began her presentation by briefly covering some background information about Edwin E. Gordon and his Music Learning Theory (MLT), and then shared a few movement-based rhythm activities.

11:10am What’s in a Saying? by Stephen Pierce

I have enjoyed Stephen Pierce’s presentations at past conferences, so I decided to attend his session about useful and not-so-useful sayings. I’m guessing is that Stephen normally gives this talk as a 60-minute presentation instead of in 20 minutes. He moved quickly through the material he presented, making it not easy to keep up. But he shared such great quotes and mistruths. Here’s a few of my favorites:

  • “Kids become what you tell them they are.” –Dorothy Delay (1917-2002), great violin pedagogue.
  • “Words are so powerful. Musicians are the worst criminals in being careless about what they say.” –Doris Delay [Note: You might be interested in this interesting article I found online with more about Dorothy’s teaching here.]
  • “Teach the easy before the difficult.” –Mrs. J. Spencer Curwen
  • “Teach the thing before the sight.” — Mrs. J. Spencer Curwen
  • “Ask a question when you want an answer; give a directive when you want the student to take action.” –Stephen Pierce
  • MISTRUTH: if we match our teaching to a student’s preferred style (e.g., VARK – Visual, Aural, Read/write, and Kinesthetic sensory modalities), they will learn better. The reality is that so-called “learning styles” are completely unproven by research; and yet, the myth persists.
  • “There is no end to learning.” — Robert Schumann

For lunch, I went with a group to a Thai restaurant. The food we had there was astoundingly delicious. I ordered yellow curry. Yum!

1pm Exhibitor Showcase: Alfred Music: Create Xcitement In Your Studio, by Melody Bober

After lunch, I attended the Alfred Music showcase. I absolutely LOVE Melody Bober’s music, and was glad to learn about some of her latest publications. Later, in the exhibit hall, I purchased Book 6 from her new Solo Xtreme series for a student of mine who I know will love it!

After that, I helped Paula at her booth in the exhibit hall for an hour-and-a-half.

3:30pm Making it Work: 21 Tactics for Successful Supplemental Group Classes, by Christina Whitlock

My friend Christina Whitlock (check out her conference notes here) presented an engaging session, with beautiful slides, sharing strategies and tips for implementing supplemental group classes in your studio. A few takeaways:

  • DO have a lesson plan. Each class, for example, could involve performing, a rhythmic activity, listening activity, and a few games.
  • DO plan for more than you need.
  • DO keep your lesson plans simple.
  • DO have an objective for everything.
  • DON’T neglect to communicate benefits to your studio families.
  • DO create studio “buzz” about your classes year-round.

That evening, Ruth Michaelis (the teacher I was staying with), Amy Chaplin (my friend from, and I held an informal gathering at Ruth’s home. We invited anyone we knew was attending MTNA or we ran into during the conference. We ended up with such a lovely group and had a wonderful time! Here’s a group of us traveling via Lyft from the conference hotel to Ruth’s home: Samantha Coates (of, and all the way from Australia!), me, Christina Whitlock of Indiana, and Valerie McInroy of Texas.

Ruth truly rolled out the red carpet for us and provided a variety of delicious appetizers. (She is in the photo below — the one in the apron!).

I hope you don’t mind — but I have a bunch of fun photos from our gathering.

This moment was priceless. As the night was starting to wind down, someone suggested we take a group photo. So, we moved to this area of Ruth’s studio to use the chairs arranged there. Then, Samantha Coates begins leading us through a rhythm clap-back activity! Yes, this is the kind of thing music teachers do for fun when they get together. Haha!

Here’s how our group photo turned out! So many lovely people.

A huge thank-you goes to Ruth for so generously hosting this gathering at her home, and a big thanks to all those who attended!

Check out my notes from Day 5.

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