2019 Piano Teacher Retreat Highlights

This was definitely a highlight of my summer — hosting a third annual Piano Teacher Retreat! This involved three days and fourteen teachers exploring this year’s theme: rhythm and Edwin Gordon’s Music Learning Theory (MLT). I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed our shared three days of discussing, learning, laughing, and musicking. It was such an honor and pleasure to spend this time with this wonderful group of teachers. 

The event was held at my home in Bowling Green, Ohio, August 1-3, 2019. Nine of us stayed overnight here in my home, while the other five were hosted at my colleagues’ homes nearby.

These ladies arrived with coordinating black-and-white, and red-white-and-blue! 🙂

We began our first day by breaking out into small groups to research some introductory information about Edwin E. Gordon’s Music Learning Theory.

The porch was a popular place to work. 🙂

Hard at work with our research!

After a period of group research, we rejoined to give 5-minute presentations for each other to share what we learned.

Throughout the retreat, we also had discussion-based sessions. I organized each session in a way that would lead us through the most important aspects of what Music Learning Theory (MLT) has to say about rhythm learning.

Along the way, we participated in plenty of interactive activities and musicking together — exploring how music can be moved to in order to experience flow, weight, space, and time (Laban Effort Factors) and begin to audiate meter and rhythm patterns.

I also brought in a couple groups of my students for teaching demonstrations.

My friend, Amy Chaplin, was our fabulous caterer! She prepared delicious breakfasts, lunches, and snacks for us throughout our event. Her kitchen and organizational skills constantly amaze me. 🙂

This was Amy’s wine-and-cheese spread later in the evening!

During our Friday afternoon break, we made our own egg shakers to use with our students. In my opinion, these homemade ones sound so much better than any egg shakers you can buy.

Each evening, we went out to a nearby restaurant for dinner. Here is our group enjoying Mexican food together.

After exploring rhythm first from a movement, doing, and speaking perspective, we then explored how we can learn rhythm notation. Here, we are playing one of my favorite group games: team-based rhythm dictation. A lá MLT, we made sure to notate each rhythm pattern in more than one way “enrhythmically” (meaning, the rhythm patterns looks different, but sounds the same).

The cards you see pictured here are a free printable download on my blog HERE, by the way.

Piano teachers sure know how to have fun!!

My biggest hope is that this year’s retreat attendees went home equipped with fresh new ideas and resources for teaching piano and rhythm in a way that is based on Gordon’s Music Learning Theory — approaching music learning through the ear and the body before notation. We sure had a fun time exploring the theory and practical ways to incorporate it into our teaching!

I’m already starting to scheme my Piano Teacher Retreat for next summer. 🙂 If this looks like an event you’d love to attend, please visit and sign up for the separate email list there. That’s the way you’ll be sure to receive the details as they are ready next Spring. I’d love to have YOU join us next year!

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