Conferences

Summer 2019: NCKP, South Shore Piano Camp, OregonMTA, and More

Hello, readers! Summer is gone, and we’re now into the groove of the new school year. My last blog post shared the details of my recent Piano Teacher Retreat, held August 1-3, 2019. The rest of August went like a blur, due to a variety of travel. Here’s a little bit of a catch-up post!

NCKP 2019: July 24-27

Backing up just a step… The week before the retreat, I attended NCKP 2019. It was a phenomenal conference, as always!

I attended so many great sessions. My favorite was a session given by Louis Svard, presenting on “The Musical World of Infants: What It Can Tell Us About How Children Actually Learn Music.” She has a blog called The Musician’s Brain you can check out here.

I had the privilege of presenting two sessions during NCKP, both on Wednesday as part of the Pre-Conference Seminars. First, I gave a session for the Wellness Track called “Lessons for Piano Teachers from the Alexander Technique.” In this session, I share my experience as a student of the Alexander Technique and how taking AT lessons has impacted me as a musician and piano teacher.

Later that afternoon, I also presented one of my favorite talks: “Piano Method Mining: Gems from Past and Present.” In this session, I provide a survey of piano methods from past to present, highlighting the ones consider most notable and still useful today. The room was full, and I received such wonderful feedback afterwards!

Continue reading “Summer 2019: NCKP, South Shore Piano Camp, OregonMTA, and More”
Conferences

MTNA 2019 (6): Wednesday, March 20

[Click here to go back to Day 1Day 2Day 3, Day 4, or Day 5.]

Wednesday is always the final day of the MTNA national conference. There were two morning sessions on the schedule.

8:00am Teaching The Way We Learn: Applications Of Edwin E. Gordon’s Music Learning Theory (MLT), by Amy Chaplin & Joy Morin

Amy Chaplin and I were so pleased when we were notified our proposal was accepted back in June! It was an honor to be able to give our presentation about some of the core principles from Gordon’s Music Learning Theory (MLT) at a national conference.

Continue reading “MTNA 2019 (6): Wednesday, March 20”
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MTNA 2019 (5): Tuesday, March 19

[Click here to go back to Day 1Day 2, Day 3, or Day 4.]

On Tuesday morning, Ruth, Christina, I spent some time in the exhibit hall, checking out more booths and shopping for music. :) For example, we visited Eik at her Sproutbeat booth.

While in the exhibit hall, I bumped into Sam Holland and took the liberty of introducing myself. He and I have been corresponding recent via email, because I am serving on the conference planning committee for the next OhioMTA state conference (October 24-26-, 2019) and Sam is going to be our guest pedagogue!

Continue reading “MTNA 2019 (5): Tuesday, March 19”
Conferences

MTNA 2019 (4): Monday, March 18

[Click here to go back to Day 1, Day 2 or Day 3.]

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.

Continue reading “MTNA 2019 (4): Monday, March 18”
Conferences

MTNA 2019 (3): Sunday, March 17

[Click here to go back to Day 1 or Day 2.]

Sunday the 17th was the first full official day of the conference (not including the optional “Pedagogy Saturday”). That means the exhibit hall now open open, and there were a couple showcase sessions (sponsored sessions) scattered throughout the day.

For this year’s conference, my composer friend Paula Dreyer had asked me if I would be willing to be part of her team working at her Little Gems for Piano booth in the exhibit hall. I happily agreed, and enjoyed helping out a few hours each day at her booth! I also helped with Paula’s first-ever showcase session.

8:00am Little Gems for Piano: Rote and Pattern Pieces That Motivate and Captivate: Spark The Love of Music With Simply Beautiful And Expansive Repertoire For All Levels!, by Paula Dreyer

Paula Dreyer gave a wonderful presentation about her compositions for young pianists and why/how to use rote pieces in your teaching. She has a number of books of rote pieces for students now available, plus an early advanced suite called “Under a Flamenco Sky”.

Continue reading “MTNA 2019 (3): Sunday, March 17”
Conferences

MTNA 2019 (2): Pedagogy Saturday, March 16

[Click here to go back to Day 1.]

I’m so excited to share with you highlights from the recent 2019 Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) national conference!

Pedagogy Saturday is an optional day of the conference, comprised of a variety of “tracks”: Advanced Piano/Teaching Artistry, Entrepreneurism, Musician Wellness, Recreational Music Making, and Teaching Students With Special Needs. It’s not easy to decide which sessions to attend, but I ended up choosing the Advanced Piano/Teaching Artistry track for most of the day, and then I switched to the Recreational Music Making track in the afternoon.

8:00am The Secret Lives of Phrases: Lies, Near Lies and Red Herrings, by Deborah Rambo Sinn

Deborah Rambo Sinn gave an interesting session about deconstructing phrases in order to build lyricism. She shared interesting examples from the piano literature where the phrase markings are confusing or deceiving.

So often, we find phrases marked in a way that does not reflect the way the phrase seems to go. Why do composers write slur markings that end before the phrase actually ends? Sometimes, it because the composers are making sure we don’t break a phrase in a particular place. Today’s composers are doing a much better job than composers of the past in marking phrases the way they want them played.

In her teaching and in her own study, Deborah finds it useful to find and mark the phrases, sub-phrases, and sub-sub-phrases in a melody. In this work, there are no right answers. Instead, it’s a matter of finding an answer that works.

Continue reading “MTNA 2019 (2): Pedagogy Saturday, March 16”
Conferences

MTNA 2019 (1): Friday, March 15

I’m back from Spokane for the 2019 MTNA National Conference! It was wonderful. Here’s is the first of a series of posts about the conference and the sessions I attended.

My flight departed from Detroit on Friday the 15th at 4:30am (!!). After late night packing on Thursday, I decided to stay up rather than go to bed (haha), because my husband and I needed to be up at 1am to be able to leave on time to get to the airport an hour’s drive away. I managed to doze a little on the first flight, fortunately. I had a two-hour layover in Denver and landed in Spokane around 10am.

My wonderful host, Ruth Michaelis, had her daughter pick me up from the airport. Then, Ruth and I spent a couple of hours just chatting and getting to know each other. She is SO much fun.

I had offered to give Ruth’s students an informal masterclass, which we held at 2pm that afternoon.

Ruth’s students are preparing for their recital this weekend. I worked with each student on their piece, while engaging the rest of the students in the room in listening and responding to what they were hearing.

For dinner that evening, Ruth and I met up with Lynnette Barney. We enjoyed a nice meal and chatted about teaching and life in general. For some reason, I forgot to take a nice photo of us enjoying our time together but I remembered to take a food picture. (haha!)

I turned in to bed pretty early that evening, because my body was still on Eastern time. :) Tomorrow was to be Pedagogy Saturday: a full day! Stay tuned.

[Update: Click here to read about Day 2.]

Conferences

Heading out to MTNA’s 2019 National Conference!

Hi there! Just a quick note today —

#1: I’m wondering how many of you are attending MTNA 2019 in Spokane? If so, are you free Monday evening?? I would love to connect with you and hangout! Please send me an email or friend and message me via Facebook.

#2: Below are the sessions I will be involved with during the conference. Please come, and say hi afterwards!

  • Saturday, March 16: “Games & Activities for Groups“, a 20-minute presentation during Pedagogy Saturday’s Recreational Music Making (RMM) track.
  • Wednesday, March 20 @ 8:00am: “Teaching the Way We Learn: Applications of Edwin E. Gordon’s Music Learning Theory (MLT)” with co-presenter Amy Chaplin.
  • Wednesday, March 20 @ 9:15am: “Creativity Throughout: A Panel Discussion on the Business Side of Teaching“, appearing as a panelist.

#3: Plus, I’m excited to be helping Paula Dreyer at her Little Gems for Piano booth in the exhibit hall! If you haven’t seen Paula’s books of rote pieces for young pianists, I highly recommend checking out her website here.

Stay tuned for highlights from the conference! :)

Conferences

MTNA 2018 (4): Wednesday, March 21

[Continued from Day 3.]

8:00am Taming The Jungle: Digital Management Strategies For The Independent Music Teacher, by Amy Chaplin

The first session of the day I attended was given by my friend and conference roommate, Amy Chaplin of PianoPantry.com. She gave an engaging and informative session about how to organize and manage your digital content, including your emails, files, links, and favorite blogs. I have to tell you, Amy’s tips about managing an email inbox have been a life-saver for me personally over the past year!

After Amy’s session, I packed up my things and prepared to take the Disney Magical Express bus to the airport. Near the bus area, we ran into Paula Dreyer, composer behind the Little Gems for Piano books. (Check them out: they are books of wonderful little pieces intended to be taught by rote.)

At the airport, I befriended some fellow MTNA attendees. We ate lunch together as we waited for our flights. Continue reading “MTNA 2018 (4): Wednesday, March 21”

Conferences

MTNA 2018 (3): Tuesday, March 20

[Continued from Day 2.]

8:00am Exhibitor Showcase – Learn Piano As Naturally As A Child Learns To Speak: Introducing A Kodály-based Piano Method That Trains Both Ear and Eye, by Hoffman Academy

Joseph Hoffman, operator of the Hoffman Academy in Oregon, presented an informative session about his Kodály-based piano method. With most mainstream piano methods being heavily focused on the skill of reading music notation, I was fascinated to learn about an example of a method that is focused on first listening and imitating before reading and writing. Mr. Hoffman, sometimes called the “Mr. Rogers of piano”, also has a variety of great lesson videos for students available on YouTube as well as on his membership site.

11:00 The Entrepreneurial Spirit Of Walt Disney And Independent Music Teachers, by Karen Thinkstun Continue reading “MTNA 2018 (3): Tuesday, March 20”

Conferences

MTNA 2018 (2): Monday, March 19

[Continued from Day 1.]

8:00 Exhibitor Showcase: Willis Music

The Willis Music showcases are always worth attending! This time, they showcased a new jazz piano method by Eric Baumgartner: Jazz Piano Basics. It looks like a great resource even for teachers with little experience with jazz.

At this point in the conference, the morning was devoted to intensive 20-minute sessions, called the Accelerate Learning Track. Here’s my favorite session from the morning:

9:15am Bridging For Success: Inspiring And Mentoring Young Professionals, by Jennifer Snow Continue reading “MTNA 2018 (2): Monday, March 19”

Conferences

MTNA 2018 (1): Sunday, March 18

I just returned from a wonderful trip to Orlando, Florida for the 2018 MTNA National Conference.

Friday, March 16 was when I arrived in Orlando.

I took the Disney “Magical Express” bus from the airport to the Coronado Springs Disney Resort.

I checked into our room early and spent most of the afternoon taking it easy in the sunshine. :) By dinnertime, a few friends had arrived so we met for dinner at the Maya Grill inside the resort. Continue reading “MTNA 2018 (1): Sunday, March 18”