Join me at the 2016 OhioMTA and IndianaMTA Conferences

IMG_1914Happy Monday!

If you live anywhere near Ohio or Indiana, I would love to invite you to join me at a couple of upcoming conferences for music teachers this Fall.

First of all, I’m pleased to say that I will be presenting a session during the IndianaMTA state conference, held Friday, September 30 – Saturday, October 1, 2016 at Goshen College. My session will occur on Friday at 2:30pm. Here is the title and description:

Schumann’s Big Bang: The Ever-Expanding Universe of Piano Literature for Children

Discover new repertoire for engaging your students as we explore the profusion of piano literature for children composed after the example of Robert Schumann’s Album for the Young, Op. 68.

Registration for the full conference is $80 for IndianaMTA members and $95 for non-members. Registration information is available here.

I will also present a session during the OhioMTA state conference occurring November 3-5, 2016 in Kent, Ohio. My session will be on Saturday, November 5, 2016 at 10am:

Play More To Play Better: Building Musicianship Through Games

Discover fresh and vibrant games that will engage and challenge your students. During this session, we will learn how to best choose or create music games that will inspire, activate, and spark memorable learning moments.

Registration for the full conference is $100 for OhioMTA members and $120 for non-members. Registration information is available here

I would love to see you!

To learn more about my workshops, visit


2016 MTNA (5): Wednesday, April 6

Please enjoy my notes from Day 5 of the 2016 MTNA conference in San Antonio, Texas! Click here to go back to Day 4.

On Wednesday, the final day of the conference, Susan Hong and I began our morning at Bakery Lorraine to enjoy coffee and some baked goods. Those treats were so good, they were even featured on a coffee blog and awarded many great reviews.  I’m so thankful she invited me to stay with her during the conference!


We attended two more sessions before MTNA 2016 came to a close.

8:00am Extended Piano Techniques for Children: Reading and Playing the Language of Our Time, by Kevin Richmond

The last day of the conference often offers some of the best sessions. Kevin Richmond gave an engaging and informative session about six types of extended techniques used in music written for children. Accordingly, he also discussed the various forms of non-conventional notation that composers have come up with to indicate each type of extended technique.

20160406_08-16-51 Continue reading “2016 MTNA (5): Wednesday, April 6”


MTNA 2016 (4): Tuesday, April 5

Please enjoy my notes from Day 4 of the 2016 MTNA conference in San Antonio, Texas! Click here to go back to Day 3.

8:00am Exhibitor Showcase – The Royal Conservatory Music Development Program: Digital Resources To Support Teachers And Ensure Student Success, by Marvin Blickenstaff and Elaine Rusk. 

In this session, I was excited to learn a bit about the new online resources that RCM offers to accompany the purchase of the latest revision of the “Four Star Sight-Reading and Ear Training” books.

20160405_08-54-25 Continue reading “MTNA 2016 (4): Tuesday, April 5”


MTNA 2016 (3): Monday, April 4

Please enjoy my notes from Day 3 of the 2016 MTNA National Conference in San Antonio, Texas! Click here to go back to Day 2.

8:00am Exhibitor Showcase: Piano Safari

The authors of the Piano Safari  method, Katherine Fisher and Julie Knerr, gave a very enjoyable session. Their method features a combination of an Intervallic Reading Apporach plus rote teaching to develop music literacy in the student.

Rote teaching is the systematic teaching of musical and artistic concepts through modeling rather than through music notation. Music is an aural art and thus transcends notation. Rote teaching is NOT training students to copy the teacher without any thought or understanding. And it can be used to increase reading ability.

Piano Safari offers a combination of pieces intended to be learned by rite and then by reading. There are many exciting benefits to learning rote pieces: Rote pieces allow students to play exciting music. They increase concentration and develop musical memory. More attention is free for technique. It is lends itself to more creativity: improvising and composing. The student also develops a strong confidence in their playing and performing ability. Learn more at Book 3 of the series has just been released.  Continue reading “MTNA 2016 (3): Monday, April 4”


MTNA 2016 (2): Sunday, April 3

Below are my notes from Day 2 while attending the 2016 MTNA conference in San Antonio! Click here to read Day 1.

8:00am Exhibiter Showcase — The Royal Conservatory: Enriching Every Lesson with Theory And Muscianship by Janet Lopinski.

I was very excited to learn more details about the upcoming Celebrate Theory series that will be available this summer! These will be available at every level (Prep A and B, and then 1-10) and are designed to support the Repertoire and Etudes book.

8:00am Exhibiter Showcase — Faber Piano Adventures: Effective Strategies For Adult Keyboard Learners. Continue reading “MTNA 2016 (2): Sunday, April 3”


MTNA 2016 (1): Pedagogy Saturday

Greetings from San Antonio, Texas! I am so excited to be here for the 2016 MTNA National Conference from April 2-6. I will be sharing a few highlights over the next few days.

I’m staying with a couple of friends: Susan Hong and Amy Chapin (check out her brand new blog, Piano Pantry). Here is a photo of us at Fogo de Chao last night for dinner, enjoying Brazillian buffet. Yum!

Saturday of the MTNA conference is always “Pedagogy Saturday” — an optional day (often my favorite day!) with a variety of tracks to choose from: Advanced Pianism, Musician Wellness, Music Learning Theory, Recreational Music Making, and Young Professionals. Below are notes from the sessions I attended.  Continue reading “MTNA 2016 (1): Pedagogy Saturday”


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.

20151112_160728 Continue reading “2016 OhioMTA Conference”


2015 Workshop with Irina Gorin of Tales of a Musical Journey

Irina Gorin - Tales of a Musical JourneyLast week, I attended a three-day workshop given by Irina Gorin in Fishers, Indiana (outside of Indianapolis) for her self-published piano method, Tales of a Musical Journey. If you aren’t already familiar with Irina’s work, you can read a bit about her in this written interview I conducted with her back in 2011. I’ve been an enthusiastic follower of Irina’s YouTube channel for a few years now and have learned so much from her teaching videos. I highly recommend subscribing to her channel.

When I heard that Irina was going to offer this workshop for the first time, I knew I had to try to attend because it is so rare to have the opportunity to learn about teaching beginner piano students and I am a huge fan of Irina’s teaching approach. Most conferences and workshops tend to focus on intermediate or advanced students. I am SO glad I went, because I learned so much that I can apply to every lesson that I teach in the future. And I will definitely be using her books with more of my beginners in the future!

Irina’s piano method, Tales of a Musical Journey, is different from mainstream piano methods in many ways. I have experimented with her books only a little bit over the past year, but I am intrigued and I can see that Irina is really onto something with her approach. Irina’s books are an attempt to combine the best pedagogy from Russian piano methods and American piano methods. The Russian Piano School is much older than the American and there are definitely many time-tested principles that we American teachers can learn from.

Irina was kind enough to connect me with another piano teacher from Ohio who I could carpool and room with. Tamara and I become good friends during the workshop!

20150808_161249 Irina Gorin workshop

I have lots of photos to share. Irina was wonderful. She is a gracious host and we learned so much from her. The workshop took place at a music academy in Fishers, Indiana that had a large room with a piano and projector screen.  Continue reading “2015 Workshop with Irina Gorin of Tales of a Musical Journey”


2015 FJH Workshop with Helen Marlais

Just a few quick photos today…

There was a free piano teacher workshop with Helen Marlais at my local music store yesterday. She talked about FJH Publishing’s new All-In-One version of the Succeeding at the Piano method, among other things. Fun!

Helen grew up here in the Toledo area. Here, she plays a duet with her childhood piano teacher!

Helen currently lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan…which is where I grew up. Such a small world!

In other news, a fancy new Office Depot discount card arrived in the mail yesterday. As far as I can tell, these cards are automatically being sent out to all MTNA members. The back of the card specifies a discount on printing and copying costs. Thanks, MTNA!



NCKP 2015 (4): Saturday, August 1

In continuation of my summaries of the happenings at the 2015 National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy, below are my notes from Friday, July 31.

[In case you missed them, here are links to previous three days:]

8:00 Publisher Showcase: Willis Music

The Willis Music publisher showcase, called Recital Repertoire for Rave Reviews, was led by Carolyn Miller. She played a huge variety of music, including many recent publications, that would be particularly effective performed at recitals.

We also ducked into the Faber Piano Adventures showcase and took a picture with Randall Faber afterwards!

Continue reading “NCKP 2015 (4): Saturday, August 1”


NCKP 2015 (3): Friday, July 31

[In case you missed them, here are links to previous two days:]

In continuation of my summaries of the happenings at the 2015 National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy, below are my notes from Friday, July 31.

On Friday morning at 5:45am, we were awakened from our sleep by the fire alarm going off in our hotel room! Apparently, someone’s hair dryer malfunctioned and set off the fire alarms in certain floors of the hotel. We went down eleven flights of stairs and stood outside until they cleared us to return to our rooms. It was an interesting way to start the morning! :)

8:00 Publisher Showcase: Piano Safari by Katherine Fisher and Julie Knerr

For the first morning session, I attended the publisher showcase for the Piano Safari piano method, which is authored by Katherine Fisher and Julie Knerr. Piano Safari is a piano method for ages 5-11, but it has been used successfully with 4-year-olds. It uses an intervalic reading approach and uses both “reading pieces” and “rote pieces” to create strong readers in students. In their session, Julie and Katie walked us through Level 1 of Piano Safari, demonstrating the pieces and discussing the logic and pedagogy behind their piano method. It was a fun and informative session.

I’ve blogged about Piano Safari before, but in case you haven’t heard of it, you can learn more about it and order it through their website: There are a variety of pedagogical essays available for free download there, as well as new pieces of solo sheet music available for order.

Continue reading “NCKP 2015 (3): Friday, July 31”


NCKP 2015 (2): Thursday, July 30

Yesterday’s pre-conference sessions at 2015 National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy were outstanding, and the sessions on the official first day of the conference were just as great! Here is a summary of some of the events.

8:00 Publisher Showcase by Sekwang Music Publishing Company – Smart 8: An Integrated Art Program that Develops Multiple Intelligence and Musicianship

First thing in the morning, I attended a publisher showcase by Korean publisher Sekwang Music Publishing Company. Lea Kang led us through a wonderful demonstration of the arts and movement activities of her new books called “Smart 8.” The book is completely unique from anything I’ve seen before. To be clear, it is not a piano method; rather, it is an integrated arts book that I think would be very fun and wonderful to use for offering group pre-piano or arts appreciation courses to young children. The beautiful book is filled with artwork to admire, think critically about, and experience through movement and music activities. The author enthusiastically led us through a series of the movement activities, some of them involving props such as scarves, ribbon wands, and hand-held music instruments.

[Note: So far, I haven’t been able to find where this book is available for order online. I’ll update this post with a link if I am successful in finding out that information.] The Smart 8 books can be ordered at In addition, you can watch a video of the entire NCKP session on YouTube hereContinue reading “NCKP 2015 (2): Thursday, July 30”