This past week, a major milestone happened in my life—I officially attended a conference as a piano teacher!
I was fortunate enough to be chosen as a recipient of a full-tuition waiver scholarship to attend the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy in Lombard, Illinois. Thanks to Dr. Richard Van Dyke from the Cincinnati Music Academy, and Dr. Vanessa Cornett-Murtada, Director of Keyboard Studies at the University of St. Thomas, for my scholarship! I sent them each a thank you letter but despite my sneaky badge peaking of everyone I walked past at the conference I didn’t get a chance to meet and thank them in person.
I convinced my girlfriend Clare (she teaches piano also, in fact, the first time we met was in our piano pedagogy class—she came in late) to take advantage of the super affordable student rates still available to her and come along with me to the conference. However, because we didn’t trust ourselves to behave alone in a hotel room and didn’t want to pay for separate rooms—I dragged my mom to the conference too!
It was an awesome four days surrounded by other piano teachers who are truly passionate about their profession, listening to workshops and master classes by some of the best piano teachers in the world. A couple days in my mom was already asking about coming back for the next conference because we all learned so much.
While at the conference I had the opportunity to meet and chat briefly with a few of the speakers after their workshops:
Kevin Olson, he’s a prolific composer and arranger for FJH Music Company. He talked about the new series of method books that he and his wife wrote and other repertoire that’s out. I also really enjoyed learning about his family and his mission trip when he was in college.
Jane Magrath, she’s got so many volumes and works published with Alfred Publishing that I’m not even going to bother listing them. If you take piano lessons, chances are you’ve played from one of her curated volumes. I think her most indispensible publication for piano teachers is probably the Pianist's Guide to Standard Teaching and Performance Literature by Jane Magrath (this is an Amazon affiliate link, so I get like a quarter from Amazon if you purchase the book through it but I highly recommend this book for all piano teachers. Even if you don't use this link, you should find and buy it on Amazon).
On one of the last workshops I attended, I met Wendy Stevens! She writes a widely popular blog for piano teachers at www.composecreate.com with lots of essential reading for piano teachers, especially on healthy business practices. You can tell she’s giving invaluable information for teachers because the two workshops she gave were filled and a lot of people lined up afterwards to ask her more questions. I was the last person but she was still kind enough to chat with me despite running short on time to get lunch before catching her plane.
This conference really was a great experience that I feel all piano teachers should have periodically if not regularly. I don’t know how other teachers do it at the conference; going with two other people allowed us to split up and listen/record/take notes at different workshops happening at the same time. If you went by yourself…HOW DO YOU DECIDE ON ONLY ONE WORKSHOP TO GO TO AT A TIME?!
I don't think it's possible, which is why I hope that's a question I never have to answer!
Were you at the conference too? How was your experience? Tell me about it in the comments! Also, if you haven't subscribed to the FreshStart Friends List, do it now to get notifications whenever new posts come out :)
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