2017 MTNA Conference, Baltimore

After months of anticipation, four days of our lives have come and quickly gone. Another conference is in the books, and as always we have a renewed spark for our profession, anticipation for trying something new, excitement in new friendships and connections, and joy in our own learning.

Held at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront, we had access to a beautiful view of the harbor and quick and easy access to amazing restaurants.

Making the 12-hour drive (with stops) with my travel buddy, Joy Morin, of Color In My Piano blog added to the adventure.

In this photo, we are joined by our friends Daniel Patterson (blogger at GrowYourMusicStudio.com) and Christina Whitlock (who authored the 3-part series here on Piano Pantry The Varsity Musician’s Playbook).



I couldn’t have picked a better “kick-off” encounter than getting a chance to meet and chat with Wendy Stevens over lunch my first day.

It was also fun getting to meet Sally Cathcart and Angie Tse of the UK-based Curious Piano Teachers. We had a little fun playing their 60-second question challenge game. Fun!

Speaking of other bloggers, it was also exciting getting to meet in person for the first time Heather Nanney of Fun Key Music Blog, Leila Viss of 88 Piano Keys, and Spring Seals and Whitney Hawker of 4d Piano Teaching. While I didn’t get individual photos with each (I’m terrible!) you will see them in my upcoming post on the Piano Pantry reader’s dinner .

MTNA always does a great job planning an entertaining opening session. Past years have included groups such as The Canadian Brass, Anderson and Roe, and Time for Three. This year was the comedy duo Igudesman & Joo famous for the viral video “Rachmaninoff had big hands.” Enjoy this small clip from their performance.



The Tuesday evening concert featured duo Leon Fleischer and Katherine Jacobson. Mr. Fleischer also conducted an advanced masterclass on Sunday morning. Also featured at the conference was Elissa Milne and Diane Hidy who paired up to give an intermediate masterclass.

David Cutler, author of The Savvy Musician and The Savvy Music Teacher, was the perfect choice for a keynote speaker. His presentation was incredibly dynamic in its breadth, scope, delivery, and impact. I can’t imagine he left anyone without an inkling of how to take their studio to the next level and think outside the box. Mr. Cutler is my kind of entrepreneur. I love how his mind works!

I took pretty extensive notes during his keynote address. To view my notes, click here.



Attending a plethora of sessions each day, I shared lots of photos on my Instagram and Piano Pantry Facebook page.

While there were a lot of great sessions, for the sake of length, I’m only going to highlight details of a few.


Business Planning for the Independent Studio: Trends Worth Noting by Karen Thickstun

Some of my action items from this session include:

  • Check out MTNA’s legal documents resources again. Compare their photo release form with my current form for possible improvements.
  • In my newsletter talk more about top skills employers are looking for and how many of those skills are covered in music study. Maybe highlight one skill per newsletter.
  • Reconsider some of my studio documentation and marketing materials to be sure they focus and highlight true benefits of study such as self-motivation, discipline, etc. rather than on features of lessons such as “you get a 30-minute lesson and 1-hour group class.”


App-laudable Uses of Apps by Joy Morin

After purchasing my 12″ iPad Pro this past December, this session was perfect timing to encourage me in being more proactive in using a few more apps (I’ll admit, I don’t use apps a whole lot at the moment). You can download Joy’s interactive handout here.

Apps on my list to research and consider implementing include:


Adult Students: Playing for Keeps by Christina Whitlock

I took pretty extensive notes in this session as well. To view my notes and her handout, click here.


Accelerated Learning Sessions

Accelerated Learning Tracks are 20-minute sessions designed to allow attendees to get the most out of their conference experience.

Tracks I attended included:

Piano Anatomy and Care 101 by David Hughes

From William with Love: 100 Years of William Gillock by Lia Jensen-Abbott and Laurie Marshall

Better than “Good” by Andrea McAlister

Successful Teaching Tips for Young Piano Students by Amy Immerman



All-in-all, as always it was an exciting 4 days. Stay tuned for my post highlighting the first Piano Pantry readers dinner!


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