2017 GIML Conference (and two piano teachers in Chicago)

Following the 2017 NCKP Conference in Chicago, my travel buddy, Joy Morin and I had a few days to explore Chicago. It was great having a little brain break anyway!

I’m going to first share with you a little of our 3-day P.T. vacay followed by some of the great things I attended at the GIML (Gordon Institute for Music Learning) Conference. If you’re not familiar, the conference focuses on teaching inspired by Music Learning Theory (MLT).

Joy and I did a two-week training course in MLT and its practical application for piano in Boston, August 2016 so this was the perfect follow-up.


Chicago Food and Fun

In Laverne and Shirley style, we took to bikes and did the 10 mile(ish) lake shore bike track – we couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day.

We decided to use the bikes all day to help us get around Chicago including getting us to lunch so Joy’s could have her first experience with Chicago deep dish pizza! I had to take her to Uno Pizzeria which claims they were the first – plus they have the best crust anyway. Totally buttery.

We had to take a detour with our bikes so I could participate in live art. 🙂

Like a good friend, Joy pointed out that I didn’t talk about my lovely meals on my post about NCKP, so I have to redeem myself and share a couple from Chicago.

Besides Uno, we also ate at a great Spanish tapas place called The Spanish Square near our Airbnb, The Purple Pig in downtown Chicago, and the Italian restaurant Volare. It was at this latter location that I had one of the most amazing kale salads ever.

We also had their famous Spaghetti Neri al Pesce which is black squid ink spaghetti tossed with sage, shrimp, lump crab, scallops, simmered in a
creamy rosé sauce.

I realize the photo is not amazingly appetizing but it came covered in red sauce and to view the black pasta, I had to mix it up.

Our cruiser bikes also took us to The Art Institute where, like good piano teachers, we were sure to catch some of the amazing music relics like this book of neumes…

Renoir’s famous Woman at the Piano painting…







…and a couple of gorgeous Pianofortes. The first one was from 1818.


GIML Conference

After a few days of letting loose, it was back to the books. The GIML conference was in a super cute historic hotel and was a much cozier-size conference than we’re used to with NCKP/MTNA. I don’t know the numbers, but perhaps there were 100 people?

In fact, it’s such a nice cozy conference, the CEO of GIA Publications and his wife host a dinner at their home which is only a 6-minute walk from the hotel.

They’ve diligently restored this beautiful Frank Lloyd Wright home and were happy to give everyone tours!

Of course, I didn’t miss this beautiful french oven.

….aaaannnnnddd back to the actual conference. 🙂

Early childhood and elementary music teachers made up the majority of attendees. Marilyn Lowe co-presented a couple of piano sessions along with Jenny Fisher and Nancy Anderson.

Some of my favorite sessions, however, were completely unrelated to the piano. We all know that as teachers we can learn so much about teaching from not only other professions but from other areas of our profession.

One of my big goals this year is to make music with my students at every lesson. I want to help free them (and myself) to be able to participate in music without having to have notation in front of them.

Am I abandoning reading? No. Will be doing a lot more patterns and improvisation? Yes.

Besides the piano-focused sessions, I attended and gleaned the most from a choral session (ex-choral director that I am), a guitar session by an excellent MLT guitar teacher from Italy, and a Ukulele session.

This last session was perfect timing as Joy and I had both decided before GIML that we wanted to offer Ukulele classes in our studio this year (we were inspired after one of my student’s parents was texting me looking for Ukulele lessons for their daughter). What fun it will be!


Video Clips

To watch these presenters in action teaching MLT-style, visit these posts from my Facebook page – I can guarantee you will be inspired.

One little thing this guitar teacher encouraged was for teachers to introduce students to our music “idols.” You don’t have to use all folk music to teach students about music. He demonstrates some great clips of him playing jazz music he loves and helping his students to simply not be afraid to move with the music.


The Famous ABC Game MLT-Style

Wrapping it up with a little fun, Joy and I found out that apparently, our ABC travel game MLT-style had made its way into the MLT community. We were “those girls.” If you missed that post last year, you could find the full post here.


Ukulele Fun

On our drive home, we stopped at Sweetwater Sound in Fort Wayne and checked out their Ukulele’s. I was trying to recall the new song we had just learned for tuning the Uke. 🙂


  • I started using ukulele in my studio last year. Such fun! I do teach beginning guitar. At our spring recital we had ukulele, guitar, and piano ensemble playing. It was awesome! The audience loved it. Such a great idea.

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