My Personal Recommendation for Karen Thickstun for MTNA President-Elect

Voting is open for the 2019 – 2021 MTNA National Officer Slate.

Will you indulge me for a moment and allow me to share my personal recommendation for one of the nominees for President-Elect?

Let me introduce you to Karen Thickstun, a face you may recognize! If you’re a member of MTNA, you may know her as:

  • Author of the tri-annual business column “It’s None of all Your Business” in MTNA’s American Music Teacher Magazine.
  • Member of MTNA’s Board of Directors, most recently as Vice President of Membership (2015-2017) and Secretary-Treasurer (2013–2015).
  • A frequent presenter at MTNA National Conferences on topics related to business and teaching.

Karen is a friend and fellow colleague on the Indiana MTA Board of Directors. She has served our state in a plethora of roles including as state president, trustee chair, and her current role on Arts Advocacy and Awareness, to name only a few.

In 2002, she was honored with our state’s Distinguished Service Award, (given infrequently), and in 2008 was awarded Teacher of the Year.

I don’t want to simply state all of her qualifications, as you can read more on her and the other candidates here.

Let me just make this statement:

Karen is the kind of person that creates impact. She has been a wonderful mentor and trusted advisor not only to her students but to all my fellow colleagues who have taken on the role of state President. She’s our go-to girl.

If we’re unsure of something, we go to Karen.

If we need advice for a situation, we go to Karen.

If we need a second opinion, we go to Karen.

If we need a history of the association, we go to Karen.

Karen Thickstun embodies everything you would want to see in an MTNA President and more.

I wrote about her in a post here on Piano Pantry back in 2017. Check it out

If you haven’t yet exercised your right to vote, it will take place through 3:00 pm, EST, on March 1st.  You may cast your vote here.

*Disclaimer: Please know that this post is of my own free will. All statements and opinions are mine only. Every nominee placed on the slate is of high quality and would serve MTNA with excellence. This is simply my personal plug for a friend and colleague.

MTNA 2019 and Other News

The time is nearing quickly for MTNA 2019 in Spokane! The schedule is out and I’m looking forward to another great conference.

Joy Morin and I will be co-presenting a session on Wednesday, March 20 @ 8:00 am “Teaching the Way We Learn: Applications of Edwin E. Gordon’s Music Learning Theory (MLT)”.

Following that session, at 9:15 am, we will both be participating in a Panel Discussion called “Creativity Throughout: A Panel Discussion on the Business Side of Teaching.” 

Both sessions are unfortunately late in the conference, but I hope you can arrange to attend!

If you’re attending, I would love to meet up. Drop me an email and maybe we can arrange to have a coffee or meal sometime during the conference!


Early registration is also now open for NCKP – a semi-annual conference held in Lombard, Illinois (Chicago).

I’m excited to be making my first appearance as a presenter at NCKP giving a lightning session “Evernote for the Independent Music Teacher.”


Are you from Raleigh, Kansas  City, or Northeastern Ohio?

If so, you can catch presentations of my session “Taming the Jungle: Digital Management Strategies for the Independent Music Teacher” in one of these locations:

  • February 20 – Raleigh Piano Teachers Association (via Zoom)
  • April 5th – Kansas City Music Teachers Association
  • May 3rd – Western Reserve Music Teachers Association

 

Looking at your local group’s 2019-2020 scheduling? Check out my list of available sessions here. I would love to come and speak to your group!

 

 

Piano Teacher World

A Year in Recap: 2018

 

Last year (2017), after being inspired by a post written by Leila Viss in 2016, I decided to sit down and think through everything that happened not only in my world as an independent piano teacher but just in general in what I would call “Piano Teacher World”.

Writing posts like these the last couple of years have been very enlightening, encouraging and really just a healthy exercise in gratitude in general.

The idea behind the “Piano Teacher World” recap is to take a look back at significant news, happenings, and impact in the world of independent piano teachers. The final part of this post also includes resources that have made a direct impact on my own teaching.

I tried to be as thorough as I could and will admit that the list is much smaller than it was last year. Be sure and share in the comments if there was anything you would add to the list!

For the sake of being thorough, I asked for recommendations on multiple Facebook groups and received a lot of excellent feedback on The Art of Piano Pedagogy group regarding overall trends – all of which I agree with. Let’s start with those. (If you’re interested in reading all the comments, which are much more specific, check out the full post here.)

 

2018 Trends

1 | Declining or leveled-off interest in iPads and apps. Better balance and understanding in the role they play in lessons.

2 | Teaching and learning piano online is becoming more and more viable and easily available.

3 | A shift in attitude and growing excitement toward rote teaching/learning.

4 | Increased curiosity and interest in Music Learning Theory and how it can impact piano teaching, not just Early Childhood Music.

5 | Continually improved quality and ease-of-availability in regards to self-published material.

6 | Rising interested in quality blogs, podcasts, and online communities.

7|  Continual professionalization of the field.

8 | A renewed interest in pedagogy outside of academia.

9 | Ongoing concerns with declining membership in professional organizations such as MTNA.

Also mentioned in the list, while not a “trend,” was Brenda Wristen and Lora Deahl’s book Adaptive Strategies for Small-Handed Pianists (Published November 2017).

 

In Piano Teacher News

ELISA MILNE opened a shop on her website.


Launch of CYBER CONSERVATORY that accompanies the app Super Score.

A teacher friend shared this one specifically with me. She has always loved Marvin Blickenstaff’s method “Music Pathways” and Paul Sheftel’s MIDI accompaniment for the series. She says there are lots of good compositions by Lynn Freeman Olson. 


THE FRANCIS CLARK CENTER is continuing to see changes as Dr. Pamela Pike was named the new Editor in Chief/Chief Content Director and Dr. Andrea McAlister was appointed as the new Director of Content Curation and Senior Editor for Clavier Companion. 

They also launched a Facebook group for subscribers called Piano Teach Learn.

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2017-2018 Speaking Schedule Reflections

This past year I was blessed to get the chance to present for several local associations and state and national conferences. Up until about three years ago, I found the idea of presenting terrifying, intimidating, and completely out of my reach.

Luckily, my inner drive, curiosity, and motivation didn’t let those feelings of fear and inadequacy stop me from giving it a shot. In return, I have realized speaking to other teachers is more rewarding than intimidating, more energizing than terrifying, and more within reach to those who persevere (and continually polish those proposals LOL).

Psst…If you’re interested in what I’ve learned along my presenting journey then check out the post Tips for Presenting: Tools, Resources, and a Pep Talk.

Let’s take a quick peek at those of you I was able to be with this past year!

 

First Applications of Music Learning Theory

My friend, Joy Morin, and I have been excited to get our first duo session out there. It’s exciting not only because it’s a session we put together and can present together, but because we’re able to share what we’ve been learning about applying Music Learning Theory in piano lessons.

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Highly Recommended Upcoming Webinars

I just wanted to drop you a quick note to let you know that MTNA is holding some upcoming webinars that I know will be especially excellent.

The first series is by a fellow Indiana colleague and friend, Karen Thickstun. I first shared about Karen in a post leading up to the 2017 MTNA Elections as she was a nominee for President against Martha Hilley (who can beat Texas, you know? LOL).

Karen is highly dedicated to IMTA and MTNA and has been a valuable asset to the Indiana Board of Directors for years serving in many capacities, including President.

Her first webinar is THIS FRIDAY at 12:00 E.S.T.

The second set of webinars is from a session put on at the MTNA Conference in Orlando. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to the session, so I’m excited for the chance to see it!

I first met the presenters, Sarah Alexander, Whitney Hawker, and Spring Seals in Baltimore at my Piano Pantry dinner. The presented a session in Baltimore and it was very well done. They also write a blog for piano teachers called 4D Piano Teaching.

 

As an MTNA member, these are resources included in your membership. Visit the Members Only area of the MTNA Website to register.

Conferencing with Mickey Mouse and Friends

MTNA 2018 Orlando

M.I.C.K.E.Y  – M.O.U.S.E.

That’s all I have to say and now it’s stuck in your head, right?! 😉

Well, another MTNA Conference is in the books. This year’s conference was held at the Coronado Springs Resort at Disney World in Orlando.

Regularly attending live conferences is one of the best choices I’ve ever made as a teacher. Why? Sam Holland stated it best in one of his Questions and Answers articles in Clavier Companion.

We are social animals. We learn from one another in direct exchanges… A live conference is an IMMERSIVE experience in which you leave the regular workday world behind and immerse yourself morning, noon, and night.

I always feel a little lull in my energy for teaching this time of year. The moment I get to the conference, that all starts to slowly melt away. I always walk away feeling renewed and energized to make it through the end of the school year.

I have to say I didn’t take nearly the number of photos I do at conferences, but that’s OK because the ones I did get are highly memorable. Today I’m not going to share a listing of all the sessions I attended or notes, just the “social animal” part. 🙂

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Time to Eat… I Mean Meet… I Mean Retreat!

Piano Teacher Retreat 2018

I’m corny, I know! LOL.

Surely my title at least made you smile, didn’t it? See, goal accomplished. 😉

Interested in getting some professional development in this year but can’t afford an expensive conference? Would you love a few days away from everything in a relaxed country home with plenty of good food you don’t have to cook? Your opportunity has arrived!

Joy Morin’s piano retreat last year was such a success she’s organizing another!

Everyone’s tummies were apparently happy enough to have me back as the official “caterer.” Yea! Feeding people makes me happy. 🙂

Check out more details over on Joy’s website ColorInMyPiano.com

Hope to see you there to EAT food, MEET people, and RETREAT away! 🙂

 

See you at MTNA 2018?

The 2018 MTNA National Conference in Orlando, Florida is just around the corner!

Attending the national conferences is always something to look forward to (besides the expense of course! :-). There’s always so much going on and new and exciting things to check out. More than anything I look forward to meeting all of you face to face who I only get to see online otherwise!

My roomie, Joy Morin and I are planning on arriving on Friday the 16th. Even though it was a great time, I’m not planning a Piano Pantry dinner like I did in Baltimore (2017). Disney is just too crazy of a place to organize a formal meet-up!

We wanted a chance to hang out with ya’ll though, so we are planning on being at the Laguna Bar at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort (the Conference Hotel) on Friday evening around 8:00 pm.

If you haven’t already scoped it out online, the outdoor area at Coronado Springs looks pretty cool. I hope we have good weather!

No need to RSVP, just plan on coming by if you can. If you’d like to drop me a message, feel free to contact me here or comment on this post.

Hope to see you there!

 

Don’t Leave too Early!

I’m also looking forward to presenting a session at the conference! It will be my second time ever at a National Conference. Yea! The first time was at 2016 MTNA in San Antonio.

If you’re still around Wednesday morning, catch me bright and early at the very first session at 8 am.

My session is called Taming the Jungle: Digital Management Strategies for the Independent Music Teacher.

It was a privilege to get the chance to present the same session to all the wonderful teachers of Louisville MTA in Louisville, Kentucky this past weekend.

If you’re not too tired by then or already heading to the airport, I hope to see you there!

 

Piano Teacher World

A Year in Recap: News, Happenings, and Impact

Dear Piano Teacher,

OK, OK, I’m a total copycat! I admit it. This is not an original idea. Last year, Leila Viss wrote a post called 40 Trendsetting Piano Teaching Resources that she compiled along with her friend Marie Lee (which included Friday Finds B.T.W. 🙂 and I absolutely loved it.

So, I started making a list of items that impacted me this past year and the list just started flowing. As the list evolved, it started to include not just specific events, items, and products that impacted me, or that I “discovered,” but items and happenings that I would consider “big news” in piano teacher world.

In alphabetical order…

 

In Piano Teacher News

Big changes at The Francis Clark Center for Keyboard Pedagogy

There’s lots going on at The Frances Clark Center for Keyboard Pedagogy! Not only did they hire a new Full-Time Executive Director in October 2017 (Dr. Jennifer Snow), but in December 2017 they appointed Ryan Greene as the new Director of NCKP (National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy).

 

Carol Matz’s inter@ctive Piano Method

Composer Carol Matz wrote and published a new method that has online interactive materials.

 

Colourful Keys Quick Clips

After attending NCKP this summer and seeing all the wonderful teaching demonstrations, Irish piano teacher Nicola Canton began posting short clips of her own teaching on her blog Colourfulkeys.ie.

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Recommended Reads

My 2017 Reading List

Although I am an avid reader, several years ago, amidst grad school and the early years of opening my piano studio, I found myself reading very little (except what was assigned in school, of course). A few years following, I still found myself continually saying how much I missed reading so I finally set my foot down for myself and said – no more.

Each year I now set a goal for how many books I want to read and increase it by 1-2 books per year. In 2017 the goal was 20 and I hit it spot on. Next year the goal will be 21. See? Baby steps are manageable. Before I know it, I’ll be reading 30 books a year.

After being inspired by the following quotes…

“If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ~Oscar Wilde

“It is a good rule after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.” ~C.S. Lewis

…I vowed this year, to begin including re-reads in my list. The goal was to re-read 5 books (25%) but unfortunately, I only ended up re-reading one (Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert). That’s OK though, I just reminded myself that it’s about baby steps. So, my goal for 2018 my goal will be that 2 of the 21 books will be re-reads.

I hope you can find some inspiration for your own personal book list below. Let me know what you’re reading and some of your top recommendations from this past year in the comments!

 

 

Business / Professional

The Savvy Musician by David Cutler

Beware, this book is more of a manual than a pleasure read. 🙂 It is absolutely chock full of ideas for thinking outside the box as an independent music teacher. New teachers and those looking to build their business or explore new income streams will find this book extremely useful.

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