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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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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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!

 

Favorite Podcasts Under 20 Minutes

When I first discovered podcasts years ago, I went bananas. Every free moment I was listening to one – working out, driving, making the bed, cooking dinner, laminating and cutting out teaching aids – you name it.  I couldn’t get enough. 

It almost got to the point where it felt like a to-do list. I didn’t want to miss an episode of any of the podcasts I was following (the list was much shorter then).

Then one day it hit me. I’m burnt out. I simply have not had the motivation to listen to any-more, especially those that are more than 30 minutes.

Keep in mind I’m talking about on a weekly basis. There are those times on long drives or when I’m mowing the yard in the summer when I’m happy to plug in and listen to a long show, but in general, I am now reaching only for those that are 30 minutes or less and even more frequently 20 minutes or less.

So, today I wanted to share with you my favorite podcasts under 20 minutes.

 

Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast

Host: Andy Stanley
(Also known for: Pastor at Atlanta-based North Point Ministries)

Description: “A conversation designed to help leaders go further.”

Episodes worth mentioning:
03.02.2017 Creating a Culture of Continual Improvement
05.05.2017 Doing What Only You Can Do
07.07.2017 How to Lead When You’re Not In Charge

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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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Tips for Presenting: Tools, Resources, and a Pep-Talk

If you’ve never presented before and are looking to get started or if you’re just looking for a few tips to improve your game, this post is for you.

I’m going to share some of my biggest tips (rules I use for myself) for preparing and giving a presentation as well as a list of resources that helped me in my journey to becoming a better presenter.

It’s time to insert my disclaimer. I do not pretend to be some awesome know-it-all presenter. I just want to share what I’ve learned along the way. After attending so many conferences over the years, you do start to form an opinion of what constitutes a good presentation. I definitely have my opinions ;-). Not everything works for everyone and we all have different personalities so what works for me may not fit you and that’s OK! Disclaimer over.

But first, a pep talk.

 

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Retreat at Piano Manor: Food, Photos, and Recipes

Several weeks ago, I was lucky to get to participate in playing hostess to a wonderful group of piano teachers during Joy Morin’s Piano Teacher Retreat, “Retreat at Piano Manor, where I got to play the role of foodie/caterer!

I thought it would be fun to share the weekend with you from my perspective including meals and recipes I used (links to those available online).

 

Keepin’ it Healthy

Knowing that we had a gluten-free guest, I decided it was easier to keep that in mind for the whole shebang. Needless to say, I think we ate pretty healthy! Now THAT’S the kind of grocery cart I could aspire to every week. Color and real food.


(Two) Breakfasts Included

Blueberry Baked Oatmeal

Raspberry Orange Almond Muffins with Sprouted  Wheat Flour

Maple Candied Bacon

Honey Vanilla Yogurt

Fresh fruit

Scrambled eggs

Unfortunately, I missed getting photos of my breakfast tables!


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