Conference Highlights: MTNA 2019, Spokane

Last week I attended the 2019 MTNA National Conference in Spokane, Washington. The photo you see is the one that spoke to my memories of the location the most.

As MTNA attendees flooded into Spokane, so did Spring! The river walk next to the conference center was beautiful and included this gigantic Radio Flyer Wagon. Fun!

(Click on the image below to see sixteen seconds of Joy Morin and I tapping into our inner child. 🙂 )

Every time I attend a conference, I like to write a recap post. Not only are writing these posts a good mental exercise for me in helping pull together the entire event, but it’s like putting the period at the end of a sentence. It gives a sense of finality and making a statement.

Attending conferences is really important to me and my professional development (and energy). I hope these posts may also convince someone who either hasn’t ever attended a conference, or does so infrequently, that they are worth every penny to attend!

If you’re interested in posts I’ve written about previous MTNA conferences, checkout out:

Conferencing with Mickey Mouse and Friends: MTNA 2018 Orlando

2017 MTNA Conference, Baltimore

San Antonio 2016: A Conference to Remember


Conference Management 101 Videos

The biggest thing I wanted to share with you from the 2019 conference is the series of five Facebook Live videos I did on conference organization/management. These videos highlight a few of the tips I talk about in the post Conference Management 101.

I tried to keep them short and focused on one point.

(If you want to see the full post on Facebook, just click on the facebook icon in the bottom right-hand corner of the video.)

Video #1 (2:50) – Action List!

Video #2 (1:50) – Evernote (individual notes and tags)

Video #3 (4:55) – See how one teacher uses Notability!

Video #4 (0:45) – Take a breather

Video #5 (3:30) – Take Time to Organize Your Notes (even if it means skipping a session)



Anyone who has ever submitted a proposal to a conference (whether it’s with MTNA, NCKP or anywhere else), knows how exciting it is when your proposal gets accepted.

If you’ve sent proposals and not gotten accepted, have no fear! Keep revising your proposal and re-submitting. My friend Joy and I submitted a proposal twice for this session. It didn’t get accepted the first time, but it did the second. You just never know!

For tips and ideas for proposals and presenting, check out the post:
Tips for Presenting, Tools, Resources, and a Pep Talk.

This is the third national conference I’ve presented at. The first time was 2016 San Antonio when I did The Wild West of Marketing: How Do You Know What Really Works? and the second was 2018 Orlando Taming the Jungle: Digital Management Strategies for the Independent Music Teacher.

For more information on my available speaking sessions visit my speaking page here.

This year was particularly special because it was the first time I presented on something pedagogical! 🙂

It was also the first time I participated in a forum!


New Materials

Often, I come home with one piece of material in particular that stood out to me and that I’m really excited to use in my teaching. This year the winner was Paula Dreyer’s newest book in her Little Gems for Piano series.

Written in conjunction with Marilyn Lowe, the book promotes rote teaching that focuses on audiation, patterns, and creativity. For an explanation straight from the authors themselves, check out this video that Benjamin Steinhardt posted in the Facebook group The Art of Piano Pedagogy, interviewing Paula and Marilyn.


Meeting Up with Colleagues Near and Far

One of the best parts of conferencing!

Most of the states have an organized dinner on Sunday evening. Here, teachers from Indiana gathered at Luigi’s Italian restaurant and had lots of great conversation and laughs!

This is a wonderful way to meet other teachers in your own state!

My roomie was Christina Whitlock, author of the awesome Varsity Musician’s Playbook series here on Piano Pantry (and also a presenter extraordinaire!).

Here, we’re having lunch at a Thai restaurant. Christina is in the black shirt with flowers. Also pictured is Joy Morin (from, DJ (a good friend and colleague from Indiana), and Heidi from Ohio (it was her first time at MTNA!).

Joy Morin and I usually room together but this year she stayed with a teacher in the area, Ruth Michaelis.

Ruth invited a bunch of teachers over to her house on Monday night and provided an amazing spread of food for us!


Joy-Ride (Get it? Joy, ride? Ha!)

One of the bonuses of conferences getting to see a part of the country that you may not have otherwise gotten a chance to see.

Since both our presentation and forum were scheduled for Wednesday morning, Joy and I couldn’t get flights until Thursday. So, when Ruth offered to let us take her car for the afternoon/evening we jumped at it!

Off we went to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho! Spectacular.


See More and Follow Piano Pantry

If you want to check out more, I posted a lot more photos from the week to the Piano Pantry Facebook page.



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