NCKP 2017 Conference Highlights

The 2017 National Conference for Keyboard Pedagogy (NCKP) has quickly come and gone. It was my second go and in a way, returning this year was a little special for me. Why, you ask?

NCKP 2015 was the birthplace of Piano Pantry. With a little encouragement from Joy Morin during that conference, I took a leap of faith and here we are!

I’m going to hit the highlights in this post. If you want to check out a whole lot more photos head over to my Instagram or Facebook accounts.


Favorite Moments

One of my favorite things at conferences are those moments when you walk into your first sessions and begin seeing people you only get to see once or twice a year outside of Facebook. We were lucky to get to hang out with and share several meals with Jennifer Foxx of Music Educator Resources and Lynnette Barney who was interviewed on the Tim Topham Creative Piano Teaching Podcast.

It was also lovely getting to see the amazing Samantha Coates who came to us all the way from Sydney, Australia. I really enjoyed her session on the pitfalls of using mnemonics for sightreading.

The brilliant Music Learning Theory (MLT) guru, Marilyn Lowe was also there and hosted a session on MLT on Saturday. Marilyn was one of our teachers during the two-week training course on MLT for piano I took in Boston. Our other teacher, Jenny Fisher was also there but unfortunately, I totally missed catching a photo with her! 🙁

For the first time ever I was kind of an “exhibitor” as I spent a little time helping Eik (far left in the photo below) in the Sproutbeat booth. The exhibit hall is always a good time.

We had a lot of fun at a Greek restaurant for dinner and it was lovely getting a chance to hang out with an online teacher friend and Piano Pantry reader Julie (middle) as well as Lauren Lewandski (middle left) from


Teaching Demonstrations, Keynotes, Pedx and Recital

NCKP paid close attention to arranging a lot of teaching demonstrations as we had an hour and a half of observable lessons each day! The best part was that most of the demonstrations were with young children. Dr. Robert Duke, author of my all-time favorite teaching book Intelligent Music Making was the moderator. Thanks NCKP!

There were three keynote presentations including one with Jim Brickman.

One of my favorite features that NCKP does is the PEDx. This year they had five speakers that had 20 minutes to deliver the talk of their lives (maybe not quite that dramatic, but you get the idea ;-).

First up, and the one I’ll highlight here, was a performance from members of Fifth House Ensemble. They performed a work by Dan Visconti that was absolutely fascinating. It included sounds created by releasing air from a balloon. Yes, I said a balloon! As you see in the photo, it also included a moment where they threw plastic balls inside the Steinway piano while playing, which as you could expect, created lots of unusual sounds and hopping balls peeking out from the inside of the piano. Don’t try this at home!

Lastly, we had the honor of hearing Drew Petersen, winner of the American Pianists Association competition, perform the Friday evening recital. Previous winner, Spencer Meyer, was also in the audience.


Teacher Meet-up

On Thursday evening Tim Topham and I hosted a joint gathering for teachers to come and relax after a day of learning. Oftentimes at conferences, unless you arrange to have a meal with someone, it’s hard to get time to really visit with each other. This was a great opportunity to do just that. Thanks to all who came!



Tim presented a session in the Creative track to a packed room of teachers.

He was also brilliant to organize Facebook Live wrap-up’s of each day of the conference.

Wednesday’s Pre-Conference wrap up was with Nicola Canton of the fabulous, who made the trek all the way from Dublin, Ireland!

Joy Morin of the well-known site helped wrap-up Thursday’s conference.

And Amy from…oh wait, that’s me… 😉 co-hosted Friday’s wrap-up.


Chicago Fun

Joy and I are attending the GIML (Gordon Institute for Music Learning) conference this week Tuesday-Thursday which was perfect timing following NCKP. We have three days of down time between, so we’re currently having fun exploring Chicago and staying in an airbnb.

Stay tuned for a run-down of the GIML conference!


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