2016 Session Preview

We have yet another fantastic line up of nationally-known presenters live February 2-6, 2016 or on demand anytime after, with awesome ideas to share.  Learn from the best.  You won’t want to miss this!

MEC 2016 Brochure.

Pete JutrasKeynote: The Road Ahead: Piano Study for the Next Generations

Presented by Pete Jutras, Ph.D, NCTM

Is piano study declining or thriving? We see a world of accomplished pianists who can perform difficult repertoire with ease. At the same time we note declining concert attendance, slumping piano sales, and an increasing need to justify arts education. Meanwhile, a new generation of students is entering our studios—a generation that has already witnessed unprecedented change. The primary agents of this change (think smartphones, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) did not exist ten years ago, yet they have radically altered the way students learn, gather information, and interact with the world. Will piano teaching and piano study remain an important part of this future world, or are we headed for obsolescence? What is the best way to teach the next generation effectively?

Pete Jutras, Ph.D., NCTM, is an Associate Professor at the University of Georgia and the Editor-in-Chief of Clavier Companion. His writings and research have been published in numerous journals, and he is a frequent presenter at national and international conferences. In 2015 he received UGA’s Richard B. Russell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.


Mario Ajero

Developing Listening and Rhythmic Skills with Popular Music

Presented by Mario Ajero

Mario will cover the merits of teaching popular music to students in order to develop their listening and rhythmic skills in fun and engaging ways. He will show how to utilize popular music to develop students’ aural vocabulary that will translate into making them more well-rounded musicians. Effective uses of digital audio recordings, apps, and other technologies will also be demonstrated so that students have a foundation to excel in music of various genres.

How To: Broadcast Your Recitals Live on the Internet

Presented by Mario Ajero

The 21st century is all about technologies that connect people and their activities together. Family and friends often live in different communities. Music teachers are often challenged to assemble an audience for their students in one location. Today, we have access to convenient and inexpensive resources to stream recitals live over the Internet to audiences around the world. In this session, Mario Ajero will show you how to broadcast your students’ recitals so that they can be enjoyed by anyone on their mobile phone, tablet, computer, or their home television sets.

Internationally recognized as an authority in incorporating technology in piano pedagogy and music education, Mario Ajero is frequently sought as a presenter for conferences around the world. His recent engagements include being a keynote presenter at the Australasian Piano Pedagogy Conference and a featured presenter at the Summer Summit at the Royal Conservatory of Music. His TEDx talk “Unreal Music Making Experiences with Technology” features a performance by his award-winning son and piano student, Antonio “Nio” Ajero. He has authored articles for Clavier Companion and American Music Teacher and has presented at the MTNA National Conference and National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy. Dr. Ajero is Associate Professor of Piano at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, TX where he also serves as the Keyboard Area Coordinator.


Sara ErnstChoose Those Words Carefully—Perfecting Your Teaching Language

Presented by Sara Ernst

The Question, the Statement, and the Assessment: skillful use of these three powerful modes of communication is a cornerstone of great teaching. Music teachers are encouraged to limit verbal instructions in favor of demonstration and discovery, and to talk less and play more during the lesson. Teachers are therefore faced with the task of choosing their few words carefully. Each mode of communication is examined through analysis of common lesson scenarios, and best practices and common pitfalls of teaching will be identified. Discover how to immediately improve the delivery and clarity of your instruction.

Sara Ernst is Assistant Professor at the University of South Carolina, where she teaches piano and piano pedagogy, oversees group piano, and directs the Center for Piano Studies. Her articles and reviews have been published in Clavier Companion and American Music Teacher, and her presentations have been featured at the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy and the national conference of Music Teachers National Association. She is an examiner for the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto and the VP of Conferences for the South Carolina Music Teachers Association.


Pamela PikeSight-Reading Strategies for the Beginning and Intermediate Student

Presented by Dr. Pamela Pike

The ability to read music at sight is a critical skill for beginning and intermediate musicians. Dr. Pike will discuss effective strategies that teachers can use to enable students to recognize musical patterns, develop motor skills, and hone reading skills.

Dr. Pamela D. Pike is the Aloysia Landry Barineau endowed professor of piano pedagogy at Louisiana State University where she directs the piano pedagogy and group piano program. She teaches undergraduate through doctoral-level courses in pedagogy, group, and applied piano. Dr. Pike is sought after as a clinician and presenter on pedagogical topics. She has presented throughout the United States, Canada, Asia, Europe, and South America and has authored over three dozen articles in peer-reviewed music education journals. Teaching and research awards include: LSU Tiger Athletic Foundation Undergraduate Teaching Award, Arkansas State Teacher of the Year, American Music Teacher Article of the Year.


Technology on a Shoestring

Presented by Shana Kirk

Great tools for pedagogy and studio business aren’t limited to expensive subscriptions and the latest gadgets. Join Shana to explore free and low-cost technology solutions to everyday needs, including business tools, flashcards, notation, music history, and listening libraries, as well as ways to get the most out of whatever devices you already own! 

Shana Kirk is a pianist, teacher, technology consultant, and arts advocate. Her work as a music technology enthusiast draws from a wide range of experiences in music, education, and technology.   With BA and MM degrees from Lipscomb University and the University of Denver, respectively, she has taught piano in both private and group settings. Her teaching embraces modern technologies for learning and motivation.

During 2000, she helped develop and operate the “What Makes Music?” discovery center for the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Shortly thereafter, she co-founded Denver-Based Apple Pie, Inc., an organization with the mission of bringing the arts to underserved areas.   As a music industry consultant, Ms. Kirk works closely with leading software developers, music technology vendors, and Yamaha Corporation of America to share 21st century tools with the music teaching community. She has presented workshops and seminars to music teachers throughout the US and Canada.   Both as a soloist and with duet partner George Litterst, she has presented audience-friendly, technologically innovative performances nationwide. She is also active as a writer, with music and music-technology based articles appearing in such publications as Clavier Companion and American Music Teacher.


Jennifer FoxxEngaged Learning

Presented by Jennifer Foxx

Engaged learning is the process in which students actively participate in their learning. In this presentation Jennifer will share how to identify and assess learning styles, understand how the ear, eye, hand and mind play an important role in the music learning cycle, understand how to influence motivation, build confidence and promote competence, and apply practical tools to engage learning. This presentation will conclude with specific activities and resources teachers can use to check for understanding and create a more engaged learning environment.

Jennifer Foxx is actively involved in her music teachers association. She is immediate past President for the Phoenix, AZ Chapter. Jennifer enjoys giving presentations to fellow music teachers, sharing with them her teaching ideas and practices on topics such as technology, practicing, motivational programs, group lessons and summer music camps. She has presented sessions at local chapters and the Arizona state conference. Jennifer is dedicated to the success of each of her students in her thriving studio providing quality music education to each of her students. She incorporates music is history, science, foreign language, math, and art into her teaching. Jennifer also shares helpful teaching resources and tips on her nationally recognized piano resource blog, MusicEducatorResources.com.

Bradley SowashUnderstanding Chord Symbols

Presented by Bradley Sowash

One of the biggest challenges beginning pop/jazz improvisers face is learning to construct and interpret chord symbols. This session provides a straightforward explanation of the principles, common practices and variations found in contemporary chord nomenclature.

Bradley Sowash is a composer, creative pianist, multi-instrumentalist, recording artist, author, and educator specializing in improvisation. He teaches master classes nationwide, serves as Pop/Jazz chairperson for the Music Teachers National Association and teaches at the 88 Creative Keys Camp with co-founder Leila Viss. The Neil A. Kjos Music Company publishes his many instructional books, and Augsburg Fortress Press has published several volumes of his hymn arrangements. His broadcast credits include seven seasons of appearances on the PBS-TV series, The Piano Guy, and National Public Radio has aired selections from his nine CDs.


How To: ELinda Christensenxtend Your Screen

Presented by Linda Christensen

Mirroring your iPad and computer screen to another device can be very helpful for teaching and presenting. In this session we will learn how to extend and mirror your device’s screen to TV, computer, or other devices.


Linda Christensen teaches applied piano, group piano, and music technology at Wayne State College in Wayne, Nebraska. She is in high demand as a clinician, and has presented numerous national and international workshops focusing on integration of technology into music teaching.


Dr. Scott McBride SmithCoping with Parents

Presented by Dr. Scott McBride Smith

I can always work with the students,” said one well-known teacher. “It’s the parents who give me fits.” Do you feel a little fit-full yourself? Running a successful independent studio requires expertise in dealing with difficult people. Handled correctly, complainers can turn into your biggest supporters. Join Scott McBride Smith for a hands-on session full of practical techniques and ideas for managing those important, and sometimes annoying, parents.

Scott McBride Smith is a visionary leader in music education. He is Cordelia Brown Murphy Professor of Piano Pedagogy at the University of Kansas, a position he assumed in 2010 after teaching prizewinning students in Irvine, CA for 30 years. As CEO of the International Institute for Young Musicians, he leads a summer program that trains gifted young performers from around the world. His philosophical and cognitive approach to music has resulted in appearances before teachers groups across the U.S., in Europe, Asia and South America.

Dr. Smith is co-author of the college text The Well-Tempered Keyboard Teacher and associate editor of the magazine Clavier Companion. He is co-author and editor of the groundbreaking series American Popular Piano and co-author of Christopher Norton’s Guide to Microjazz.  You can watch Scott teaching live—and unedited—on his popular live stream on XOTV, Piano Pedagogy, Piano Teaching for the 21st Century, www.xtov.me.


Elizabeth GutierrezA Quick Guide to the Most Popular Piano Classics Students Love to Play

Presented by Elizabeth Gutierrez

Having a hard time deciding which piano classics you should teach and when? Do you wonder whether your students will like your selections? Elizabeth will help you narrow down the sea of choices to create a well-rounded, balanced repertoire for students of all abilities and especially those with discerning tastes.

Elizabeth Gutierrez is recognized as a teacher, performer, author, composer, editor, clinician, and consultant. She has taught on the faculties at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Texas at San Antonio where she chaired the keyboard departments. An avid researcher and proponent for Latin American piano music, Elizabeth is the recipient of numerous research grants and awards supporting her research in multicultural piano music and the contributions of Latin American composers.


Ten Basic Technical Movements for Beginners

Presented by Fred Karpoff

When healthy biomechanics are integrated into beginning piano lessons, a solid foundation is established for accelerated learning. By applying whole-body methods similar to those required for dance and martial arts, our students will gain better coordination and progress more rapidly. This sets the stage for better problem-solving and lessons that feature more teaching and less correcting. Fred will focus on ten basic movements for beginners to acquire from the earliest lessons–no matter what age–including the Quiet Hand, Vibrato, Rebound, In and Out, and other three-dimensional concepts.

Fred Karpoff is the winner of the Frances Clark Keyboard Pedagogy Award presented by MTNA. He is the artistic producer of Entrada, an online video resource for effortless piano technique. He has performed as both soloist and collaborative pianist on four continents, including prominent venues in Germany, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Ireland, Finland, Italy, China, and the United States.  A Steinway Artist and a former Artistic Ambassador for the United States Information Agency, Fred is Professor of Piano at the Setnor School of Music at Syracuse University. www.entradapiano.com


Conduct Productive, Engaging Studio Classes for Students of All Ages

Presented by Dr. Thomas Lanners

Studio classes are akin to private lessons, but require a higher level of engaging communication and a distinct teaching approach. Thomas will show how to create valuable and enjoyable educational experiences through periodic studio classses to supplement weekly lessons. Learn how to share valuable information with everyone present by projecting your voice, utilizing inclusive body language and gestures, asking questions and opinions of all, and addressing musical and technical issues that resonate with all students, regardless of their current playing level.

Dr. Thomas Lanners has performed throughout the U.S. and abroad, presenting his New York solo debut in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in 2004.  His performances have been broadcast nationally and internationally on programs such as American Public Media’s Performance Today. Lanners’ critically acclaimed recordings include Ned Rorem: The Three Piano Sonatas, Ned Rorem: Piano Works, Volume 2, and Touches of Bernstein: The Complete Published Piano Music of Leonard Bernstein, all released worldwide by Centaur Records.  His championing of American piano music was the topic of a 2010 interview in Fanfare magazine and recently, Thomas was awarded the Oklahoma Music Teachers Association Distinguished Teacher of the Year for 2014.


David LoveGarage Band 101

Presented by David Love

Unlock the potential of one of the iPad’s most powerful music-making apps, GarageBand. In this live session you will learn the ins and outs of the multi-tracking app that will excite and inspire young composers. View the second half on your own time to discover how you can take GarageBand to the next level by helping a student turn a lead sheet into a stellar background track for a unique performance experience at their next recital.

Marketing Magic to Make your Studio Sparkle

Presented by David Love

Still putting up 8.5×11” flyers advertising your studio with the same old cursive font and removable phone number tabs at the bottom? In this session, we will explore practical marketing tips from this generation for the independent music teacher. Learn how to maximize your efforts in everything from social media to good old fashioned word of mouth.

Keeping students captivated and parents delighted, David Love effectively uses music education technology as an integral core of his very popular piano studio in Idaho.  He frequently advises JoyTunes and gives webinars for music teachers everywhere.


Alejandro CremaschiFrom Stage to Youtube with iOS iMovie in 30 Minutes

Presented by Alejandro Cremaschi

During this step-by-step session,  learn the process of video recording a performance with your tablet, spiffing it up with iMovie for iPad or iPhone, and publishing it to YouTube, a free online video service. No previous knowledge required! Alejandro will discuss and answer your questions about the tools used in this presentation, including video and media formats, editing programs, and video websites.

Developing a Sense for Rhythm and Timing
with Latin American Piano Pieces

Latin American music is ideal to help students develop a broad understanding of rhythm and timing. Several Latin American composers created attractive piano pieces, often inspired in folk traditions, where rhythm is the primary element.

During this presentation Alejandro will introduce Latin American intermediate and advanced pieces that contain rhythmic and timing challenges, and will demonstrate practical techniques to help students develop a better understanding of rhythm, timing and direction. Some of these challenges include rubato, syncopation, hemiolas, cross-rhythms, irregular rhythms and rhythmic groupings, and toccata-style rhythmic writing. The goal is to help students learn how to feel music “beyond the beats,” to help them develop better rhythmic control, and more efficient and musical ways of organizing phrases based on a sense of embodied rhythmic flow and macrobeat. The lecture will feature sample performances of the repertoire.

Alejandro Cremaschi teaches piano and piano pedagogy at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and was President of the Colorado Music Teachers Association  (2012-2014). He received his MM and DMA degrees from the University of Minnesota, and undergraduate degrees from the University of Maryland Baltimore County, and the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina. He studied with Dora De Marinis, Nancy Roldan and Lydia Artymiw. He was a prize winner at the International Beethoven Sonata Piano Competition in Memphis, Tennessee in 2001. He has been a presenter at national and international conferences including numerous MTNA annual conferences, College Music Society national conferences, and the International Society for Music Education conference. Mr. Cremaschi is in demand as a specialist on Latin American piano music. He has recorded for the labels IRCO, Ostinato, Marco Polo and Meridian Records. Since 2004, he actively collaborates with the Argentine composer and CU professor emeritus Luis Jorge Gonzalez. His recordings of solo and chamber music by Dr. Gonzalez’s have been released in the CDs Las Puertas del Tiempo (2009) and Fervor (2012) by the British label Meridian. Las Puertas del Tiempo was praised by Fanfare Magazine as “exemplary.” His new CD with Latin American trios for violin, cello and piano will be released in 2015 by the label Meridian Records.


George Litterst

Wires No More!

Presented by George Litterst

During the last 2 decades, there have been many advances in the area of music technology. To take full advantage of the teaching opportunities provided by these technologies, it has been necessary to confront a plethora of wires: cables for audio, Internet, MIDI, USB peripherals, and more. With more recent advances in wireless communications, it is possible to replace most of the spaghetti in your studio. Join this session and learn how to neaten your studio by taking command of Bluetooth, Airplay, wi-fi, and other wireless technologies.

George Litterst is a nationally known music educator, clinician, author, performer and music software developer. A classically trained pianist, he is also co‐author of the intelligent music display and accompaniment software program, Home Concert Xtreme, the electronic music blackboard software, Classroom Maestro, and the long distance teaching and performing program, Internet MIDI. In recent years, he served as a mentor at the Ross School of East Hampton, NY, where he was involved in developing a K‐12 curriculum for performing arts. Academic institutions where he has taught include the New England Conservatory of Music Preparatory School, Northeastern University, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He performs multimedia concerts with duet partner, Shana Kirk. As a writer, he is currently an Associate Editor for Clavier Companion and shares the Random Access column in American Music Teacher.

Nate SmithHarnessing the Power of Video Games: Gamification

Presented by Nathan Smith

For kids especially, there are few things more addicting than video games. Ever wondered why? Join this session to uncover some of the secrets used by game designers. You’ll see some of the psychology and content organization behind this medium and how it differs from traditional instruction. You’ll also see some ideas of how to use these concepts in your own studios – with or without technology.

Nathan Smith is an independent teacher in Boulder, Colorado. He specializes in blending technology and traditional pedagogy, and currently is the Digital Education Expert for Tonara (developers of the ‘Wolfie’ and ‘Tonara’ apps for piano). Nathan is a graduate of Queens College CUNY (BM, Piano Performance) and the University of Colorado at Boulder (MM, Piano Performance and Pedagogy). In his free time, Nathan enjoys running, skiing, and camping.


Tim TophamPop Music: Time Waster or Student Saver?

Presented by Tim Topham

Tim refutes the idea that pop is the “junk food” of piano lessons and instead helps teachers understand how it can be used both to motivate and teach the fundamentals of music: theory, harmony, form and structure in a way that engages students 100%. He demonstrates how to approach pop in the modern piano lesson, how to make connections between pop and other forms of music and how to gain the greatest pedagogical impact, including with the use of technology.

Best known for his blog at timtopham.com, Tim Topham is a well respected presenter, teacher and accompanist. He is currently Head of Keyboard at Xavier College, Melbourne, and holds an MBA, BMus, DipEd and AMusA.

Sarah Lyngra

Teaching Uphill: Making Progress when Your Students are Over-connected, Over-scheduled, and Exhausted.

Presented by Sarah Lyngra

Do you have students who are interested in piano but over-scheduled and don’t have time to practice? In Teaching Uphill you will learn some basics about how the brain works, how students learn, and how to use this to make the best use of your time in the lessons.

Michelle SisleriPad iDeas

Presented by Michelle Sisler

Discover how to easily incorporate your iPad in your teaching. Learn how teachers are creatively using mobile apps to engage their students to learn theory, compose music, play games, create digital ensembles, learn online, record and provide feedback, teach in groups, teach music history, practice and use paperless worksheets.  Make your teaching more fun and effective!

Michelle Sisler is best known for her innovative approach to teaching bringing technology, motivation, and creativity into music lessons. She is the founder of Keys to Imagniation, LLC and MusicEdConnect.com. Michelle frequently presents workshops and seminars to music teachers throughout the world and teaches students on Crystal Cruises. Michelle is an active author of music theory games, motivation programs and curriculum, and is a widely published author with articles in Clavier Companion and American Music Teacher. 

 SallyRitchieWinning with Whirligig (Showcase)

Presented by Sally Ritchie

Teaching music concepts off the bench is a great way to learn and strengthen critical theory skills such as note reading, rhythm, key signatures and intervals. Whirligig games are the perfect way to do this in a fun, interactive way in private lessons, group lessons or during summer camps.  Don’t get caught up with spending your lesson time on practice sessions. Use your lesson time effectively by identifying areas where students need improvement, play a Whirligig game focusing on that concept, and watch students improve their skills in a matter of minutes.

Sally Ritchie has been instructing young children, teenagers, and adults for over 45 years. She presently has a studio in the public school system with over 80 private students per week. She plays a number of musical instruments and has opportunity to work with adults and children as organist, choir director, and music coordinator of her church. After searching for years for tools to help her students learn necessary skills and still enjoy the process, she started developing her own games, which have become a hit in so many studios across the globe.


Musical Scores Have Gone Digital! Have You? (Showcase)

Presented by George Litterst

At long last, there is now a way to collect, organize, view, annotate, and musically interact with digital scores on a mobile device. Introducing… SuperScore!  SuperScore is the first and only score-reader that provides:

• Liquid Music Notation™ that enables you to select a viewing size that is comfortable for you

• high resolution musical layout that reformats automatically when you rotate your mobile device

• scores that include embedded musical performances

• option to show and hide instrumental and vocal parts

• score-following features that respond to you when you play the music on a MIDI instrument

• page-turning by swipe, wireless Bluetooth pedal, or automatically during score-following

• markups that can be applied to any score and even shared with students and colleagues

If you have tried other music viewers on a mobile device, you’re familiar with the potential convenience that these apps and devices provide. However, you have probably been frustrated by notation that cannot be resized, formatting that does not match the screen of your device, poor quality scans,  unmusical playback if there is playback at all.

SuperScore music files, on the other hand, literally leap off the page and engage the viewer.  SuperScore functions as your personal music librarian, enabling you to keep all of your scores—SuperScores, MusicXML scores (that you create with a music notation program), and PDFs—in one place, at your finger tips.

Join this session and see the latest, cutting-edge product from the folks you brought you Home Concert Xtreme, Classroom Maestro, and Internet MIDI.