2017 Sessions

The live conference schedule can be found here.


21st Century Teaching and Technology: A Perfect Fit

An effective music teacher in the year 2016 has many devices in her teaching toolbox–new and traditional. Success means finding the right mix to motivate every student. There is one more ingredient: inspiration. That’s what Scott will provide in his keynote, along with humor and some up-to-date statistics about music study.

The iMasterclass

Presented by Dr. Scott McBride Smith

Scott McBride Smith is a visionary leader in music education. Since 2010, he is Cordelia Brown Murphy Professor of Piano Pedagogy at the University of Kansas, after teaching prizewinning students in Irvine, CA for 30 years. He is CEO of the International Institute for Young Musicians, a summer program that trains gifted young performers. He has shared his philosophical and cognitive approach to music 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. With co-author Christopher Norton, he is  editor of the groundbreaking series American Popular Piano and 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.


OlsonPhotonew copyTeaching and Retaining the Post-Millennial Piano Student

Presented by Dr. Kevin Olson

In this presentation, Dr. Olson will share some of the most recent social science research on the current generation of K-12 students, and will discuss ideas of ways piano lessons can be customized to the strengths and challenges of this group who have grown up in the Digital Age.  Focus will center on the first years of piano instruction, with goal of creating a culture where students can become fluent musicians in a spirit of discovery and engagement.

What’s the Big Idea? Inspiration, Perspiration, and Realization in the Composition Process Showcase

Presented by Dr. Kevin Olson

In this presentation/showcase, Dr. Olson will describe the techniques he uses as a composer, from the beginning planning stages to the double bar line and beyond. Specific teaching strategies will be included, with the goals of achieving the same results from the students we teach. Integrated in the workshop will be the newest pieces from the Kevin Olson Music Club, a subscription service where teachers receive three brand-new compositions written each month by Dr. Olson. Don’t miss this exploration into creativity by one of the most prolific writers in the educational piano world!

Kevin Olson is a member of the piano faculty at Utah State University, where he teaches piano literature, pedagogy, and accompanying courses. He also maintains a large piano studio with a variety of ages and abilities. In addition to his collegiate teaching responsibilities, Kevin is faculty advisor for the Utah State University Youth Conservatory, which the National Association of Schools of Music recently recognized as a model for pre-college piano instruction programs.  

Kevin began composing at age five. At age twelve, his composition received the Overall First Prize at the 1983 National PTA Convention. Subsequent work has been as  Composer in Residence at the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy, and more than 100 books and solos published by the FJH Music Company, plus music commissioned and performed by groups such as the American Piano Quartet, Music Teachers National Association, and piano teacher associations around the country.


First Ever MusicEdConnect.com Concert:  In the Moment

Presented by Bradley Sowash

Bradley Sowash

A fast-paced and diverse program, Bradley Sowash will perform selections from his critically acclaimed recordings as well as inventive reinterpretations of familiar songs. Weaving in tales of his inspirations and experiences, Bradley offers listeners insights into his inspirations and artistic process. How many colors and styles can be wrought from Amazing Grace? What if Beethoven and Duke Ellington met in heaven and decided to collaborate? Like a good book, Bradley will touch your spirit with humor, substance and a distinctive piano style which has been described as a marriage of contemporary jazz and classical stylings.

Creative Chords Keyboard Improvisation Method Showcase

Presented by Bradley Sowash

Learn to integrate creativity alongside traditional reading with this revolutionary beginning keyboard improvisation series. Designed as a comprehensive method or for supplementary study, Creative Chords balances the ear and the eye right from the start. Even teachers with a limited background in improvisation, will find this series approachable and fun!

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.


Charlene ShelziTime is Money: How Are You Spending Yours?

Presented by Charlene Shelzi and Michelle Sisler

Do you ever find yourself depleted from all of the busy work it takes to run a successful studio?  Is your free time consumed with work? Join this innovative team that will share some effective strategies to save both time and money. This session offers a fresh perspective to rethink our studio business models with concrete solutions to implement NOW without purchasing outside services, apps or materials.  Let us help you find more time!

An Arizona independent piano teacher, Charlene Shelzi co-authored games and the Theory Gymnastics Series (TCW Resources, Kjos Publications) She studied at BYU and Utah State University with Gary Amano, and was faculty of the USU Youth Conservatory. She directed the Arizona Youth Piano Competition. She runs marathons, attempting all 50 states.


Sara ErnstDeveloping Curriculum

Presented by Sara Ernst

Piano teaching is more than turning the page or picking the next piece. Through a comprehensive and personalized curriculum, an effective piano teacher imparts a deep understanding of music and pianism to each student. In this session, Dr. Ernst will explore a spiral curriculum for piano students and provide examples illustrating specific benefits of clear curricular goals. These ideas will be directly tied to weekly lesson planning and long term goal setting for students of all ages and levels.

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 PikePractice Tips

Presented by Dr. Pamela Pike

Have you ever wondered what your students during practice in the six days between lessons? Pike spent three months trying to answer that question by observing typical piano students practice and asking them (and their teachers) about their practice strategies. During this session, Pike will show video clips of teenaged students practicing in their homes, she will give reasons that the home practice does not always seem to match teacher expectations, and offer concrete suggestions for how we can empower our students to practice effectively, on their own, at home.

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 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.


A Trip Down the APP-alachian Trail

Helping Students Traverse Piano Repertoire with iPads

Presented by Shana Kirk

Sometimes the vastness of learning the piano seems like an impossible journey—we have so many available paths, so many different motivations, so much discovery to make, all in a limited amount of time! iPads can help students and teachers navigate the possibilities, offering unprecedented access to the world of repertoire and skills, plus a backpack full of gadgets and tools to enrich creativity. Lace up your boots and hit the trail with us!

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, she has taught private and group piano, embracing modern technologies for learning and motivation.  As a music industry consultant, Ms. Kirk works closely with software developers, music technology vendors, and Yamaha Corporation of America to share 21st century tools with the music teaching community. She has presented audience-friendly, technologically innovative workshops and seminars throughout the US and Canada and as a soloist and with duet partner George Litterst. She is also active as a writer in such publications as Clavier Companion and American Music Teacher.


Jennifer StadlerHow to Create Green Screen Effects for Less Than $50

30/30 Session Presented by Jennifer Stadler

Imagine your student performing inside Sydney Opera House, at the top of Mount Fuji, or on the rings of Saturn. Seem impossible? It’s not! Using green screen effects, you can transport your students to any place or time without leaving your home studio. All you need is some green material, bright lights, a recording device, and video-editing software. In this session you will learn how easy and affordable it is to create engaging green screen videos. Jennifer will provide a step-by-step guide through the entire process including equipment, setup, and workflow.

Jennifer Stadler, NCTM, is a graduate assistant at the University of Oklahoma pursuing an MM degree in piano performance and pedagogy. Previously, she was the full time owner and operator of a successful piano studio in Columbus, Ohio employing multiple teachers. In 2013, Jennifer received the MTNA Studio Fellowship Award for demonstrating a strong commitment to teaching and outstanding studio development. Jennifer has been an active member of MTNA since 2008 and is currently president of the OU MTNA Collegiate Chapter.


Mario AjeroPreparing Young Pianists for Collaborative Music-Making with Technology

Presented by Mario Ajero

Learn how to harness the power of technology to give young pianists the skills necessary to perform with other musicians. With MIDI, digital audio, and cloud-based music services, there has never been a better time for students to take advantage of both interactive and non-interactive accompaniments for learning music. Whether your students have an acoustic piano, digital piano, computer, or iPad, viewers will discover something new to enhance their students` performances and make them better listeners.

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.


Jennifer FoxxUsing Modern Tools to Create EXCITEMENT For Old Masterworks & Their History

Presented by Jennifer Foxx

Learning relevant, practical and fun ideas to keep our students engaged by using modern technology tools and games. Broken up into two main segments, explore some creative ideas both on and off the bench keeping old masterworks and their history alive and relevant for our students.  Be sure to have a smart phone, tablet or iPad handy at the beginning of this presentation because we are going to be kicking it off with a game! Yes there will be a winner too!

Jennifer Foxx is immediate past President for the Phoenix Chapter of AZ Music Teachers Association. She enjoys giving presentations to fellow music teachers, sharing with them 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 and incorporating music in history, science, foreign language, math, and art. Jennifer also shares helpful teaching resources and tips on her nationally recognized piano resource blog, MusicEducatorResources.com.


How Music Teachers Can Benefit from Small-Business Technology

Presented by Christopher Madden

Musicians can benefit from recent apps designed for small-business owners.  During this session, you will learn to track expenses and mileage and explore several no-fee options for tution collection.  In addition to these finance-related apps, this session will help you simplify scheduling and increase student productivity.

Christopher Madden is Lecturer in Piano at Baylor University.  His playing has earned him numerous scholarships and grants, allowing him to perform in festivals and master classes throughout the United States and Italy. Recent awards include first place in the University of Oklahoma’s concerto competition. In addition to performing, Christopher enjoys both teaching and research.  He has presented at the MTNA national conference, NCKP, Group Piano/Piano Pedagogy Forum, and Collegiate Piano Pedagogy Symposium. His research has also been published in Clavier Companion Digital Edition.


Elizabeth Gutierrez

Take a Musical Hike! How to Guide Students Through Every Piece with Wonder, Fascination and Appreciation for the Details

Presented by Elizabeth Gutierrez

Every piece of music possesses its own unique and fascinating scenery. We are the tour guides on our student’s musical journey through the varied pathways and processes toward mastering a piece. Elizabeth will share her methods for helping students get their fingers and minds on the right path while also recognizing and enjoying the beautiful scenery along the way.

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.


Teach Three-Dimensional Technique through Dynamic Elementary Repertoire from the Very Beginning

Presented by Fred Karpoff

Following a review of essential technical concepts for beginners, Fred will choreograph repertoire that can supplement any method you use. Attend this session for clear demonstrations of the basic ‘vibrato’ motion, portato, “in and out,” “over and under,” and other three-dimensional movements, in appealing pieces for your elementary students.

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


Hearing Voices?: Addressing the Subject of Balancing Voices in Pianistic Textures

Presented by Thomas Lanners

Musicians, during the course of their training, learn to pay close attention to many musical elements simultaneously. Pianists in particular, whether soloing or collaborating with other musicians, should constantly attend to what is commonly called “voicing” or “balance,” highlighting musical lines of greatest import while subduing others. By doing so, they can create a breadth of sonorous possibilities that matches the broad spectrum of pitches their instrument produces. Thomas will explore ways to master this difficult and often-neglected skill, which can separate merely good pianists from truly exceptional ones.

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 Thomas was awarded the Oklahoma Music Teachers Association Distinguished Teacher of the Year for 2014.


George Litterst

With the Right Tools, Any Student Can Learn to Improvise!

Presented by George Litterst

The lost art of classical improvisation need not stay lost! Start with an acoustic or digital instrument, add MIDI playback software and appropriate MIDI files. Then, sprinkle in some creative guidance from you, the teacher. Electronic materials provided for this session.

TimeWarp Technologies Showcase 

Presented by George Litterst

We have passed the dawn of a new era. The most useful technology products have never been more affordable and easy to use.  TimeWarp Technologies specializes in unique, interactive technologies that connect performers, teachers, and students to their instrument and the music that they study.

SuperScore Music for iPad – Digital scores that feature Liquid Music Notation™, embedded musical performances, and interactivity with the performer.

Home Concert Xtreme for iPad-Mac-PC- The premiere app for working with pedagogical MIDI files and piano concertos.

Internet MIDI for Mac-PC – Piano-to-piano connection for long distance teaching and performing.

Classroom Maestro for Mac-PC – An intelligent musical “blackboard” that visually communicates musical concepts as you play your MIDI keyboard.

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.


Sarah Lyngra

Awesome Lessons for Students who Don’t Practice

Presented by Sarah Lyngra

In this session you will learn how to manage your students who don’t practice without getting frustrated with these topics.

  • Understanding practice from the standpoint of your students
  • How to tap into brain research for maximizing progress in lessons
  • Why practice isn’t your issue
  • How much can a student learn in 12 weeks of minimal practice
  • Sometimes the best way to win the practice battle is not to engage in the first place.

The Great Online Teaching Experiment

I consider my studio as a piano science learning lab, so my students and I enjoy trying and testing new things. We keep what works, and move away from what doesn’t. We are applying the same philosophy to converting to completely online learning and will show you what works and help you learn what not to do from my mistakes to help you teach awesome lessons online.


Nate Smith2017: The Year of the Traveling Teacher

Presented by Nathan Smith

It seems that more and more, travel teaching is becoming commonplace. Of course, there are pro’s and con’s with any teaching arrangement, and travel teaching certainly brings its own set of challenges – and perks! Are you currently travel teaching or interested in doing so? If so, this presentation is for you. Come see how travel teaching can work for you, helping you build your business and reach a largely untapped market segment.

Nathan Smith is an independent teacher in Boulder, Colorado. He specializes in blending technology and traditional pedagogy. 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.


Inspire, Innovate, Invigorate, Invent!  

Presented by Sally Ritchie                                     

In this session, Sally will show you unique and exciting ways to introduce, reinforce and advance theory concepts and skills in private lessons, group lessons or as a themed camp.  Ideas will include off the bench games and activities and her Whirligig Games.

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 enjoy the process, she started developing her own games, which are now available and in use across the globe.


Carol MatzCarol Matz’s Interactive Piano Method® Showcase

Carol introduces her new method, which provides a fun, motivating course for today’s students. The method builds a strong musical foundation through printed Lesson Books and carefully corresponding Online Materials, including: Ear Training, Theory Games, Virtual Flashcards, Note Spellings, PDF Downloads (Performance Pieces, Activity Sheets, Sight-Reading, etc.), Teacher Duet MP3s, and more! Showcase attendees receive a free method level!

Carol Matz has composed, authored, and arranged over 300 published titles for piano students. An experienced piano teacher herself, Carol has presented numerous piano-teaching workshops throughout the United States, Canada, England, New Zealand, and Australia. She is well known for her Famous & Fun series (Alfred Music).

Carol studied composition, arranging, and orchestration at the University of Miami, and has written for a variety of ensembles including orchestra, jazz big band, brass quintet, and string quartet. Her work also includes studio arrangements for a number of artists in Miami-area recording studios.