2018 Sessions

What is a Live and On-Demand Session?

Sessions are presented live online February 1-3, 2018. Attendees may interact with the presenter and other attendees in real time. Sessions will be recorded and can be viewed on demand anytime.

What is a Flipped Session?

Flipped sessions are recorded and can be viewed on this site on demand anytime.   Each presenter will offer a live follow-up session (Q&A) at a later date.

Drum Roll, Please…

The 2018 MusicEdConnect.com Presentations are …

Scott McBride Smith

Flipped Session

User-Friendly Technical Training for Early Level Students

Repertoire…ear training…sight reading…theory…technic? Is it really possible to fit all of this into one short lesson? Join Scott McBride Smith for a hands-on session full of practical and time-effective ideas to integrate technical training into your—and your students’—routines, and help them build effective technical skills to play piano successfully.

Scott McBride Smith is president of the Music Teachers National Association of the U.S. and the Cordelia Brown Murphy Professor of Piano Pedagogy at the University of Kansas. His cognitive, research-based approach to teaching and his sense of humor have made him a teacher favorite around the world. He is Visiting Professor at the Shanghai Conservatory, Sichuan Conservatory and Shanghai Normal University in China; co-author the pedagogy text The Well-Tempered Keyboard Teacher, American Popular Piano, and president of the International Institute for Young Musicians. Dr. Smith is a teacher of prizewinning students and President of the U.S. Music Certification Exams.

Bradley Sowash

Flipped Session

Developing Chord Fluency

Like language students who have memorized vocabulary but are not yet conversant, pianists who have learned to construct chords may not yet be “chord fluent.” How do we help our students move beyond music theory worksheets to being able to interpret chord symbols and identify underlying harmonies in literature? Learn drills, exercises, and creative prompts from a master improvisation teacher to help your students recognize and play chords effortlessly both on and off the bench.

Bradley Sowash is a composer, creative concert pianist, multi-instrumentalist, recording artist, author, and educator specializing in improvisation. As an educator, he pioneered live online group keyboard creativity lessons, co-founded 88 Creative Keys workshops & webinars with Leila Viss, and is a frequent presenter at national music conferences. The Neil A. Kjos Music Company publishes his acclaimed That’s Jazz and Creative Chords series on keyboard improvisation and he writes a column about improvisation for Clavier Companion.

Kevin Olson

Flipped Session

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

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.

Julia Sansone

Live and On-Demand Session

Creating “Music Addicts”: The Psychology Behind a Highly Successful Music Studio

The field of Human Needs Psychology offers profound and practical insights into understanding the fundamental needs of our students. Research shows that if students associate music study with the fulfillment of at least three of their six Human Needs, we succeed in creating a “music addict.” In this session, we learn about the six Human Needs and how to tell which ones a student values most. We then explore strategies for helping students fulfill those needs through their music study. This understanding can help us troubleshoot our relationships, better connect with parents and colleagues, and market our studios more effectively.

Julia Sansone, NCTM is a multi-faceted musician who has taught an independent piano studio for 20 years. Active in her MTNA chapter she develops and teaches varied Recreational Music Making courses for all ages. Julia is a certified Strategic Intervention Coach with a passion for connecting with others and sharing practical tools to create outstanding relationships. As a result of applying the principles in this lecture, Julia has seen her private studio and income grow exponentially. She has presented workshops for the American Independent Music Association and local and state chapters of the MTNA and National Guild of Piano Teachers.

Pamela Pike

Live and On-Demand Session

Encouraging Artistic Performance of the Elementary and Intermediate Piano Repertoire

While numerous teaching methods for elementary piano students abound and there is a wealth of attractive intermediate piano literature, student performances can lack musical expression or mastery of core technical concepts required for communicative playing. During this session, Pike will investigate specific techniques and strategies that promote expressive playing, including technical development, harmonic exploration, and consideration of aural and visual imagery. She will highlight elementary and intermediate repertoire that can engage students’ imaginations and their musical ears, which are both necessary to become artistic performers.

Dr. Pamela D. Pike holds the Barineau Professorship in piano pedagogy at Louisiana State University. 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. Her book Dynamic Group-Piano Teaching is published by Routledge. In 2016, she was honored as the Louisiana MTA Outstanding Teacher and in 2017 was made an MTNA Foundation Fellow.

Carol Matz

Flipped Session

Teaching Composition to Young Students

Teachers will learn tangible approaches to teaching early-level students how to compose. This includes having students create their own book of compositions, cover to cover, compositional techniques made easy for beginning pianists (such as using pattern and sequence, melodic inversion, retrograde, modes), as well as strategies to guide students and spark creativity.

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 (published by Alfred Music).

Dr. Christopher Madden

Live and On-Demand Session

Motivating the 21st Century Piano Student: Why Stickers, Candy, and Prizes Can Backfire

As piano teachers, our primary goal is to create lifelong musicians. In order to do this, however, it can be helpful to re-examine our long-held beliefs about how to motivate students. By exploring the latest research on motivation, this workshop will demonstrate how traditional behavioral models of motivation can actually undermine our long-term goals. Several alternative motivation strategies beyond the typical play-for-rewards system will be explored.

Dr. Christopher Madden is Assistant Professor of Piano Pedagogy at Texas Woman’s University, where he teaches applied piano, piano pedagogy, and class piano. His playing has earned him numerous scholarships and grants, allowing him to perform in festivals and masterclasses throughout the United States and Italy. In addition to performing, Christopher has presented research at the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy, Group Piano/Piano Pedagogy Forum, Collegiate Piano Pedagogy Symposium, and MTNA national conference. Christopher holds degrees from University of Oklahoma (DMA), Florida State University (MM), and Pennsylvania State University (MA and BM).

Thomas Lanners

Live and On-Demand Session

Practicing with Presence

Students’ minds often wander when practicing for extended periods, allowing poor musical and technical habits to develop, as ears and emotions are no longer fully engaged in the precise activity at hand. A solution as simple as taking periodic practice breaks may help, but most young musicians must develop a greater focus on each step in the learning process as they execute it, rather than fixing their minds on the results these steps may produce in the future. Lamenting past difficulties or worrying about future progress draws thoughts away from the present, the only time when true progress is possible.

Thomas Lanners, Professor of Piano at Oklahoma State University, is active as a solo and collaborative pianist, recording artist, author, and clinician throughout the U.S. and abroad. His performances have been broadcast nationally and internationally on programs such as American Public Media’s Performance Today. Lanners has presented sessions at Music Teachers National Association conferences, MusicEdConnect.com online conferences, and numerous others. American Music Teacher and Clavier magazines have published his feature articles. Named the Oklahoma Music Teachers Association’s Distinguished Music Teacher in 2014, Thomas holds graduate degrees from the Eastman School of Music.

Charlene Jarvis

Live and On-Demand Session

Vampires, Witches and Bats, Oh My! (A Practical Guide to Coaching Early Composition)

Curious about what your students retain? Teach composition from the start and you will be surprised at what your little goblins have absorbed and can produce! Now is the perfect time to get started. Glean practical ideas for teaching composition, including a step-by-step guide using a theme (e.g. Halloween) for launching creative ideas.

An Arizona independent piano teacher with a thriving studio, Club Piano, Charlene Jarvis co-authored games and the Theory Gymnastics Series (TCW Resources and Kjos Publications). She studied at BYU and Utah State University with Gary Amano, and was faculty of the USU Youth Conservatory for 14 years. She directed the Arizona Youth Piano Competition. She has presented at MTNA National conferences as well as NCKP on numerous occasions. She runs marathons, attempting all 50 states.

Samantha Coates

Live and On-Demand Session

Your Aural is Better Than You Think

Most people regard their aural skills as poor and herald absolute pitch as a sign of musical giftedness. This session explores – then debunks – both views, supported by the results of an aural test taken by 1900 participants. A feature of this session is that delegates will participate in the aural test and be able to experience for themselves (and often be surprised at) how far their aural capabilities extend.This session concludes with a discussion about musicians’ and non-musicians’ attitudes to pitch memory and perceptions of their aural skills, and more specifically how these perceptions may affect performance in the aural component of music exams.

Samantha Coates is a Sydney-based pianist and teacher with over three decades of experience in both private and group tuition. She is also the author and publisher of BlitzBooks, a music education series that has brought fun and laughter to the areas of music theory, instrumental technique, general musical knowledge and sight reading. Samantha completed her Bachelor of Music degree at the Sydney Conservatorium, majoring in piano performance. She has had extensive experience as a solo performer, accompanist, and lecturer, and is regularly invited to present at conferences on a wide range of pedagogical topics, both in Australia and overseas. Her most recent international presentations were at the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy (NCKP) in Chicago, at the Music Teachers’ National Association (MTNA) in Baltimore and at the 2017 London Music and Drama Expo.

George Litterst

Live and On-Demand Session

And Now You Know the Rest of the Story: The Inspiring Histories of Masterworks for Children

Many well-known composers wrote masterworks for children, and these beloved compositions form the foundation of a classical piano curriculum. Unfortunately, the origins and meanings of these works have often been lost in the shadows of time. Why did Robert Schumann write the Album for the Young? Which well known composer wrote masterworks for his step-mother? What tragedies lurk behind Tchaikovsky’s Children’s Album? Who was Beethoven’s Elise? Join Stella Sick and George Litterst for a fascinating journey through the closets, attics, and back alleys of music history and learn the rest of the story.

George Litterst is a nationally known music educator, clinician, author, performer, and music software developer. A classically-trained pianist, he is a co-author of the intelligent music display app, SuperScore, and other software products from TimeWarp Technologies.

Stella Sick holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music and the University of Minnesota. She is a Managing Director of the International Piano-e-Competition. Dr. Sick teaches piano locally and nationwide. An active performer, she is an adjunct assistant professor at Hamline University.

Dr. Alejandro Cremaschi

Live and On-Demand Session

Teaching lessons Online: Tools, Challenges, and Opportunities

The rapid evolution of computers, mobile technology and apps are making teaching online a “clear and present” option for teachers. This session will cover two types of online lesson interaction: live (synchronous) and time-shifted (asynchronous). It will introduce some hardware and software tools and will explore the “first steps” for teachers interested in this option.

Dr. Alejandro Cremaschi teaches piano and piano pedagogy at the University of Colorado Boulder. An active performer and researcher, he has a “soft spot” for technology and its application in piano teaching. He has taught online piano courses at CU Boulder for the last 4 years and has developed tools to facilitate online interaction and communication.

Joao Paulo Casarotti, pianist, and pedagogue, is the Assistant Professor of Piano and Piano Pedagogy Coordinator of Keyboard studies at Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA. Dr. Casarotti holds a D.M.A. from the Louisiana State University and maintains an active schedule as a performer, clinician, and researcher.

Lori Frazer

Live and On-Demand Session

Now that I have all of these accompaniment tracks, what do I do with them?

This workshop will explore the many ways to use both midi and audio file accompaniments. Covering everything from where can I find these backing tracks, to how can I get them to my device, the emphasis will be on the value these files can bring to your studio, and how to get the maximum value from them. Federation teachers may find this interesting, as many new accompaniment backgrounds have recently been made available to help enhance the student’s enjoyment and learning of Federation materials.


Elizabeth Gutierrez

Live and On-Demand Session

10 Things I Wish I Had Known BEFORE I Became an Independent Music Teacher, Plus a Few I’m Glad I Knew!

If you work as an independent music teacher, how many times have you thought “If only I had known this before!” If you’re thinking of becoming an independent music teacher, you’d probably prefer to skip the pitfalls and blunders, right? Elizabeth will highlight some of the most common fears and concerns independent teachers have brought to her during her 30 years of training teachers. Whether it be aspects of running a business or specific teaching issues, her practical solutions will have you rethinking your priorities and mapping out new plans with greater authority and confidence than you ever imagined.

Pianist Elizabeth Gutierrez enjoys a diverse career as a performer, pedagogue, teacher, editor, and composer.  She previously taught on the faculties at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and The University of Texas at San Antonio and also served as a piano editor for major music publishers.  She is a national clinician for Faber Piano Adventures and gives numerous workshops and master classes to independent teachers around the globe both in person and via livestream on Facebook and Periscope. Her energies are focused on training teachers worldwide with livestream sessions via social media, webinars, and online courses at pianoteacheracademy.com.

Sally Ritchie

Live and On-Demand Session

Winning with Whirligig


Come on Down!  You are the next contestant on the Teacher is Right!  In this interactive (yes, interactive!) 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 that can be used inside and outside and programs to motivate students to stick to the bench and practice effectively!

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 the 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.

Sara Ernst

Live and On-Demand Session

Improving Your Teaching Effectiveness

All teachers agree that we do not have enough time with our students and that we must use creative teaching techniques to maximize every precious minute. Music education research reveals methods in which our lesson time can be more efficient and productive. Using video footage from actual lessons, Sara Ernst will explore a lesson planning and teaching method that can be incorporated into your lessons immediately, improving the quality, efficiency, and musicality of each lesson.

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.

Live and On-Demand Session

Exciting and Novel Ways for Students to Engage Their Audience

Let’s face it. Recitals can be boring. It is true the audience was applauding but that was to keep them awake. Capture your audience and turn your recitals into a spectacular show with easy student or teacher created multimedia, imagery, digital backdrops, and audience participation.

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.

At a very young age, Michelle discovered her talent and love for music. Through Michelle’s creative and fun teaching style, she has effectively taught piano to many students (ages ranging from 6 to 83). Michelle’s use of technology and creative teaching materials have gained her national recognition and a unique place at the forefront of music education. Her materials allow teachers to incorporate technology into music lessons. Michelle has presented sessions at The National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy, Music Teachers National Association conference, and various state conferences and local groups. She has written technology articles for Keyboard Companion, a series of technology articles in Clavier, and reviews in American Music Teacher. Michelle has co-authored Studio Makeover, Technology “Addition”®, Double Click Curriculum®, Are We There Yet? A Musical Journey Around the Globe®, Road Trip: America the Beautiful, and Sebastian Sharp and the Case of the Missing Manuscript, all available from Keys to Imagination LLC.

Jennifer Stadler

Live and On-Demand Session

Us and Them: Bridging the Gap between What We Teach and What They Want to Learn

With digital technology, student interest and access to music are at an all-time high, yet the number of students studying music is declining. Why? In this session, Jennifer will examine the trend of decline in music education and explore ways to reverse it by capitalizing on student interest in popular music.

Jennifer Stadler holds an M.M. degree in Piano Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Oklahoma, where she studied with renowned pedagogues Dr. Jane Magrath, Dr. Barbara Fast, and Dr. Jeongwon Ham. Previously, Jennifer ran a successful piano studio in Columbus, Ohio employing multiple teachers. Jennifer became a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music in 2012 and the following year received the MTNA Studio Teacher Fellowship Award for demonstrating a strong commitment to teaching and outstanding studio development. Jennifer currently teaches group piano and music appreciation at Western Heights High School.

Sara Ernst

Flipped Session

The Secrets to Successful Adjudication

Music professionals are inevitably invited to adjudicate a wide array of musical competitions, auditions, and performance exams. While these events are excellent opportunities for service, growth, and networking, they can pose many challenges because of the varied nature of each event. In this presentation, several types of events will be discussed, along with a general philosophy of how to approach them. Practical strategies will be given for how to stay on schedule, write good commentary, be consistent, and maintain professionalism through the unexpected. You will then receive good reviews and future invitations to adjudicate!

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.

Charlene Jarvis

Live and On-Demand Session

Dogfooding – An Essential Staple in Your Studio Diet

What is dogfooding, and why do piano teachers need it? In this session, Charlene will explore the crucial process of doing your own assignments. She will offer doable solutions to find and fix problems in our assignments, BEFORE giving them to our students.

An Arizona independent piano teacher with a thriving studio, Club Piano, Charlene Jarvis co-authored games and the Theory Gymnastics Series (TCW Resources and Kjos Publications). She studied at BYU and Utah State University with Gary Amano, and was faculty of the USU Youth Conservatory for 14 years. She directed the Arizona Youth Piano Competition. She has presented at MTNA National conferences as well as NCKP on numerous occasions. She runs marathons, attempting all 50 states.