2018 MusicEdConnect.com Highlights Day 1


I am attending the MusicEdConnect.com conference online and wanted to share some highlights of the sessions I will be able to attend live each day. Remember, all presentations you may have missed will be available after the conference when the replay is available. PLUS there are a bunch of flipped recorded sessions already available to watch. I was surprised to see so many when I logged on.

Encouraging Artistic Performance of the Elementary & Intermediate Piano Repertoire by Pamela D. Pike

Pamela begins by asking, “what does artistry mean to you?” I would encourage you to answer that question for yourself. She noted that it is important to acknowledge that capstone experience. It’s our job to help students integrate.

One interesting thing Pamela shared was that students who are more independent in developing artistry tend to be more motivated. It encourages ownership. This makes so much sense! She encourages to reflect on your own teaching techniques and effectiveness. Pamela regularly records her teaching and evaluates herself and will often catch herself doing something that could have been done better with a particular student.

The piece itself should be motivating. How do we lead our students to create sounds that lead to motivation? Technical ability with vary. Things to consider, tone, articulation, touch, physical gesture, the tempo at the beginning and then balance, voicing, independence, musical phrasing. tone, interpretations, theory and technical knowledge.

Is there ample reinforcement? Is the student exploring new technique through new repertoire, improv, transposing an exercise- all reinforce skills.

Make time during the listen (or at home) to have students listen to a variety of music (high-quality models). This helps with an understanding of the style, etc. “Teaching is not telling.”


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

Every human being has the same 6 needs.

  1. Certainty
  2. Uncertainty
  3. Significance
  4. Love and Connection
  5. Growth
  6. Contribution

Everyone focuses on 2 needs. That tends to be the driving force in our life. If you can discover those two needs you can give a sense of motivation in their life.

Teachers lose students when the students’ human needs aren’t met. If you can find a way to meet all 6 they will be bonded to you.

Due to technical difficulties, the 2nd half of this presentation will be recorded and shared later.


Practice with Presence by Thomas Lanners

1- Corraling a wandering mind- if we don’t know the mind is wandering, it’s hard to fix.

1st step is awareness- knowing there is a problem.

When playing the piano we have to engage many of our senses. Take frequent breaks when overall awareness wanes.

Eliminate distractions (smartphones…)

“Goals are important, but you aren’t going to reach them if the moment to moment matter in which you prepare to reach those goals are not paid attention.”

Focus on how you are practicing.

Replacing Obsession with Imagination. Students who are most motivated to succeed typically take an obsession role. (focus is on how long, repetition, etc.)

Practice as imaginatively as you want to play. How can you practice this differently than before?

Imagination needs to be used and practice every day. Practice initiating change. Spend as much time feeling as thinking. What do you want the audience to feel when you play the piece?

Recognizing the “easier” aspects of practicing and music making. Practice is only as mysterious as we make it.

Staying anchored in the present. The present is the only time it actually exists. If we focus on the past, it can cause huge baggage. If we focus on the future it can create fear and anxiety.

Be the best you can be in this moment. Being mindful, not reactive. Breathing is a very helpful tool.

Practice joyfully or not at all. Our brains release dopamine when we are in a happy joyful mind. Neurons that need to link for learning will be present.


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

MIDI- is a language where musical instruments can speak to each other. Not all are created equal.

Advantages of using MIDI files.

  • Rhythm- timing improves
  • More fun and interesting!
  • Helps students play more musically. The backgrounds articulations and dynamics encourage musicality.
  • Keeps students moving forward.
  • Tempo can be adjusted as needed.
  • Sections can be marked to repeat over and over
  • Great for study

Disadvantage of audio files-

  • Can’t-do hands separate
  • Mixing not available
  • Tempo adjustment unless you use an app

Lori recommends the Yamaha Chord Tracker app.

  • Take songs from your iTunes library will give you a chord chart for that song.
  • Editable.
  • Allows tempo adjustment without changing pitch,
  • Will transpose,
  • Allows rehearsal markers,
  • Has a melody suppressor (improvise, play chords, etc… over the top of it)

Lori has shared files on KeysToImagination.com to download for free.

The rest of this presentation is more interactive, best to watch.


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

Your opinion of what is work and what is play can change over time. How do you or your students see work? What drive motivation?

Teachers are “managers”-

  • Interact with students
  • Oversee their work
  • Maximize productivity
  • Set Goals
  • Use Incentives

External rewards can stunt creativity. Functional fixedness- overcome the idea that each thing can only be used one way.

We do need extrinsic rewards, for example, A recital, jury, grades, and even a paycheck are all extrinsic motivation. Extrinsic rewards work quickly but tend to be short-lived. They work well for mechanical tasks.

We can find ways to minimize the effects of extrinsic motivation.

Attribution theory- People’s motivation can be predicted based on the way they attribute their success or failures. Ability, the difficulty of the task, amount of effort or luck. They should attribute success/failure to effort.

According to Angela Duckworth, author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, people have a certain amount of pre-determined ability, but what you do with the effort of the talent you multiply that skill level.

Talent x Effort= Skill

Skill x Effort= Achievement

Carol Dweck, author of Growth Mindset shared in a TedTalk that if a student failed a test, their grade was “not yet”. This allowed students to not be in a fixed mindset (tyranny of now).

As teachers, we tend to have growth mindsets because we know our students can grow and get better.

Fixed- Avoids challenges, learning is a means to an end, cheat, threatened by others.

Growth- Embraces challenges, learning for own sake, inspired by others.

Language is important for a growth mindset. You can’t play it YET.

Encourage deliberate practice.

  • Stretch Goal
  • Focus 100%
  • Give Feedback- Unless feedback is specific, it’s more damaging than to give it at all. Be specific.
  • Reflect, refine, repeat

SMART Goals-

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Timely

In the chat afterward, a teacher shared that she does a point system with her students and it works very well for them. I was interested in how Chris would respond as you know that I also enjoy using incentive programs and they are successful with most of my students in my studio. She mentioned that they always know why they got the points and why it was important to do the tasks. Chris responded, that Angela Duckworth would like the strategy because it builds the perseverance part of “grit.” The reward isn’t immediate, it requires persistence and determination.

I agree and feel when using extrinsic rewards, their needs to be a healthy balance. When the balance leans more towards one way or the other, it may not work well. This was a very thought-provoking presentation.


TimeWarp Showcase

Visit TimeWarp Technologies 


If you enjoyed these highlights you may want to consider registering for the replay pass (if not already registered) as these were just a very small sample of what was shared. You can register at MusicEdConnect.com.

The amazon affiliate links included help me share reviews such as this one and keep this blog going. It does not affect your purchase price or the author royalties in any way. Thank you for your support and happy teaching!

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