2018 MTNA Tuesday and Wednesday



Carol gave a great showcase of her method, Interactive Piano. She recently released level 3. What makes level 3 unique is it includes a Pro Piano Skills section in the PDF downloads where students are learning how to play from lead sheets, chord charts, improvisation, notation, and composition. So awesome!!!

You can read my review of Carol’s method here. I will be reviewing level 3 soon, but in the meantime, you can check it out here.


Karen Thickstun


There are a lot of good lessons (both what to do and what not to do) Walt Disney could teach us when it comes to business.

  • Build Skills whenever and wherever.

“It is good to have a failure while you’re young because it teaches you so much. For one thing, it makes you aware that such a thing can happen to anybody, and once you’ve lived through the worst, you’re never quite as vulnerable afterward.” Walt Disney

  • Hire the best and who you trust. Hire skills you don’t have.
  • Know the legal and business issues.

“Never again will I work for anybody else.”

  • Take advantage of new technology
  • Willing to take a risk, fail and risk again.
  • Be tenacious in the face of adversity and embrace change
  • Utilize press agent and media wisely
  • Maintain production and quality
  • Make deals on YOUR terms
  • Multi-media selling
  • Diversification
  • Branding
  • Re-invest in the company, especially quality
  • Training and professional development
  • Take advantage of new technology, again
  • Re-imagine your own product
  • Build on your own ideas,  your own success
  • Identify with audience
  • Big risk= potential for big reward
  • Keep taking risks
  • No compromise on quality, hire only the best

“It isn’t that I deliberately set out to break movie traditions. But if someone didn’t break loose with new things, movies wouldn’t be where they are today. Somebody’s got to be the damn fool.”

  • Adapt
  • Diversify
  • Never give up
  • Shameless self-promotion and cross media-promotion
  • Adapt to macro trends in the economy, business and family life.
  • Seek new target audiences
  • Follow your beliefs
  • Develop a business structure that fits the product
  • Persevere

“It was hard for anybody to visualize what I had in mind.”

  • Synergy (make use of characters, sell merchandise, promote studio offerings)
  • Utilize new technology
  • No compromise on quality
  • Macro trend baby boom
  • Build on existing and make it better
  • Full blown Integration and synergy
  • Possibility is one sentence away. What if… how, where…
  • ABC- Always be curious
  • Say Yes. You never know where it will lead.

Karen then highlighted 5 teacher entrepreneurs. She asked them what it means to be an entrepreneur and asked for them to share some advice.

Jeeyoon Kim- concert pianist, teacher

“I consider myself as a brand. Whatever I create is unique as I am unique and so is everyone else. I have to keep finding the best cloth for myself and I think this is the mindset of an entrepreneur.”

Advice- Don’t try to fit yourself to the job, but create your own in the wildest dream, then work your way from there. No one understands you and your strengths more than yourself. School or classes or degrees will not make you. YOU have to make yourself – – the best brand that you are meant to be.

Christoper Oill- pianist, composer, teacher

“I think that an entrepreneurial mindset mostly requires 4 things: curiosity, compulsion to fix/improve things, desire to help others, and desire to profit.”

Advice- Leave a good impression on everyone. You meet. Take no relationship for granted. Help yourself by helping others. Create opportunities, don’t wait for them to show up.

Ryan Greene- pianist, teacher, Director of NCKP and Digital operations for the Frances Clark Center

“There have been a handful of mentors throughout my education and professional life that helped me develop an entrepreneurial mind. Grit, perseverance and professional skills, a network of ideas…. are essential.”

Advice- Don’t be afraid to take risks. Say “YES” to outlandish opportunities and take failures as an opportunity to grow.

Joy Morin- teacher, pianist, speaker, writer

“Let’s define “entrepreneurial minded” as being drawn to creating opportunities, innovation and new value creation. I love being able to able to think both global big-picture” as well as “details”.

Advice- Stay true to the work you love most. Remain aware of which kinds of work energize you most, and which you find draining. Always start small- comfortably within your ability, time constraints, and financial constraints and plan to build from there.

YOU are the greatest investment you can make. Invest in yourself., regularly and often. Feed your curiosity and desire for understanding, and that hunger will grow. Be interested in others and learn how to listen. The more you understand others, the more you’ll understand yourself.

Daniel Patterson- studio owner, marketing coach

“I think I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. I always ‘did my own thing.’ After college, I wasn’t scared to start my own studio. I just devised a plan of attack and went about doing what needed to be done.”

Advice- Your ability as a teacher or a musician does not determine your income. Study marketing, communication, copywriting and persuasion skills… these are what will make the difference on the BUSINESS side of your studio.

Amy Chaplin- teacher, blogger, life-long learner

“I think of myself as a more of a perfectionist than an entrepreneur. I’m always looking for ways to better myself and what I do. Perhaps more fitting is that I think of myself as a “solopreneur.”

Advice- “Be a professional. Be an excellent communicator. Think outside the box and don’t be afraid to try new ways of offering lessons. Get creative. If something doesn’t work, try something else. Be flexible. Look for ways to continually improve not only your teaching but your business.”



Vanessa Cornett


Attention has become our most valuable commodity (we can’t control time).

A personal case study- Vanessa did an experiment where she screenshot how many times an ad would distract her as she was working on the proposal description for the conference. It was a lot…

Distractions come in many forms-

Visual (as shared in the personal case study), Audio (phone calls, noise, surroundings), Kinesthetic (vibrating phone) and Internal distractions- mind wandering distractions. “Pop-ups of the human mind.”

Struggle with impulse control. Clicking on notifications, etc…

iGen Students- (1955-2005)- Never lived without computers, email, etc… They don’t know the contrast. They are constantly/chronically over-stimulated. Not just technology. Part of a culture of divided attention. They are continually tested; conditioned to value the end product more than the process (the score, the place in the competition, etc). They will tune it out if it’s not on a test. They struggle with impulse control. They are overextended

“The faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention over and over again is the root of judgment, character, and will. An education which should improve this facility would be the education part excellent.”  William James

What is attention?

The regarding of someone or something as interesting or important. The behavioral or cognitive process of selectively concentrating on something, while other perceivable information.

Everyone can learn to pay attention through attentional training.

Attentional Training

Spotlight model-

Based on the work of William James. Attention has a focus, a margin, and a fringe.

The attentional beam can be near (narrow) or far (wide). We are always paying attention; the beam is always shining on something.

Zoom lens model-

Attention varies from sharp focus to broad window. Flashlight very close to something. If you stand back, the area is larger. Can be adjusted in size. Used mostly for visual attention, eye movement.

Our focus is Internal (thoughts, emotions) or External (towards the audience).

Take the narrow and wide focus along with internal and external and you get a combination of…

  • Broad Internal
  • Broad External– looking out on an audience as a whole
  • Narrow Internal– (exit you need to take in a couple miles) Focus on what moment in the music
  • Narrow External– (focused on the dashboard when driving a car. Review mirror) Look at an entire page of music, zoom in on hands, looking at a specific person in the audience. Helps to be able to solve problems, being aware, visualize.
 Deliberately shifting focus during a performance can help with…
  • Performance anxiety- concentrate a single point on the wall above the audience.
  • Memory slip- broad/internal- away from the music, onto projected feelings of confidence or musical expression.
  • Sudden distraction- silently repeat a focus cue or affirmation that will bring you back.

These require that you prepare in advance.

Focus cues-

  • Plan out the intensity of focus, identify the peaks (most intense focus) and valleys (most released focus).
  • The mind likes new things to focus on.
  • Draw a visual map representing the piece of music at a glance. Use different lines, shapes, colors representing how you focus.




Amy Chaplin

I was really looking forward to Amy’s presentation, but because of a problem I was having when checking out from the hotel, I missed most of it. Boo! 🙁

I would also recommend visiting Amy’s blog and reading this recent post (hint, there is a freebie at the end you will WANT!)

I did manage to get this picture… (love Michael Hyatt!)

Read Pedagogy Saturday Part 1

Read Pedagogy Saturday Part 2

Read MTNA Sunday

Read MTNA Monday



  1. amystudio88

    Hey, Jennifer! I’m so sorry to hear you missed the session – darn! 🙂 Thanks for sharing the Conference Management 101 post. It was good to see you there as always!

    • Jennifer Foxx

      Hi Amy, yeah- I was super bummed, darn it. 🙁

  2. Sarah Arnold

    Thank you for sharing your extensive note taking.


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