NCKP 2019 Conference Friday


The 2nd day (or 3rd day with Pre-Conference Wednesday) of NCKP!

Did you miss Wednesday and Thursday? 

NCKP 2019 Pre-Conference Wednesday

NCKP 2019 Thursday

Creating Collaborative Experiences for Students of All Ages

Sarah Alexander and Whitney Hawker

Good goals for teachers-

  • We have to make music in every lesson. Taking the smallest part of what they are working on and really playing it musically.
  • Modeling beautiful music making each time you see them.

Private Lesson Collaboration Activities-

  • Sight-reading-
    • Exposure to different classical styles.
    • Hear the teacher model.
    • Provides framework for score exploration
    • Develop musical and listening skills: balance, tone , rubato, etc.
  • Scale duets-
  • Improvisation
  • Popular Music Jam
  • Duets within home studio
  • Sibling duets and trios

Collaborating Outside the Private Studio

  • Piano Duo Teams
  • Group Lesson Ensembles
  • Ensemble Camps
  • Adult Student Duets

Chamber Music Opportunities

The Five Foundations of Successful Preschool Piano Teaching

By Nicola Cantan

(Side Note: I missed some of this session as I was bouncing around, but still got some good notes to share…)

Change your measure of progress

  • Music lessons not piano….
  • Music is not just about reading

Check your expectations…

  • Are they enjoying their lesson?
  • Are they making progress?

You have the luxury of time! They are young!


  • How involved? Speed of progress is directly dependent on the parents involvement.
  • How much practice? Make expectations clear.
  • How much progress do they expect?
  • What are your goals?
  • Why are they taking lessons?

If you don’t include the parents in exactly the steps you are excluding the parents.

Is the parent ready? (This is the REAL question, not is the child ready)


  • This is how children learn.
  • Better retention
  • More flexible knowledge- take one thing in context and then apply a new thing with a new context.
  • FUN


  • Stories- include things they love into their lessons (ie: dinosaurs)
  • Move, dance, act
  • Sing (check out Kodály hub)
  • Improvise

For boundaries/rules, at the beginning state… “In this room we…”

Strategies for Successfully Teaching Teens

By Jennifer Eklund

Build your own “field of dreams.” Let go of your routine that is focused on you and your agenda and focus on your “customer” aka teenager and what they want.

This isn’t just a piano lesson… We help develop good habits.

This is a driving lesson. (Driving analogy’s work great work teens)

  • Show them the map.
  • Parking lot- creeping a long
  • When they progress we can hit the streets
  • Eventually we will hit roadblocks…

Ah! But they can!

  • Level with teens and give a rough timeline on how things will enfold.
  • Use past experiences to give answers on how long goals take.

Hand then the keys, but remember you still own the car.

Being a teen is hard but you can give them responsibilities…  can take care of scheduling, etc…

This is your hobby without a deadline. There is essentially no finish line. Create a stress-free zone. Don’t get caught up what didn’t get accomplished. They should be feeling less stress when they leave your door.

Fun is not a four-letter word. Keep lessons light-hearted. Ask them about their lives and follow up about it. Be thoughtful.

Teen types and materials- Don’t make decisions until you met the teen and try different things out with them.

Type #1– Show me the way

  • Approach: Traditional with flexibility. Supplemental with their interest.

Type #2– I want to sound great, yesterday.

  • Approach: Hybrid with literacy emphasizes. Find the sweet spot where they can eventually teach themselves some of those pieces. Rote and reading fulfills.

Type #3- I refuse to read and hate everything you pick

  • Approach: Freestyle/Creative track. No book based. Focus entirely on music they want to learn. Lead sheets, pop music, etc. Work together transcribing, etc.

Type #4– Balance their goals with your agenda

  • Approach: Compromise. “More is caught than taught.” Rachel Cruze (Dave Ramsey’s daughter). Play music together even if just mirroring their part. Find new destinations together…
  • Approach: Find what is relevant with them.

End goal– create creative, functional musicians

  • Lead sheets
  • Arranging
  • Composition

Accept and embrace stagnation. Just keep swimming… No matter their level, there is great music to be had.

All chapters end… eventually. “Know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em”. Enjoy them while you have them. It’s okay if they move on. Finish your story with a happy ending.

PEDx Session- What I learned from doing 150 podcasts…

By Tim Topham


Refrain our thinking…

“Our job isn’t to get them to practice everyday, our job is to get piano into their top 2 or 3.” Philip Johnston

Success is measured in practice. “Why practice might be killing your studio.” “Dave Simon CPTP129

Ask parents-

  • What are your hopes/fears? Personal growth/wouldn’t practice (success determined that)
  • What do success look like?
  • How come mark success with soccer vs piano?

We really need a goal for a student and make sure our goals are aligned. Let go of the “burden” of practice. Be flexible in our approach with some students.

When Tim shared his experience of throwing practice off the table with one of his students he felt he might lose, otherwise, it reminded me of my experience last year with one of my students. You can read my experience here.

Creative Pedagogy-

CPTP150– Forrest Kinney

“I’m hoping (that in the future) I look around the world and students everywhere are viewing improvisation, arranging and songwriting as, ‘Oh, of course. That’s what you do in music lessons. You don’t just play the music of others.’ When you study art, you go through a stage of copying the works of the masters, but you do that to gain technique. If you keep doing that, you’re called a conterfeiter.” Forrest Kinney

Creativity and Income

TTTV043– David Cutler

People that teach improv, make more money. If you do change up your approach, you can make more money.

Digital Pianos-

CPTP106 Susan Ogilvy

“I love bringing up a flute sound or trumpet… and explaining, ‘Okay, you have to breath. Where are you going to breathe? Oh, well, here. Well, then lift your finger off the key so you’re emulating what a flutist would have to do.” Then we go to the piano and you never have to talk about that again because they get it.”

“Every child deserves the right to have music.” Susan Oglivy

Willis Showcase

I only was able to stay for half of the showcase before having to take off, but I really enjoyed listening to Jason Sifford share his compositions. I have some on my wishlist now. If you haven’t seen his Jabberwocky book, definitely check it out. Very cool!

NCKP Meetups

One of the fun things about going to conferences is the meet ups where you can meet up with other teachers that you know from online groups and more!


And more exhibit time connections!

With Lisa Donovan Lukas- Composer with Piano Pronto Composer Community

Jacki Alexander with Premier Piano Music

With Hannah Lussier- Composer with Piano Premier Music

Continue on to read the last day, NCKP Conference 2019 Saturday


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