This year was a bit of a milestone in my professional development.  It marks the fifth year that I’ve attended MusicEdConnect!  Not only do I love geeking out with other teachers at this online conference, but breadth of topics covered each year keeps me inspired for months afterwards.

So, what was this year like?  Well, this will be a 2-part series where I share just what you can learn.

“But, Rosemarie I missed the conference.”  No, you did not.  Because every session is recorded & available on demand until the end of the year.  Oh, & did I mention that there are extra sessions only available on demand?  The value is one of the reasons I keep attending year after year.  Another reason is that I get to enjoy all this learning in the comfort of my home.

Keyboard Ensembles

Dr. Pamela Pike was back with another great session.  Did you know that ensemble playing has a far lasting role in how students (both young & old) build autonomy & competence? 

While many of us play duets with very young students in lesson, this can be put to the side when those same children get older.  And, yet it makes piano playing a social experience, develops active listeners & encourages flexibility in making changes on the fly.

As students in their 3rd generation (those who are retired from work) take more piano lessons, ensemble group lessons also give these students an opportunity to build community with each other, have purpose (or ‘job’) as they work together to play multi-part music, develop dexterity rather than rigidity over time, & keep their brains active.

Preparing Pianists for Jazz Band

Bradley Sowash has been ‘our’ resident jazz expert for a few years now.  And, I especially enjoyed his session this year because I do have students that have gone into jazz band.

There are 3 main skills that jazz band teachers wish us piano teachers would teach our students:

  • Read chord symbols, not just read music.
  • Types of rhythms to give those chords.
  • How to improvise if there is no written music.

I’ll admit that while I have improved in these areas, there is still a ways to go if I can reach this standard.

Thank goodness Bradley gave a step-by-step way of teaching these skills, examples of patterns, & improvisation tips.  Even the if you consider yourself a classically trained musician, there are so many approachable, easy ideas to get started.

Who Says You Need to Stay on the Bench?

This year was extra special because I got to present at this great conference.  And, I have to say that the people who attended this session were pretty fabulous!

We started off with a typical format, but spent the last part of the session doing specific off-the-bench activities.  From dino rhymes to whole body movement, we looked at how to take typical music lesson concepts & do them in a new way.

Create Camaraderie with an ULTRA Challenge

Charlene Shelzi Jarvis has presented at this conference for several years & always has an interesting take on teaching.  This year was a special challenge for her senior high students.

Not only was this session inspiring, but highly practical in how to set up an ULTRA challenge for your studio.  From using peer pressure (in the best way) to encourage practice in the studio to hosting a challenge that becomes a lifelong memory, it was easy to see how this approach can help keep students from leaving lessons.  Even though life outside of lessons is so busy .

Instilling Imagery That Inspires

Nicole Douglas shared how images, metaphors & stories create a vibrant learning environment for students.  It is a place of questions & wondering that teach students to move beyond just notes on a page.

By using a wide variety of sources (tactile, video, audio, emotional, imagination), students can engage with music concepts in many different ways.  And, the research shows deeper learning happens when we take this approach.

Professional Development Milestone: Part 1

I am a huge fan of professional development.  Are you?  Let me know in the comments!


  1. I really enjoyed your presentation today on Music Ed Connect. There were so many wonderful sessions. I cannot wait for tomorrow!

    Thank you so much!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.