Professional development while drinking my tea!

Today was day 1 of MusicEdConnect!  I’ll be doing a 3-part series on what the conference is &  highlights from each day.  Even though the conference has begun, it is still possible to purchase the replay pass which allows you to watch the videos anytime in before the end of 2018.

Why MEC?

I particularly love this conference for several reasons.

  • Online conference means no added travel expenses.
  • I get to stay in the comfort of my own home, plus be with my kids before & after school.
  • Great presenters on a wide variety of topics. There is a little bit of everything, but it is also very current to the questions that keep popping up in music teacher circles.
  • The chat box feature has some of the best conversations & support …. even though we are each in our own cities or towns.
  • Access to all sessions until the end of 2018.
  • Plus, this year we have flipped sessions!

Flipped Sessions

Think of flipped sessions as a value-add for the conference.  Not only are there almost 15 live sessions over 3 days, but there are several additional flipped sessions to be watched outside of the conference timetable.  (Plus, 2 bonus sessions from last year that should not be missed.)

Each flipped session has:

  • A video to watch
  • Handout to follow along with (for most sessions)
  • Capability to interact with the presenter at a later date

This type of learning has gained popularity in the last few years in classrooms, so it is not surprising to see it making its way over to conferences as well.

Encouraging Artistic Performance (session)

Dr. Pamela Pike had a great session on helping our students play artistically, even at the early levels.  What I really appreciated about this session was how she went through several scores & showed us how she would approach guiding students through their playing.

Some of the suggestions that I will be making a conscious effort to apply to my own teaching are:

  • Listen to recordings that are in the same style or original instrument … rather than always the actual song being learnt
  • Show video of song played using other instrument … look at body movement
  • Have students play in a variety of ways (ie. change tone, texture, dynamics, articulation, etc.)

Creating “Music Addicts”

Julia Sansone was a new presenter this year.  Her session seemed to get a lot of us thinking deeply about ourselves & how we relate to our students by meeting their needs.

The human needs are based on:

  • Needs of personality (certainty, variety, significance, love/connection)
  • Needs of the spirit (growth, contribution)

The main takeaway was when we meet the top 2 needs of others, there is a connection between you.  To create “music addicts” (those students & clients that stay in your studio year after year), meet their top 3 needs.

Practicing With Presence

Dr. Thomas Lanners is a regular (& popular) presenter at MEC.  His session on practice was very focused on the internal part of practice sessions.

The internal aspects covered were:

  • “Practice makes permanent.” … the how is just as important as why.
  • Be imaginative … What do you (the student) want it to sound like?  Experiment with different aspects to get it there.
  • Realize that not everything is hard … some things are a quick fix.
  • Stay present … the past is the past, the future is speculative.  It does no good to obsess over.
  • “Practice joyfully or not at all” … get that dopamine going!  Practice can be a time that flies by because we are mindful & fully in the moment.

What to Do With MIDI Accompaniment Tracks

MIDI … it’s been around for quite some time, but how many of us actually use it in our studio?  I have to admit that I do not use MIDI in my studio, but I AM glad I watched this session.

Lori Frazer has been teaching teachers how to use MIDI for years.  Her sessions was not only informative about what exactly MIDI is (& what it isn’t), but she took us step-by-step on how to upload MIDI files to iTunes on your computer.

But, what do you do if you don’t have a Clavinova or other keyboard that accepts MIDI files?

Lori took us through how we can use Yamaha Chord Tracker to alter the MIDI file so it works for our students!  This app can:

  • Alter tempo without changing pitch (get the perfect practice tempo)
  • Transpose into a different key
  • Add rehearsal markers (A/B)
  • Suppress the melody

This is a game changer for me & will add a whole new element to how my students can interact with their music!

Motivating the 21st Century Piano Student

Chris Madden focused on what DOES motivate our students?  Is it extrinsic or internal motivators?  This session was filled with research on what REALLY motivates … both in the long-term & short term.

Over reliance on extrinsic motivators can lead to:

  • Less creativity
  • Slower creative process or development
  • Lowering long-term motivation

This doesn’t necessarily mean that ALL extrinsic motivators are bad.  It just means we need to balance our rewards with learning life skills such as perseverance, effort, & positive mindset.

Part 2

After the first day of sessions, I am very excited to see what is in store for day 2!  It’s always a great time & I learn so much.  Plus, I go back to my studio refreshed & eager to share my new knowledge with my students.

Tomorrow, I’ll give you a peek into the next series of sessions.  ‘See’ you then!

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