It has been a busy week, in the best possible way.  This week has been the MusicEdConnect (MEC) 2016 conference!

At the beginning of January, I let all my families know that this was going to be a video lesson week.  “I’m going to be geeking out with other piano teachers from all over the world!  So, while you won’t see me here, I’ll send a video that let’s you know what to work on while your teacher becomes a student again.”  Needless to say, everyone was highly supportive & my students got a kick out hearing that I was stepping into their shoes for a whole week.This is my second year attending the conference & I highly recommend MEC to everyone!  The sheer number of workshops & experts makes it worth every minute.  And while the conference is ending tomorrow, the Replay Pass makes it possible to watch the videos throughout the year.

Why MEC?

MEC is an on-line conference with 21 workshops, a keynote, & 3 showcase presentations.  In other words, your professional development just got super-sized!  Some of the advantages of this particular conference are:

  • On-line workshops: Professional development from the comfort of your home!  Need I say more?
  • Cost effective:  Rather than paying for a flight, hotel, food, AND conference … attend MEC!  Rather than a $2,000 (or more) price tag for a conference, it is less than $150 USD.
  • Community of teachers:  The chat box has become a place where people not only ask questions of the presenters, but share what works for them as well.  I love the interactivity of ‘talking’ with others & how everyone tries to help answer questions.  Not only are you getting great ideas from the presenters, but your fellow attendees as well.
  • Year-long access to presentations:  I’ll admit that my brain is feeling rather full & I’ve been going to bed before 9 each night.  I had forgotten how exhausting it can be to learn so much information in a short period of time.  What makes it easier is knowing that I can go back & watch videos as many times as I like to master the concepts taught.  An in-person conference just doesn’t have the same capability.
  • Handouts (with links):  While I do better writing out information by hand, I appreciate having the handouts on my computer as well.  Rather than worrying about writing the link down wrong, I can click on the link (if it’s available) or copy & paste the link straight to my browser.  It also makes it easy to check links out in the session & ask questions directly to the presenter.
  • Networking Sessions:  Saturday is set aside for exhibits & networking.  I appreciate having the extra time to ‘meet’ with some of the presenters & network with other attendees.  It’s a positive & energizing wrap-up to the week!

What did I learn on Tech Tuesday?

This was a new feature of the conference (and is the focus on this post).  Many teachers use tech in their studios & this was a welcome addition for exposure to new apps, websites & tools.

A new format for some of the conference workshops, the 30/30 presentation was a great fit in particular for the tech presentations.  The first 30 minutes of the presentation are during the conference, with the last 30 minutes (with more advanced material) is a video uploaded to the MEC site.  It makes it easier to absorb all the tech details before moving on.

Technology on a Shoestring:

Shana presented inexpensive ways to incorporate tech into our teaching.  I loved how she brought it back to thinking about tech before purchasing … whether it solves a problem, fits our teaching styles & how adaptive it is (i.e age, level, ability of students).  When looking at investing in tech (such as an iPad), Shana pointed out, “Good design lasts.”

The tools covered a wide range of topics:

  • Business side of teaching (i.e. social media, organizational tools, creating instructional/storytelling videos) … I will be trying out the Adobe Voice app to create engaging videos for my studio website.
  • Composition & Performance:  Wow … there are so many options!  Some options were only available on computer last year, but have now become available as apps … which makes things much easier for myself.  I see a lot of exploring in the next weeks.  One app I will be trying out is Yamaha Chord Tracker.  It takes the music from your iPad & makes a chord sheet for you!  I can see this being a huge hit with some of my students.
  • Online Reference Resources:  Let’s face it, we have all ended up quickly trying to find information in lesson. Shana’s list of online reference resources will make things quite a bit easier!  I will be adding these into my bookmarks for ease of access during lessons.
  • Student Activities:  Both apps & websites were covered in this section.  It was a great reminder that easy online games are great for a quick reward & review, but at-grade-level games are also wonderful for solidifying concepts.
  • Supplemental Resources:  While I already look to TeachersPayTeachers for resources, I had not thought to look at composer & publisher websites for additional resources.  Carol Matz has a great site with lots of free resources (including arrangements) for those who sign up for her newsletter.

From Stage to YouTube with iOS Movie:

Alejandro did an amazing job showing us the basics of how to create a movie in iMovie, including the basics of uploading a video, editing, adding text & other basic features.  I am really looking forward to watching the next 30 minutes of his presentation to add more features to the videos I create in my studio!

 How to Broadcast Your Recitals Live on the Internet:

While I’m not sure if I will be broadcasting my recitals live, it was nice to see how easy it would be to do so.  My biggest take away from this workshop was finding out how YouTube works with/around copyright law.  I have been nervous placing videos of songs online because I have worried about usage rights.  However, it was nice to find out how YouTube uses ads to reimburse composers for videos of their songs.  I am looking forward to seeing the 2nd part of this 30/30 presentation!

Garage Band 101:

I’ll admit I was REALLY excited about this workshop when I saw it on the schedule.  I have wanted to use GarageBand with my students, but have felt overwhelmed with creating tracks with my students.  David showed just how easy it is to get started!  This was a great intro & the 2nd part of the 30/30 will be just as exciting to watch!  I am envisioning a few studio projects down the road.

How to connect to MIDI:

This was an unexpected presentation, but a goodie!  Many thanks to Shana & George for jumping in when another presenter was unable to be there.  MIDI is another tech area I have been wondering about & it turns out that I had convinced myself it was much harder than it actually is.  Learning that Bluetooth is really common in connecting music devices (i.e. music keyboard to iPad) now will hopefully lead to a less wire-filled home!

Harnessing the Power of Video Games: Gamification

This is another topic I have been researching in the last several months.  David presented an overview of gamification with lots of research-based information.  I’ve been working on building more inquiry-based instruction (i.e. asking questions) into lesson time & was gratified to see that this fits in perfectly with this type of programming.  I’m hopeful that I will be able to more effectively incorporate gamification into my studio.

Wires no more!

For those of us that don’t always feel completely comfortable with wiring things, George explained everything in easy to understand concepts.  I loved the “Important Principles” that he began with that really broke down exactly how information gets from one area to another.  If you are looking for wireless products to help you & your students in the studio, the video replay will show various options that are available.  After seeing the sheer number of options available, I was thankful for George’s expertise!

What’s next?

On the blog side of things, I’ll be doing a series of posts sharing the rest of the workshops that I attended … 4 posts in total.  On the personal side of things, I am thinking a huge nap will be in order after the conference is over.  It will give my brain a chance to assimilate all the amazing information that I learnt over the last week.  Then, next week I can start teaching again with renewed enthusiasm & armed with a brain (& iPad) full of ideas for my students.

If you would like to find out more about each of the above workshops, I highly recommend heading over to MusicEdConnect.  Select the “register” button to purchase the “replay pass”.  It is the best $129.00 (USD) you’ll spend on professional development this year!

What were your take-aways?

If you attended MEC 2016, what were some of the take-aways from your favourite sessions?  I would love to hear what you learnt from the conference!


    1. Scott, thank you! I really enjoyed your presentation & it gave me some great reminders on how to handle those ‘difficult’ conversations with parents. Thank you so much for this morning’s session! It was great to brainstorm ideas on handling practice expectations & enlivening our recitals. I hope that you will come back next year!

    1. Thanks, Jennifer! I really liked that quite a few of your ideas are ones that I’m reading in (school) educator blogs. It is great to see that both IMT & school teachers are finding common ground!
      Do you happen to follow The Cool Cat Teacher? Some of your suggestions were ones I’ve heard in her podcasts.

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