header photo

Highlights from NCKP 2015 (National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy)

October 29, 2015

By Cathy Smetana

In July, I was one of several hundred piano teachers to descend upon Lombard, Illinois for the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy.  I’ve attended this conference (or one of its predecessors) many times, and 2015 was one of the best years ever.

The conference is offered every other year and officially runs from Thursday-Saturday in late July or early August, depending on the year.  One can register for the entire conference, or day at a time.  There is a discount for early registration.  An optional pre-conference seminar is typically offered on Wednesday.  The c…

Read more

“Inspiration through Connection”

October 19, 2015

By Beth Turco 

During your lessons with students, do you feel the pressure to pack in all the information they need to know about technique, music theory and fundamental skills at the instrument? Isn't is difficult to remember to nurture the student's love of music? And how exactly can we accomplish that? On Friday, October 9, Richard Tostenson answered these questions and many more in his engaging workshop, "Inspiration through Connection."

In his charismatic and humorous style, Richard offered a winning formula about how to ignite a student’s love of music, through an approach t…

Read more

Idea Exchange: Tips for Teaching Older Adults

August 10, 2015

By Tamra Brunn

The MacPhail Music for Life™ program is expanding at MacPhail Center for Music and we currently serve over 1,000 adults age 55+ in our student body! Earlier this month we gathered together a panel of experienced Music for Life teaching artists—Jeanie Brindley-Barnett, Joey Clark, Jerry Rubino, Andrea Leap, and Guna Skujina—to share teaching tips for older adults. Experiences ranged from leading choirs to individual lessons to group piano teaching and more. Attendees jumped right in sharing their experiences, asking questions, and getting tips to br…

Read more

Finding Appropriate Chamber Music Repertoire for Any Ensemble

July 29, 2015

by Jeremy Swider, Chamber Music Coordinator, MacPhail Center for Music

Do you coach chamber music ensembles? Are you in a student chamber ensemble? Do you have trouble finding music of an appropriate level of difficulty for your group or the groups you coach?

Jeremy Swider, Chamber Music Coordinator at MacPhail Center for Music, has put together the following set of resources to help teachers and students find chamber music of appropriate difficulty for any group. While some of these resources are Minnesota-centric, there are many here that will be of interest…

Read more

Music Theory Tutorials

July 17, 2015
By J. Anthony Allen
Last summer, David Birrow and I made a series of music theory tutorial videos. Our hope was the these videos would serve to supplement lessons by teachers, who often find themselves explaining these concepts to students. We wanted to make a clear set of videos that went through the first few principals of music theory in a fun and friendly way. There are accompanying written and aural practice exercises on the MacPhail website
Video 1: Intro to Scales and the Major Scale
I’ve found this video really handy when I’ve got a student learning a passage in…

Read more

Growing in Flexibility: the (Online) Teaching Experience!

June 24, 2015

by Jennifer Geise

On June 5th I had the opportunity to share about my online piano teaching experience and specifically to talk on the importance of flexibility as a music teacher. Our audience was a great mix of experienced and new-to-online teachers from many instrument backgrounds. This afforded a rich discussion on experience and questions about online challenges.

I started teaching online in January 2012 with many questions and some significant reservations, but with a desire to reach students who would otherwise not be reached. Music is a universal lan…

Read more

5 Things I Didn't Know About Teaching Skype Lessons

May 6, 2015

by David Birrow Birrow.David@Macphail.org


When I started teaching online, I expected that Skype lessons would feel pretty much the same as my in-person​lessons. But now that I teach four or five Skype lessons a week, I know that my initial expectations were inaccurate. For instance, there are a few limitations that you can't control:  the audio or video occasionally gets choppy, you can't truly play duets, and there is a one second (or so) delay in the conversation.  But once you get over the things you can't control,  you can focus on the things you can control. Here are some things tha…

Read more

Mindfulness: A Path Toward Teacher Wellbeing

March 10, 2015

On March 6, 2015, Jennifer Niedzielski presented a workshop at MacPhail Center for Music entitled Mindfulness: A Path Toward Teacher Wellbeing. (See video at the bottom of this post.)

Click here to view the PowerPoint that accompanied this presentation.

Participants in this highly experiential and rejuvenating workshop learned:

►Skills to access inner resources of awareness, emotional resiliency, and insight

►Strategies for recognizing and counteracting early stages and conditions of…

Read more

Tech in the Practice Room: Five iPhone/iPad Apps to Optimize Students’ Practice Time

March 3, 2015

By Guest Author:  Dr. Joel Salvo, Prof. of Cello - St. Cloud State University

During my days as a student, settling into a practice room was akin to setting up camp.  After unpacking my cello, I would empty a tote bag with my tuner, an oversized metronome, some recording gear, and a handful of batteries.  If I wanted a video recorder, that of course had to be checked out from the music office and would involve unloading the contents of yet another bag.  Students today are able to fit all this practice gear and more into their pocket by way of smartphone and tablet apps.  Obviously mo…

Read more

Why I use my iPad: Communication, Motivation, Tangible Feedback & Music Access

February 26, 2015

by Tiana Malone

In music therapy, communication with families, clients, other therapies and team members, and caregivers is very important. My iPad is an important tool for facilitating that communication.

Evernote is a cloud-based note taking program that has helped me communicate with my clients and everyone involved in their care. I keep records of my weekly sessions and can easily email them, with permission, to anyone involved in the care of my client. I can share the notebook in Evernote so the team has access to it in real time. They can e…

Read more

Setting and Communicating Boundaries with Parents

February 12, 2015

By Dr. Carlynn Savot

The working relationship between a music teacher and students and their parents is a unique one, and its scope can be difficult to define. To provide students with an inspiring and challenging learning environment—and at the same time keep our sanity—it's helpful to set boundaries and communicate them clearly. These boundaries will be different for every teacher, and the strategies listed here can help us each to decide on our own comfort zone. 

1. Use the lesson time
Forms for school or summer programs that need your signature? Ask …

Read more

Idea Exchange: Capturing Great Video with Simple Devices

January 26, 2015
Content by Robert Luna | Post edited by Hanno Strydom

Toward the end of 2014 the MacPhail Music Learning Lab hosted guest presenter, Robert Luna, 
Creative Director & founder of Luna Creative Technologies, in two sessions about capturing great video using industry level approaches, adapted for everyday use with simple devices like consumer cameras, camera phones, tablets and web cams.

Session Videos
Both sessions were video recorded. At Mr. Luna's request, access to the videos is restricted only to MacPhail faculty members. Contact us to request the links for these videos.

Read more

View older posts »