MTNA 2013: About to Begin

It’s Music Teacher Conference time here in Los Angeles.

I’m all checked in to the Disney Hotel here in Anaheim and have just finalised my choices for tomorrow’s marathon Pedagogy Saturday sessions.

There are five tracks this year: Advanced Piano/Teaching Artistry, Collegiate/Young Professional, Jazz/Popular, Recreational Music Making, and Teaching Those With Special Needs, and those attending Pedagogy Saturday can mix and match to their heart’s content.

Which is just as well, because I’ll be attending moments from each of the tracks (with the possible exception of the Collegiate/Young Professional track, for the obvious reason that I’m not a college student; neither, it pains and entertains me to say, am I a young professional).

From surviving and thriving with small hands through to assessing whether/how performers can serve both audiences and composers; from teaching children with autism through to teaching children with dyslexia; from exploring creativity as a teachable skill through to  meeting the needs of a YouTube generation; from incorporating popular music into recital programs through to the challenges of teaching on a cruise ship – there will be plenty to keep me going tomorrow.

I’m fascinated that the MTNA is now offering a certification to teachers as specialists in “Recreational Music Making” – this is a very different kind of piano teaching to the one most piano teachers will have experienced, and I’ll be interested to see how teachers respond to these new initiatives (which are backed by big players in the business end of the business).

The Jazz/Popular track is jam-packed with goodies, and I wonder how much this track will compete with the Recreational Music Making track in attracting crowds to the presentations, and how much it will overlap with the same issues RMM covers.

A full day exploring special needs (and how music teachers can better address them) in the context of individual lessons is tremendously exciting to see. I’ll be interested to see how much of this is about building a framework for understanding as compared to putting forward cutting edge approaches to individualised music/instrumental education for high needs students.

I’m still too much of a stranger to US music education culture not to get a naughty twinkle in my eye at the phrase ‘teaching artistry’ (such a puffy kind of notion, this ‘artistry’ – how about ‘stage-craft’ and ‘musicianship’ and ‘stylistic awareness’ and ‘individuality’?!), but, whatever the name of the track, this is the mainstream end of the day, the nuts and bolts of performance, looked at from one angle or another.

Part of the challenge organising my tomorrow has been that the tracks are all operating on completely individualised timetables: one presentation might finish at 10.20 while another begins at 10.15 – that kind of thing. I will be doing some discreet slipping in and sneaking out throughout the day, wanting to wring every last bit of participation I can from my day.

I won’t be live-blogging! I’ll be too busy trying to get to the Safari Room from the Castle Room and back to the Magic Kingdom Ballroom for that, I fear. But if I get to the end of my Saturday with enough energy left over to write up some thoughts you’ll see them published here, about 24 hours from now. Even if it’s just to say I spent far too much time in the Adventure Room…

3 thoughts on “MTNA 2013: About to Begin

  1. As you rush from one conference room to another….use your running shoes instead of glass slippers 🙂

  2. Hi Elissa
    I am a music teacher and live in Australia. I am very interested in all the subjects that you mentioned in your Post. If it is at all possible, would you be kind enough to forward me some notes on what you heard. I am really interested in all that you mentioned, but particularly in Dyslyxia, this really is a subject that I would love to know more about, with my music students who read ‘back to front’.
    Hope that you have a wonderful time.

  3. MTNA will be offering an RMM Specialist “designation” rather than “certification.” Perhaps semantics, but not as rigorous a process as NCTM certification. Also, it is not lost on me that of course those in the piano industry are pushing RMM. Getting larger numbers of adults into piano who presumably have some disposable income and may in turn buy a piano will fatten their bottom line. However, from a music teacher’s standpoint, why not get more people involved in playing music? Will it not benefit the arts to have more people passionate about music? Can we educate our students to appreciate more genres than simply what is current and popular in the process? It may be one part of even keeping alive the classical tradition which we are told is more and more in danger of dying out.

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