The Music Teachers National Association conference is held every year at different locations throughout the US and Canada. This year it was held at Disneyland (nuts!) and it was magical. The reason I say magical is that it seems the tides are changing.  Here’s how my colleague and business partner, Bradley Sowash called it:

Bradley unlocking the secrets of chord symbols. His tips are incredible!

I’ve just returned from the Music Teacher’s National Association conference in CA where I was fortunate to serve as chair of the jazz/pop track along with project manager Leila Viss [that’s me].  I’ve been swimming upstream on the subject of teaching creativity as a necessary ingredient to comprehensive musicianship at music teacher meetings all over the country for several years.  So it was with particular delight to find that we could attract a packed room of teachers for nine hours of sessions with experts on the subject of teaching popular music styles, improvisation and creativity. 

It seems the old model of only teaching the “masters” using only the written page is finally giving way to a more balanced approach or as someone at the conference quipped, “the Queen Mary (of music education) is slowly turning.”  I can get even more dramatic by declaring, “The eye/ear revolution has begun!”  [···]

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I am writing to see if anyone else from the Music Teachers Helper community is going to the Music Teachers National Association 2012 National Conference held in New York city from March 24-28. This will be my first time attending a national conference for music teachers, and I am super excited!

The Conference Schedule is packed with workshops, masterclasses, exhibition showcases, and there is a very strong focus on the business side of teaching music, with a whole day dedicated to PROFESSIONAL STUDIO INSTITUTE: Building a Successful Studio in Any Kind of Economy. For those that already have a thriving studio and may not be interested in studio marketing, there is an alternative session called Teaching Artistry, where “Attendees will learn strategies for teaching artistry to students of all levels. Four tracks will explore the topics of technique, basic essential repertoire, advanced repertoire/competition preparation and developing artistry.”

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I am inspired to write this blog entry after reading Valerie Kampmeier’s great post “Music Exams – What do you think?

I have always believed in the benefits of assessment opportunities for students. They can be called exams, tests, auditions, festivals, or other names, but basically involve students playing for a judge or examiner and receiving feedback on their performance. In my previous blog article Benefits of Music Auditions I listed the many benefits for both students and teachers. I am further inspired and feel the need to write more on this subject, after reading the comments on Joy Morin’s Q&A Forum about standardized music testing on her wonderful blog Color in My Piano; it seems many teachers are reluctant to participate in testing programs.

I feel strongly that we as music teachers need to understand the differences and requirements of various exam/testing systems, before deciding in general that testing is not “healthy” for our students. While it is true that some systems have strict syllabus requirements, there are many programs available in the US that are quite flexible. I would like to give my personal opinion about the different music audition/festival/exam systems I am aware of. [···]

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