2015 Wellness for the Pianist

Pre-Conference Track, Wednesday July 29

The New Face of Musician Wellness: Mind, Brain, Body

Brought to you by the NCKP Committee on Wellness for the Pianist: Gail Berenson, Linda Cockey, Vanessa Cornett, Carol Leone, Barbara Lister-Sink, Julie Jaffee Nagel, Lois Svard, and Brenda Wristen.

Wednesday, July 29

1:30-2:00 Pre-Conference Keynote Address (Grand Ballroom EF)

2:15-2:25 NCKP: 25 Years of Pioneering History in Pianists' Wellness (Grand Ballroom D)

NCPP/NCKP was a pioneer amongst music associations in the field of musicians' health, and the first to establish a standing wellness committee.  Its publication of the first Annotated Bibliography on Musician Wellness became the foundation for MTNA's current online database on wellness sources.  These introductory remarks will highlight this association's wellness initiatives from 1989 to the present.

GailBerensonGail Berenson, Professor Emerita of Piano at Ohio University, Athens, is an advocate and noted expert on musician wellness issues. A past president of Music Teachers National Association and the recipient of the 2015 MTNA Distinguished Service Award, she has performed and lectured in over thirty states and ten countries.

 LindaCockeyLinda Cockey teaches piano and a Wellness in Performance course with an athletic trainer and clinical psychologist at Salisbury University. She is also an accreditation visitor for NASM and is a member of MTNA's eJournal Editorial Board. Cockey is the author of the MTNA Annotated Bibliography on Wellness Resources database.


2:30-3:25 Music and the Brain 101 (Grand Ballroom D)
Neuroscientists have learned a great deal about how a musician’s brain functions, and knowing a few brain basics can help us avoid injury and perform with greater confidence. During this session, we will look at what’s going on in our brains when we practice, when we learn and memorize music, and when we make music together.

LoisSvardLois Svard, NCTM, is professor of piano emerita at Bucknell University. She has performed throughout the US and in Europe and lectures extensively on the applications of recent neuroscience discoveries for the study and performance of music.  She also blogs about neuroscience and music at www.themusiciansbrain.com.


3:30-4:25 Small Hands on a Big Keyboard: Non-Intuitive Adaptive Strategies (Grand Ballroom D)
Performing standard piano repertoire on the conventional-sized keyboard poses special challenges for small-handed pianists. This session will explore a number of adaptive strategies for small-handed pianists, including the tried-and-true as well as some that may surprise.

LoraDeahlLora Deahl is Professor of Piano at Texas Tech University.  Named Outstanding Collegiate Teacher of the Year by the Texas Music Teachers Association, she is an elected member of Texas Tech’s prestigious Teaching Academy.  She and Brenda Wristen have collaborated on developing strategies for small-handed pianists for over 15 years.


BrendaWristenBrenda Wristen directs the Piano Pedagogy and Keyboard Skills programs at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She has presented and published her research on biomechanics of piano technique and varied aspects of musician health in numerous venues and journals.


4:30-5:25 Pathways of Music and Emotion: Mental Health Principles for Teachers (Grand Ballroom D)
Psychological health is an important and often overlooked aspect of musician health and wellness, even though performance can invite a host of serious emotional challenges. This session will explore the intersection of music and mind, and offer practical advice for instructors.

VanessaCornettVanessa Cornett is the Director of Keyboard Studies at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis-St. Paul. She has published widely on topics of mindfulness practice, performance anxiety management, holistic teaching, and mental skills for musicians. She has presented in twelve countries on five continents.


JulieNagelJulie Jaffee Nagel, Ph.D. is known for her work in performance anxiety and the intersection of music and emotion.  A graduate of Juilliard, The University of Michigan, and The Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute, she has presented worldwide.  Her book Melodies of the Mind has received wide acclaim, and her column “Mind Matters” appears in Clavier Companion.

5:30-7:00 Dinner Break

7:00-7:55 Ergonomically-Scaled Piano Keyboards and the Small-Handed Pianist (Grand Ballroom D)
With the unfortunate loss of pianists to small hand-induced injuries/problems, is there a market for smaller keyboards? This session will offer the latest research and demonstrations to help pianists avoid injury, develop proper technique, increase their repertoire choices, and reach their true potential.

CarolLeoneCarol Leone is an internationally recognized performing artist, teacher, lecturer, and author.  She has performed and lectured on four continents and is considered one of the world’s leading researchers and proponents of ergonomic piano keyboards to promote a pianist’s wellness. She is Chair of Keyboard Studies at SMU Meadows School of the Arts in Dallas.

RhondaBoyleRhonda Boyle pursued a government policy career in Australia with qualifications in science, environmental science and urban planning.  Since 2009, her research into hand size and piano playing has been published in Australia (Australasian Piano Pedagogy Conference), North America (MTNA eJournal), and the U.K. (EPTA). She maintains the website www.smallpianokeyboards.org.

8:00-8:55 The Essentials of Healthy Biomechanics for the Pianist (Grand Ballroom D)
Piano playing is an art as well as an athletic activity. What should piano teachers know about the core principles of well-coordinated, injury-preventive piano technique? What do teachers need to experience and understand about efficient muscle use and optimal alignment? Explore the pedagogy of good biomechanics to minimize risk of injury and maximize students' artistry.

Lister Sink photoBarbara Lister-Sink, a graduate of Smith College and the Utrecht Conservatory, is an internationally acknowledged performer and leader in injury-preventive piano technique. Her DVD Freeing the Caged Bird won the 2002 MTNA - Frances Clark Keyboard Pedagogy award. She currently directs the Certificate Program in Injury-Preventive Keyboard Technique at Salem College.