Committee on Independent Music Teachers
Arlene Steffen, Chair, Immanuela Gruenberg, Gail Lew, Elissa Milne, Jodi Stewart-Moore, and Jason Sifford

Recharge Your Studio!
Pre-Conference Seminar, Wednesday, July 26

2:30 pm Parents and Policies: Fostering Healthy Relationships
Presenters: Arlene Steffen, Moderator, members of the Committee on Independent Music Teachers.

3:30pm Meaning, Mastery, Autonomy: Teaching Students to Prepare and Play Like a Pro

The ultimate goal of our teaching should be to create independent learners. This session will focus on how we can help our students acquire the necessary tools to achieve this. It will show how to synthesize technique, theory, and music history to create meaningful experiences, which in turn create greater motivation. This will result in more joy, greater depth of understanding, and a true love for our art.

AlanHuckleberryAlan Huckleberry, professor of piano pedagogy at The University of Iowa is a sought-after speaker on a wide-range of topics. He is also in demand as a performer and can be heard on 10 CD recordings.



4:45pm Where the Roadmap Ends: How (and when) to leave method books behind
The goal of beginning methods is the same – to help students build the musical and technical skills necessary to grow as young artists. However, there comes a time when the path they’ve been traveling has either ended or no longer meets their needs. Join our panel of experienced teachers as we discuss how best to serve our students as they leave the familiar territory of methods and begin to explore their own artistic interests.

sifford300Jason Sifford is a freelance pianist, teacher, clinician, and composer with a wide range of abilities and interests. He maintains an independent teaching studio in Iowa City and is an active composer of teaching literature. His music is published by the FJH Music Company.



GruenbergImmanuelaImmanuela Gruenberg presented concerts, lectures, and masterclasses in the US, Israel, Argentina, and China. She’s editor and recording artist for Hal Leonard/Schirmer Performance Editions and for Boosey & Hawkes. Holds DMA from Manhattan School of Music. Studied piano with Arie Vardi and Constance Keene, chamber music with Boris Berman.


ArleneSteffen head shotArlene Steffen maintains an active private piano studio and teaches piano and piano pedagogy at Fresno Pacific University. She serves as chair of the NCKP Independent Music Teachers committee and has served as president of MTAC Fresno County Branch from 2012-2015.



LewGailGail Lew is an editor, arranger, piano teacher, clinician, adjudicator, and nationally-respected leader in the field of piano pedagogy. She is an independent studio teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area, and a judge for state, national, and international piano events. Gail holds degrees and credentials in piano performance, music history, and music education. Highlights of her 30-year career in music included tenure as senior piano editor for Kjos Music and director of keyboard publications for Warner Bros. Music.


Jodi Stewart-Moore maintains a studio in Perkasie, Pennsylvania and also teaches piano privately at United Friends School as part of an after-school enrichment program for students grades K-8. She holds a B.A. in History with minors in Music, Education, and Anthropology from James Madison University and an M.A. in Cultural Anthropology and a minor in Archaeology from the University of Florida.


6:00pm Dinner break

7:15pm Why Mnemonics and Sight Reading Don’t Mix
This session explores the various ways in which pitch notation is introduced, in particular the (somewhat controversial) use of mnemonics such as ‘Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge’. Whilst many teachers find that mnemonics work well, the extra layer of mental processing impedes pattern recognition and negatively impacts sight-reading fluency later on. Pianists in particular need to have an excellent grasp of patterns in order to sight read at any sort of reasonable speed. It is not possible to accommodate multiple layers of processing note names whilst trying to read several notes on two different staves simultaneously. As part of this session I will break down the elements of sight reading, such as rhythm, patterns, intervallic relationships, chord reading, and the all-important skill of scanning the music before playing. In addition to an in-depth analysis of what happens when we sight-read music, this session attempts to show how the use of mnemonics slows reading down, through an effective and hilarious demonstration that transports us all back to our non-reading days.


Samantha Coates is a Sydney-based pianist and teacher with over 25 years’ experience in both private and group tuition. She is also the author and publisher of BlitzBooks, a music education series that has brought fun and laughter to the areas of music theory, instrumental technique, general knowledge and sight reading.