Committee on Young Professionals
Lesley McAllister, Chair, Michael Benson, Michelle Conda, Kellie Cunningham, Grace Choi, Scott Donald, Sara Ernst, Margaret Young.

Navigating Career Options

Pre-Conference Seminar, Wednesday, July 26

2:30: Panel Presentation: Carving Out Your Own Career Path
Making a living as a musician requires creativity, entrepreneurship, and courage. By thinking innovatively about what they can bring to the field, each of these panelists has designed a career that goes beyond teaching and performing. Panelists will discuss creating a pedagogy program at a university, co-working studio spaces with artists in other fields, self-publishing a piano method, blogging, community outreach, and website creation.

McCainArtinaDr. Artina McCain is an Assistant Professor of Piano at the University of Memphis in Tennessee. She enjoys an active career as a solo and chamber performer, educator, and lecturer. You can find more info about her at



CunninghamKellieKellie Cunningham, M.M.E., NCTM, teaches piano and piano pedagogy at The Master’s University, where she co-directs the TMU Piano Kids Program.  She also loves teaching in her home studio in California and conducting an 80-voice children’s choir at her church.  She currently chairs the Scholarship Committee for NCKP.



KnerrJulieDr. Julie Knerr teaches piano at her home studio in Windsor, Connecticut and is the co-author of the Piano Safari Method. She holds a PhD in Music Education from the University of Oklahoma.




MorinJoyJoy Morin’s keen interest in piano pedagogy impels her to endeavors such as writing a blog at, presenting for piano teachers, and serving on the board for OhioMTA. She operates an independent piano studio in Perrysburg, Ohio.




DonaldScottL. Scott Donald is the owner of Studio A, a private piano studio and music consulting business in Austin, TX.  He is also on the faculty of the Interlochen Arts Camp in Interlochen, MI and American Voices, a non-profit organization that provides instruction in countries emerging from conflict and isolation.



3:15: Introducing New Repertoire to the Intermediate Student: A Teaching Demonstration by Marvin Blickenstaff
Join us for a teaching demonstration by the renowned pianist and pedagogue Marvin Blickenstaff , who will work with an intermediate-level student on a review piece and a new piece. His introduction of a new piece is sure to spark ideas about practice suggestions and introductory techniques for students at all levels.

BlickenstaffMarvinMarvin R. Blickenstaff, teaches at The New School for Music Study in Kingston, NJ and in his home studio in Pennsylvania. Blickenstaff's teaching career is associated with the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and with Goshen College. 2007, Piano Pedagogy Forum published tributes to Blickenstaff honoring his contribution to piano teaching in America. In that same year he was named Fellow of the Royal Conservatory of Music at Toronto. In 2009, the MTNA selected him for their highest honor, the Achievement Award. 


4:00: Lightning Talks: How I Got the Most Out of My Degree Program
Graduate school offers the opportunity to develop a research agenda and performance profile from which a professional career can emerge. Graduate students and recent graduates will share their tips on how they got the most out of their degree program by carving out a professional niche while still a student. Attendees are sure to leave with ideas about how they can best use their short time in graduate school to advance their future careers.


Azusa Higotani recently completed her masters degree in Piano Pedagogy at the University of South Carolina following her first masters degree in Music Therapy from Ohio University. She currently teaches privately and serves on the board for Palm Beach County Music Teachers Association and Grace Notes Music Foundation in Florida.



LiangHuiyunHuiyun Liang is a D.M.A. candidate in Piano Pedagogy at the University of South Carolina under the direction of Dr. Scott Price. She held a graduate assistantship in group piano and is teaching for the community programs.  She received her master’s degree in Music Education from the University of Missouri.



JacklinBrendanBrendan Jacklin is an avid performer of new music, premiering works and exploring music with multimedia and electronics. He has presented on topics from Baroque ornamentation to Hitchcock films across the USA. Brendan is currently a doctoral student at the University of Cincinnati, working with Prof. Awadagin Pratt and Dr. Michelle Conda.



MacAvoyNathanNathan MacAvoy holds a graduate assistant position at the University of South Carolina in accompanying and teaching group piano. He is the president of USC’s collegiate chapter of MTNA and teaches privately for USC’s Center for Piano Studies, and Northside Christian Academy. Outside school, Nathan enjoys spending time with his wife, Martha, and their son, Caleb.



HurdIvanIvan Hurd teaches piano, pedagogy, and class piano at the University of Texas at San Antonio. A DMA candidate at the University of Oklahoma, he holds piano performance degrees from Eastern Michigan University (MM), and the University of Iowa (BM).



LinBruceDr. Wei Chen (Bruce) Lin holds degrees from University of British Columbia, Westminster Choir College, and West Virginia University. An active performer, educator, collaborator, and adjudicator, Dr. Lin is an assistant professor at Texas Lutheran University.



4:45: Teaching Demonstration: Bradley Sowash
Bradley Sowash, an esteemed educator specializing in improvisation, will present a teaching demonstration with an intermediate student. After working on a review piece, Sowash will demonstrate how the principles of improvisation and creativity can be utilized when working with students at the intermediate level.

SowashBradleyBradley Sowash is a composer, performer, and educator specializing in improvisation. He is the co-director with Leila Viss of 88 Creative Keys improvisation workshops and webinars and his widely acclaimed keyboard improvisation books are published by the Neil A. Kjos Music Company.



5:30: Group Discussions

6:00: Pizza Party

7:15: Should I Pursue a Career in Academia? A Friendly Debate
With competition for jobs in higher education becoming even tougher, a terminal degree no longer guarantees a spot in academia. Moreover, many people have chosen to leave academia or pursue a job elsewhere because of issues with job security, career satisfaction, or other reasons. Join our debate between full-time college faculty members and primarily independent teachers to hear reasons why you may or may not want to teach at a university in the future.

BennettErinDr. Erin K. Bennett, NCTM is Keyboard Area Coordinator and Associate Professor of Piano and Piano Pedagogy at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. In summer she teaches at Interlochen Arts Camp. Her research has been presented at NCKP, MTNA, GP3, and published in Clavier Companion.



HusserDavidDavid Husser lives in Traverse City, Michigan, where he maintains an independent piano studio. He also teaches group and applied piano at Northwestern Michigan College and Interlochen Arts Camp, and collaborates as a pianist with a number of educational and civic ensembles.



JainJudithDr. Judith Jain is founder and executive director of New Tampa Piano and Pedagogy Academy, a premier All-Yamaha pre college piano academy and teacher training institute located in Tampa, Florida. Previous teaching affiliations include the New School for Music Study, the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and Indiana University in Bloomington. 


PenningtonRebeccaRebecca Mergen Pennington has been a member of the faculty of the New School for Music Study since 2007.  She currently serves as Administrative Director.  Dr. Pennington is a frequent performer, presenter, and adjudicator.



ShermanKathrynDr. Kathryn Sherman, Associate Professor of Piano Pedagogy, directs the undergraduate and graduate programs in piano pedagogy and teaches keyboard skills courses at The Crane School of Music SUNY Potsdam.