Thursday, July 30 Workshops



11:15 - 12:00 Workshops:


The Role of Rote Teaching in the Development of Reading, Artistry, and Technique (Grand Ballroom IJ)

When rote teaching is paired with a strong reading program, beginners progress at a faster rate than is possible when they read notation exclusively. Since students are playing music that is far more difficult than they can read, they are free to focus on the technical and artistic elements of the piece. Learning by rote sparks their imagination and increases their understanding that music communicates meaningful ideas. Learn why students thrive with this approach.

KatherineFisherKatherine Fisher teaches piano at Athens Community Music School at Ohio University. She holds degrees in piano performance and piano pedagogy from Wheaton College and University of Oklahoma and performs in the Fisher Piano Duo.




JulieKnerrDr. Julie Knerr is currently on the piano faculty of the Hartt Community Division at the University of Hartford. She holds a PhD in Music Education/Piano Pedagogy from University of Oklahoma.


Behind Closed Doors: What Our Pre-College Students Really Do During Practice and How We Can Empower Them (Grand Ballroom CD)

Have you ever had a student leave your studio after a successful lesson, only to return the following week with little noticeable improvement in the performance? If you struggle with getting students to maintain motivation and practice efficiently on their own, this session is for you. During the presentation, we will watch actual videos of typical pre-college students practicing and, based on current research, explore how we can empower students to practice effectively.

PamelaPikeDr. Pamela D. Pike holds the Aloysia Barineau endowed professorship in piano pedagogy at Louisana State University. She has presented her research on piano pedagogy at music conferences throughout Asia, Europe, North and South America.

Music and the Brain 101 (Grand Ballroom AB)
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

Getting the Most Out of Teaching Pop Music (Grand Ballroom GH)

In this presentation, Tim will refute the idea that pop is the “junk food” of piano lessons and instead help teachers understand how it can be used to teach theory, harmony, form and structure in a way that engages students. Tim demonstrates how to approach pop in the modern piano lesson, how to make connections between pop and other forms of music and how to gain the greatest pedagogical impact, including with the use of technology.

TimTophamBest known for his blog at, Tim Topham is a well-respected presenter, teacher and accompanist. He is currently Head of Keyboard at Xavier College, Melbourne and holds an MBA, BMus, DipEd and AMusA.

CreativeLogoEssential Ideas: Teaching the Arts of Improvising, Arranging, and Composing (Magnolia A) 50-minute lab to follow

Many of our students want to create music of their own—after all, that is what is done in other art forms. Over the past four decades, the presenter has made a gradual transformation from “piano teacher” to “creativity educator” who teaches the Four Arts of Music. In this talk, he will share essential ideas about learning and teaching these vital arts that he has gleaned through forty years of “trial and ear.”


ForrestKinneyForrest Kinney, NCTM, is the author and composer of 19 books including the Pattern Play series on improvisation, the Chord Play series on arranging, and Creativity—Beyond Compare. He is a pianist who regularly gives concerts and presentations for music educators. His arrangements are now in over 40 publications.

TechLogoBeyond the Screen: Taking the iPad and Android Tablets to the Next Level (Lilac B)
I know how to turn it on - Now what? Learn how to use your tablet in different ways: use voice recognition, connect to AirPlay devices, make and edit movies and audio recordings, and connect to a MIDI keyboard. Bring your devices and join the fun! Additional musical and non-musical surprises await!

Stella SickDr. Stella Sick holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music and the University of Minnesota. She is a Managing Director of the International Piano-e-Competition. Dr. Sick teaches piano locally and nationwide. An active performer, Stella is an adjunct assistant professor at Hamline University.



2:15 - 3:00 Workshops:

Distraction, Disorder, Dysfunction:  21st Century Childhood in the Piano Lesson (Grand Ballroom IJ)

Drawing on their extensive experience teaching children with learning differences, Hidy and Milne will examine a spectrum of disorders which are more and more commonly diagnosed in the children we teach, and look at ways to adapt and tailor our teaching to connect each child and their unique needs.

DianeHidyDiane Hidy is a pianist, teacher, composer, writer and innovator. She has contributed to the teaching of children with learning differences with her three groundbreaking books of Attention Grabbers, the first and only music written specifically for students with Attention Deficit Disorder.



ElissaMilneElissa Milne is an Australian composer, teacher, writer, speaker and pianist. She is the composer of the highly anthologized Little Peppers and Pepperbox Jazz compositions, and has compiled and edited two multi-volume series of repertoire collections. Elissa has pioneered ground-breaking innovations in piano pedagogy in Australia and has given seminars and keynote speeches for ISME, EPTA (Europe), APPCA, VMTA, WAMTA and other music education conferences over the past 10 years, and has regularly given lectures as part of the Sydney Conservatorium’s Piano Teacher Festival program.

Pedagogy Pics: Students Caught in the Act of Being Themselves (Grand Ballroom CD)

This highly informative and entertaining program comprises recent video clips of Berr’s teaching. They feature pedagogical strategies and techniques involving students of diverse ages and levels who are solving musical and technical problems. Besides acting as a springboard for discussing basic and not-so-basic pedagogy, these clips also capture special moments that both independent and university teachers will appreciate.

BruceBerrPhotoBruce Berr teaches in his home studio and also at the Chicago College of the Performing Arts. He is known nationally as an clinician, author, and educational composer. He is an associate editor of Clavier Companion, and his column “ad lib” appears in each issue of American Music Teacher.

Small Hands on a Big Keyboard: Non-Intuitive Adaptive Strategies (Grand Ballroom AB)
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.

Piano Games: Integrating Game Dynamics into Your Studio (Grand Ballroom GH)

Have you ever noticed how kids can spend hours playing games, in particular video games? Wouldn’t it be great if they would do the same with the piano? This presentation will offer ideas on how to use the principles of game dynamics to draw your students into the best game ever played - making music.

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.

CreativeLogoUnderstanding Chord Symbols (Magnolia A) 50-minute lab to follow

One of the biggest challenges beginning pop/jazz improvisers face is learning to construct and interpret chord symbols. This session provides a straightforward explanation of the principles, common practices and variations found in contemporary chord nomenclature.

BradleySowashComposer, performer, multi-instrumentalist and educator Bradley Sowash is known for his creative music-making instructional books published by Kjos Music and as the co-founder of 88 Creative Keys improvisation camps for piano students and teachers.


TechLogoAbacus No More! Technologies to Streamline Your Studio Business (Lilac B)
Does the business side of your studio make you feel like a hamster in a spinning wheel? Tired of repeating the same emails, phone calls, and calendar tasks? We'll show you how to save time on bookkeeping, billing, advertising, and communication with some of our favorite time-saving tech tools. We'll even tap into HIDDEN powers of many of the services you already use!

Michelle SislerMichelle Sisler is best known for her innovative approach bringing technology, motivation, and creativity into music lessons. As the founder of Keys to Imagination LLC and, she frequently presents workshops throughout the world. Michelle is an active author of music games, motivation programs, curriculum and articles for music teacher magazines.

Kathleen TheisenAward-winning soprano, pianist and teacher, Kathleen Theisen, NCTM, has presented workshops on music business, technology and online teaching at MTNA, NCKP, CMS/ATMI and state conferences.  An active performer, she is also Minister of Music at Darien UMC, teaches in the Darien Public Schools and runs an independent voice/piano studio. .

Shana KirkShana Kirk is a Denver, CO-based pianist, teacher, and music industry consultant. Recognized for her expertise in teaching and performing technologies, she presents workshops across the US and Canada, contributes frequently to American Music Teacher and Clavier Companion, and serves as the senior editor for SimpleTec magazine.

Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Successfully Teaching Adults (Lilac AC)

Adult students speak for themselves! The Adult Learning Committee of NCKP has assembled an enthusiastic, committed panel of Chicago-area adult piano students who will discuss the importance of active music participation in their lives, and give advice to teachers on how to help them achieve their goals. Audience members will be given an opportunity to ask questions of panel members at the end of the session.