The Curious Piano Teachers at the MTNA 2017 Conference

What was the best thing about being at the MTNA 2017 conference?

Undoubtedly, it was meeting in person, people who had only been Facebook friends up till that point!

MTNA Curious Piano Teachers

I’m now back in the UK after an exciting and interesting few days over in Baltimore. Today’s blog is a brief overview of our time there.


The online explosion has given us all the ability to communicate freely and easily across physical boundaries. Connecting in person however brings a whole new spark and dimension to a friendship.

It was truly fabulous to meet up with several US members of The Community. In particular Lizbeth Atkinson and Janet Stadt who were great at helping us out on the Curious Booth. A big thanks as well to Kimberley Biller Scopano who gave us tickets for the Leon Fleisher recital and Dorothy Glover who came to our booth twice even though she is trying to find time to rehearse for her recital! We had a stash of our curious purple bags. Members of The Community were soon seen proudly carrying them around the conference.

It was also splendid to meet Curious expert Elissa Milne in person. Although we weren’t able to attend her session on Repertoire Rich Learning from all accounts it was totally fab!! The Piano Safari team were out in force. I was thrilled to meet Julie Knerr, Katherine Fisher and Christopher Fisher. Their two sessions were truly thought-provoking and inspiring.

There are some pretty entrepreneurial piano educators around and of course most of them were at the conference. Joy Morin (Color in my Piano), Amy Chaplin (Piano Pantry), Becki Tapia Laurent (JoyTunes), Wendy Stevens (ComposeCreate), Carol Matz (Carol Matz Interactive Piano Method), Eik Siang Mar (Sproutbeat) and Samantha Coates (Blitz Books) were all such fun and so welcoming. We all have a shared passion for offering quality support and resources to piano teachers so you can be sure that there are plans to work with all of them down the line.


Old friendships were reformed with the wonderful Forrest Kinney (of Pattern Play fame) and Patricia Powell. Patricia was once Director of the Piano Teacher’s Course and seeing her was an unexpected treat. She is a fabulous teacher with a wealth of knowledge and expertise. Excitingly both have agreed to contribute to future Curiosity boxes!

I was delighted to meet Deborah Rambo Sinn whose book Playing Beyond the Notes lives close to my piano on my bookshelves and is often consulted. I also met Fred Karpoff, of Entrada Piano Technique. Randall Faber, co-author of Piano Adventures, was on the Roland stand opposite us on Monday lunchtime and he came over and chatted to us.   Finally, I was honoured to be introduced to Marvin Blickenstaff, who is a much revered pedagogue in the US.


A lot of time and effort had gone into planning our Curious Booth so it was great that the finished product worked as planned. Ed, our Curious Elephant, had made the trip over to Baltimore and had a great time meeting all sorts of different people.

Every afternoon at about 3.30pm we had a tea party with tea and cupcakes. The Curious Booth rapidly got the reputation as the ‘place to be around’ at this time! Our booth neighbours (Music Learning Community and How to Tune Pianos) all joined in the fun of course. Many thanks to them for telling any teachers around: ‘whatever it is they’re doing you need to be part of it!’.

Also, we brought the 60 Second Challenge to Baltimore. Participants had sixty seconds to answer as many short questions as they could ranging from ‘tea or coffee’ to ‘if you weren’t a music educator what would you be’. Gary Ingles, the CEO of the MTNA was game enough to take the challenge. In addition Mario Ajero, Bradley Sowash, Samantha Coates and Jason Sifford all gave it a go. There is unfinished business however: Elissa Milne and Wendy Stevens – we’ll be back!


Angie Tse, our Curious assistant, and I had a LOT of fun. We’ve returned with a stash of new music to try, in particular more music by William Gillock who was the topic of several presentations. There was a vast amount of music on sale from the likes of Alfred, Hal Leonard, FJH Publishing and Faber Publishing. It was interesting how all publishers came with some really special deals for teachers. Consequently many teachers came ready to place a whole year’s worth of orders!

The way the MTNA nurtures younger teachers really impressed us. Encouraging students to become collegiate members enables the young teachers to get mentored. During the first years of being a teacher this is so valuable.

Most of all though it was good to know that piano teachers have shared concerns no matter what continent they live in. The isolated nature of the job, competing against less professional teachers and staying up-to-date with teaching ideas were all topics for discussion at the Curious Booth.


A BIG THANK YOU to everyone who came to visit us on booth 513. You gave us the warmest of welcomes and we left feeling completely at home.

In return we would like to offer all our blog readers who are not yet members of The Community a trial membership opportunity – just click on this link: TRIAL MEMBERSHIP.

If you are interested in joining The Community of The Curious Piano Teachers we have a special MTNA deal valid up to and including Friday March 31st. To get full details (and it is really worth investigating) click on this link: MTNA SPECIAL MEMBERSHIP DEAL


7 thoughts on “The Curious Piano Teachers at the MTNA 2017 Conference

  1. Carol Matz

    The feeling is mutual… it was WONDERFUL to meet you all… afternoon tea & cakes — brilliant, and much needed LOL! Thank you so much for connecting and for coming all the way across the pond to visit. I’m spreading the word about your wonderful resources! xoxo

    1. Sally

      Thank you Carol! I did enjoy all our tea-parties and it was so good to meet you. Hope to see you soon once more.

  2. Dr. Rebecca Grooms Johnson, Immediate-Past President, MTNA

    Thank you so much for coming – it was delightful to meet you! We all hope that you will come again next year to Orlando!

    1. Sally

      It was lovely to come and meet you all over in Baltimore. Both Angie and I really felt very welcomed. Fingers crossed for Orlando next year!


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