Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Schmitt Music Expo

Schmitt Music Company is one of America’s leading music retailers. It operates 10 stores in Minnesota and 6 stores in six other states, including Kansas and Colorado. Each year Schmitt Music Company run a Music Expo and clinicians participate on an invitation-only basis. I was lucky enough to be chosen this year, the only UK-based presenter, to speak on American Popular Piano. 

It was a large and very enthusiastic crowd and there was considerable interest in this innovative new series. A number of teachers were familiar with Microjazz , but what made the occasion of particular interest to them was the enthusiastic presence of one of the “early adopters” of American Popular Piano, Minneapolis-based piano teacher Jon Michael Iverson, who has recorded all of the pieces for his own web-site ( and has also supplied the video footage of students performing that I use in my presentations. His endorsement was ringing, to say the least!

This was a great opportunity and my thanks to Schmitt Music Company for this wonderful opportunity to present to such a switched-on crowd.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Conservatory Canada Workshop

  Conservatory Canada, based in London, Ontario, is a music examination board that was created in 1997 through the merger of the Western Ontario Conservatory of Music and the Western Board of Music (itself established in 1934 in Alberta to serve all of western Canada) Conservatory Canada now works with teachers and students throughout Canada and also in Kingston, Jamaica!
  Conservatory Canada had already used some Microjazz pieces in its piano syllabus, with considerable success. When American Popular Piano came out, it seemed ideal for the new Contemporary Idioms syllabus, which contains an improvisation element. This tour gave me an opportunity to present the American Popular Piano repertoire but also to demonstrate how the Improvisation Etudes, Skills and Technic components of the course can be used to build confidence in terms of improvisation, ear-training and piano technique.
  I toured with the Executive Director of Conservatory Canada, Victoria Warwick, who was demonstrating the other publications connected with the Contemporary Idioms syllabus – Hal Leonard books of popular songs, a new handbook for teachers and contemporary Canadian repertoire.
    The presentations were lively and entertaining, with plenty of audience participation. Many of the teachers and students who came were interested in converting to the new syllabus. One comment from a participating dealer:

Dear Victoria,
Thank you again for coming to Ottawa to give the workshop, I think it was a great success and everyone really enjoyed it - and are now hooked - as are we!

The places visited were:
London, Ontario
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Edmonton, Alberta
Vancouver, British Columbia
Toronto, Ontario
Regina, Saskatchewan
Ottawa, Ontario

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

JW Pepper Workshop

JW Pepper is the world’s largest retailer of sheet music. Pepper provides music direct to US customers year-round, with an extensive catalogue, ,a vast web site and online music clubs. They also have a number of retail outlets, including one in Chicago. The workshop was held in a hotel across the road from a Pepper retail store. Once again, one teacher was present who had already used American Popular Piano very successfully, so my presentation wasn’t the only vehicle for glowing remarks about how well the course works! Bill, the organizer, was very pleased with the reactions of the teachers and liked the series enough to recommend it widely. It was a small gathering, so pretty much everyone got a chance to play.