Wednesday, March 30, 2011

MTNA Convention 2011 - Milwaukee, Wisconsin

MTNA (Music Teachers National Association) is a nonprofit organization of 24000 American independent and collegiate music teachers. Its annual conference has become a fixture in my calendar – this year it was in Milwaukee, home of beer (Millers and Coors are manufactured there) Harley-Davidson and Hal Leonard Music Publishers (my distributors in North America) Located on the shore of Lake Michigan, it has many older-style buildings that give it a grandiose feel.
As with earlier MTNAs, I was there with my colleagues from Novus Via Publishing ( Clarke MacIntosh and Scott McBride Smith. We had new publications to publicise – Skills and Technic books for Levels 3-5 of American Popular Piano – and Scott and I also did a presentation bravely entitled “Making Piano Cool – again!” The presentation went very well and I know we made a number of new converts.
The teacher beside me in the photo is Roslyn Weinstein, from Montreal, one of my Facebook friends who keeps up with all I’m doing (and of course helps me to keep up with she’s doing) and is always pleased to meet up at these public events. I saw quite a number of “friends” and even added some while at MTNA.

I feel as though we (Novus Via) are really getting somewhere – many teachers from various parts of the States came up and said that they have been having great success with American Popular Piano. Students like the pieces, the improvisation aspects are proving stimulating and appealing and the skills are working as an instant ear-training and sight-reading tool-kit. Positive reviews and press coverage and helping, but it’s the word-of-mouth aspect that is proving to be the most effective method of spreading the word about the series.

Here’s a picture of me playing with a student of Scott McBride Smith – she is a very good (national level) classical pianist who found sight-reading American Popular Piano ensembles exciting and surprisingly different from anything she’s ever done before.
At the conference, I also arranged to be a guest at the Minnesota annual music teacher conference on the 6th and 7th of June – I have quite a following in Minnesota (hey, somebody has to!) This will be preceded by a major CN Piano Festival in Toronto (May 6th and 7th) and followed by appearances at the MTAC conference in California in late June. America is becoming like a second home!

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