Category - Conventions

Paul Myatt: One more reason to attend 88 Creative Keys Workshop

Launching an independent, tech-savvy, creative-based piano studio has been a dream come true for me.

Some dream bigger.

Over the last ten years, I’ve had the itch to move out, rent space, teach more group lessons and hire fellow teachers but I haven’t followed through for multiple reasons. Those who do are such an inspiration to me.

Some dream even bigger!

Paul Myatt not only co-founded and directs a successful, multi-teacher school, he’s franchised it! His Forte Music Schools which feature innovative group teaching, are located throughout Australia, New Zealand and have spread to the United Kingdom. I first saw Paul in action at Tim Topham’s blog. Follow this link to learn Paul’s Five Secret Ingredients to Successful Group Teaching.

Listen to all or part of this video to see and hear Paul in action. Read More

Let’s Meet Up at MTNA!

Are you heading to Baltimore next week? It’s too late to register for the annual MTNA conference held March 18-22, but, you can do so at the hotel. Here’s all the info.

If you are registered and ready to go, let’s get together!

I fly in Saturday and leave Wednesday. In between, I’ll be part of the Music Teachers Helper Showcase on Sunday morning at 8:00AM. Come join me and we can get coffee afterwards.

If you’re not crazy about your scheduling and book-keeping system, attend the showcase and learn about the ten things I can’t teach without thanks to ten years of being addicted to Music Teachers Helper. Learn more about the service and sign up for it here.

Tuesday at 11:00AM, I’ll be presenting a session called “Set Your Studio Apart On and Off the Bench.”

For those who attend and stay ’til the bitter end, I have a REALLY cool gift that you can use with your students to build strong practice strategies. Have you been using the six scientifically proven strategies in your studio? Read about them here and get a free printable to use with your students. These work and my students and their parents agree. The gift you’ll receive at my session will definitely enhance your student’s use of these practice strategies and will guarantee progress.

After the session, I’d like to get together with you! Bradley Sowash has agreed to join me and the plan is to “brown-bag” it. We’ll connect after the session is finished which is lunch time and we can plan to meet in the hotel lobby…where you can bring your own lunch or stay for a bit, bring your iPad and teaching questions and then head off to a favorite restaurant. This is definitely an informal gathering. If it grows into something bigger I’ll let you know. If you are interested, please leave a comment in the comment section below.

A couple of other housekeeping items.

We are hearing terrific feedback about our latest 88 Creative Keys Webinar: “Keys to Colorful Harmonization.” If you missed the live stream, you can purchase the replay here.

“You threw out several VERY HELPFUL hints that were worth my attendance in the first 30 paint-tubes-with-infominutes! “

“I thoroughly enjoyed listening to your ways of composition. This summer I am looking at doing a composition/harmonization series for both my piano and vocal students. Thank you for putting together this webinar.”

“I have taken all the theory of this before, but wasn’t sure how to apply it.  You’ve given me extra tools in my tool box.  You’ve also given me lots of ideas as to how to teach this to my students.”

During my portion, I use my original arrangements as examples of how I incorporated my favorite Groups and Campsharmonization tools. All of the sheet music is on sale–here.

Looking ahead

There are some exceptional resources coming your way in the near future at If there is a topic that you’d like to see addressed, please let me know in the comment section and I’ll add it to the list.

As always, thanks for tuning in, your support and most of all for sharing a passion for teaching music with me!



Reactions to 88 Creative Keys Workshop and What’s Next

Bradley Sowash and I just finished our fourth 88 Creative Keys Denver Keyboard Improvisation Workshop. It’s one of the most gratifying yet equally exhausting events of my life. I believe Bradley would agree. After taking a breather, we’ve begun to think about what’s next.  Before I share what’s on the horizon for 88 Creative Keys, it’s time to express our gratitude for those who attended and for the honest feedback offered in the completed surveys after the workshop.


The groups we hosted at both tracks and the record turn out for our very first ever Saturday Pedagogy created a dynamic bunch. Bradley and I were thrilled and exhausted and then recharged by everyone’s energy and enthusiasm!

If you want to know the details of our workshop, we made every effort to stick to this IMG_0586schedule allowing ourselves the freedom to improvise when necessary.

We were extremely honored to hold this year’s 88 Creative Keys workshop at Colorado Christian University thanks to Steven Taylor, Dean of the Music Department.

In addition, our attendees were privileged to learn from group improvisation expert, Debra Perez–a world-class teacher and wow, does she know her Clavinova!

What follows is an unexpected and unsolicited “bonus” from Marie Lee . She carefully compiled comments made by some of  this year’s 88 Creative Keys attendees.

Disclaimer: Marie Lee–friend colleague, extraordinary group teacher and one who is always thirsty to learn more–collected these comments and wrote some of her own without even a nudge from yours truly.  I do hope you will take the time to read her “coast to coast” collection.

The comments reveal what’s on the hearts and minds of the population of teachers we reach at 88 Creative Keys–from California to Connecticut . It could match your heart and mind as well and nudge you into joining us next time and look into what we offer between workshops. Read More

My Reaction to SAVVY Musician In Action 2016


David Cutler explaining the rules of the SAVVY pitch game.

A few months ago I announced that I’d be attending David Cutler’s SAVVY Musician in Action 2016. Little did I know that my plug for the event would sway three fellow teachers and 88Pianokeys (88PK) readers to attend. I was THRILLED to hear that Marie, Renee and Becky would be joining me on this adventure!

Turns out, that this adventure gave all of us a similar sense of anxiety. We knew this would be like no other conference with tons of hands-on, out-of-the box experiences. Furthermore, we’d be heading to hot humid, South Carolina meaning long flights, sleeping in dorm rooms and intermingling with NON teachers! In addition we were assigned to prepare and deliver a one minute pitch on day one of the SAVVY event.

Together we commiserated about the superficial stuff like what to wear and which hair products to use to tolerate the humidity, but I believe those conversation threads were a coverup for our fear of…the unknown. Read More

Children and Chamber Music: Marie’s MTNA 2016 Report Part 4

Thank you, Marie!

Thank you, Marie!

In her final report from her quick trip to MTNA’s 2016 conference in San Antonio (find the others here), Marie Lee, good friend and guest blogger, shares how she was inspired by a unique session called “Children and Chamber Music: an Easy Solution!  

We have gained so much from Marie’s reports. I hope you enjoyed them. At the end of this post, it’d be great to let her know of your appreciation and which report inspired your teaching the most. 

When reading the class description, I completely expected this class to be for string teacher but thought I could use variations of the ideas with my piano students. Imagine my delight when I found out in the first two minutes that this was to be demonstrations of young pianists playing with a professional chamber ensemble! Read More

Wild West of Marketing: Marie’s MTNA 2016 Report Part 3


Amy Chaplin at MTNA

Aren’t we always looking for tips that help us figure out how to find students and build a successful studio? In her third report from her quick trip to MTNA’s 2016 conference in San Antonio (find the others here), Marie Lee shares her notes from Amy Chaplin’s, session called The Wild West of Marketing: How Do You Know What Really Works?”  

Carry on, Marie…

What is marketing?

Bestselling author, Seth Godin said,

If it’s noticed; it’s marketing.

When Amy began with this quote, I was instantly tuned in. Like Amy, I’m a huge fan of Seth Godin‘s philosophies. Another quote by Seth is this,

Good marketers measure. Good marketers tell stories.

That’s how I’d describe Amy. She’s a good marketer with good stories and actual analysis. In my book, Amy presented one of the best classes of the conference!
Read More

Time for Three Concert: Marie’s MTNA 2016 Report Part 2


Marie with Ms Becki and her red hat from JoyTunes

It’s been like Christmas around here as I unpack Marie Lee’s reports from the MTNA 2016 conference in San Antonio. All of them come full of information and pleasant surprises. This time she’s back with a rousing post about the concert that she claimed “was worth the entire trip!”

This is Marie’s second in a series that she is generously offering to me and the loyal and greatly appreciated readers of! The first one (find it here) offers some great group lesson tips and her thoughts on the RMM track. -Leila

Take it away, Marie…

If you’ve attended a few music teachers’ conferences, you’ll know that traditionally, most opening concerts feature classical pianist playing classical music. While I have the utmost respect for these artists and their talent, I find it difficult to sit through 90 minutes of classical piano. Read More

4 FUN Tips For Group Teaching: Marie’s MTNA 2016 Report Part 1

It is with extreme gratitude that I include the next series of posts. Marie Lee–she was first featured in a past post here at–received a significant scholarship to MTNA’s 2016 Recreational Music Making track. For a number of reasons, I did not attend this year’s conference but I wanted an inside scoop.

Marie looking spectacular in San Antonio

Marie looking spectacular in San Antonio

Marie kindly offered to fill me in and graciously let me share what she learned with you. Below you’ll learn details about her scholarship and four REALLY cool ideas she gathered that YOU and I can use in future private lessons, group lessons or summer camps. Read on…

Each year the National Piano Foundation offers scholarships to MTNA piano teachers interested in learning more about Recreational Music Making at the Pedagogy Saturday RMM Track at the MTNA National Convention. Besides submitting a short application and resume, an essay was required, demonstrating my understanding of RMM teaching, its philosophy, why I wanted to pursue RMM teacher training, and how I planned to implement an RMM piano program in my local community. I applied and was thrilled to be awarded a scholarship. I spent Saturday, April 2nd, learning more about RMM from inspiring presentations. But even more significantly, I learned what RMM is NOT:

  • Recreational Music Making is NOT just for piano; it is available for all instruments.
  • Recreational Music Making is NOT just group classes; it works extremely well for private instruction.
  • Recreational Music Making is NOT just piano for adults; it works for all ages.
  • Recreational Music Making is NOT a method; it is a philosophy.

A Recreational Music Making piano teacher is one who offers individual or group lessons with a focus on student goals in a fun and relaxed environment. These goals usually include learning to read music, play music of the student’s choice and to play lead sheets.

Recreational Music Making (RMM) Top Ideas

In this session, 11 teachers had four minutes each to present a creative idea that has had an impact on their group piano teaching. Then they let the audience vote on the top three and presented gift card prizes to the winners. Most of the presenters were college students and I was impressed with their creative approaches. All of these ideas could easily be adapted to private teaching, as well. Here are four of my favorites: Read More

Win a Scholarship and Join Me at Savvy in Action


The Savvy Musician in Action

Have you heard of it before? It’s an immersive, experiential week-long workshop designed to help artists and increase income and impact. 

The entrepreneurship workshop is brought to you by cutting edge David Cutler, author of  The Savvy Musician and a brand new book, The Savvy Music Teacher. In a nutshell, it is perhaps an event like none other. I’ve been to plenty of conferences but this seems truly unique.

SAVVY ‘s first goal is diversity. They encourage and accept applications from individuals representing the following four categories. (Below is copied directly from the website.)

  1. Music/arts students. The best time to learn business and professional skills is when you’re still in school. Undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in arts collegiate programs (music, theatre, dance, etc.) as well as business students with a strong interest in the arts, are encouraged to apply.
  2. Music/arts faculty. Faculty and administrators from any music or performing arts discipline are eligible. Faculty members typically participate to develop skills that can be incorporated into their home institutions as well as personal careers.
  3. Aspiring/established artists & educators. Whatever your discipline or current level of success, the SAVVY experience teaches skills that help you achieve more, earn more, and increase impact.
  4. Arts administrators/industry employees. SAVVY provides a professional development opportunity for individuals working in arts organizations, from entry-level employees to executive directors. Either for-profit or non-profit experience is welcome.

Our challenge will be to accept 60-70 dynamic participants who represent a wide cross-section of backgrounds, perspectives, personalities, ages, regions and experiences. However, there are certain attributes we seek in all attendees:

  • Positive attitude. A host of studies have shown that optimists achieve the greatest success. We believe this is one of the most exciting times for artists and arts organizations, and seek positive people committed to making a meaningful difference through the arts.
  • Hard worker. Success in the arts requires a strong work ethic. SAVVY is a transformative, intense, and immersive experience.

After reading and rereading through the details (found here) I decided to apply. It seemed a little crazy trying to fit it into a jam-packed summer but it felt like the right thing to do.

Just yesterday, I found out I was awarded a full tuition scholarship!

There are some specific things to gain from attending this workshop but for the most part, I’m going with an open mind.  I’m looking forward to the experience as a trigger for a change or a shift. At this point, I can’t anticipate what this may look like. I’m excited to uncover new ideas that as of right now are eluding me.

Where are you in your career?

Are you just gearing up for a career in the arts?

Are you spinning your wheels and looking for a push in the right direction?

Are you running on low and need your tank filled?

Do you fall into one of the four categories above?

A testimony

Here’s a testimony of a piano teacher who obviously was inspired by her experience at SAVVY. Click here if you can’t see the video.

An invitation

Clever thinking on David Cutler’s part, he added this to the award email:

If you have spectacular friends or colleagues who might benefit from the SAVVY experience, please share information about the workshop. Don’t let them miss the final round scholarship deadline, April  1, 2016!!

So, there you go. I’m not going to let my spectacular friends or colleagues who might benefit from the SAVVY experience miss the final round of scholarship opportunities!

I can’t say that I know you now or that you’re my colleague, but I’m sure we will be fast friends if we experience SAVVY together.

The facts

50 FULL tuition scholarships are available for 2016 SAVVY participants.
This is a $725 value

Reminder the deadline is April 1st: Apply HERE

Let me know if you decide to go so we can make sure to meet once we get there!


This article was first posted at

Yamaha Pianos, Wireless MIDI, Piano Maestro, AirTurn Pedal Wow!

Just returning home from the Ohio,  I want to share some things I discovered during my short stay. My Christmas list is growing!

Ohio is home to outstanding music institutions and teachers

It was fun sharing the joy of Piano Maestro and oodles of other apps this past weekend at the Ohio Music Teachers Association conference.

This association is loaded with highly esteemed teachers and professors 12227641_1520085918305009_7946332132038695363_nthanks in part to excellent institutions like Oberlin Conservatory, The Ohio State University, Ohio University, Cleveland Institute of Music, Cincinnati  College Conservatory and all the smaller yet strong schools interspersed throughout the state. In addition, MTNA (Music Teacher’s National Association) is based in Cincinnati so Rebecca Johnson, MTNA president, was at the conference. Joy Morin of ColorInMyPiano fame resides in Ohio as well. Make sure to check out her blog if you have not done so already. Of course, I best not forget my colleague and friend Bradley Sowash and of course, Suzanne Newcomb who chaired the conference planning. Read More