A Life-Changing Conference

 

New-found friends at SMU-IPT

New-found friends at SMU-IPT

“I knew there was something missing from my approach, but I didn’t know how to fix it. Now I do. I, my studio, and most importantly, my students, will never be the same... I feel absolutely privileged to have been at this event. Other teachers: Nobody is more “page dependent” than I am, but thanks to the inherent elasticity of pianist brains, I know that from what I learned at the IPT, I can develop enough off-the-page skill to launch my students into becoming more balanced, more free, musicians.” -Kristi

Couldn't decide it I liked sharing off-the-bench activities or iPad apps. They both were SO fun!

Couldn’t decide if I liked sharing off-the-bench activities more or iPad apps…the verdict is still out.

“Southern Methodist University Institute for Piano Teachers was a major game-changer for me. I will be teaching differently. Already other teachers have asked me to share about what I learned at our Independent Music Teachers Forum in September. I attended, I was engaged, I learned, I grew, I was enriched and my creative juices were revived!”  -Allen

What a wonderful 4 days! I was reminded of many things I already do and teach, but challenged to take them to the next level.-Marti

I feel like those present were witnessing a paradigm shift that can have huge ramifications to not only ourselves, but our students as well. I also appreciate the practical nuts and bolts activities. These are really helping in my practicing.” -Kay

Even though I missed the first day, the remaining days were “jam” packed with inspiration to take every day forward into my own music and into my the lives of my students.” -Alice

If you’re a regular at 88pianokeys.me, you’ll know that I helped promote and plan the Southern Methodist University Institute for Piano Teachers. Forrest Kinney and Bradley Sowash were the conference headliners. Kristin Yost and I (check out LeilaViss.com) also provided sessions. A HUGE thanks also goes to Kristin for handling many of the logistics of the conference.

Always held at Southern Methodist University and steeped in years of outstanding topics, presenters and loyal attendees, Sam Holland, interim Dean of SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, envisioned this year’s SMU-IPT to be unique.  He dedicated the entire conference to the creative piano teacher. In my opinion, there has never been such a dynamic, interactive event with a fresh format quite like this one. The comments listed above seem to agree. These were left from readers in reaction to Bradley Sowash’s post about SMU-IPT at EyeEarRevolution.com.

Being so closely tied to every detail, I thought it might be best to share Bradley’s perhaps only-slightly- less-biased insight on his SMU-IPT experience. -Leila 

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The Creative Piano Teacher

Sam Holland

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Something amazing happened last week at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Thanks to the visionary planning of Dr. Samuel Holland (interim Dean of the Arts at Southern Methodist University–ranked the #1 in music irector of) and Leila Viss (author of The iPad Piano Studio), forty-eight private piano teachers signed up for a multi-day workshop to learn to teach creativity both on and off the printed page at the Institute for Piano Teachers .

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Leila Viss, Bradley Sowash, Forrest Kinney

What exactly did we do?
In a variety of settings including lectures, hands-on piano labs and simulated private lessons, my esteemed colleague, Forrest Kinney (author of the Pattern Play series) and I explained and demonstrated topics such as Understanding Chord Symbols, The Four Arts of Music, Going Further with Lead Sheets, Creative Group Teaching and many more. In addition, Leila Viss presented several tech-savvy sessions such as Apps to Spark Creativity and Kristin Yost demonstrated how playing and arranging pop tunes by ear ignites student interest levels.  Along the way, we squeezed in a solo piano concert (thank you teachers for two standing ovations), an evening of stories of the masters with Forrest, a drum circle, and a jam session.

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Drumming for Teachers session

Believe me, this event was jam-packed. Teachers went home with tons of new ideas spinning in their heads and the presenters were happy but totally spent.  I, for one, all but lost my voice and promptly fell asleep at the first unscheduled opportunity, which turned out to be at the airport gate – I’m grateful to the squirmy four-year old who accidentally bumped into me thereby waking me in time to board the plane.

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Creative piano pedagogy is here to stay.
What does it mean for the future of piano teaching when the top music school in the country embraces creative pedagogy at a prestigious conference? I think it sends a signal to piano educators everywhere that the cycle of read-only teachers teaching read-only students who go on to become read-only teachers is finally unraveling. The future of piano pedagogy is already here as more and more teachers adopt a comprehensive philosophy that balances interpreting music written by others with music that is creatively embellished, improvised and composed by students.

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If you were there, share your thoughts about the institute below. Or even if you weren’t, what are your thoughts on creative piano pedagogy?

Hot off the press, a video sharing some highlights!

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Leila Viss

Creative Pianist, Piano Teacher, Organist, Blogger and Author of The iPad Piano Studio

1 CommentLeave a comment

  • Many thanks, Leila, to you, Bradley and Forrest for all that you did to make this event so amazing! I went to the conference with fear and trepidation because I am so tied to the page, but came away with so many tools to use that I am excited at the potential for lots of growth – for me and for my students! Thank you so much for your willingness to share your creativity, energy, and enthusiasm with all of us. It was truly a memorable conference that will have long lasting effects.