MMTA Annual Convention

Join us for the 124th annual MMTA Convention on June 11-13, 2023

Hilton-Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport Hotel 


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Early Bird ends on May 1st 2023

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Keynote speaker:  Dr. Leah Claiborne


Leah Claiborne, D.M.A. promotes diversity in the arts by championing piano music by Black composers in her performances, research, and teaching. She was the first pianist at the University of Michigan to be awarded the Rackham Predoc fellowship which is the most prestigious fellowship awarded by the graduate school. This fellowship allowed her to further research, compile, and edit piano music by Black composers.

Dr. Claiborne currently teaches at the University of the District of Columbia where she serves as coordinator of keyboard studies and teaches the History of African American Music. 





Guest Artist: Christine Bass


With 47 years of teaching experience, both in the private voice studio and with choral ensembles, Christine is a former director of Temple University Men’s and Women’s Choruses and Assistant Professor of Music Education. She taught choral conducting at Rowan University. Her ensembles have performed at multiple ACDA National Conventions, MENC and ACDA All Eastern Conventions, and with Alan Gilbert, Julius Rudel, Rossen Milanov, Philadelphia’s Singing City, Sister Cities Girlchoir and the Newark Boy’s Choir.  Her men’s a cappella group, Men of Note, won three consecutive National Championships for Best of High School A Cappella.

Christine earned her degrees from Westminster Choir College, studied conducting under Robert Simpson, Elaine Brown, Andrew Megill and Joseph Flummerfelt and was a member of the Westminster Choir.  She received their Alumni Merit Award and Alumni Ambassador Award. Christine was a New Jersey MENC Master Music Teacher and received the Governor's Award in Arts Education. 


Guest Artist: Dr. Peter Mack 


Irish pianist Peter Mack is in great demand as a performer, clinician, convention artist, adjudicator, and teacher. Celebrated for his moving playing, and his easy rapport with audiences, he has performed throughout the United States and Europe, as well as in Australia, India, and the former Soviet Union. He is the winner of the New Orleans, Young Keyboard Artists, and Pacific International Piano Competitions. His prize in the Sherman-Clay competition included a Steinway grand piano. Naturally, he is a Steinway artist!  

Peter Mack is well known for his extensive repertoire, having performed twenty-six concertos with orchestras. A choral scholar at Trinity College Dublin, and a fellow of Trinity College London, he has a doctorate in piano performance from the University of Washington.  His principal teachers were Frank Heneghan, and Bela Siki. Past engagements include performances in two of the most acoustically perfect performance spaces in Europe; the Salle Cortot of the Ecole Normale in Paris, and the Haydnsaal of the Esterhazy Palace in Eisenstadt, Austria.

Recently, Dr. Mack received the extraordinary honor of being asked to deliver both the Advanced Piano Masterclass at the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) annual convention, and the Masterclass for MTNA Winners
at the biennial National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy (NCKP) in Illinois. His students are frequent winners of local, national, and international competitions.  He is the proud teacher of twenty-two MTNA national finalists, and three MTNA national first place winners.  Deeply committed to service with the Music Teachers National Association, his term as president of the organization runs from 2023-2025.

"Mack is one of those lucky ones, born with a completely balanced set of talents.  He has perfect piano hands, his technique is all but infallible, he has boundless temperament, style and taste, and above all, he communicates directly....  In all capacities he is indefatigable...."  --Los Angeles Times


Hilton - Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport Hotel
3800 American Blvd E, Bloomington, MN 55425

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Member Recital (Sunday)

The MMTA Convention Committee invites members to kick off the 124th annual convention with a member recital. Application is open now through April 1st.

Member Recital INFO & Application 

Master Classes

Master class opportunities are available for both piano and voice.  Use the links below to find out more and to register!

Piano Master Class

Vocal Master Class

Collegiate Poster Sessions

The Minnesota Music Teachers Association (MMTA) is seeking digital poster proposals from Collegiate Student Members to present at their annual convention, June 11-13, 2023.  Presenters would need to be on site in front of their posters at the Hilton Minneapolis-St. Paul airport in Bloomington.

Poster session information


3Ms: Mental Health, Medicine and Music 
Parnjai J Johnson

Learn about common psychiatric conditions with onset in children and adolescents and how to recognize these conditions. The audience will become familiarized with treatment recommendations both medication and non medication treatment. Presentation will describe commonly prescribed medications and their benefits and risks. There will be discussion about role of music and music education in the context of mental health. The session will conclude with relationship of mental health, medicine and music.

Achieving Synergy of Music and Dance: the Possibilities and the Risks of Collaboration
Dr. Rie Tanaka

Currently, many Classically trained musicians, educators, and communities are working on becoming more imaginative and creative than ever before to diversify the programs, practices, and canon of Classical Music. One great way to tackle this is to collaborate with people who specialize in different fields than you, and that is what I have been doing for the past three years. While exploration and experimentation are necessary in the process, we as performers and educators should always be critical of what “collaboration” is, what it does, and the purpose behind it. Inspired by philosopher and musicologist, Theodor Adorno and his quote: “all truths and most untruth in interpretation is improvisatory: there is a fluid scale leading from every meaningful rendition to complete interpretation,” the lecture investigates on the idea of collaboration: its possibilities and risks. In this session, we define interdisciplinary, specialization, interpretation, and innovation, and discuss what “complete interpretation” may look like, according to Adorno. I will also share the creative process of collaborating with choreographer Yuki Tokuda.

Birds-Eye View of Judging
JEC Committee

A panel of 3 experienced judges and attendees view prerecorded performances along with judges previously written critique of performance. Opportunity for discussion.

Create a lasting impression that fosters a music career with your students
Kathryn Karg 

It’s like you have a team of high school baseball players… how many of them actually become pro? How many continue as a hobby or pass it on to their children? We can compare this to our piano students as well. How many of our students go on to study music in college or become a musician in some capacity for a living? Or how many of them still play for fun and eventually pass it along to their children? There are 6 topics we will dive into during the session. I’ll have live examples of each and handouts for those participating at the convention. 1. Teach your students how to create discipline in practicing correctly and effectively. SHOW THEM HOW (not just tell them to do it, which manifests to a healthy habit of learning something new, being able to work through challenges without giving up and being creative in the process.) 2. Focus your ‘extra energy’ on the kids that do want to become a musician – or show that talent and work ethic. You teach them everything you know, and hope they become better than you. You spend extra time with them as much as possible, giving them as many performance opportunities as possible. 3. Learn right alongside them, growing and adapting, using technology as a tool. 4. I am a FIRM believer in the longer the lesson, the better. 30 min a week lessons are NOT ENOUGH. I will dive into how I lay out a usual lesson with a student each week. 5. How to help students deal with the pressures and anxieties of participating in MMTA events or performances. (How to help them look forward to these opportunities.) 6. How to mentor students to become MMTA and to have a future career in music.

DEI committee

Q&A with Equity and Inclusion Thought Leaders

Experience the Benefits of Qigong for Musicians
Cynthia Ali

Spring Forest Qigong (Chee-gong) is a practice based upon the foundation of ancient Chinese Mind-Body Wellness approach, consisting of four (4) elements:
1. Simple, slow movements
2. Breathing
3. Visualization
4. Meditation
The practice of Spring Forest Qigong is so simple that it can be done at any age and with any physical capability. In fact, the movements can be done sitting, standing or lying down! It requires no equipment and oftentimes, improved physical and emotional well-being is experienced. 
What does qigong bring specifically to the music community?
1. Relief from performance ANXIETY that can spread into your everyday life as a musician
2. Freedom from PERFECTIONISM as you practice and perform.
3.  Fosters PEACE and CALM in your life as a musician.
4. Cultivates overall WELL-BEING in your body and emotions.
5.  Gives you a tool to TAKE CARE of your body, which is your instrument, and will enhance your playing.

From Piano Syllabus to Piano Exam
Grace Kopitske

Panel discussion with members sharing different perspectives of how they prepare their students for piano exams.

Fun with analysis – What do all those accidentals mean?
Dr. Sarah Miller 

Every accidental in a piece of music is a clue that leads to understanding how a composer wants a performer to play the piece. Let’s take a look at accidentals in analysis pieces from Level 3 through Level 7 and decipher their true meanings.

How to engage and motivate students through improvisation
Siobhann Paulman 

In this session, learn why improvisation should be part of the main course in the lesson and not just dessert. We’ll touch upon active vs. passive music-making; how to teach music theory, expression, and phrasing through improvisation; how to use repertoire pieces as a springboard into improvisation; and why a sense of play, imagination, and creativity are essential in learning. Plus you’ll learn some improvisation prompts to share with your students.

Improvisation as a Tool for Performing, Directing, and Teaching
Dr. Eric Bigalke

Improvisation has been an important musical art for centuries. The Baroque masters are known to have been especially adept. Continuo playing from figured bass was de rigueur for musicians of the period. Johann Sebastian Bach’s Orgelbüchlein is essentially a musical treatise on how to improvise on a chorale. By the Classical Era, the piano became a going concern, and concerto cadenzas were a means for performers to strut their improvisatory chops. More recently, the French Romantic school of improvisation, the theatre organ tradition, and the jazz and rock idioms have brought the art of improvisation up to the present day. Yet, this valuable skill can often be overlooked in modern music pedagogy. This session will briefly outline the historical context of improvisation, followed by concrete examples of its application. Musicians often engage in multi-faceted careers that include both performing and teaching, and leading groups in musical performance. Improvisation can be helpful and add spice to all of these scenarios. We will explore the possibilities together through repertoire examples, demonstration, and audience participation. Equip yourself and your students to maintain equanimity in performance situations, and add some sparkle and pizzazz along the way.

Intervals all Around Us!
Robert Groneman

Intervals surround us. We are exposed to them with impunity. The doorbell, the police siren, the squeaking door, the microwave. Two notes can produce vivid memories and nostalgic as they bring us to a place not visited for years. The brain can loop intervals into hopeless ear worms. Intervals are critical to all musicians and people that love music. Once a musician learns two notes, the interval journey begins. The Oxford Diction of Music and Musicians defines the interval humbly as the distance between two pitches. We will discover that they are musical more than that. This session will investigate melodic and harmonic intervals, intervals as the "Lego" bricks of chords, the historical development of intervals, intervals and wind instruments, intervals and the brain, and intervals and piano pedagogy. Ear training exercises will be demonstrated. The mystery of the tritone will be debunked. Fundamental music theory concepts will be used.

MMTA 101
Laura Harding and Diana Shapiro

If you have just joined MMTA and would like to know what the membership in the organization can buy you or if it has been too long since you used your membership to its full potential, this is the session you would not want to miss. This session will cover MMTA A to Z - financial incentives, programming at the local and state level, and even MMTA site navigation tips. To keep communication channels open, there will also be an opportunity to ask your questions and get answers in a real time.

Solo and Ensemble Guitar at MMTA Contests and Festivals
Gene Swanson

Discussion of options for student participation in this event, critiques, points, and performance. 

Music Bridges Showcase
Mary Goetz

Come enjoy the diverse talents of two students who will present their Music Bridges programs. If you are unfamiliar with Music bridges, here is your chance to see what it is all about and to ask questions that can help you prepare your own students to take advantage of this gratifying performance opportunity. If you already know about Music Bridges, you may get inspiration and new ideas that can hook your own students into creating something unique to their talents and interests

Music Theory Trends in the 21st Century: 3 mini-sessions
Dr. Jake Fitzpatrick

1) “Cadence terminology: Changing with society” What happened to terms such as masculine and feminine endings? Or authentic and half cadences? We’ll see how theory terminology has changed over time. presented by Dr. Jake Fitzpatrick 2) “Whatever happened to I6/4?” A look at CAD 6/4 and V6/4-5/3 in keyboard, aural, analysis and written skills. presented by Dr. Sarah Miller 3) “New concepts in Level 6, 2nd edition” This new edition has inclusive analysis pieces, pop style chord symbols and pitch intervals. Learn the reasoning behind these changes and learn how to prepare your students for Level 6 testing in the fall.

MusicLink--Reaching Out to Children in Need
Sue Wege

The MusicLink program exists to help low-income children get the opportunity to have music lessons. By partnering with qualified teachers, parents, businesses and donors, thousands of deserving children have received musical instruction they might never otherwise have had. Come and learn how you can become involved and find out what the MusicLink Foundation offers in benefits and opportunities for you and your MusicLink students. You can make a tremendous difference in the life of a child in need.

Nailing Jell-O to a Tree: Centering the Distracted Musician
Vanessa Cornett

Instagram, TikTok, iThings…. Today’s students are rewarded for their ability to juggle small bits of information quickly using very short spurts of attention. Music, of course, requires a completely different quality of attentional training. We will explore the science of attention and distraction, and discuss techniques to help music students and their teachers learn to center and focus the mind.

Nine Nifty Practice Strategies to Use in the Studio and Assign at Home
Dr. Mary Tollefson

Aimed at the intermediate to advanced student, I will present strategies that improve learning at the lesson and structured enough to assign at home. These strategies help the student to more overtly recognize progress. I will use pentascales, scales, chord progressions, and intermediate to advanced piano repertoire to demonstrate examples of how these strategies can be implemented in both the studio and at-home assignments.

Philippine Piano Pieces
Dr. Horacio Nuguid 

A native of the Philippines, Dr. Horacio Nuguid will present selected pieces for solo piano by Filipino composers in a lecture/recital setting. A vast majority of piano works from the Philippines are unknown even among Filipino pianists. This unfortunate circumstance is the result of the very limited access pianists have had to the music scores. The few works that are published, mostly by the composers themselves, are no longer in circulation and very hard to find. Sadly, so many autograph scores of Philippine music have been destroyed or lost. Next to Warsaw, Manila was the most devastated city during World War II. The good news is that in the last year or so, there is growing interest from music organizations and individuals to gather scores of works from various Filipino composers for publication. For the past two years now, Dr. Nuguid has been compiling and editing piano pieces by Filipino composers. Dr. Nuguid’s goal is to publish a reliable edition which would also be easily accessible to everyone. Dr. Nuguid also hopes that his anthology will serve as a tool in exposing the works of Filipino composers and spur growth in the appreciation of their varying styles and musical languages. The anthology—Philippine Piano Pieces—includes 25 pieces ranging from late intermediate to advanced level. The pieces selected were composed between the period of 1890 to 2022 by 16 composers. Four of the composers included are still active.

Rhythm: Let's Hit It!
Lacey West

Did you know a bucket could be a musical instrument? How about a cup?! Playing percussion is a fun, motivating way to improve any music student’s ability to read and play rhythms, and you don’t need to have a percussion background or even own a drum to add percussion to your lessons and recitals! The session will include information about found sound percussion repertoire resources to use in weekly lessons as well as hands on experience in playing found sound percussion ensemble music. Attendees will learn a short percussion ensemble piece together. Instruments, sticks, and music will be provided by the presenter.

Silence Your Inner Rival
Jeff Butorac

Jeff absolutely loved coaching basketball. There was a time in his life that he dedicated most of his time consuming knowledge of the game and learning how to be a better coach. He spent over a decade coaching high school and NCAA basketball. Until it became too much. The anxiety he had developed over the years of coaching had turned into panic attacks that he couldn’t control and forced him to step away from the profession he loved and built his life around. So, what now? Jeff knew that he couldn’t be the only athlete or coach that had this happen to him, so out of a desperate need for inner calm and direction Jeff started committing his time to learning everything he could about strengthening the mindset, resilience, fear of failure, confidence, willpower, and so much more. Through his studies Jeff learned that he along with everyone else have the ability to control the voice in their head that so often is negative and holding them back from reaching their potential, their Inner Rival. Your Inner Rival is holding you back from everything you want to achieve. It knows your biggest fears, your deepest secrets, as well as everything you’ve ever hoped for! By using the tools that Jeff outlines in this book you can develop the ability to control the voice in your head and Silence the Inner Rival that is holding you back from achieving your goals, performing to your potential, and keeping you from peace of mind.

Songs of Fields and Prairies: Art Song from Modern-Day Minnesotan Composers
Dr. Ann DuHamel and Dr. Tracey Engleman

Minnesota has a rich history of contemporary classical music; the American Composers Forum was founded here in the 1970s by Libby Larsen and Stephen Paulus. Alongside the state’s thriving tradition of choral music, several award-winning modern Minnesotan composers have written powerful, poetic song cycles for voice and piano. These works beautifully combine text and music in accessible, lyrical, and primarily tonal styles that appeal to audiences, performers, and students alike. This 45-50 minute lecture-recital will introduce attendees to some of these works by contemporary Minnesotan composers. The session will draw from the catalogs of Abbie Betinis (Nattsanger), Jocelyn Hagen (Hope; Kiss; Songs of Fields and Prairies), Edie Hill (Between the Limbs, Music), Linda Kachelmeier (I Give Voice to My Mother), Libby Larsen (My Antonia, and North Shore Songs [if available]), Stephen Paulus (All My Pretty Ones), Timothy Takach (Departure; Where Beauty Comes From), and more. We’ll perform excerpts from the cycles and look at examples drawn from this repertoire. The session will include a handout with discussion of what makes the songs distinctive and expressive for both voice and piano, and how the texts are reflected in the musical writing. Finally, we’ll examine technical, musical, and artistic challenges these songs present and the opportunities they afford for professionals and students. If selected, composers and local poets may join us, if available.

Teaching Musicality!
Dr. Paul Wirth

"Teaching Musicality!" How many of us heard someone say; "If only I had talent, I would play like that'" not realizing that much of what we do as musicians is a learned craft. Come join Dr. Paul Wirth as he talks about some of the many musical devices that help teachers to get their students to play more musically.

Teaching Theory Level 1 and 2 – Let’s Get Organized
Rebekah Richards 

Have you looked at the MMTA Theory Workbooks and wondered how to organize the material so your students can cover everything in 9-12 weeks? Rebekah Richards will introduce our new teaching guidelines booklet for Levels 1 and 2. She’ll show to integrate MMTA Theory into any piano lesson curriculum and share games and activities that make theory fun.

The Art of the Phrase
Dr. Peter Mack

It's easy to teach our students to play more musically, once we understand the basic principles of phrasing. In this entertaining and illuminating talk, Peter Mack teaches us how to recognize the basic phrase types, and how best to interpret them. Everyone can sound better, once they understand the art of the phrase!

The Schubert Club Music Museum: Bringing Music to Life!
Kate Cooper

Hear about wonderful student and teacher resources and experiences available at the Schubert Club Music Museum located in downtown St. Paul. Often called a "hidden gem", the redesigned spaces provide inspiration, learning, fun and interactivity for visitors of all ages as they make their way through the galleries, hearing and playing instruments from across the globe, either hands-on or through technology.Share in the journey through the Museum's collections and how they come to life through audio and visual recordings which tell the story of the inventors, composers and performers associated with them. In addition to the galleries, there are numerous experiences student musicians and teachers can have in the Music Museum spaces. A "living" studio is available with a dozen historical keyboard replicas from harpsichords, clavichords, forte pianos to the modern grand that can be discovered and played on. There is even an intimate recital room in the galleries where more music making can occur. Join this session to hear about the many opportunities available to bring music and learning to life in this beautiful and historical space.

Threads of Human Connection
Laura Harding

As an association, members are our greatest asset. Who are we and why do we gather? As a new MMTA member, a connection on a personal level is what made me feel valued and important. Now as a member of over twenty years, building connections is one of my main goals. Why is this so important to talk about? Feelings of disconnection and loneliness have been exacerbated since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is easy to get swept away by social media and the crisis of comparison. When in reality, true human connection helps support us in work that can often feel isolated. When we truly connect, our focus instead shines a light on the threads that tie us together. This session will discuss the power of being human and the importance of being our true authentic selves and showing vulnerability, compassion and curiosity. We will also dive deeper into what connection means, how it changes us and how it brings us closer together.

Wellness & Prevention for Musicians
Dr. Peter L'Allier

This 50 minute class is specifically for musicians and will help them prevent repetitive injuries, get healthier, decrease stress, think healthier and live your best life with a simple, scientific, realistic and proven process. The class includes:• The truth about health and how you’re body really works. • The 5 keys to improving your health and wellness. • How to identify the right changes you need to make to create amazing health benefits. The class includes a free digital copy of the book I authored: Wellness for Everyone.


Session proposals 

The session proposal deadline for the 2023 convention has passed.  Please consider submitting an idea next fall for our 2024 convention!