This past weekend I attended the annual conference of the Colorado State Music Teachers Association on the campus of the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. I haven’t been able to attend a state conference in seven years, so I really enjoyed this opportunity.
The featured artists were Timothy Fallon, tenor and Ammiel Bushakevitz, piano. They gave a collaborative concert and both taught masterclasses. I really enjoyed the piano masterclass with Mr. Bushakevitz. I was struck with the way he talked about the composers (in this case, Chopin, Debussy and Haydn), their personalities and influences and how you can see that in the music they wrote. The student performers were able to assimilate this information into their pieces immediately (e.g. Chopin’s timidity and moodiness, Debussy’s love of symbolism, Haydn’s jocularity).
One of my favorite workshops from the weekend was given by Dr. Jessica Johnson, professor at University of Wisconsin, Madison titled “All Hands on Keys: Strategies for Teaching Students with Small Hands”. Her video demonstrations of small-handed pianists straining and forcing their hands to reach large intervals was enlightening. She presented excellent resources and tips for negotiating pieces with large hand spans. As a small-handed pianist, I was very interested in these tips and also more than a little jealous of her ergonomically-sized piano keyboard (7/8 size).
The CSMTA board and general meetings were very interesting to see how the organization is run. The luncheon was terrific, as it honored the outgoing board, the incoming board and several members who had earned distinctions. One member from our local association was honored for having been a CSMTA member for fifty years. What an accomplishment!
It was great chatting with old friends and making new friends from around the state. As a private piano teacher, I seldom get to work alongside colleagues in the field, so the opportunity to “talk shop” was wonderful and inspiring.