Music Teachers National Conference Grant

Conference Grant Application Deadline: November 30

An award of $600 is given annually to one teacher member to help defray the expenses of attendance at the MTNA conference.  Any member may apply, though primary consideration will be given to first-time attendees.

Would you like to attend the MTNA Conference but are concerned about the cost?

Any LVMTA teacher may apply for the Grant. This grant defrays convention expenses so that one member may experience the educational and musical opportunities that are unique to the MTNA National Conference.

First-time attendees will be given primary consideration.


  • Meet the composers of materials you assign your students.
  • Discover new materials before released.
  • Get new ideas for your teaching.
  • Learn how other teachers across the country handle problems you may experience.

To Qualify:

  • Be a member in good standing of the LVMTA.
  • Complete the application form.
  • Write an essay (200-word minimum) on why you want to attend the National Conference and how it would benefit your teaching.

The Award:

  • $600.00, which may be used for:
  • Hotel - (you can save money if you share a room with one or two others)
  • Airfare – (book early to save money)
  • Registration costs
  • Meals

To Apply:

The application form is available on the "forms" page. Complete the form using your computer, print it and return it by e-mail or USPS to:

Carolyn Anderson

5249 Andrea Drive

Wescosville PA 18106

Report from Deborah Fleming
2012 Conference Grant Recipient

Deborah delivered this report on April 18 at the Annual Breakfast Meeting.


Good morning everyone!  Many of you know me but for those individuals who don’t, I’m Deborah Fleming.  I joined LVCPMTA in fall of 2010 and I’m fortunate to be a member of such a great organization.

A few months ago, I applied for the MTNA Conference Grant.  Much to my surprise, I was the lucky recipient of this grant.  The $600 award allowed me to attend the MTNA Conference in NYC and certainly helped in defraying the cost of the registration and stay at the Hilton Hotel.

I arrived at the MTNA conference on Saturday, March 24th, 2012.  This day was known as “Pedagogy Saturday” which ran from 8 am until 5 pm.  Each hour consisted of many mini workshops, making it challenging to choose from.  Hence, I chose the master classes and workshops that would benefit me the most in teaching piano.

The first master class I observed in the Grand Ballroom was given by Nelita True.  Two amazing pianists, one from Manhattan School of Music and the other from Bard College played excerpts from Haydn’s Sonata #59 and Beethoven’s Sonata #7 in D maj.  In Beethoven’s selection, Nelita had advised the pianist to play with a downbeat staccato by utilizing a ping-pong ball effect when cascading down the keyboard.  Using this technique allowed the piece to sound more exciting and exuberant.  Nelita True is certainly a great pedagogue and I was delighted to have exhibited her expertise.

I stayed in the Grand Ballroom and observed “A Practical Guide to Fingering-Breaking Free of Tradition”, presented by Scott McBride and Steven Spooner.  Their presentation was very informative and I have instituted some of their principles related to fingering.  The 6 principles are:  1) Be a good casting agent (choose fingering that’s natural to use), 2) Always consider interconnections of hand (how hands work together), 3) Use thumb always, even on black keys, 4) Group for speed, group for accuracy, 5) Recycle a finger (use same fingering if needed), and lastly, rearrange a passage for maximum musical effect.  Their demonstrative display was not only fun to watch but provided a worthwhile learning experience.

From the Grand Ballroom, I walked to my next workshop called, “Art from Lesson One” given by Dr. Marjorie Lee.  She was very unique and her teaching style conveyed how a student learns artistry from their first piano lesson.  The student focuses more on understanding the musical piece, rather the technical ability in playing the song.  For beginners, it takes 6 weeks to learn keyboard and notes and after 6 months, the student has moved out of method books and is playing Haydn, Bach and Schumann.  A few of Dr. Lee’s pupils performed and I was impressed to hear a boy play a Kabelevsky Sonatina with only 3 years of training.  Dr. Lee’s approach in teaching artistry to very young children is avant-garde and in turn the student and parent are appreciative of her…that makes a great piano teacher.

Yoheved Kaplinsky was the other notable pedagogue I witnessed at the conference.  Aspiring college students played Chopin’s Nocturne in C# minor and Liszt’s Rigoletto Paraphrase.  Kaplinsky emphasized how the beginning chord in Chopin’s Nocturne should be played with no ambiguity and phrasing of piece relates to commas in a compound sentence.  In Rigoletto Paraphrase, Liszt conveys musical parodies which portrayed his obsession with dark and light forces as noted by Kaplinsky.  To summarize, Kaplinsky considers the composer’s characteristics in depicting how the music should be played on piano.

“Comic relief”, that’s how I would describe Dr. Peter Mack.  Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, Dr. Mack had the audience laughing with his witty metaphorical phrases he uses for his students.  When learning a piece, it’s like eating a pizza.  Take a bite at a time with a slice, eat more slices then eventually you eat the whole pizza pie.  Or, Julie Andrews was wrong when singing, “Let’s start at the very beginning” in Sound of Music.  Instead, you begin playing the most difficult parts of a piece.  And one other idea worth mentioning is “sportscar crescendos”.  Making a swooping hand gesture, the sports car passes by you, the sound gets louder.  I’ve incorporated some of Dr. Mack’s quirky concepts with my students and they really do relate to them better than teaching in a serious way.

The last renowned presenter I saw and heard was Marvin Blickenstaff.  He states, “At the very first lesson it’s imperative that the pupil learns to play songs.”  He suggests playing on black key groups, songs like Hot Cross Buns and Engine, Engine #9.  Technical training for elementary students consists of rocking hand and wrist when playing a skip pattern, playing thumb to pinky slowly and softly are good drop gestures and for chord playing, it’s easier to work with outer fingers, 1 to 5 to 1 then add 3rd finger.  Blickenstaff’s technical and artistry ideas are worthwhile and I’ve introduced a few with my beginner students.

On Sunday, March 25th I attended the presentation of Melvin Stecher and Norman Horowitz.  It was so exciting to hear their exciting travels as duo-pianists throughout America.   At 19 years old they began playing their Steinways pianos in saloons and appeared at Radio City Music Hall.  They met many music teachers who impacted their educational endeavors and inspired them to open the first school of music in Long Island, NY.  More than 15,000 pupils attended this school during its 39 years of existence.  In 2002, Stecher and Horowitz established the International Piano Competition in NYC.  This competition still exists today and is geared towards any16 to 21 years old pianist who is musically sound and is serious in attaining a career in music.  Unfortunately, the duo-pianists did not perform but I did hear Charlie Albright, the 2006 winner of the International Piano Competition.

In conclusion, I really enjoyed my brief stay at the MTNA Conference and gained a great deal of knowledge from the prestigious presenters at this event.  I look forward to attending the next MTNA conference.  Thank you for your time and hope you enjoyed hearing about my experience.