Seminar Details and Registration

Teaching Elementary Pianists
July 12-13, 2024 (Fri-Sat)

Sara Ernst, Seminar Leader
with Guest Presenters including Marvin Blickenstaff, Scott Donald, Judith Jain, Andrea McAlister, Rebecca Pennington, Craig Sale, and Janet Tschida

Teaching elementary pianists is both rewarding and challenging–there is so much to learn in the first years of piano lessons! In this two-day online seminar, participants engage with the ideal strategies for working with children who are beyond the first year of study, but who are still engaged in learning the fundamental skills of piano playing. The first day centers upon core curricular elements, concept preparation, and how to use creativity and movement for holistic growth. The second day includes an exploration of elementary technique, practice strategies, and how to introduce repertoire to elementary students. Key principles for working with children and with parents conclude each day of the seminar. Teaching demonstrations augment both days of the seminar, to provide participants with concrete examples of the methodologies discussed.

Questions? Contact

Schedule (all times listed in EDT)

12:00-12:10 PM | Welcome 

12:10-12:30 PM | A Progressive Elementary Curriculum 

  • Sara Ernst

12:30-1:00 PM | The Importance of Concept Preparation

  • Craig Sale

1:00-1:30 PM | Growth of Reading and Rhythm

  • Sara Ernst

10-minute Break

1:40-2:10 PM | Creativity and Movement

  • Janet Tschida 

2:10-2:40 PM | Break-out Discussions

  • Craig Sale, Sara Ernst, Janet Tschida

2:40-2:55 PM | Recap with Presenters

  • Craig Sale, Sara Ernst, Janet Tschida

5-minute Break

3:00-3:15 PM | Teaching Demonstration: Concept Preparation

  • In this teaching demonstration, a multi-week series of videos is shown to demonstrate concept preparation in technical growth and music reading.

3:15-3:40 PM | Discussion of Teaching Demonstration

  • Moderated by Sara Ernst 

3:40-4:10 PM | Enrichment and Games through Piano Inspires Kids

  • Andrea McAlister

5-minute Break

4:15-4:45 PM | How Children Learn: Principles from Marvin Blickenstaff

  • Explore six principles of effective teaching to elementary students.

4:45-5:30 PM | Day One Wrap Up & Social Time

12:00-12:20 PM | The Relationship of Technique, Practice, and Repertoire 

  •   Sara Ernst

12:20-12:50 PM | Introducing Repertoire to Students

  • Scott Donald 

 12:50-1:20 PM | Foundational Practice Habits for the Elementary Years

  • Judith Jain

10-minute Break

 1:30-2:00 PM | Growth of Technique in the Elementary Years

  • Sara Ernst 

 2:00-2:25 PM | Break-out Discussions

  • Scott Donald, Judith Jain, Sara Ernst

2:25-2:35 PM | Recap with Presenters

  • Scott Donald, Judith Jain, Sara Ernst

5-minute Break

2:40-3:05 PM | Teaching Demonstration: A Piece from Start to Finish

  • Scott Donald, moderated by Sara Ernst

3:05-3:35 PM | Moderated and Break-out Discussion of Teaching Demo 

5-minute Break

3:40-3:50 PM | A Primer on Childhood Development and Parenting Styles

  • Sara Ernst

3:50-4:30 PM | Working with Parents in the Elementary Years

  • Scott Donald, Judith Jain, Rebecca Pennington

4:30-4:50 PM | Moderated Break-Out Discussions: Sharing Strategies

4:50-5:00 PM | Seminar Wrap-up and Social Time

Schedule is subject to change.

Seminar Leader and Guest Presenters

Sara Ernst, Seminar Leader

Sara Ernst, PhD, is an active pedagogue and pianist, and Director of Teacher Engagement for the Frances Clark Center. She is the Director of Piano Pedagogy and Associate Professor of Piano at the University of Oklahoma. She is former faculty of the University of South Carolina and Administrative Director at the New School for Music Study in New Jersey.

Marvin Blickenstaff, Guest Presenter

Marvin Blickenstaff joined The New School for Music Study in 1999, and serves as co-director of the PEPS Program. Blickenstaff holds degrees from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and Indiana University, where he received both academic and performance honors. He is well-known across the country and in Canada for his frequent presentations at state and national conferences.

Scott Donald

Scott Donald, Guest Presenter

Dr. Scott Donald, is the founder and co-owner of Studio A, a multi-teacher music studio and performance venue in Austin, TX. A native of South Carolina, he earned his Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance at Furman University in Greenville, SC. He completed his Master of Music in Applied Piano and Doctor of Musical Arts in Music Education/Piano Pedagogy from UT-Austin. He currently serves as President-Elect for the Texas Music Teachers Association.

Judith Jain, Guest Presenter

Dr. Judith Jain is Founder and Executive Director of New Tampa Piano and Pedagogy Academy, a large, piano-only, pre-college academy in the US with close to 400 students. Dr. Jain’s performances, lectures and master classes are featured in the US and abroad. Dr. Jain holds a bachelor’s degree in piano performance from Indiana University, master’s and doctoral degrees in piano performance from UC-CCM, and a post-graduate Fellowship from the New School for Music Study.

Andrea McAlister

Andrea McAlister, Guest Presenter

Andrea McAlister is Professor of Piano Pedagogy at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Director of Digital Programming for the Frances Clark Center, and Senior Editor of Piano Magazine. Her research has been featured at national and international conferences including the International Society of Music Education, Music Teachers National Association, College Music Society, and the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy. She is an inaugural member of the Yamaha Master Educator Collective in Keyboard Pedagogy.

Rebecca Pennington, Guest Presenter

Rebecca Mergen Pennington has been a member of the faculty of The New School for Music Study since 2007.  She currently serves as Administrative Director.  Dr. Pennington has been a frequent performer in faculty recitals, and teaches the popular Piano Detectives Club class for kindergarten students.  She holds a DMA and MM in Piano Performance from the University of Kansas and a BM in Music Education from Concordia College. 

Craig Sale, Guest Presenter

Craig Sale is Senior Editor for Piano Magazine and Director of Online Courses for the Frances Clark Center. He served as Director of the preparatory program at Concordia University Chicago (1986-2016). He has taught piano pedagogy at Concordia and, most recently, the University of Arizona. He holds performance degrees from Northwestern University and the University of Illinois, and a Professional Teaching Certificate from the New School for Music Study, where he studied pedagogy with Frances Clark and Louise Goss.

Janet Tschida, Guest Presenter

An Associate Professor of Music at Maranatha Baptist University, Janet Tschida teaches pedagogy and keyboard courses. She also supervises pedagogy internships in addition to serving as director of their community music program, Maranatha Music Prep. As a pedagogue, Janet endeavors to support and collaborate with teachers aspiring to implement an “inside out” approach as the pathway to literacy for young musicians. 

Janet Tschida
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