Friday, January 15, 2021

Leila VissThe Beauty of Boundaries – Breaking Down Barriers to Creativity

A blank canvas intimidates. That’s why Bob Ross, the Happy Painter, was so popular. With his mesmerizing brush strokes and gentle instructions, millions befriended a canvas with courage. It’s why we enjoy coloring books. The spaces between the lines invite participation and yet leave it to us to choose our favorite Crayola crayon.

Eighty-eight keys intimidate, too. That’s why clear boundaries with composing set the stage for success for any level of pianist and—just like the coloring book—still allow for creative decision making along the way.

Art professor Walter Nottingham states that when given no boundaries, 90% of the time is spent on what to do and 10% of the time doing it. When given clear boundaries,10% of the time is spent on determining what to do and 90% of the time doing it. 

In this interactive session, learn how the brain is wired for imagination, discover how to select boundaries and then how to explore and spend “90% of your time” creating an original masterpiece. In addition, gain tips on how to generate professional-looking publications with the aid of tools like Noteflight, Canva, YouTube, and QR codes

Paula Dreyer- Improvising off of Rote Pieces

Pianists love exploring the magical sounds of the piano. With their colorful sonorities, impressive repeated patterns, and vast registers, rote pieces give the new student a chance to truly express music from the very beginning.

Pianists of all levels will enjoy learning how to improvise based off of rote pieces. Teachers will learn how to teach by demonstration, gain new tools for creativity in the lesson, and will discover new resources to round out and compliment standard beginning repertoire.

Pianists of all levels will get helpful tips about technique and creativity. Even if you don’t teach, this session will inspire you with lots of new improv ideas.

Masterclass- Dennis Alexander and Paula Dreyer

In this unique opportunity, composers Dennis Alexander and Paula Dreyer will work with students (or teachers) on pieces written by the composers themselves! Selections may include anything in their collection such as Repertoire by Rote, Nocturnes, Little Gems for Piano, Central Star, and more.

Samantha Coates- Interactive Session on Motivating Reluctant Students: Composing, Sight-Reading and Awesome Lesson Warm-ups

In this interactive session, grab your piano, notebook, and a pencil! Internationally renowned Australian pedagogue Samantha Coates will get you fired up about effective tools to get you composing, sight-reading, and warming up with your students in super fun and innovative new ways.

Concert- Paula Dreyer

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Jeremy Siskind- 5 Things Every Piano Teacher Needs to Know About Jazz (But Is Afraid to Ask)

Almost every “traditional” piano teacher will be asked to teach jazz at some point in their career, yet few receive any real jazz training. Noted pedagogue and real-life jazz pianist Jeremy Siskind offers his 5 “Need to Know” Jazz Essentials to give you creative confidence in any teaching scenario and help you enliven all of your teaching.

From the details of swing feel, to decoding the nuances of chord symbols, learn how you can guide your students towards expressive improvisation. Bring concerns, leave with confidence!

Paula Dreyer- Piano Flow- Create and Elevate

Get ready for a bit of much needed self care!  Grab some tea or coffee, wear comfortable clothes, and be prepared to relax and let go.

Paula will offer some introductory improvisational exercises that you can use alone or with your students, even while teaching online!  We will also explore some creative exercises for reaching for your dreams and brainstorming about improving your teaching experience.

This nurturing session will end in a meditation while Paula serenades you with her improvisational “Musical Meditations”. Prepare to get inspired and soak in some creative, flowing energy!

Forrest Kinney Tribute

Friends and loved ones tell uplifting stories and play music inspired by our friend Forrest Kinney.

Jeremy Siskind- From Scales to Melodies – Improvise or Compose Meaningful Melodies from Any Chord Progression


Melodies – even the greatest melodies – are essentially made up of scales. Yet, even though we know our scales forwards and backwards, most classical pianists don’t feel confident composing or improvising melodies.

Pianist-composer Jeremy Siskind will share studio-ready exercises to transform our approach to scales from being viewed as boring exercises to be learned by rote to becoming the raw materials that spark creative melody making.

Tim Topham4 Chord Pop Composing: as easy as 1, 2, 3… 4 chords!

How do we engage today’s students in a creative musical experience that will improve their reading, increase their curiosity and set them up for a life of music-making? With much of the focus of music lessons today being on reading, performance and examinations, students are missing out on some of the key skills required of a well-rounded musician: being able to create music, play by ear, read lead sheets and improvise.

Today’s session is all about how teachers can use the “four chord” basis of pop music as a highly-motivational starting point for pop-style composition with their students. Tim will demonstrate a simple framework that engages students and that any teacher can use.

Concert- Jeremy Siskind

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Browse the exhibit hall. Pop into the Piano Connect Facebook group to connect with exhibitors and learn more about their products.

Sarah WhitneyProductivity and Taking Action

Leave the retreat with a plan of action! Musician’s coach Sarah Whitney will help you design action steps and a plan to implement the creative strategies you learned during Piano Connect. Sarah is a specialist in the field of productivity (can’t we all use some help in that department!?). She has helped musicians:

  • create the career they want
  • rekindle the joy in being a musician
  • achieve ambitious personal, artistic, & financial goals

You won’t want to miss this engaging and useful session about using your time efficiently while achieving your goals.

Concert- Kevin Helppie