Why I’m presenting at the NCKP 2015

NCKP 2015
As most of you know, I’m really excited to have been offered a presenting gig at this year’s National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy, to be held in Chicago from July 21 to August 1.

The line-up of presenters and workshops is awesome!

I’ve been told the pre-conference sessions on the Wednesday before the conference are some of the best workshops to get to so I’m going to check out out Leila Viss, Forrest Kinney and Bradley Sowash’s creative steam and can’t wait to see what they have in store for us!

By the way, have you checked out TTTV Podcast Episode 5 with Brad and Leila where we get stuck into all aspects of creativity in piano lessons? It’s been getting great reviews so make sure you listen in on your iPhone or watch the video on YouTube.

In the main conference there are sessions on technology, interpretation, learning differences (with my fellow Aussie, Elissa Milne), adaptive strategies, gamification and heaps more. I’m really pleased to see such a variety of presenters and topics and particularly to read that so many of the topics are focussed on modern aspects of piano teaching.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes conference presentations can be so traditional as to be irrelevant for many of today’s teachers. Or perhaps the subject material just isn’t something that I can immediately use with the bulk of my students.

Judging by the line-up of speakers and presentations at NCKP 2015, we’re in for some really practical, relevant, useful insights into pedagogy and innovation in piano teaching.

If you haven’t yet saved your place, make sure you check out the 2015 registration page and get involved.

Oh, and let me know if you’re coming, OK?!

Is it worth the effort?tim topham presenting

There’s no doubt that this will be an expensive bit of professional development for me! Altogether with flights, accommodation, meals, etc. this will cost a few thousand dollars and I know that the other Aussies coming along will be in the same boat.

So why am I doing it?

Well first and foremost, I love teaching and I love learning and that’s exactly what these kind of events are all about.

How boring life would be if I didn’t challenge myself to learn new things.

I’m really excited to be able to learn from some of the best teachers in the world, get a whole lot of new ideas and just as importantly, to meet people. I’m excited about the conversations we’ll be having over coffee and meals and the connections that I’ll make for the future.

That’s why I’d encourage as many people to get along as possible. Piano teaching can be a very isolating experience, so it’s great to share time face-to-face with others in the field and get re-energised and motivated at the same time. While Facebook Groups and Online Forums have undoubtedly made keeping connected easier, it’s no substitute for personal contact at a conference.

Teaching is without a doubt my greatest passion and the reason why I spend so much time writing and sharing content just like this. To be able to meet my readers and followers and engage in dialogue with them on a personal level is really rewarding for everyone involved.

So what am I going to be talking about at NCKP?

If you haven’t seen the schedule yet, then you may not know that my topic is “Getting the most out of teaching Pop Music” and I’m presenting on Thursday 30 July.

In this presentation, Tim will refute the idea that pop is the “junk food” of piano lessons and instead help teachers understand how it can be used to teach theory, harmony, form and structure in a way that engages students. Tim demonstrates how to approach pop in the modern piano lesson, how to make connections between pop and other forms of music and how to gain the greatest pedagogical impact, including with the use of technology.

I’m passionate about teaching pop music as I’ve seen how engaging it is for students and how positive it is for building relationships between students and teachers.

More importantly, it’s a pedagogical imperative in a 21st Century piano studio. 

If you haven’t checked the out already, you can read some of my previous pop articles here:

  1. How do I found out what pop music to teach?
  2. Easy pop music arrangements that actually sound good.
  3. Teaching rhythm in pop music.

Unfortunately, many teachers (and particularly those from classically-trained backgrounds), tend to ignore pop music despite the pedagogical benefits that students can gain from it.

Put simply, pop music puts theory into action, a little bit like how physics is a practical application of mathematics.

Oh, and it’s a context that’s relevant for today’s students.

in my experience, very few kids want to learn theory, particularly when it’s taught in a traditional way from books which is often very dry and dull.

And we also know that students thrive on two things (and this is especially true of teens and adults):

  • Relevance: they can see that what they are learning has a practical application in their lives.
  • Ownership: if students can have a say in the music they are learning, they are automatically going to be 100% engaged.

And 100% engagement hopefully equates to 100% learning.

Isn’t pop just a fun waste of time?

While I hope that fewer and fewer teachers believe this, I know it’s still in the back of some people’s minds.

The thing is that, yes students will find learning a pop song fun. Lots of fun.

But at the same time, if you approach the teaching in the right way, I guarantee they will be better musicians for the experience.

So, how do you teach it in the right way?

Well, you’ll have to come along to my session to find out 🙂

Are you coming to the NCKP?

I’d love for you to leave a message below if you’re going to be coming along to the conference this year or if you’ve got any tips for me as a NCKP newbie. Can’t wait!