2023 Annual Fall Conference Presenters

WMTA 2023 Annual Fall Conference

Conference Artist Dr. Jonathan Sokasits, NCTM is Professor of Piano at Hastings College in Hastings, Nebraska, where he teaches studio and class piano and core music courses, and accompanies the choir. Dr. Sokasits holds Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the Bachelor of Music in Music Education and Applied Music from Ithaca College. 

Dr. Sokasits will present a Friday evening solo recital featuring virtuoso piano transcriptions written by Rachmaninoff, and concert etudes on songs by Billy Joel written by Sokasits. He will also perform a lecture-recital on Dana Wilson’s Constellations, eleven pieces for piano inspired by jazz and the blues.  Sokasits commissioned and premiered these engaging works, which were composed with the advancing high school pianist in mind.  Dr. Sokasits will present a teaching demonstration featuring late intermediate and early advanced middle- and high school pianists. Some of Sokasits’ own high school students have gone on to advanced study in music, and enjoy careers in public school education, independent studio teaching, accompanying, composition, opera conducting, and university teaching.  Others have pursued diverse paths including psychology, biomedical engineering, and large animal science.

Nine Nifty Practice Strategies for the Lesson and at Home (Mary Tollefson)

For the intermediate to advanced student, I will present strategies to help the student overtly recognize progress. I will use pentascales, scales, chord progressions, and intermediate to advanced piano repertoire to demonstrate examples of how these strategies can be implemented in both the studio and at-home assignments. 

What’s New–and What’s Old (Joyce Grill)

Covid caused publishers to put out less.  Many people now self-publish.  We have very few new music reviews and teachers can’t hear or see new publications.  This will present music the latest published music by publishers and self-publishers alike along with some older publications.

Performing Arts Health for Teachers (Kourtney R. Austin)

Performing Arts Health is an essential element in the lives of all performing artists. Dr. Austin’s presentation will encompass the areas of musculoskeletal, hearing, mental, and vocal health and give both a broad overview of current research in the field and immediately applicable guidelines for musicians.  Awareness and knowledge of the concepts related to performing arts health can improve performance abilities, skill acquisition, and overall well-being

Certified? Certainly! Demystifying the process and taking the questions out of why you’re not certified…yet! (Stacey Kraus)

Getting your national certification doesn’t have to be a difficult feat. I will share my journey to certification and how I did it through a pandemic with a full studio, a family, two guinea pigs, and an insatiable sourdough starter. Learn how to meet the deadline and get those letters after your name in no time!

Through the female lens (Dr. Diana Shapiro)

Compositions specifically written for children by Schumann, Tchaikovsky, Debussy, and Bizet have always comprised the core of the pedagogical repertoire. To promote inclusivity and diverse programming, the presentation brings the absent narrative of female perspective into our teaching studios and introduces pedagogical compositions by Amy Beach, Cecile Chaminade, Florence Price, Melanie Bonis, and Germaine Taileferre.  

Beyond Mechanics: Developing Fingering that Enhances Musical Expression (Kaju Lee)

Developing and using appropriate fingering helps pianists play with a sense of ease. Fingering that utilizes the natural shape of hands and fingers assists with note and rhythmic accuracy, facilitates speed, and enhances tone quality, dynamics, and phrasing. It also improves sight reading skills. This presentation covers steps to developing appropriate fingerings for students from beginner to early intermediate levels. 

Lifelong Musician:  Thoughts to Ponder (Sue Walby)

How do you sustain a lifelong career in music? How do you meaningfully serve your community?  Sue Walby has been teaching music in her rural hometown community for over six decades while serving as music director for several churches.  This session will include stories from her long career, growing into questions that invite conversation among session attendees.

It’s in the Concepts, NOT the Method (Justin Krueger)

Many piano methods exist for teaching and cater to various learning and teaching styles.  However, multiple levels in succession sometimes prevent teachers and students from diving into the standard repertoire early on in their musical studies.  This session will explore strengths and weaknesses of several “standard” methods, and provide some suggestions for “on-ramping” from methods into the standard literature.

Imprinting Intervals: an off-center approach to sight-reading pedagogy (Jennifer Lohmann)

Do your piano students struggle with reading/sight-reading?  Are they too dependent on a good ear and muscle memory?  Wouldn’t you prefer beginners with crazy confidence who conceptualize the entire grand staff – including ledger lines –  from the first lessons?  Imprinting Intervals is the underlay that works with mainstream methods, allowing you to jump ahead to the good stuff, sooner.

An Indistinct Approach to Distinct Identities: Belonging in Learning and Musicking (Anna Reiser)

What does belonging look like in learning and musicking spaces? How might we move beyond inclusion to cultivate spaces so porous our students and their identities do not feel inside or outside, they simply feel they belong? We will explore these questions and cultivate mindsets, awarenesses, and strategies for creating these spacious learning and musicking experiences.

Taubman Technique: Basic principles (João Paulo Casarotti)

The purpose of this session is to offer the basic principles of Dorothy Taubman’s technique associated with the study of movements, alignments and coordination. It will be also discussed practical applications of the Taubman Approach and how to map the movements when reading a score.

Mindful Practicing: Creating a Beautiful Musical Tree (Dr. Peggy Otwell)

A musical piece is like a tree, with a solid trunk at its core and multiple intertwined branches that give flexibility and shape to the tree. In this session, Dr. Otwell explores the art of strengthening the “trunk” of a piece by focusing on its “branches”—the phrases. She will demonstrate how to help students become aware of all the small details that make a phrase truly come to life. 

Philippine Piano Pieces (Dr. Horacio Nuguid)

Dr. Horacio Nuguid will present a lecture/recital featuring works by Filipino composers.  He has been compiling and editing selected pieces to be published as an anthology.  Nuguid hopes that his anthology will serve as a tool in exposing the works of Filipino composers and spur growth in the appreciation of their varying styles and musical languages.

Ask The Teacher (Tricia Marton and panel of two experienced private instructors)

You’ve got questions…we’ve got answers. Don’t ask an internet teacher from who knows where. A panel of successful Wisconsin teachers will answer your business and teaching questions. Share your question on an ‘Ask the Teacher Question Card’ at the Registration Table before Saturday lunch to get experienced opinions on the issues that matter to you. 

Cultivating Joy and Self-Compassion in our Teaching and Music-Making (Jess Johnson)

Cultivating joy is a call to action. It’s a practice. When we show up and really pay attention, the ordinary becomes extraordinary. This interactive session will offer practical exercises and meditation practices that cultivate joy and self-compassion in the music studio.

WMTA Commissioned Composer 

Brooke Joyce will be our WMTA Commissioned Composer for the 2023-2024 season. Brooke teaches composition at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa and will be present for the premiere of his new work at the 2023 WMTA Conference in La Crosse. Read more about Brooke Joyce below, and at https://brookejoyce.com/ Brooke Joyce’s music has been described as “vividly pictorial” (San Francisco Chronicle) and “exceptionally gripping” (Los Angeles Times) and has been performed by soloists and ensembles around the world, including the Indianapolis Symphony, the Cincinnati Symphony, the St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic, the Brentano Quartet, the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, the Nash Ensemble, and James Gilchrist. Brooke is the Composer-in-Residence at Luther College and a founding faculty member of the International Music Festival of the Adriatic. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and sons Keegan and Kyle, in a quiet neighborhood in Decorah, a small town in northeast Iowa.

Collegiate Presentations

Encouraging Composition at All Levels (Grace Sorenson, UW-Milwaukee)

Composition is not only an essential skill for a well-rounded musician – it is also a tool that can be used to teach theory in an engaging way, encourage musical decision making, and get students listening to the sounds they create rather than playing robotically. Composition should be encouraged in students from the very first lesson. In the earliest lessons, composition gives the student permission to fully explore the piano instead of being reserved to just a group of two or three black keys. 

Through this process I have learned about what it truly takes to get a student composing, and I have compiled this list.

•Expose them to contemporary repertoire at their level.

•Teach them notation software, and know which are free and user friendly for different levels of student.

•Build Confidence

•Give them a place to start.

•Repetition, Repetition, Repetition

•Guide gently and let them learn from their mistakes.

•Print and program their pieces, give them a sense of accomplishment.

Overcoming Performance Anxiety (UW Platteville Collegiate Chapter)

This presentation covers the effects of performance anxiety and how to overcome it as a speaker, performer, and as one who is showcasing their work. Social phobia, a mental health condition that causes those experiencing it to have fear and anxiety when it comes to social situations. This phobia affects up to 12% of the United States population and, as performers, this phobia can become debilitating if one goes on without receiving strategies or tools to overcome it. Side effects include brain fog, fear, worry, sweating, trembling, dizziness, nausea, and muscle tension. If we, as performers, are to connect with the audience and the music, we must find ways to cope with social phobia. By going over strategies and tools, those who experience social phobia while performing can find ways to ease this anxiety. In this presentation, five strategies and tools that range from in the practice room to stepping on stage will be covered that have shown to ease performance anxiety. This includes; maintaining a healthy lifestyle, how to prepare in the practice room with the performance in mind, posture, breathing exercises, and aromatic oils. The goal of this presentation is to help those who feel trapped in their performance anxiety and to give them a hopeful release from their ailments.

Developing Artistry with Josephine Lang’s 3 Klavierstucke (Sarah Prescott, UW-Madison)

Josephine Caroline Lang (1815-1880) was a German composer, pianist, and singer whose striking compositions deserve to be better known. She was a prolific creator of art song, and her compositions were deeply admired by Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn and given glowing reviews by Robert Schumann. Of particular interest to piano teachers are Lang’s 3 Klavierstücke, a set of late-intermediate to early-advanced piano pieces whose appealing yet sophisticated textures provide advancing piano students with rich opportunities to explore cantabile phrasing, pedaling, voicing, character, articulation, and tone color. In this presentation, I will provide a brief overview of Lang’s life and composing career, followed by an analysis of the 3 Klavierstücke from a pedagogical perspective, with an emphasis on how these delightful pieces can be used in the development of an advancing student’s artistic sensitivity. I will also emphasize the vital importance of including the work of female composers such as Josephine Lang when planning repertoire for young students. This set of pieces has not yet to my knowledge received any attention from the piano pedagogy community, and remains unpublished (though scores are easily available online on the International Music Score Library Project [IMSLP] website). It is my hope that by introducing piano teachers to these wonderful pieces, I will stimulate more interest in Lang’s life and work, and that one day these musical gems will be published and receive a deserved place at the heart of the piano teaching literature.