News and Hightlights from HMTA Events

2014 – 2015 

September 19, 2014 — Piano works by Asian Composers for Students of Various Skill Levels
Presented by Dr. Melody Ng, Assistant Professor/Artist-teacher in Piano, University of Alabama, Huntsville, Alabama

October 18, 2014 — Piano Palooza — Piano Ensemble Event
Presented by Students and Members of HMTA

January 16, 2015 — “You want me to do what?!” — A Workshop on Improvisation
Presented by Dr. Mark Laughlin, Assistant Professor of Music, Georgia Southwestern State University, Americus, Georgia

2013 – 14

January 24, 2014   —   Chamber Music and the Art of Collaboration
Presented by Dr. Joshua Pifer, Lecturer in Piano, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama

Dr. Joshua Pifer, clinician and professor at Auburn University, presented the January 24th HMTA program on the topic of musical collaboration. Three student groups performed after which Dr. Pifer shared thoughtful considerations regarding how collaborations can approach such issues as pedaling, repeated entries of motifs, and projecting the imagery and mood of various works.   Dr. Pifer was both engaging and insightful while the performers were quickly able to implement his suggestions, making the masterclass a wonderful success.

September 13, 2013 — Unconventional Piano Literature
Presented by Dr. Kevin Chance, Assistant Coordinator of Keyboard Studies, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Dr. Kevin Chance came back to Huntsville this year on September 13th to share an informative and engaging presentation on unconventional pedagogical repertoire.  For teachers who were looking for pedagogically sound fresh performance and teaching repertoire, this presentation was the solution.  Featuring composers like Christopher Norton, Elissa Milne, Tony Caramia, among others, Dr. Chance discussed and performed a wide selection of jazzy, blues, and ragtime repertoire that is fun for students to play, worthy for teachers to teach, and acceptable for AMTA auditions!

2012 – 13

The Days between the Piano Lessons: Successful Practice Strategies

Presented by Professor William DeVan

Professor Emeritus Birmingham Southern College, Steinway Artist, Presenter, Pedagogue

November 30, 2012

On Friday, November 30, 2012, Professor Bill DeVan presented a program for piano teachers to help them address problems related to practice and performance issues that typically arise with students at home during practice sessions.

Many insightful topics were discussed that included the practice environment, the personality of the student, the student’s perception of the teacher, lesson goals, at-home practice goals, and specific practice strategies.

Professor DeVan currently teaches at the Third Street Music Settlement in New York City, as well teaching in Birmingham and Los Angeles. His experiences both as a performer and pedagogue were reflected in his astute and intuitive analyses and commentaries.


Preparing Students for AMTA Auditions, and Judging AMTA Auditions

Presented by Debbie Gray, AMTA Clinician

October 26, 2012

On October 26, 2012, Debbie Gray, AMTA clinician and experienced adjudicator, shared with HMTA members important information regarding how to enter students in the AMTA District VIII Piano auditions and how students are evaluated in the auditions, which are held annually in April.

Ms. Gray shared tips for teachers who enter students by explaining the audition repertoire requirements that students play must 3 pieces that represent different musical styles. She also explained that students must also show attention to aspects of musicianship, such as dynamics, phrasing, articulation, and so forth.

Attendees of the program also received valuable insights into the audition evaluation process through the portion of the presentation that included two student performances that were evaluated using AMTA audition criteria.


ABCs and 123s:  Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Teaching Reading

Presented by Dr. Kevin T. Chance

Instructor of Piano, University of Alabama

September 28, 2012


On Friday, September 28, Dr. Kevin Chance shared his knowledge and expertise on the subject of teaching music reading, a very important part of the work of music teachers.

In his informative presentation, Dr. Chance emphasized the importance of teaching according to the concept of intervallic reading and the concept of introducing sounds before sight. Both of these teaching concepts are relevant for all beginners but they are particularly important when working with young beginners.  Dr. Chance demonstrated practical methods for helping students to comprehend the rhythms represented by the musical notations on the pages, as students often find rhythmic concepts difficult to grasp.  Dr. Chance also distributed a handout listing resources that he has found particularly valuable in his own work for teaching reading and related rhythmic concepts.

With the strategies and resources from this presentation, HMTA members were provided with methods to help their students improve their reading abilities and thus further their students’ development into well-rounded, competent musicians.


Music Therapy 101

Presented by Ellyn L. Hamm, MT-BC, NICU MT

August 16, 2012


On August 16, 2012, Ellyn Hamm presented an informative and insightful presentation for the members of the Huntsville Music Teachers Association on the important topic of music therapy, including what it is and how it is used. Music therapy, an established profession, uses music to achieve amazing results for people with various challenges, including patients with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, premature babies in NICUs, as well as those struggling with substance abuse.  Ellyn shared her experiences, her musical talent, and her insight into a profession that will hopefully continue to grow in influence and importance.



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