header photo

Welcome to the MacPhail Music Learning Lab, the go-to professional development resource for MacPhail Center for Music faculty members.

On this page you will find a comprehensive list of professional development events.

Our blog, LabReport, features a wide range of MacPhail faculty-generated content, posts by guest bloggers, and excellent content drawn from around the web.

The MacPhail faculty is rich with ideas. Our hope is that every idea worth sharing from every individual and gathering at MacPhail will find its way onto the Learning Lab website.

One-On-One Help
The MacPhail Tech Mentors are available to provide one-on-one assistance to their MacPhail colleagues as they work to integrate new tools into their work. Click here for details.


Friday, January 25, 2019

Teaching Tools for Your Instrument

11:00 – 12:15 or 1:00 – 2:15, various classrooms. Lunch served at 12:15

Attend an instrument -specific pedagogy session at either 11:00 or 1:00 (see below). Choose from piano, voice, harp, guitar, strings, woodwinds, brass or percussion. Hear from a fellow teacher about teaching tools unique to your instrument and enjoy sharing ideas with your peers. Make sure to reserve time to attend lunch as well!

Morning sessions: 11:00 – 12:15

An introductory look at the Swedish-Italian School of Singing, David Kozisek, Room 124

Renown voice teacher and vocal pedagogue, David Jones, has done comprehensive research on the history, application, and benefits of the Swedish-Italian Singing School of Singing.  MacPhail faculty member, David Kozisek is a student of Jones and uses much of this technique in his own singing and teaching.  In this session, Kozisek will survey several exercises and explore their benefits and application to repertoire. Be ready to sing!  


Incorporating Elements of Taubman Piano Technique into Your Playing and Teaching, Autumn Zander – Room 127

Pianist and pedagogue Dorothy Taubman developed an approach to piano technique that emphasizes correct body alignment, positions and motions to eliminate tension and to overcome technical barriers. In this session, Autumn will share reflections from her week at the Golandsky Institute Summer Symposium studying the Taubman Approach. She will provide a brief background of Dorothy Taubman, outline the primary elements of the Taubman Approach, cite specific repertoire examples in which the concepts can be readily utilized, examine video excerpts from Skype lessons that she has taken. In addition to handouts, there will be 10 minutes reserve at the end of the session for discussion and/or questions.


Using SKYPE and Online Technologies in String lessons, Jeremy Swider, Room 126

Jeremy will share his presentation which was given at the MNSOTA All-State workshop in August. He will cover practical tips for teaching string lessons via SKYPE, including best practices and troubleshooting possible challenges. He will show several video clips of student SKPYE lessons to demonstrate working examples of a variety of teaching situations. A detailed handout will be provided.


 Incorporating Improvisation into Mallet Percussion Lessons, Jenny Klukken, Room 607

This presentation will walk through easily applicable strategies of incorporating improvisation into mallet percussion lessons for all skill levels and will explore the importance of improvisation and free-play for all levels of students. This presentation will contain some percussion-specific teaching strategies. However, the majority of exercises and concepts can easily be applied to other instruments as well.


Afternoon sessions: 1:00 – 2:15

Insights into Sight Reading, Sue Ruby, Room 126

Sue Ruby will share a sight reading talk that she presented to the Saint Paul Piano Teachers Association in October. She will discuss the importance of teaching solid sight reading skills to increase student enjoyment and student retention. She will cover the who, why, what, when, where and how of teaching effective sight-reading skills. Included will be practical suggestions and ideas for repertoire and detailed sight reading drills.


Vibrato for Violin and Viola – How can we start it? How can we fix it? Liz Erickson, Room 127

This session will present a systematic approach to teaching vibrato with a series of exercises students can learn and suggestions for ways of helping students fix a “troubled” vibrato. Participants should bring a violin or viola so that they can try these exercises themselves. Liz will use ideas from Paul Rolland and Mimi Zweig, the book, Viva Vibrato, and several articles from the ASTA magazine.


Tools for Teaching Harp Hand Position, Shari Rothman, Room 208

This will be a presentation and discussion about basic hand / arm / body position at the harp. What words and phrases are used to convey the position? How do we reinforce the position, so it sticks right from the beginning? How do we get students to close consistently, stay relaxed, keep thumbs up and keep open spaces between 1 and 2? Learn the answers to these questions and more. Included will be a review of different hand positions used by harpists around the world and a discussion about which one you like to teach and why.


Flemenco Techniques for Every Guitarist, Jim Flegel

References and allusions to flamenco are ubiquitous for guitarists; even the youngest students imitate flamenco techniques. Mastery of the most advanced techniques requires, well, mastery of the guitar. However, a familiarity with the fundamentals of ligados, rasgueado, alzapua, picado and tremolo can enhance the playing technique of any guitarist. This session will present these techniques, and teaching methods for developing these techniques, as well as demonstrations of exercises and repertoire.





Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Teaching Tools in Action: Teaching Demonstrations

11:00 – 12:00 Group Teaching / 1:00 – 2:00 Individual Teaching, Room 127

Lunch served at 12:00


Come and see live teaching demonstrations, a live online lesson and video clips from a variety of teaching settings that show teaching strategies, the dynamics of student – teacher interactions and the wide array of communication skills needed for effective teaching. Teachers will explain their chosen teaching points and tools for engaging students at different levels of advancement.