SUU and DSU to host the Southern Utah Piano Pedagogy Conference

Southern Utah University and Dixie State University are hosting the 2022 Southern Utah Piano Pedagogy Conference on SUU’s campus on Saturday, April 9, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The conference is free to high school and college students. Otherwise, there is a $15 registration fee that can be paid online or at the conference with cash or check. 

“The conference offers a wonderful opportunity to connect with and learn from experts in our field such as Kevin Olson whose fabulous compositions are used to teach piano all over the world,” said SUU Director of Piano Studies Christian Bohnenstengel. “The sessions also feature some of our local teachers such as LuAnn Keate, Caroline Jennings, Sarah Bearnson, Patrice Hunt and Nancy Allred.” 

The sessions are meant to touch on various topics that are relevant to piano teachers and students. The morning sessions will be  “Productivity Hacks for Pianists: Getting More Done in Less Time,” “Understanding the brain and stress for a studio of self-driven students,” “The Intermediate Student: Repertoire, Technique, Theory” and “Careers in Music.” 

In the afternoon, attendees can listen to sessions titled “Discover and play easy piano, Composition Workshop,” “Discover and play intermediate piano ensemble,” “Piano Maintenance,” “UMTA/Federation/RCM – What do they do?” and “Intermediate Level Master Class.”

Regarding the 2022 conference, Allred, DSU’s professor of piano, said “piano teachers and students will benefit from presentations from a wonderful panel of professionals in the piano world.” 

Attendees also have the opportunity to play a harpsichord and grand piano that was played and signed by eminent Russian pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff. 

“There is a need for more professional training for piano teachers in our community and around the state,” said Olson, a featured presenter. “This conference is an important new venue for instructors to share ideas and take their experiences back to the students in their studios. The impressive registration in [the conference’s] first year shows there is certainly interest from the teachers.” 

The first SUPPC took place in 2020 before the COVID pandemic hit. Allred said it was a huge success with seven presenters and 70 attendees—40 of them being piano teachers and 30 being high school and college students. 

In the midst of the pandemic, the 2021 conference took the form of YouTube videos that were uploaded in the spring and addressed issues related to piano teaching.

The conference will end with a performance by the Zion Trio at 5 p.m. in the Thorley Recital Hall. The group includes violist Paul Abegg, cellist Ka-Wai Yu and Bohnenstengel on piano.

“We chose one of Ludwig van Beethoven’s piano trios to commemorate the 250th anniversary [since his birth] two years ago, but we haven’t been able to perform due to COVID restrictions,” said Bohnenstengel. “It is exciting to finally perform this work and a piano trio by Johannes Brahms for a live audience.”

For more information about the conference, visit their website or Facebook.

Story by: Addie Horsley
Photos courtesy of Zion Trio & the SUU Department of Music