Here’s a special welcome to our new NVMTA President, Libby McConnell, NCTM
Please enjoy learning a little more about her!
What do you like most about playing your instrument?
As a pianist, I really enjoy playing together with other musicians, whether they are students or professionals. Listening to each other and sharing the joy of music brings me great pleasure.
What music do you like to listen to?
My son Ian McConnell is a Nashville musician, so I follow him on streaming platforms and listen to other singer-songwriters, too. (https://www.ianmcconnellmusic.com) My husband plays electric bass and sings in a local band, so I listen to pop music from the 80’s to today. And of course I listen to classical music, with particular emphasis on the composers I’m currently teaching or playing.
How do you like to spend your time when you aren’t practicing or teaching?
My husband and I love to travel, and this year we will spend time in several different U.S. states as well as in Europe. I’m a voracious reader and enjoy hiking and biking outdoors.
What music projects are you working on now?
Right now I’m busy selecting ensemble music for students and teachers to perform together in a piano ensemble recital hosted by the Fairfax-Loudoun Music Fellowship. My next performance opportunity isn’t on the books, but I’m looking for one!
What did you learn during the pandemic?
The pandemic provided the immediate opportunity and necessity to learn how to teach online on FaceTime. I had used the platform for snow days or sick days in previous years, but I got much more proficient and technically savvy in 2020! My students transitioned easily. We still shift online for vacation travel (theirs and mine!) even now that we are back to in-person lessons. Other great apps that I still use daily include ForScore (https://forscore.co), Notability (https://notability.com), Google Drive, and the Faber Piano Adventures subscription app.
What have you learned by participating in NVMTA programs?
I joined MTNA when I was in graduate school at Georgia State University in 1992 and have been a member of a local chapter ever since. I have learned so much from colleagues about how to run a private studio, and I always get new ideas from the high-quality programs.
What is your best advice to new members?
Show up at the meetings. You never know what you will learn! This year’s programs and business meetings will be a hybrid of online and in-person, so if you can’t make the drive to the WCA, just turn on Zoom. On September 28 we will have an in-person, interactive program on Baroque dance, which will be so much fun.
(The NVMTA teacher calendar is being updated for the new school year. Check back in early September for program and meeting schedules: https://www.nvmta.org/events/category/teacher-events/)
Indicate ways you have participated in NVMTA:
- Attended in-person NVMTA meetings
- Attended NVMTA zoom meetings (general meetings, TAT, or LATTE)
- Entered students in an NVMTA event
- Entered students in an NVMTA competition
- Participated on an NVMTA committee at any level
- Written an article for the NVMTA website blog
- Given a presentation at an NVMTA meeting
- Certified as NCTM with MTNA
Please give more information about the items you checked in the previous question. (i.e. what positions you have held or titles of presentations, or favorite events and why etc.)
In NVMTA I have been the secretary, the president (currently), the chair of the Composition Competition, and the chair for Programs. I make a point to attend meetings whether in-person or on Zoom and keep Wednesday mornings free for that purpose. The LATTE programs are great and I have attended TAT at different times since its inception. NVMTA holds roundtable discussion programs which I have led a couple of times over the years.
Be sure to read a blog I wrote about composition (Composition Competition). I really love our Composition Competition, which gives amateur composers a chance to get specific and positive feedback on their works. I encourage teachers to work with at least one interested student starting in September to complete an original work in time for the March 2, 2023, due date. Another great resource for this event is a TAT program given by Christy Tallamy in October 2021.
What is one (or more) of your most proud moments in your career?
For two years I was an accompanist with the Children’s Chorus of Washington. The drive downtown from Reston on weeknights was difficult, but the opportunity to work with incredible conductors and talented youths was highly satisfying. Also, at every studio recital I feel so proud of my students who have grown and developed into more mature musicians over the years.
Looking back, is there anything you’d do differently in your profession if given a chance?
I’m happy with my diverse career in music education and performance. I’ve taught private piano lessons, preschool group music classes, and elementary school musical theater. I have accompanied soloists, chamber groups, and large ensembles and given some solo recitals as well. I have been active in local music teacher organizations where I collaborated with and learned from many wonderful teachers.
If you have completed the requirements for NCTM, what has it meant to you in your career? Any advice for others who might want to become certified?
I hold Permanent Professional Certification from MTNA. Working through the initial steps to get certified gave me valuable insights into my own teaching. Re-certifying over the years provided ample opportunities to seek out continuing education, to perform, and to look for new ways to be involved in my teaching community. I highly recommend certification as motivation to be the best teacher you can be. You can learn more about MTNA certification here.