2005 MTNA National Conference


Idaho MTA Members with Fern Davidson

Many IMTA members attended the MTNA National Conference in Seattle, held April 2-6, 2005. IMTA members Fern Davidson, Arthur Houle, and Heidi Leben all gave presentations at the conference.

A Few Things I Learned

By Janet Folster

I flew to Seattle on the plane with Marilyn Foutz and we enjoyed a pleasant morning. I attended Studio Saturday. I threw away my conference program to lighten my luggage for the return trip home. So I do not have names of presenters or the name of the classes. Sorry.


Fern Davidson, Marvin Blickenstaff

One instructor suggested that we tell more stories. (There should still be more playing than talking, however). This breaks up and adds variety to the lesson and humanizes the process. We need to make the students feel loved and cared about. The stories might be personal or mini-lessons on composers.

Your studio should also have visual inspiration. Hanging art work or placing sculpture around is visually motivating and inspiring. This same instructor suggested obtaining the paint strip samples that have graduated color. These can be used to visually see crescendo and diminuendo dynamics.

The last session of the Studio Saturday was geared to specifics in running a studio. Some research has shown that parents do not necessarily choose a studio because it's the least money. Parents often attach more value to something that costs more than average. Students/parents often choose a group activity over a private or solitary activity. Soccer still competes with the students' choices and comes in about third under the two above situations.

They also discussed a few ways to market. Word of mouth is the most popular way to attract students. Send a flyer to the local elementary school-especially for special summer camps you might be doing. Play concerts in shopping malls.

And the last advice: Don't take it personally when they quit.


Fern Davidson, Marvin Blickenstaff, Phillip Kevern

It was further suggested that we not be so secretive about our rates or how we run our studio. We should have chapter discussions on setting rates, running a studio and help one another instead of being so competitive.

I attended several other excellent classes, the showcases, the exhibits, the winners' recitals and the competitions. I enjoyed the organ competition-sad to see only 4 competitors. The winner played her winners' recital completely from memory-about 45 minutes of music-very, very impressive.

Thanks to David French for these photos.

Fern Davidson featured in Idaho Press Tribune

On Tuesday, April 12, 2005 the following article ran in the Idaho Press Tribune newspaper:

CALDWELL--Five hundred music teachers packed into an auditorium to hear retired Albertson College of Idaho Piano Professor Fern Nolte Davidson speak during the Music Teachers National Association's national conference in Seattle recently.

The crowd was rewarded with words of wisdom and humor from the 97-year-old who calls herself a technique fanatic and a fifth finger freak. The topic of her talk was "Basics and the First Lesson and Forever More." The crowd gave Nolte-Davidson a standing ovation at the end of her presentation.

It was so exciting, there was standing room only," she said. "Some people even asked me for my autograph!"

Nolte-Davidson was joined by her former students, Marvin Blickenstaff, Phillip Keveren and Susie Skerm, for the conference April 2-6. All there have made music part of their own careers.

Nolte-Davidson began teaching piano more than seven decades ago.

"My dad told me about a music teaching position open in Meridian. It was already fall and they had no one to teach," Fern explained. "Well I didn't know about teaching little kids."

But she took a chance and managed to learn a lot about teaching children in two years. After leaving her teaching position in Meridian, she took on private students. In 1953 she began teaching at the College of Idaho.

I had two girls taking piano from me who wouldn't go to the college unless they could study under me," she said. "So with a bachelor's degree, I was hired on to the faculty part-time."

Over the years, Davidson taught hundreds of college students how to be excellent piano teachers.

IN 1998, the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) Foundation established the Fern Nolte DAvidson Endownmnet Fund. THe fund, instituted by a contribution from the Idaho Music Teachers Association (IMTA) in honor of Davidson's lifelong concern for improvements in the art of piano teaching, provides financial assistance to music teachers for private study, collegiate course work, or special projects.

In 1984, the College of Idaho awarded Davidson an honorary doctorate. A graduate of Fletcher College, Davidson received the IMTA Teacher of the Year Award in 1995. Also among Davidson's many distinctions is a Master Teachers Certificate from MTNA, the Idaho Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts, and the Distinguished Citizen designation awarded by The Idaho Statesman.

While there is no doubt she is proud of the honors she has won over the years, her biggest reward comes from teaching. And that is just what she plans to continue to do. For now, Davidson has two young students and several adult students, but she says she alwasy welcomes more.

Courtesy of Idaho Press Tribune

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