Crane Piano Pedagogy Conference Draws Accomplished Clinicians


Dr. Elaina Denney Burns, piano faculty member at Clarke University and the University of Dubuque, will speak at the Crane Piano Pedagogy Conference on Sept. 22.

SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music will welcome piano teachers for an exciting day of free workshops and masterclasses focusing on elementary and intermediate piano students on Sept. 22.

The Crane Piano Pedagogy Conference is open to all piano teachers.  This energizing day of professional enrichment and networking will draw upon the expertise of Crane faculty and visiting lecturer Dr. Elaina Denney Burns, all offered in a fitting location, as Crane is the only All-Steinway School within SUNY.

The 2012 Crane Piano Pedagogy Conference will take place throughout the day on Saturday, Sept. 22. Sessions will cover everything from sightreading and practice suggestions, to memorization techniques and iPad uses for piano teachers.

“The 2012 Crane Piano Pedagogy Conference promises to be an engaging and energizing day for piano teachers, with an array of clinicians presenting sessions about elementary and intermediate piano teaching. Many of our lecturers have significant experience in working with pre-college students and should be very helpful to those teaching in independent piano studios,” said Dr. Kathryn Sherman, co-director of the conference.

Dr. Sherman, an assistant professor of piano pedagogy at The Crane School of Music, will speak about how to build confident sightreaders, with five tips for beginning piano students. Recent Crane graduate Matt Duclos, music director of the Saratoga Children’s Theatre, will offer a session entitled “The iPad and Piano Lessons: A Review of Apps for the Teacher and Student,” which offers best practices for using applications for smartphones and tablet computers for piano education. Dr. Gary Busch, professor of piano and music history at Crane, will teach participants about how to solve technical and memorization problems through musical re-grouping. Dr. Rosemarie Suniga, a visiting assistant professor of keyboard at Crane, will teach a masterclass for elementary and intermediate students. Conference Co-Director Heather Wheeler, assistant professor of functional keyboard at Crane, will also offer remarks with Sherman to conclude the day.

Dr. Elaina Denney Burns, visiting clinician and piano faculty member at Clarke University and the University of Dubuque, will offer sessions on “Practice Suggestions for Burgmüller’s 25 Progressive Pieces, Op. 100” and “The Power of Pre-Reading,” as well as leading a masterclass focusing on elementary and intermediate students.

Burns is a piano faculty member at Clarke University and the University of Dubuque. She is the accompanist for Cantabile, the women’s chorus at Clarke. An active chamber musician, she collaborates frequently with faculty and students at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and across the tri-state area.

She encourages her students to improvise at the piano and to participate in chamber ensembles, and she founded Clarke’s Annual Celebration of Chamber Music in 2011. She has served on the Waldorf Piano Camp keyboard faculty in Forest City, Iowa, since the summer of 2011, and this summer she taught a special course in improvisation.

Her doctorate in piano performance and pedagogy is from the University of Oklahoma, and she also holds degrees from the University of Colorado and the University of Delaware. Her doctoral thesis is entitled, “Jane Bastien’s Contributions to Piano Pedagogy,” and her article on Bastien Piano Basics was published in the March/April 2011 issue of Clavier Companion. Her piano teachers include Andrew Cooperstock, Christine Delbeau, Anne Epperson, Edward Gates, Jeongwon Ham, Philip Kawin, Julie Nishimura and Stephen Perry.

Dr. Burns has established private piano studios and has served as a church musician in five states; she is currently on the keyboard staff at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. She lives in Dubuque with her husband and frequent collaborator, conductor Brian Burns, and their son Daniel.

For more information about piano pedagogy at Crane, visit

Founded in 1886, SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music has a long legacy of excellence in music education and performance. Life at Crane includes an incredible array of more than 300 recitals, lectures and concerts presented by faculty, students and guests each year. The Crane School of Music is the State University of New York’s only All-Steinway institution.