Pearls of Wisdom: A Celebration of 30 Years

September 21 – 23, 2023
First Alliance Church, Deerfoot
Calgary, AB

Pearls are the traditional gift for a 30th anniversary so this milestone year, APTA is giving you pearls.  Pearls of Wisdom.  Our hybrid conference will allow you the choice of attending in-person or through live streaming.  Plan your 2023-2024 teaching year to leave September 21-23 available for some very inspiring days of professional development and renewing connections with your APTA family.



Download the 2023 APTA Conference Info Package 


Our headliner presenter this year is Nicola Cantan from Dublin, Ireland.

Nicola Cantan is a piano teacher, author, blogger and creator of imaginative and engaging teaching resources. She loves getting piano students learning through laughter, and
exploring the diverse world of music-making; through improvisation, composition and games.

Nicola’s membership site Vibrant Music Teaching is helping teachers all over the world to include more games and off-bench activities in their lessons, so that their students giggle their way through music theory and make faster progress.

Nicola also runs a popular blog, Colourful Keys, where she shares creative ideas and teaching strategies, and hosts regular training events for piano teachers.


Thursday, September 21

PRE-CONFERENCE: The Celebration Mix & Mingle
Come and enjoy a ‘Celebration Social-Mix & Mingle’ as we gather in celebration of our 30th anniversary as an organization. ‘Chill’ at the bar (the ice cream bar that is), ‘float’ your feelings on what APTA means to you, and get the ‘scoop’ on musical ideas from your fellow teachers. Play a party game or two, and enter your name for our first Tradeshow draw. Join us for the party before the party to spread the  APTA cheer.

Friday, September 22

SESSION 1 – Nicola Cantan presents “Growing Up Gritty”
Do some of your students seem to throw their hands in the air at the first whiff of struggle and difficulty? What they need is grittiness. They need the determination and self-belief to keep going when things get hard. They need the “Sticky Slogans” that Nicola will share in this presentation and you need the practical strategies she’ll give you for implementing them in your studio.

SESSION 2 – Nicola Cantan presents “Understanding Additional Needs”
All studios should be open to neurodiverse students so that they can experience the joy of music making too. In this session, Nicola will give you the knowledge and the tools to feel confident in accepting all types of learners.

SESSION 3 – Jani Parsons presents “The Art of Pedaling Through the Literature”
This presentation takes teachers through a brief history of the pedals and their uses, with a focus on the damper pedal. Together we will consider the different types of pedaling, obstacles and strategies for determining the use of pedal in late-intermediate to advanced piano music and consider examples from each era that will inform and enable artistic pedal choices for students and teachers alike.

SESSION 4 – Nicola Cantan presents “Interleaved Teaching”
This little shift could revolutionize your students’ retention of concepts and skills from one lesson to the next. Come learn about interleaved teaching and revolutionize your studio without changing any of your lesson content.

Banquet & Presentation of Scholarships
Concert – Bronwyn Schuman & Hannah Pagenkopf in Concert
Join pianist Bronwyn Schuman and soprano Hannah Pagenkopf for an evening of collaborative music at the Evan Hazell Theatre in the Seton YMCA, a short 12-minute drive from the conference venue and our partner hotel.

Saturday, September 23

SESSION 5 – Nicola Cantan presents “The Buddy Lesson Revolution”
Overlapping or buddy lessons can enhance your teaching and create a community in your studio. Find out how to structure, introduce and make the most of buddy lessons to accelerate your students’ progress.

SESSION 6 – Bronwyn Schuman presents “Teenagers: Fostering Agency, Ownership & Responsibility in Piano Lessons”
Are our teenage piano students just “playing the game,” just doing what they’re told only to meet teacher and parent expectations? In this workshop, Bronwyn Schuman discusses methods of teacher-student interaction to foster the development of teenage students’ agency, ownership, and responsibility for their music learning and musical success.

SESSION 7 – Nicola Cantan presents “Are You Running a Five-Headed Studio?”
Ever feel like you’ve got 5 heads buzzing about all the things you need to do and learn, but only 2 arms with which to accomplish the tasks? Get inside the 5 heads of your studio and you’ll understand why you always feel like you’re chasing your tail as a music studio owner and how to overcome the overwhelm.



Full Conference (includes all sessions, meals, coffee breaks, banquet and concert ticket)

APTA Member- Early Bird (Before Aug 15) $340
APTA Member- After August 15 $390
APTA Member- Student Rate (include copy of student ID) $190
APTA Member- Extended Executive Rate $315
Non-Member- Early Bird (Before August 15) $415
Non-Member- After August 15 $465

Livestream (includes all sessions, no concert) – $199

Partial Conference (includes sessions, lunch and coffee breaks for Friday OR Saturday)

APTA Member – Full day pass $240
Non-Member – Full day pass $265

Individual Sessions

Single Session – $60
Student Single Session (with student ID) – $30


Banquet & Concert Ticket (Friday, September 22) – $75
Concert Ticket (Adult) – $25  (under 18 free)