Is a Conference Worth the Price Tag?
- Registration = $200-$350
- Round Trip Airline ticket = $250-400+
- Baggage Fee = $25
- Cab Fare = $60-$160
- Hotel = $100-$500
- Meals = $30-$100+ Daily
- Exhibit Hall Purchases = $50+ (Dependent upon personal restraint)
- Loss of Teaching Time = $200+ daily
Hmmm....plotting the expenses for a conference may spur a change of heart and even turn your stomach? The final dollar amount raises a good question: With the access to online blogs, periodicals, Facebook groups, Linked In and even virtual conferences is there really a need to travel and see well-earned pennies (dollars!) lost on transportation and sleeping quarters?
There's one easy answer to this difficult question: it is an overwhelming YES! Why? There is nothing that money can buy that comes close to human interaction. The best way to build relationships is meeting others in person, face to face.
Although I have some friends in the real world (thankfully!), a good portion of them live in the virtual world. Conferences such as NCKP (National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy) provide a venue for learning about the latest piano teaching trends but also provide a platform for connecting and networking. In short, a conference is the perfect place to grab a cup of coffee and enjoy a cocktail at happy hour with new-found or cyber friends and mentors who understand who and what you are. In my opinion, this opportunity is priceless!
I agree, this is a hefty price tag for a few days of human connection. There are ways to save--check out Wendy Steven's wise advice on this topic here.
As piano teachers, we generally spend a great deal of time alone when not teaching. With the experience of a live-in colleague (Bradley Sowash) for the past week thanks to our 88 Creative Keys Camp, I can say that nothing compares to communicating and working together in person--talk about ideas sparking--we (perhaps I should say, our spouses) needed a fire hose.
Here are just a few highlights (beyond the host of sessions, concerts, PedX talks, etc) I observed while attending the latest NCKP conference...
1) A bonus this year at NCKP was the dinner hosted by Wendy Stevens at the Brio Restaurant. I was privileged to dine with the company of ComposeCreate.com fans and enjoyed "hobnobbing" with many including the prolific blogger Joy Morin of ColorinMyPiano and her loyal friend and follower Dreama. Looking for thorough crib notes for the conference? Check out Joy's blog. Remember, you can always refer back to a post but you can only have dinner with a favorite blogger once.
2) Good friends Diane Hidy and Elissa Milne living across the globe from each other not only chatted but jammed together at the same keyboard showcasing one of Elissa's latest gems. Isn't that what should happen at a piano conference?
3) I made friends--face to face-- with those I had merely "friended" on Facebook.
4) The Geek Bar provided ample space to sit with tech gurus. It's hard to put a price tag on one-to-one appointments that they graciously offered.
5) Seeing my "bro", as Kristin Yost likes to call Todd Van Kekerix, was a kick. Todd and I met last year and discovered we grew up in the same small Iowa community and both of us took lessons from Mrs. Roelofs in grade school.
6) I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with readers of 88PianoKeys.me such as Dorla Pryce, Sheila Dacus, Dreama and more. Again, thank you for your support of my blogging efforts!
What you will lose in your pocket you will gain in friendship, camaraderie, teaching tips and even future business endeavors.
Think of a conference as an investment in community. In addition, keep in mind that it's not just a community to learn and exchange ideas but also one that encourages friendships, handshakes and even hugs.
Here's a couple of thousand pics from NCKP providing ample visual aids of the conference community.
Okay, okay, I confess, this post tends towards a "sapfest" for a tech gal like me, I agree, but don't let the dollar signs blind you from attending. Start saving your pennies now, you won't regret it.
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BTW, I also enjoyed connecting with Tom Folenta, my publisher, and passing along brochures for my book...
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