Parades: A Double-Marketing Whammy

Last week my studio families and I walked in our 5th annual parade since I opened in 2011. A 5-year anniversary is a perfect time for celebration, so I wanted to share a little more about it with you today.

Not only are you going to see photos from the last five years (including my three different hairstyles!), but I’m going to share a little bit of the logistics, and why you should consider doing something like this in your studio.


2011 – Year 1 (For the parade & my business!)

This is before I had my logo designed. I cut a sign out of black poster board (yes I cut out the logo!) and put clear plastic sleeve covers behind the poster board so I could stick down the inside pieces such as those on the 8’s.

Yes, it was cheap and homemade all the way! 10-15 students were supporting me at this point!


I made the keyboards out of foam-core poster board I bought at Wal-Mart.


Aren’t they cute?

Continue reading

Friday Finds. Unlocking Creativity – Unfurling Jolene.



Last night a few of my students, parents, husband (yes the goofy one in the back), friends,  and I walked in a parade during our city’s September Street Fair. It’s become an annual event for my studio as a way to not only keep my name in the community but to foster a sense of community within my studio.

I’m going to share a bit more on this in an upcoming post!

But for now……

:  Lesson planning advice from The Curious Piano Teachers.

:  I love this: No one likes sitting alone.

:  America’s Test Kitchen’s former beloved host Christopher Kimball has a new venture. Milk Street will bring recipes of the world to home kitchens making them easier and more accessible. Their bow-tie logo is beautiful, simple, and genius. Perfect in my opinion.  Check out the site or Facebook page.

:  My love of organization is leading me to share Sara’s way of organizing music game folders and my way of organizing student files.

:  Bob’s Red Mill makes great products. However, I always hated that I either have to use chip clips to seal the bags or put their plastic bag into another Ziploc plastic bag. Bob’s is finally introducing resealable bags! Yahoo!

:  I completely missed National Guacamole day last week! Oh, man! One of my all-time favorite foods. Marcela Valladolid’s Game-Winning Guac’ is still my favorite.

:  Pentatonix + Dolly Parton in Jolene. Sweet.

:  A well spelled-out look on the best notation apps. 

: Short, clear, and to the point. That’s how Bradley Sowash writes on his blog and in his column for Clavier Companion. He captured me recently with “Dot Spots”. His partner-in-crime, Leila Viss wrote an article for Music Teachers Helps Blog highlighting an article on Non-Professional Books That Have Made Us Better TeachersI’m looking forward to checking out their book suggestions.

This dynamic duo (Bradley and Leila that is), have a webinar coming up on Monday you might want to check out. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!

Click here to register

Rhythm Webinar

*In the spirit of full-disclosure, this is an affiliate link which simply means I will get a small commission off any registrations.  Please know I wouldn’t recommend it if I didn’t think it was a great professional development opportunity!


I’m off now to my own piano lesson. Yep, that’s right, I’m still learning and always will be!

Happy Friday!




About Friday Finds

Each Friday on this blog, I share some of my favorite finds from the past week. You’ll find anything from directly piano-related resources, articles, podcasts, and music, to recipes, world-happenings, fun finds and more.

I look forward to helping you as busy teachers see what’s worth checking out and promise to try and keep it under 10 items each week!

Announcing Piano Pantry’s First Big Resource!

One of the first posts I wrote on this blog back in March 2016 was about my addiction to designing assignment sheets.

Since I’m a one-woman show here on Piano Pantry, it’s taken me until now to figure out the technical side of how to make this resource available to you in the best way possible. I like things to look clean, well-laid out, and organized.

I spent last weekend setting up “Assignment Sheet Central” here on Piano Pantry.

There are 15 assignment sheets of all kinds of sizes, shapes, and colors (well, not exactly, but the phrase seemed to work here). 🙂

The best thing? There are MORE to come! I have at least another ten sheets ready to be added to the page on top of the 15 already there. It takes me about 20 minutes per sheet to get it onto the website, so I didn’t want to have to wait until I got all 25+ up to make it available to you!

Hopefully, 15 choices are enough to get you started!

Swapping up assignment sheets every 6-12 months is just one way I keep things fresh.

The resource page can be accessed from the main menu at the top or click here:

Assignment Sheet Central

Let me know what you think!



Friday Finds – Cartoons!


Looney TunesSan Antonio teacher Karen Lien shared an awesome 1960s Warner
Brothers Looney Tunes video called High Note
The whole video is cartoon animated music notation! You can also find it on Vimeo here.




The Michigan Music Education Association has a Pinterest account with lots of great music education boards. I was especially interested in following their Music Learning Theory board.



Paul HarveyA good article on the historic Paul Harvey. I always loved listening to him as a kid. I looked and am surprised there isn’t a CD archive of his shows available for purchase. Has had the most incredible radio voice.



Wow. The time dedication this dad takes (4 hours each evening) to draw cartoons on his daughter’s lunch bag is amazing. What incredible creativity. How One Student’s Midday Meal became a Lunchroom Phenom.

Continue reading

File Fever: Organizing Student Files

I have a fever, a fever that never breaks.

It’s a sickness really.

It’s called organizational fever; more specifically to this post – file fever – and I don’t know how to stop! Being organized is fuel to my body. It gives me clarity and peace of mind.

My studio gets organized and reorganized every few months and rearranged to some degree once to twice a year. I’m getting to the point where I’ve nearly perfected the arrangement, but rearranging and organizing to me are like a breath of fresh air. I’m a better teacher when everything is in its place. I have my moments – we all do – but I strive to keep my studio and workspace continually tidy for mine and my student’s sake!

File Fever Organizing Student Files

Today I’m going to share how I organize my (physical) student files. In a future post, I will share how I organize student information using Evernote. First, a quick note on what inspired me to improve my organization even more.


Getting Things Done

A few months ago I finished the book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen. Ever since I have been working hard to streamline the way I work. Some of the topics he covers include cleaning up the space you work in, setting up the right tools, corralling your “stuff”, and keeping things fresh and functional.

One of the first things I did was purchase a label maker. After several months of using it, I wonder how I’ve gotten by as a supposedly “organized” person without one my whole life. I’ve been label-making like crazy!


Student Files

My file drawer is one place where my label maker has been put to work. I love my 4-drawer lateral file. All my student files are kept in one drawer. Every student gets a hanging folder. Monday students names are labeled, and the label situated in the slot clear to the left. Tuesday students are in the second space, Wednesday students in the third space and well, I think you get the idea. I love seeing the files laid out this way.


(In case you’re wondering, I used the app “Blur it” to blur out the last names in this photo.) 
Continue reading

Friday Finds. Student Hymnal and Peanut Butter Chickpea Cookies.


Alfred Student HymnalI have been on the lookout for awhile for a book of hymns in their original state (not arranged) that were slightly simplified. The homophonic texture of most hymns is quite complicated for most students to play. The Piano Student’s Hymnal is exactly what I was looking for. I have one adult student using it who loves it – it’s the perfect level of difficulty. I would love to see Alfred publish one that’s even just a tad easier.


I love Sara’s Free Music Coloring Pages board on Pinterest.

Sara's Pinterest Music Coloring Pages Board



Words of wisdom from Seth. There are some “rules of engagement” per say that we should all keep in mind daily as we navigate, socialize, and communicate on the web. I WOULD PERSONALLY LIKE TO EMPHASIZE PEOPLE PAY ATTENTION TO #1, 3, 8, 10.  (If you read it, you’ll see the irony in what I just wrote LOL).

Continue reading

School Music Teachers – A Marketing Gem


A few days ago I had a Facebook private message from a fellow Indiana colleague with some questions regarding marketing.

I’ve heard you mention before that you had good luck meeting with school music teachers, letting them know about your services and asking them to refer students to you.

How did you find out which teachers to contact?
Did you call or email?
Did you meet with them in person?
What did you say to make them more likely to agree to the meeting, and what things did you bring up during the meeting?

“Aha!” I said to her, “This will make a perfect post for my readers, can you give me a few days?”

…and here we are.

She’s right. One of the many marketing tactics I took in the first two years I was open for business included contacting and preferably meeting in person all the school teachers in mine and even surrounding counties.

Psst…there’s a freebie at the end to help you organize your new marketing strategy so stick with me!


Why This is So Important

Who is it that parents go to when they look for lessons? They ask the kid’s music teacher. You should know who they are and what they look like so if you see them around town, especially if you’re in a small town, you can at least put a face with a name.

Building rapport with school music teachers is building your referral network.

Since I keep detailed records of every inquiry, conversation, and contact I have with potential students, I can announce for a fact, that 6% of my total inquiries thus far have come from school music teacher. This includes those who only inquired as well as those who ultimately registered. Even better, 8.7% of my total registrations have come from this marketing effort – nearly 1/11.

Continue reading

Friday Finds. A Washi Dispenser and Lunch Help.

Friday Finds (1)



Violin Judy has a fun idea for making up practice box “treats” for students. This is kind of a different/reverse take on the practice pouch idea I mentioned in #4 of last week’s post. What kid isn’t motivated by special treats?



In April I purchased this Handmade Acrylic Washi Tape Dispenser from Etsy that has a fun paisley design. I was looking for something that didn’t take up a ton of space, would fit on the piano next to the music rack and that was at least somewhat pretty/design friendly. This one fit the bill. (*Disclaimer: You have to press on the tape a little to hold it down when you tear it off since the cutting edge is acrylic and not overly sharp, but I don’t mind that being that my kiddos use it.)



My husband and I like to can. We can anything from chicken/venison stock and soups to corn, green beans, pears, strawberry jam, pear butter, and more. Find out about the rise and fall in popularity of the mason jar in A Short History of the Mason Jar.



Since I teach outside my home, I often pack my lunch. Last year I ended up eating lunch out way more than I like, so this year I’m determined to do better. While my husband prefers leftovers for lunch, I’m fine with a little of this and that. I keep a Pinterest board called “Lunch Box” for inspiration and follow several Instagram accounts like sylina_lunches, planetbox, sara_makes_lunch, and happykidslunch. Even posts on packing lunch for kids are useful. Check School Lunch Solutions Part 1 and Part 2, and A Guide to Teaching Your Kids to Pack their Own Lunch.



I just ordered my fall edition of the ever beautiful Sift magazine put out by King Arthur Flour. This first step into fall time has made me feel like pulling out fall decorations for the studio in the next couple weeks. Autumn is in the air!


Do you decorate your studio for the seasons?



Marketing with Postcards – It’s Not What You Think!



One of my favorite articles in the MTNA American Music Teacher Magazine is “It’s None of all Your Business” by fellow Indiana colleague Karen Thickstun.

Karen is not only an excellent teacher but she’s highly intelligent and business savvy. I am blessed to know and get to work with her on the Indiana MTA board of directors. (P.S. I also have to mention that she’s a nominee for President-Elect for MTNA in the upcoming election. Consider that my endorsement) 😉

In the current August/September 2016 issue, her article “Re-Defining Word-Of-Mouth” mentioned (with permission) some of my findings I presented in my 2016 MTNA conference session The Wild West of Marketing: How do you know what really works?

“When Amy Chaplin opened her studio in a small Indiana town a few years ago, she implemented 40 different marketing strategies. Two years later, she had a full studio and waiting list. She meticulously tracked every inquiry, every registration. Of those who inquired, but did not register, 35 percent came from traditional marketing (location near an ice cream store, fliers, print ads); 20 percent came from personal marketing (referrals, networking, personal connections); and 13 percent came from online marketing. However, when she analyzed who inquired and registered, she found that 54 percent of her students learned about her studio through personal marketing, 20 percent through traditional marketing and 6 percent through online marketing.

As evidenced by Amy’s research, word-of-mouth is a trusted, powerful method of sharing information and building a studio.”

It’s true. Word-of-mouth does still work, ESPECIALLY in a small community. (Just remember it can’t be your ONLY form of marketing – but that’s another topic!)

Lots of people inquire when they see you online, or they see your great location. When it comes down to making that commitment, however, it’s those who know you best–customers who refer you, teachers you network with who recommend you, and those you already have some connection or relationship with that ultimately drive your business.

So what does this mean for us? What else can we do besides be the best teacher we can be and hope people will recommend us to others?

Continue reading

Friday Finds a New Podcast and Password Manager

Friday Finds (1)



A piano made out of chopsticks. Man, this guy is coordinated!



I found a new podcast! Classical Classroom. I’ve only listed to a couple but really like it so far.

From Houston Public Media: “Houston Public Media classical music librarian, Dacia Clay has a secret: she knows next to nothing about classical music. But she wants to learn! Luckily, she’s surrounded by classical music experts every day. In each episode of the Classical Classroom, Dacia’s colleagues and some local classical music luminaries take turns giving her classical music “homework assignments”. You’ll learn about everything from bel canto aria to the use of leitmotif in the score to Star Wars. Come learn with us in the Classical Classroom.”

One of the episodes I caught was a February 2016 episode with Hugh Sung of A Musical Life podcast. Gotta love Hugh!

Continue reading