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?

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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!

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Joy and Amy on Music Learning Theory

I know many of you are eager to find out more about my recent training on Music Learning Theory with the Gordon Institute for Music Learning and Music Moves for Piano. We’re going to start out light.

Being the music nerds we self-admittedly are, as part of our nightly study routine, Joy and I thought it would be beneficial to take turns reading out loud every term in the glossary of our text Learning Sequences in Music. We wanted to be sure we understood the meaning of all the new words thrown at us. You may be laughing, but it was quite helpful, especially for this first video you’re about to see!

A 16-hour car ride at some point in time requires a car game. Thus, on our way back from Boston, was born the Alphabet Game MLT Style. (I realize for many of you some of the terms will be meaningless, but I thought you would still get a kick out of it.) 🙂

If you want a bit more substance than our alphabet game, a few days after we returned, we recorded a video summary video for you!

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Friday Finds. Generational Theory.

Each Friday on this blog, I will share some of my favorite finds from the past week. I absorb a lot of content in Feedly so I’m looking forward to helping you as busy teachers see what’s worth checking out! You will find anything from teaching articles, podcasts, music news, recipes, favorite pieces, and more.  I promise to try to keep it at 10 items or less!
Friday Finds (1)



Top 10 Tips for Tackling and Transforming Piano Technique



Jenny at has a cute free printable contract that emphasizes the parent/teacher/student triangle that is so important for the success of our pupil’s.


If you listen to only one podcast, this month I strongly suggest you listen to Personality Hacker’s episode on Generational Theory with Jessie Newburn. I would suffice to say it’s the MOST fascinating thing (besides Music Learning Theory) I’ve learned ALL YEAR.  Did you know there are four cycles of generations that happen every 80 years? Did you know that the current generation/cycle (2004-2024) is experiencing the same cycle as baby boomers? Did you know the current generation are called Homelanders? If you didn’t, you do now, but you’ll learn a whole heap more if you listen to the podcast! Understanding generational theory puts so many things in life, politics and more into perspective.



English Muffins are one of my go-to breakfast foods, especially in winter as they’re nice with a warm cup of coffee. I’ve tried every brand under the sun and haven’t found one I truly loved until now. In Meijer freezer section I found these delicious Organic 100% Flourless Sprouted Whole Grain Muffins. They have more flavor than all the other brands put together and are really healthy to boot! While I only have one variety in my store, the company makes three varieties along with a whole slew of other products.



I was lucky to already have an authentic Brazilian meal by Joy’s husband on the way home from Boston last week, but since I know most of you probably weren’t so luck, here are 6 Brazilian Recipes to Cook for the Olympics.

We had lentil soup, short ribs braised with black beans and two other type of bacon/ham, chicken in butternut squash puree, chorizo crepes, and rice. Sorry, Paul if I didn’t get the descriptions quite right!



I hope you’re enjoying your last days of August. It’s been quite a rainy, overcast week here in Indiana. It feels like Fall is already upon us. I’m not ready!


Piano Teacher Adventure: MLT in Boston

Where to begin…

It all started with a foggy early morning departure from my home in Indiana. I gently woke my husband to say our goodbyes, anticipating the two weeks we were about to be away from each other – the longest time ever.

John Denver’s words seem to fit the scene,

All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go, I’m standing here outside your door, I hate to wake you up to say good-bye.

But the dawn is breaking, it’s early morn, the taxi’s waiting he’s blowing his horn. Already, I’m so lonesome, I could die.

So kiss me and smile for me. Tell me that you’ll wait for me. Hold me like you’ll never let me go.

Of course, I didn’t leave on a jet plane, just my trusty 2007 Ford Focus. Off I went to pick up my partner in crime.

Joy Morin of



We Made it!

After a long 16-hour day on the road full of traffic jams and several hours of intense downpouring rain, we made it to our Air B’nB.

Bright and early the next morning we weaved our way through traffic and the bumpy, crooked streets of Boston to find our home for the next ten days.

Brookline Music School, our awesome host.


We were both lucky to receive Teacher Enrichment Grants through Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) to attend a piano certification course/professional development workshop put on by the Gordon Institute for Music Learning (GIML).

Dr. Gordon’s work was not about the best ways to teach music, but how we learn, thus impacting the way we teach.

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Sound Recipes: Giada’s Feel Good Food

In my new series, “Sound Recipes,” I will review a cookbook from my collection and share the top, most “sound” recipes from the book that have become staples in my kitchen. You can expect to see a post in this series between 1-3 times a year.

Sound Recipes Giada FGF


I love cookbooks. There’s something about flipping through pages of a beautiful cookbook that makes the prospect of cooking satisfying food every day more viable. Especially ones with glossy pages that aren’t too cumbersome to hold and have LOTS of photos.

Despite the fact that I love cookbooks, I’m careful not to purchase too many because I like to suck the life out of each one. If I get too many, it makes me feel like the possibility of making everything I want much less attainable.

I often start a cookbook, use it for a month or two then get bored and stop for several months. A year later, I return to it, remake some of the recipes I liked the first time (to confirm I still like them), then finish making everything else that appeals to me.

I always make notes directly on the pages of the cookbook including when I made it, how much I liked the recipe, if I would do it again, and any points to note for the next time.



This book, although not my favorite, just happened to be the one I came back to this summer because it’s healthy food. I always feel a little more inspired to eat healthy in the summer.

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Friday Finds Favorites

My head is spinning, my heart is excited, my mind is scared, I’m stretched to the T. 

Today is the last day of my training with the Gordon Music Institute and Music Moves for Piano with Marilyn Lowe. 

There’s so much to share but for now, rather than a traditaional Friday Finds post, I’ve been wondering…

What’s been your favorite Friday Find? 

Is there a particular video or article that’s swimming around in your head that won’t leave you alone or that you drew a great tip from?

Did you find a new favorite recipe?

Are you loving a particular podcast I recommended?

Looking forward to hearing from you in the comments!

New Studio Website

It’s finally finished – my studio has a website!

One of my biggest goals and projects for this summer was to develop my studio website. I am proud to say I designed and did all the work myself on WordPress.

I have a lot I want to share with you today about my site including why I waited until 5 years into my business to do it.

This post is NOT a tutorial on what your site needs because, good grief, there are already plenty of wonderful posts out there for piano teachers on what elements are needed for a good studio site. I don’t believe in reinventing the wheel!

What I am going to give you are the best resources I’ve found and used for inspiration to guide me through the planning and design of the site.

First of all, let’s take a peek!


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Picnic Performance

I’m excited to share with you a wonderful informal performance I host for my students in the summer.

You’ll not only get all the nitty-gritty including repertoire used, and my preparation checklist, but I’m going to show you how this performance can be used as a marketing tool!


Until last year I didn’t do any kind of recitals during the summer. I believe in keeping summer commitments as light as possible, which is why I make summer optional for families. I usually have 60% of my students take summer lessons.

(Since you’re a piano teacher I know you’re wondering…yes my income drops in the summer. However, students who don’t take have to pay a $25 non-refundable holding fee. This amounts to several hundred dollars which helps a little with the reduced summer income.)

Last summer, however, I decided I wanted to do in informal picnic performance for students taking summer lessons.

I can’t remember the exact reason I decided to do this, but do recall seeing Irina Gorin posting on Facebook about a picnic with her studio families and I thought it was a lovely idea. I’m always looking for ways to build community within my studio and what better way than to have a meal together!

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Friday Finds. Short and Sweet.

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Top Ten Tips to Tackling and Transforming Piano Technique.



Whether you’re a blogger developing a new post, a piano teacher helping students compose, or someone simply looking to give yourself more time and a chance to be creative, you will find great application in the post For a More Creative Brain, Follow These Five Steps.



Irish piano teacher Nicola has some great suggestions in 3 Ways to Solve the 30-minute Piano Lesson Time Crunch Conundrum.


See, I told you it would be short and sweet this week, now get out there and enjoy the summer while you can!