Piano Lessons: Music, Love & True Adventures

Today I have a giveaway for you!

A few years ago I read the book “Piano Lessons: Music, Love, & True Adventures” by Noah Adams. In my quest to always minimize “things” in my possession, I was looking over a few books I owned and asking myself whether they were ones I would want to read again and take with me into my future.

This book, while I recall enjoying it, is not one that I necessarily would need to read more than once.

It’s a memoir by Noah Adams, long-time co-host of NPR’s All Things Considered. He writes of his journey with learning to play the piano over the course of a year.

I’m not a big reader of memoirs and biographies, but if you are, I’m sure you will find this book delightful!

Please keep in mind, what I’m giving away is my used copy. It’s paperback with slight wear on the outside and a few highlights throughout.

Rather than just donate it to a bookstore, I thought one of my readers might enjoy it. (It will be mailed within two business days of the giveaway ending via media mail at no cost to you.)

In order to enter this giveaway, please comment on this post and answer the simple question: Do you enjoy memoirs? (Even if you don’t, you can still win! 🙂 )

You can gain an extra entry by visiting the Piano Pantry page on Facebook.

Only those with a U.S. mailing address can win.

The drawing opens at 12:00 am on Tuesday, April 23 and ends at 12:00 am on Tuesday, April 30. The winner will be randomly selected.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Are you a reader? Check out more recommended resources on Piano Pantry!

Books for Piano Teachers

Books for Piano Teachers interested in Music Learning Theory (MLT)


Friday Finds #129

OK, so you may find this a little bit of a strange feature photo for today, I don’t know, but it summarizes what I’ve been up to. If anything, the photo just makes me happy because the Scrabble word is just so cute!

Since July I’ve been working as the interim worship team coordinator for my church. Basically, (since I have another job at another church as well), it means I do all the scheduling (we use Planning Center Services), choose all the music, rehearse the band on Thursdays nights, and at 8:00 on Sunday morning. Then, I say “go” and the team plays for 9:30 and 11:00 services while I go play for the Lutheran church in our town at 9:30 and then come back for worship at 11:00 with my husband.

It’s craziness, I know. No wonder I just purchased the newest book from Michael Hyatt, “Free to Focus”!

We’re about to hire a new worship pastor finally, so my time is coming to an end in the next month or two. We had an appreciation dinner for our worship team last Friday and brought in BBQ from an amazing local BBQ joint.



If I had another great photo to wrap up this past week in the life of the world, you know what it would be…the burning of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. 🙁

Here’s an update on the great organ of Notre Dame.



How Inuit Parents Teach Kids To Control Their Anger



Maverick Composer, George Crumb turned 90. Here’s a great article on him from the New York Times.

Access the Spotify playlist the NY Times created in celebration of his birthday here. (I listened to it while writing these Friday Finds. 🙂 )



The presentation I gave to Kansas City MTA two weeks ago was held in a beautiful Steinway shop. Before I left, one of the workers gave me a  copy of the most recent Steinway owners magazine. It was as hefty and beautiful as I would expect any publication from Steinway to be. There were three articles in particular that I found really fascinating that I found published online I wanted to share with you:

Seven Centuries in Eighty Minutes: In An Ambitious Program, Jeremy Denk Surveys the History of Western Music

Playing the Barre: The Invisible But Dispensible Ballet Rehearsal Pianist

In Celebration of the 165th Anniversary of Steinway, here’s their Limited Edition model.



Some ideas to help your students as they prepare for upcoming recital performances.



I was looking for a fresh arrangement of something to play for the prelude on Easter Sunday, so I purchased Leila’s newly-released arrangement of “Lift High the Cross.” Thanks, Leila!



Wow! Heather has some really great ideas for one area of the recital no one really ever talks about: the welcome speech! Hmmm…now I feel convicted to try something different!



Why Kids Don’t Practice and What to Do About It

An excellent article from Leila once again. This is not the first time she has written an in-depth article in reflection of a TED-Talk.

P.S. I agree that you should spend the 15 minutes to watch the TED-Talk she mentions. Grab a cup of coffee and don’t do anything else.



Friday Finds #128

Last week I mentioned that my husband and I were on our way to Kansas City for a short 4-day getaway as an extension to a contracted session I had on Friday morning with the Kansas City MTA. I’ve been slow to get many photos up on social media from this trip, but we had a great time and the Spring weather was incredible!

One of the big sites we visited was the National WWI Museum. This photo is taken from the museum overlooking the city. The building you see front and center in the photo is Union Station which is absolutely beautiful inside. I thought this was a beautiful overview of the city to share with you today.



A fun little finger number activities worksheet from 4D Piano Teaching.



Indiana school district turns unused cafeteria food into take-home meals for kids in need. Why isn’t every school doing this?



The Best Electric Kettles, According to the Best Experts.

We first discovered electric water kettles when we lived in Australia. It was common for every home to have one as many homes drank instant coffee (yuck!). They are an absolute gem to have available and so convenient for boiling water!

We have the Capresso Kettle which is recommended by America’s Test Kitchen (at least it was at the time!)



A few fun finds for piano teachers from Natalie Weber.



I am determined to have green plants in my home even though I do not have a green thumb. Articles like this one on how to stop killing your plants are for people like me!



At the 2019 MTNA Conference a few weeks ago, I attended a fantastic session in Pedagogy Saturday’s Teaching Artistry Track called “Do These Five Things Always and Forever.” The presenter, Veda Suponic, recently gave this session for an MTNA Webinar which can be accessed here.



Jennifer has a great idea for your summer session. Check out how she does practice packets.



Two weeks ago, Evernote launched the Evernote for Gmail add-on. I’m trying it out now and hope to write a review in the near future after using it for awhile.



Wendy’s recital programs are always sooooo beautiful! I use her programs almost every year. Check out her new Spring Recital Program Package.



One of my favorite recipes I’ve been making without a kitchen these past 4 months are these Spicy Chicken Soft Tacos. All you do is toss chicken tenders in a mixture of EVOO and Sriracha and bake them (I’m using a small countertop oven). Pre-shredded cabbage and plain yogurt are all we need to make a decent toping and dinner is done!


Friday Finds #127

As this post is going up, I’m talking to a group of teachers in Kansas City on digital management strategies for independent music teachers like yourself.

My hubby came with me and we made a short 4-day weekend out of it. Rest assured we will be eating some BBQ! Follow me on Instagram or Facebook.

As your local group moves into the planning stages for your events next year, you may be interested in some of the sessions I have available. It would be so fun to come and talk to your group!



In February I did a Zoom session with Raleigh MTA. One of the teachers there recently shared a beautiful video of her music with me and I wanted to pass it on to you. Visit for more details!



I’ve had Thai twice in the past 3 weeks and it’s been divine. Here’s a simple recipe for the iconic and easy go-to Thai dish, Pad Thai.



How reading old books gives us new perspective. 



I created a playlist for Easter with more than 50 songs and 4 hours of listening. Available on Spotify, all you need is a free account to listen. Spotify has an app as well as a desktop client for easy listening.



Every home should have a hand-held vacuum of some kind. They’re just too convenient! I have a Shark Vac at home and at my studio!

It’s a short week. See you next week!



Friday Finds #126

This week’s wrap-up post from MTNA 2019 didn’t include this photo, so I had to share it as the featured photo for this week’s Friday Finds. 🙂 I have a good friend who totally rocks high heels, so this photo was for her.



Besides my own wrap-up post, there were a lot of other wonderful wrap-up posts written this week from the national conference in Spokane. Here are the ones I’ve caught thus far:

Christina Whitlock (author of the Varsity Musician’s Playbook on Piano Pantry)

Benjamin Steinhardt (one of the admins of The Art of Piano Pedagogy Facebook group)

Joy Morin (



An Easy Timeline for Creating Your Own Solo Festival. I’ve often thought about doing something like this, but have never taken the initiative to make it happen. I think it’s a great idea though. The fact that you can cater it to your own studio’s progressive plan, and it would be really convenient for students to not have to travel to a festival location and two the biggest reasons I would do it.



Oh my goodness, have you ever seen anything like this vintage typewriter for music notation? How interesting!



The Three Modes of Piano Teaching by Samantha Coates.



It’s the time of year when we need to think about talking to students who need to move to a longer lesson next year. Check out Wendy’s guide for how to move students to longer lessons.



If you’re a sucker for photos of beautiful homes, check out this one.



There are two daily blogs that I read. Seth Godin’s (of course), and Amy Bernadette (which I heard about from Seth Godin).

One of my favorite posts from Amy B. thus far is “What’s on Your ‘Not-to-Do’ List?”



I’ve been experimenting more and being brave with doing some Facebook Live videos on the Piano Pantry Facebook page. I did five short videos on staying organized at conferences and have also recently done a couple of other videos, each one highlighting one item from the previous week’s Friday Finds.

Friday Finds #121 – Some favorite stickers and how I organize them!

Friday Finds #125 – Music Learning Academy Podcast

I’m not making a declaration that I’ll be doing that every week or anything, but thought you might like to know!


Conference Highlights

MTNA 2019, Spokane

Last week I attended the 2019 MTNA National Conference in Spokane, Washington. The photo you see is the one that spoke to my memories of the location the most.

As MTNA attendees flooded into Spokane, so did Spring! The river walk next to the conference center was beautiful and included this gigantic Radio Flyer Wagon. Fun!

(Click on the image below to see sixteen seconds of Joy Morin and I tapping into our inner child. 🙂 )

Every time I attend a conference, I like to write a recap post. Not only are writing these posts a good mental exercise for me in helping pull together the entire event, but it’s like putting the period at the end of a sentence. It gives a sense of finality and making a statement.

Attending conferences is really important to me and my professional development (and energy). I hope these posts may also convince someone who either hasn’t ever attended a conference, or does so infrequently, that they are worth every penny to attend!

If you’re interested in posts I’ve written about previous MTNA conferences, checkout out:

Conferencing with Mickey Mouse and Friends: MTNA 2018 Orlando

2017 MTNA Conference, Baltimore

San Antonio 2016: A Conference to Remember


Conference Management 101 Videos

The biggest thing I wanted to share with you from the 2019 conference is the series of five Facebook Live videos I did on conference organization/management. These videos highlight a few of the tips I talk about in the post Conference Management 101.

I tried to keep them short and focused on one point.

(If you want to see the full post on Facebook, just click on the facebook icon in the bottom right-hand corner of the video.)

Video #1 (2:50) – Action List!

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Friday Finds #125



Yamaha’s NoteStar app is closing down on 3/31/2019. Check out details here.



If you’re’ interested in learning more about Music Learning Theory and how to use Marilyn Lowe’s Music Moves for Piano method book series, then you’re in luck! Check out for new courses and a podcast. I met the creator, Krista Jadro when Joy and I attended the GIML Professional Development Course in Boston a couple of years ago (she had way more experience than us at that point!) I know it will be wonderful!

Pre-Registration for the Keyboard Games A course is only available until the end of March and then the price doubles!



While we’re on the topic of MLT, there is a scholarship available through the Gordon Institute for college/university faculty interested in continuing education in MLT. Application deadline is soon.



I heard about an old piano method in one of the sessions I attended at the MTNA Conference this past week. It was written by the daughter-in-law of John Curwen (creator of the Curwen Tonic Sol-Fa) and was called Mrs. Curwen’s Pianoforte Method. After a little more research, I came across this website: I’ve enjoyed browsing the site and learning a little more about her pedagogical approach.



I always carry blindfolds and ear-plugs with me when I travel!


I’ve always wondered this: Are Nutrition Supplements a Waste of Money?



The best place to sit in a concert hall.



New posts on Piano Pantry:

147 Tunes to Harmonize

12 Ways to Turn a Potentially Frustrating Lesson into a Musical Opportunity



Best New Trendy, Healthy Groceries You Should Be Buying in the Frozen Food Section.


12 Ways to Turn a Potentially Frustrating Lesson into a Musical Opportunity

A while back I wrote an article for Alfred Music Blog called Learning Music in a Quick-Fix Society: 7 Tips to Foster Music for LifeIn the article, I share seven ways we can help create an environment that fosters the mindset that learning music is more than just a short-term activity.

One of those seven items was that, as teachers, we shouldn’t feel frustrated when students come to lessons either without their books or having made little progress. (Of course, if it’s an ongoing issue, that another story.)

It can be very easy to get irritated at students and in turn, have the lesson take on a sour note and be a negative experience. On the other hand, if we keep in mind that life happens and music lessons are an ongoing commitment, we can look at it as an opportunity rather than a failure.

Here are 12 ways we can turn a potentially negative, frustrating lesson into a positive musical experience. You don’t even have to pick just one! Set a timer and tell the student every 5 minutes you’re going to switch activities!


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Friday Finds #124

As this post goes up, I’m headed to Spokane Washington for the MTNA National Conference. It’s one of the highlights of the year. I love conferencing!

If you’ve ever attended a conference (or gone on vacation for that matter), you know how the days leading up to the event are always a little crazy.

Thus, this week’s finds are on the short side, but that’s OK because you can explore ALL the past Friday Finds to your heart’s content here.

March is the birthday month for Piano Pantry as the first post went up on March 20, 2016. Just for fun, here is the very first Friday Finds ever posted on Piano Pantry!



While we’re on the topic of conferences, you  may be interested in these posts here on Piano Pantry:

Conference “Management” 101: Tips for using Evernote plus a free resource

Tips for Presenting: Tools, Resources, and a Pep-Talk



Wood Stoves and Ash Wednesday.



My favorite liquid foundation makeup brush, Kabuki for Face.


Design Your Rhythm of Work – Theme Days.

I’ve been trying to do this a lot more this past year and it works quite well. Think about the different categories of life/work you have and focus on one area each day. For example, on Mondays, my mornings are dedicated to my current church worship leader work and Monday afternoons are my piano studio. Thursday mornings are Piano Pantry work and afternoons are Church Prep, etc.



The Ghost Moth


147 Tunes to Harmonize

Traditional, Popular, and Christmas

Over my years of teaching, I’ve come across several lists of tunes to harmonize using primary chords. Often, however, they’re either not very comprehensive, or they include a lot of tunes that students these days have never heard because they only include folk tunes and a couple of Christmas songs.

Last summer I started a studio-wide harmonization focus that lasted through the summer and fall. After continually having students look at the song list and shake their head that they didn’t know many of the songs, I finally decided it was time to compile my own list.

This comprehensive list includes 147 tunes (traditional, popular, and Christmas). The list progresses from tunes you can harmonize using only the tonic chord, to tunes that use four chords (I, IV, V, vi).

The tunes are, of course, mostly in major (because, well, we live in the Western World), but there are some minor tunes as well.

Keep in mind, these are not tunes tied to any particular chord progression such as I-IV-V-I or I-vi-IV-V. It’s up to the person harmonizing to figure out what chords to use and when.

First, let’s talk a little about what it means to harmonize and how to teach harmonization.


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