Friday Finds #107

I have a new favorite habit. Last week after suffering through a cold, I started drinking hot water with lemon juice and honey first thing in the morning. (6-8 oz. boiling water with 1-1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice and 1/2 tsp. honey).

Drinking hot water with lemon juice and honey is nothing new under the sun for most people, but for me, it’s a big deal because I used to not be able to stand drinking¬†any kind of hot tea or even the water and honey thing. For some reason, that suddenly changed and I am so glad! It’s a great healthy habit as both lemon and honey have wonderful health-giving properties.

Since I have an aunt named Sue who loves to cook as I do, I had to take a photo of my new bottle of honey and send to her. ūüôā



Who wouldn’t love to have access to an office space like this? Amazing. Check out Michael Hyatt & Co.’s new [optional] workspace.



Mom is in charge of the turkey this year for Thanksgiving. I’m hoping I can convince her to try this Buttermilk-Brined Turkey from William’s Sonoma.



MTNA is giving a pretty sweet package away to one lucky winner. You must be registered for the national conference by November 15 and the winner will be chosen at the end of the month. Check out the details here.



This assortment of year-round holiday stickers made it into my Amazon shopping cart yesterday. I was only looking for Christmas stickers, but why have only one holiday on hand when you can have them all!



Why are you still afraid of MSG?¬†Hmmm…I’m still not 100% sure on this one, but the mantra I try to keep for much of everything in life is “everything in moderation.”



How RSS Feeds Will Give You More Efficiency and Control.

If you love to follow a lot of website and bloggers online and you’re not using an RSS reader, you’re doing yourself a disservice! Feedly is one of my top¬†all-around favorite tools I recommend on the¬†Recommend Resources page.



O my goodness, I absolutely love opening the windows to the house when it’s nice out, airing out the house and yes, letting in some sunshine!

Grandma Was Right: Sunshine Helps Kill Germs Indoors



James Clear is one of my favorite¬†(non-piano/music) websites to follow these days. Every article he writes is thought-provoking and that, to me, is worth my time. This article,¬†The Habits Scorecard: Use This Simple Exercise to Discover Which Habits You Should Change,¬† is an excerpt from his book Atomic Habits. It’s in my Amazon shopping cart.



Two recent winning recipes I would recommend are Creamy Beef and Shells from Damn Delicious and One-Pot Chili Mac from The Kitchn.

Surprising they’re both pasta recipes and we almost never eat pasta dishes at home. Once in a while, they are definitely nice and comforting, though!



American Cheese Is the Latest Victim of Millennial Murder (and That’s Okay)


Have a great weekend!



Friday Finds #106

This past weekend was an absolute whirlwind! Why? It was the weekend of our Indiana state conference and not only was I on the conference committee but it was my first conference as state President!

For the first time ever, it wasn’t held at a University, but at Sweetwater Sound in Fort Wayne. Sweetwater headquarters is a pretty amazing complex and is a destination in and of itself!

I had a hard time choosing which photo displayed this weekend the best so I narrowed it down to four. They include, our IMTA Board of Directors hard at work during our luncheon meeting, my two former piano teachers, Dr. Lori Rhoden of Ball State (grad school teacher) and Kathy Grile from Taylor University (high school teacher), my piano teacher buddies Joy Morin, Daniel Patterson, and DJ Smith, and a photo of me doing Presidential duties at the banquet.

Needless to say I’ve taken naps every day this week following, but it was totally worth it!

And now onward to this weeks finds!



Any time I have a “let-down” per say after a very busy time, my body tends to react. I’ve been running for the past six weeks like crazy between conference planning, attending the MTNA National Summit, being on a weekly committee at my church searching for our next pastor, presenting on two instances, once at the Kentucky¬†MTA Conference and to the Indianapolis Piano Teachers Guild. It’s been non-stop, I’m telling you. Until now. Boom.

My let-down cold has erupted. It’s the time of year you may want to check out my guide for “Germ-Alert Season: A Studio Teachers Guide to Staying Healthy.”



Getting started with rotating lessons 20/20/20.



Do your policies need a facelift? Sometimes the middle of the semester is a good time to think about these kinds of things because you just got done going through the process and your mind is fresh with the improvements you want to make for the next time. Check out When Policies Get too Long for a little extra help.



Sorry, but There’s No Such Thing as the “Clean Part” of Moldy Bread. Yeah, I’m one of those people who thought they could just cut away the moldy parts… :-/



10 games you can play with students using those cute Iwako erasers.



How to Become an Indispensable Piano Teacher. 



Check out this teacher’s “BenchMark Program” for their students. Impressive video, Clinton!



Using a paper towel tube to help you vacuum?? Genius!



Consider baking one of these this week:

Applesauce Spice Bars | Simple but Delicious

Whole Wheat Molasses Bread | Joy the Baker

Simple Zucchini Bread | King Arthur Flour

Raspberry Orange Almond Muffins with Sprouted Wheat Flour |  Amy Chaplin (the other one)

Healthy Pumpkin Oatmeal Bake | Food Network 


Friday Finds #105

Last weekend we got together with a group of 10 friends. One of the couples had spent a month this summer traveling out west in their new camper. Originally from Arizona, he was sure to bring back some of his favorite beers from their trip Рseveral which he shared with us that evening. Drew and I absolutely loved this Orange Blossom Beer from Papago Brewery in Scottsdale Arizona.

Our Indiana State MTA Conference is being held today and tomorrow (October 5-6, 2018) at the headquarters of Sweetwater Sound in Fort Wayne. We have an amazing line-up including Frederic Chiu, Dr. Christopher and Katherine Fisher as our Pedagogy Clinicians, a premier of MTNA/IMTA Commissioned Composition Taxonomies of Pulse for Two Pianos a by Benjamin Krause, and much more.

Have a great weekend – I know I will! ~Amy



Many of us are gearing up to make our Christmas music purchases for our studios. If you still need some ideas, you may find a few refreshing options in Trusty Christmas Favorites: Repertoire I Return to Year After Year or Christmas Collaborations: Recommended Piano Ensemble Music



Cyber scams seem to have increased drastically over the last few years in a way that they’re becoming harder and harder to pinpoint. Emails especially are being designed so they are almost indistinguishable from our daily emails.¬† Check out this article on How to Spot Common Cyber Scams.¬†If anything, be hyper-aware before you do anything online.



An excellent Guide to Balsamic Vinegar.



Do you struggle with adult students? Maybe you love adult students! Whichever way you lean, this six-part series on Adult RMM Lessons (not just group RMM), is a great peek into the psyche of those older learners students. Brief video testimonials by various adult students make me relate to my own students.



Alton Brown is bringing back his cooking show Good Eats! I used to love this show. The new one is called Good Eats Reloaded. Check out the trailer here. Now if I only had cable… :-/



Joy Morin’s course¬†“Excellence in Piano Teaching‚Ä̬†is gearing up soon!



10 Essential Cleaning Tools Every Home Should Have.



If you’re not already aware,¬†I wanted to let you know the Piano Pantry Secret Letter that goes out at the end of every month now includes a teaching tip based on the principals of how we learn music influenced by Music Learning Theory. That last two letters have included video clips to go along with the tip! If you would like to stay in touch with Piano Pantry and also receive this monthy letter (it’s secret because it’s not shared anywhere else – even on social media). You can subscribe here.


Christmas Collaborations

Recommended Piano Ensemble Music

Perhaps more than any other time of year, Christmas is a time when we, as a society, make music together the most. Whether it’s caroling, singing Christmas music in church, or as a family in the car while you drive to grandma’s house, there’s just something about Christmas music that encourages music-making together.

So if with our voices, why not also with our instruments? Each year, the week before Christmas we have group classes in my studio. These classes are the perfect opportunity for ensemble playing.

In this post, I will share a few go-to resources I use in my piano studio so my students can make music as a group. The books and music mentioned in this post do not include duet repertoire, or piano trio’s (such as piano, cello, violin), only piano ensembles of three or more.

I’m lucky enough to have four keyboards in my studio we can use which is, of course, ideal but not always realistic. If you don’t have four keyboards, don’t despair – there are options here for you and ways you can equip your students to make music together!

Speaking of Christmas piano ensembles…perhaps one of the most watched on YouTube (with currently 18,950,525 views), is the Piano Guys’ version of Angels We Have Heard on High with 32 fingers and 8 thumbs.

Granted, this is exactly a “piano ensemble” but it felt fitting to include in this post because it’s so incredible.


Downloadable Sheet Music Ensembles

Susan Paradis

Susan Paradis has several Piano Trios available on her website.


She also has a¬†Jingle Bells Duet with Rhythm Ensemble¬†that, while it’s a piano duet, includes an ensemble of 4 rhythm instruments. This is a fun ensemble to use during group class with elementary students especially.

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Friday Finds #104

Last weekend I celebrated my 30th birthday for the 9th time. ūüôā That’s age 38 for those of you counting on your fingers! Caught ‘ya didn’t I?

Our celebration was only a month late but I was happy to have gotten to celebrate with two of my closest friends. It’s been months since we’ve had a chance to go out just the three of us, but it’s those times that remind me how much we need friends and regular connection time.

If it’s been a long time since you’ve had a chance to hang out with someone you call a friend, don’t delay. Let’s not let the important things in life get put on the back-burner amidst the hustle and bustle of life and teaching. It’s too easy to do.

I know of no more encouraging fact then the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.

~Henry David Thoreau

Onto this week’s goods.



When it comes to hummus, plain has always been the way to go in my opinion. After seeing this post on the best hummus flavors, I’m thinking I should give some of the flavors out there a shot. The caramelized onion will be my first try. Which one(s) do you like or think I should try?



Are you an Elvis fan?

Season 3 Episode 10 of the Revisionist History Podcast¬†reminds us that even the King had his performance issues. Listen to Malcolm Gladwell explore Elvis and his Freudian slips in Analysis, Parapraxis, Elvis: The one song The King couldn’t sing.



I know I share a lot on Friday Finds from The Kitchn but I can’t help it! I love that website. They always have interesting posts. This paper towel vacuum hack seems like a “why didn’t I think of that” kind of idea but I wonder if it really works as well as they say. I’ll have to try it next time I clean. Let me rephrase that. I’ll have to¬†remember to try it next time I clean!



If you’ve been curious about joining MTNA but are unsure if it’s worth it, check out these wonderful resources where other teachers are sharing testimonials for why it is important to them.

The ladies from 4D Piano Teaching (Discover, Develop, Drive, Delight), each wrote a post on “What MTNA Means to Me.” Check out Spring’s post and Whitney’s post.

MTNA also has an excellent video that all members should consider sharing on social media to help reach colleagues who may not already be members!



Chick-Fil-A meal kits? Yes, please.



A colleague at the MTNA Summit shared with several of us a couple of websites she loves for video game music transcriptions. They are ichigos¬†and ninsheetmusic. She said they’re transcription website so the scores aren’t perfect but¬†they’ve been a great resource for her.



I’ve gotten really behind in my Feedly blogroll this past month, but have been catching up slowly the past week. What does that mean? It means I have a gazillion, yes, a¬†gazillion, recipes I found all at once and I’m now dying to try. Maybe you all can try them for me and let me know what’s good and what’s not? That would definitely save me a lot of time! LOL. j/k

I couldn’t decide what to highlight so I thought I would just share them all, especially because we’re don’t all like the same kind of recipes. Surely you can find ONE recipe in this list to try this week!

Easy Skillet Tamale Pie. Easy – Skillet – Tamale – Pie – All good things.

Pull-Apart Cheesy Artichoke Pinwheels(you need a party for this one and I’m not having one soon so I’ll leave the testing up to you on this one!)

The Best Chicken Soup Recipe.¬†I’ll admit, I have yet to find a chicken soup I really like. Plus I wish people would be more creative than calling things “The Best.” So unoriginal. Must work though because I still saved the recipe!

Skillet Lasagna. Lasagna is like the worst thing to make ever. It takes forever and makes way too many dirty dishes. This recipe, however, appeals to me.

Loaded Cauliflower Chicken Casserole. Cauliflower is definitely one of those vegetables I don’t have enough opportunities to eat so that made this recipe appealing.

Black Bean Veggie Burgers.¬†I’ve never made one, but my pastor’s wife recently told me they have them on a regular basis and I want to be like her so this was an easy way. (I’m really kidding, but I’m feeling silly for some reason).

Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad. This recipe just made the tail end of my summer food list.


Let me know what I should make! ūüėČ



Friday Finds #103

This past weekend I was honored to get the chance to present to a lovely group of teachers at the Kentucky MTA Conference in Louisville. The session was the one that I gave at the 2018 MTNA National Conference in Orlando РTaming the Jungle: Digital Management Strategies for the Independent Music Teacher. (see details on my speaking page).

This photo is of the guestbook at the Airbnb I stayed at Friday night.¬† Isn’t it fun?



Are you an independent music teacher that has an established studio and has been teaching no more than three years? You could win a $3,000 fellowship award through MTNA. Deadline is November 1.



Pioneer Woman has another product out. Surprised? Not me. The woman has a food empire. I remember when I first head about her from my cousin back in 2006 or 2007 and she was still “just a blogger.” Bravo Ree.

If you’re into patterns and such, she’s your girl, as you can see.


One of my favorite podcasts this past year has been The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman. The most current episode is about how to choose a past time. She shares excellent advice from Winston Churchill including three key points:

  1. Be sure your past time is different from what you do on a daily basis. (In other words, don’t make your new past time learning another instrument, teachers!)
  2. Engage your brain. (there are times for mindless activity but a healthy past time utilizes the brain)
  3. Embrace audacity, not ambition. (Yeah, that one is hard for me).



This piano zip line idea from Julie Knerr might be just what you need for your next group class.



This week was a “clean out the refrigerator” week. I had some buttermilk to get rid of so I baked this Whole Wheat Molasses Bread from Joy the Baker. It has a perfectly balanced molasses flavor and is yummy warmed up with a pat of butter on top (or even dare I say Nutella?!)



Prima Music just processed an order for me that included:



Have a great weekend everyone!



Friday Finds #102

One thing I know to be absolutely true of myself is that I thrive on change. As we resume our second week of finds this season, I wanted to let you know I’m going to spice things up a bit and try something new with our weekly finds – sharing a little piece of who I am.

Instead of including the Friday Finds image at the top, there will be instead an image from my day-to-day life to kick off the post.

I’ll share just a few brief words as an introduction to what the image reflects or its purpose in my life. (P.S. If the photo includes items you may like, I’ll always include a link!)

(Full disclosure that Piano Pantry is an affiliate with Amazon so if you purchase any items linking from Piano Pantry on Amazon I will make a tiny fee but it costs you no extra).

Enough shop talk. Let’s kick off Friday¬†Finds #102!



This image was shared on my Instagram account¬†in August. One of my to-do items for that month was to give myself one day alone doing absolutely no work. I made the 45-minute trek to my favorite coffee shop in Fort Wayne and cracked open one of my current reads, Madeline L’Engle’s Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith & Art. It was a blissful morning.

One of my favorite quotes thus far in the books is:

There is nothing so secular that it cannot be sacred, and that is one of the deepest messages of the Incarnation.



Summer is about to end and I’m sad because I get way more podcast time when I mow our 2.5-acre yard than any other time throughout the year. Yesterday I caught the Musicality Podcast which was a¬†roundtable discussion on the idea that everyone is musical inside. Here’s a great quote that one of them said (around 27:10):

Don’t play a scale – play¬†with the scale. Play up and down and inside out and play with the notes and play here….Make a little melody, make it creative, improvise with it…Allowing us to express our inner musicality every step of the way where music is not the goal but music is the process – something we’re doing every time.



You’re a total food nerd if, like me, you get excited about the possibility of trying this Whole-Grain Fermented Mustard recipe.



By the way, did you know that there’s a Facebook group called “Cookin’ Piano Teachers?”¬†



How Bach Would Teach Piano Lead Sheets.



You may have already seen this viral video about a school teacher in Kansas who greets her students at the door with their own unique handshake.

How cool¬†would it be if we came up with a unique call/response “ditty” on the piano or even a simple melody we sang to our students in greeting? The possibilities are intriguing!



How Presidents Choose to Lead: Learning From Our Commander-in-Chiefs’ Good Choices, and Bad Ones.



Brief but always thoughtful reflections from Seth on what life was like 58 years ago and how “There is no normal. Simply the relentless cycle of change.”



Calling all Trader Joe’s fans!¬†Just when you think T.J.’s can’t get better, they create a¬†podcast! They didn’t know when creating the first set of episodes that those episodes would eventually be “Season 1.” My favorite from the first 5 episodes was Episode 3: Informative and Seriously Not Too Serious. You can easily catch up as they just released the first one in the next season Episode 6: Quality.



This Wild Mushroom Tart has been calling my name for a while.


Have a great weekend!

XO Amy


40% off Special on Evernote Premium

Evernote is currently offering 40% a one-year subscription to Evernote Premium.

If you've been interested in trying Evernote Premium but didn't want to pay $7.99 per month, now is your chance to try it out.

Premium is the level I have used for years. Part of the reason it's a huge improvement over Evernote Basic is that with basic you can only use two devices such as a desktop and your phone. With premium it's unlimited. On top of that I can annotate PDF files and upload 10GB per month.

The best advice I can give to anyone about using Evernote is to take the extra time to learn the best way to use it.

An entire page here on Piano Pantry is now dedicated to all things Evernote. Check it out! For music teachers, I would recommend the Evernote: An Independent Music Teacher's Handbook video series I created.




Friday Finds #101

And…we’re back! After a Summer off from our weekly finds series here on Piano Pantry, it’s time to jump back in!¬†If you missed the final Friday Finds back in June, #100 was a list of a whopping 100 of the best items from the two years the series had been running. From here on out, they will be titled by what week of finds it is, so here we are starting at week #101.

If you’re new to this series, every Friday I share links to interesting things I love from all over the web. I’m a content junkie and use Feedly to follow over 100 websites of a variety of topics. Friday Finds is the best of what I’ve found out there each week.

Friday Finds isn’t all about music teaching, because we’re not just music teachers! Each week there are generally between 8-12 items on the list¬†that may include but is not limited to: thought-provoking articles, interesting podcasts, yummy recipes, books, useful piano teaching tools, a few of my favorite things, and much, much more.

Let’s go!


Song stories. As Mike Rowe says in¬†episode #108” of his podcast The Way I Heard It…

These words take on a whole new meaning once you know the story behind why they were written.



If it’s as inspiring as her first book¬†The Nesting Place, Myquillen Smith’s newest book¬†Cozy Minimalist Home: More Style, Less Stuff is sure to be a winner. Put it on pre-order like I did!





Guinness opened it’s first brewery 64 years ago.



Why learning to breathe may be the best way to pray.



If you have any peaches left in your life from Summer, you have got to make this Amazing Peach Cobbler from Pinch of Yum. Oh my, oh my.

I have about a dozen bags of frozen peaches in my deep freeze, many of which are destined for this cobbler.



In the Facebook group Piano Teacher Central Facebook, Nicole Douglas shared a resource document she put together on what people can do to Donate a Piano. 

This is a great resource to share with your studio families or anyone who asks you about how to sell or get rid of their piano.



Mr. Roger’s extraordinary 9 rules for writing scripts that helped kids make sense of language.



Break out the grill one more time for these Grilled Rice Krispies Treats.



While searching online for some things regarding Music Learning Theory (I can’t remember exactly what it was), I came across this video on Piaget’s Theory of Conservation. This demonstration is absolutely fascinating.


Happy Friday, everyone!


Affiliate Disclaimer: Some links in this post may contain affiliate links which simply means that if you purchase something from a link, I may receive a very small percentage without it costing you any extra.



Six Easy Recipes for the Week Ahead

The first couple of weeks back to teaching are always a little hectic. We’re trying to enjoy the final days of Summer, holding on to every last inch of that time until we have to throw ourselves completely¬†into the new year.

The months of January and August have always been the months we eat at home almost exclusively. In January it’s quiet and dark, and there’s not a lot of extra activities going on and in August, I don’t have students half the month so I’m home more and have time to cook dinner like normal people.

Things are about to get crazy this week though and will continue that way until the second week of October. I won’t bore you with my details as you have enough going on of your own.

Since many of us are in the same boat as we get things going, I thought I would share half-a-dozen quick and easy recipes that can make your back-to-teaching life easier.

Most of the recipes will also allow you to enjoy end-of-summer produce and will avoid turning on the oven.¬†You’re not going to find a crockpot or soup recipe in this bunch. It’s too early for that – I’m not ready!


Six Easy “Back-To-Teaching” recipes

Panzanella Bread Salad (Simply Recipes)

If you’ve never had Panzanella bread salad with your beautiful, lush, red, juicy August tomatoes, you have not experienced life.

Can you see what I mean?

While you’re making the salad, throw pork chops in a cast iron skillet seasons simply with S&P and call that a meal.

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