Friday Finds #185


Friday Finds Blog Post

You may or may not have noticed I’ve been taking the “lighter” side on Friday Finds posts this Summer.

Rather than weekly, two per month has been my goal – just for a bit of a breather. We’ve all got enough going on what with enjoying Summer break and figuring out how to live life.

So, since it’s been a while…hello! It’s so nice to see you today!

Since I’m been playing hooky, I have quite a few good things in store for you!



Since it’s part of our daily life, I splurged on a good mask. I haven’t had a chance to wear it a lot, but like it so far!

It’s really comfortable, (the large fit me just fine), has a nose-pincher to help keep fog off my glasses, and is a lovely color. The only downside I’m seeing so far is it’s hotter than any of the homemade cotton ones I’ve had.

Vogmask Organic AquaSplash VMC2V



Who couldn’t use a suggestion like this?!

My Top 5 Video Game Arrangements for Beginners | Chrissy Ricker



Or this…

8 Tips to Make Washing Dishes Easier | The Kitchn



Speaking of washing dishes, it’s true what you’ve heard,
Dawn Powerwash is amazing.





Because it’s still Summer:  6 Best Ice Cream Bars and Fruit Pops | The Kitchn



My studio had our end-of-summer recital yesterday evening via Zoom. If you’ve not had yours yet, check out the 9 Lessons I Learned from My First Zoom Recital. (P.S. It includes an email template invitation for students to forward to friends and family!)



Do you use the Celebration Series books from the Royal Conservatory? Here’s a website that has some really great study guides to go along with the pieces!

Prep A Study Guide
Prep B Study Guide



In case you missed the last Friday Finds, here’s #184 Summer Holiday Weekend.



Have you updated your studio website recently? Here’s 3 Ways to Look at Your Studio Website with Fresh Eyes.



Please make this:  Edamame Succotash (P. Allen Smith)



Friday Finds #184

Summer Holiday Weekend

Happy Independence Day, everyone!

The 4th of July weekend sure is a special one, don’t you agree? Not only do we get to celebrate the official birth of our nation, but being only two weeks into Summer, it’s the long holiday weekend that officially kicks off the season.

Let’s be mindful of taking precious time for rest and fun with our families while also meditating on the world around us – both remembering our history and finding our future through what happens in the present – the good, bad, and the ugly.

Kind of like a marriage, LOL. 🙂

Have a great weekend!



A reading of The Declaration of Independence set to music.  (Eric Bluestine | The Ways Children Learn Music)

Congress, July 14, 1776 – The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America.



5 Incredibly Creative Studio Plans for Fall (Janna Carlson Studio Rocket Web Design)



Cleaning Your Piano (Steinway & Sons)



The look on this pianist’s face each time he changes tunes absolutely cracks me up! He’s so straight-faced he almost gives me the willies! LOL.



Sara Campbell’s list of free-downloadable Patriotic Music.



What kind of salad dressing do you enjoy?

It doesn’t matter because this review from The Kitchn tested EVERY SINGLE KIND of store-bought bottled dressings to find the best brand. Did they choose the brand you like?



If you’re interested in the Enneagram at all and like the singer Audrey Assad, then you’ll enjoy this podcast interview with her on The Enneagram Journey, Episode 47.



3 Ways to Look at Your Studio Website with Fresh Eyes (and, my own studio website overhaul!)



A digital tool I use EVERY-SINGLE-DAY? Grammarly. Have you ever heard of it? It’s like having your English teacher by your side (but not in an annoying way, Ha!)



Have you ever thought about organizing your piano games digitally using Evernote? Check out how this teacher does it.


Did you enjoy this post? Consider subscribing to the Piano Pantry email list where you’ll get my once-a-month “Secret Letter” which includes what’s been going on in my student that month, books I’m reading, favorite Instagram posts, and other fun things like that. 

Sound good?! Subscribe here.


3 Ways to Look at Your Studio Website With Fresh Eyes

Plus, my studio website overhaul!

Over Summer, one of my big tasks is to overhaul my studio website.

Summer lessons are optional in my studio and I am lucky to have the freedom to be able to take a lighter load. The extra time – while reserved most importantly for a bit of R&R – is also an open window for us to give a little attention to bigger projects like this!

Our websites will often be the first opportunity to make a good impression on prospective students. Not only that but if you’re anything like me, your studio is continually evolving. Our studio websites should reflect these changes and always feel fresh.

Today I want to share with you three ways to look at your website with a fresh perspective and in turn, make a positive impression on your studio.

First, I have a confession to make along with a little back history and evolution of my own studio website.

Continue reading

Book Review – Atomic Habits by James Clear

If you enjoy self-improvement and are looking to build some good habits into your life, then definitely consider picking up James Clear’s famous publication Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones.

When this book first came out, I immediately put it into my Amazon shopping cart. A year later I finally purchased it and a year after that I finally got around to reading it.
(That’s par for the course for me. LOL)

Of course, as soon as I read it I kicked myself for not reading it sooner.

Oh well… “let it go, Amy,” is what I have to tell myself.

In this post, I’ll share with you one big reason I love this book, seven of the most impactful points I took away, and a few habits I’ve built both in my piano studio and personal life.


One Big Reason I Love This Book

One big thing I love about this book actually has a lot to do with its layout. 

Every chapter has a summary at the end that highlighted 6 major points to take away. This was an incredibly helpful visual recap. I tried to force myself to highlight just one or two of those points to underline in order to focus my takeaways even more.

At the end of the book, he even provides bonus chapters available for how you can apply these principles to business and to parenting.

Application, application, application.


Continue reading

Friday Finds #183

Weekend Links Junkie

I am a weekend-links junkie.

Saturday mornings are a great time in our house to sit on the couch with a cup of coffee, watch the CBS Morning News (or This Old House), and scroll through content using my favorite content manager: Feedly.

There are several people I have been following for years that do similar weekend roundups that inspired me to start my Friday Finds for teachers. Today, I share those favorites with you.

Be a pal and start your weekend off as a weekend-links junkie so I don’t feel alone. 🙂



Let it Be Sunday | Joy the Baker. This weekend she will hit #275!



Inspiring Simplicity. Weekend Reads. (Joshua Becker | Becoming Minimalist)



Emily P. Freeman, creator of The Next Right Thing podcast has an email list dedicated to her One Last Thing list that comes out every Saturday morning. It includes interesting links for things to “Listen”, “Read”, and “Discover”.



Listening is Difficult (Seth Godin)



Researchers in Australia Record Enormous Breakthroughs in Internet Speeds (The Week)



A 9-part series from Rebekah Maxner on teaching “Heart and Soul.”



This time in Piano Pantry history: Evernote for Gmail: A Review



An excellent resource for free printable staff paper. It’s really cool how it will shift the preview of the staff as you change settings.



9 Lessons Learned from My First Zoom Recital (Amy Chaplin | Piano Pantry)



Did you enjoy this post? Consider subscribing to the Piano Pantry email list where you’ll get my once-a-month “Secret Letter” which includes what’s been going on in my student that month, books I’m reading, favorite Instagram posts, and other fun things like that. 

Sound good?! Subscribe here.


9 Lessons-Learned From My First Zoom Recital

Well, this is a post I never expected to see myself writing! LOL.

Over the past two months, studio teachers from all over the world have taken the plunge into unknown territory

Here are  7 things that I learned from our first Zoom recital. I hope this will make your recital a little easier!


#1 Do a practice run

For our in-person recitals, we always do a rehearsal the day before. I’m glad I didn’t let the online format change this norm.

Holding a practice recital the week prior gives students, parents, and ourselves a chance to know what to expect. Even more importantly, it allows you to practice “managing” the recital online.

Definitely plan on requiring a parent to attend the rehearsal so they can practice holding the device and we could pick the best location. This will avoid you having to give instructions during the recital like “move a little further back”, or “turn your camera sideways” or “no, no, that’s too close – we want to see their hands!”

The practice run will make everyone feel much more relaxed going into it recital day!


#2 Send an Invitation Email

Send families an email at least a week ahead of time that is specifically for them to forward on to family and friends. Here is mine. Feel free to use it or any portion of it as needed.

Continue reading

Friday Finds #182

Dandelions and Grace



I was incredibly inspired by Leila’s “making sense of it all” comparison of dandelions and grace that accompanied her new arrangement of Amazing Grace.



Congratulations to composer Chrissy Ricker who is now a Signature Artist with! 

Several of my teens recently absolutely played and LOVED her piece, Epic.



Considering a Gap Year (Seth Godin)

When we lived in Melbourne, Australia (2006-2009), Drew and I were both fascinated to learn that many students in Oz take a “gap year” between high school and college. Unlike the US’s tendency to push all students to college immediately, the gap year was a time for them to travel, work, and explore the world.

I’ve always thought education in the US could benefit from encouraging something like this. I mean, who really knows what they want to do for a career when they’re 18? NO ONE, really. A large majority of people end up doing something different than what they studied in college.

Something to think about.



George Floyd Left a Gospel Legacy in Houston (Kate Shellnutt | Christianity Today)



An excellent resource for free printable staff paper. It’s really cool how it will shift the preview of the staff as you change settings.



Food recommendations for the week:

Super easy and delish…
Spring Asparagus Pancetta Hash (Smitten Kitchen)

This fresh salad takes a bit of prep work but is VERY worth it. It makes a huge bowl and the leftovers keep well for a day or two. 
Mediterranean Three-Bean Quinoa Salad (Two Peas and Their Pod)

Soon I will be canning my favorite Strawberry Jam. The blueberries add deep color and the apple a little texture and zing.
Easy Strawberry Jam (Ina Garten | Food Network)



This time last year…

The #1 Reason Independent Music Teachers Should be on Instagram (Amy Chaplin | Piano



I Ate Like a Gilmore Girl for a Week and Here’s What Happened (Julie Tremaine | The Kitchn)

A few months ago I started my second-go of watching The Gilmore Girls series on Netflix. Are you a fan?


Friday Finds #181

Shifted Seasons

Happy weekend, everyone!

Even though for some of us, our school term lessons may have been over a week or two ago, there’s something about the first week of June that screams: SUMMER!

The seasons to me are a delicious gift from God – I love them. It always throws me off a little though that (in our part of the world) Spring isn’t technically over until the end of June and Summer doesn’t end until the end of September.

The weather, tells us the seasons are:

  • Summer = July, August, September
  • Fall = October, November, December (technically we celebrate Christmas only 4 days after Winter begins)
  • Winter = January, February, March
  • Spring = April, May, June

The school year tells our brains they are:

  • Summer = June, July, August
  • Fall = September, October, November
  • Winter = December, January, February
  • Spring = March, April, May

I always feel slightly off mentally- almost like miss the last month of every season. Do you ever feel like that as well? Maybe I’m just strange! Ha!


Here’s some good stuff for you this week. Take it or leave it. 🙂 Talk later!




Summer is always a fun time for students to play things like Disney music. I finally bought the new Faber Disney books Lauren brought to my attention awhile back. They’re FAB! (Lauren Lewandowski | Piano with Lauren)



They’re Back: Millions of Cicadas Expected to Emerge this Year (Jason Slotkin | NPR)



Super interesting: How pandemics change society (The Week Staff)



This time last year: What I Learned in my 11 Months as a Worship Team Leader (Amy Chaplin | Piano Pantry)

“Worship is the continuous outpouring of all that we are, all that we do and all that we can ever become.”

-Harold Best in Unceasing Worship



Inside the Flour Company Supplying America’s Sudden Baking Obsession: How King Arthur Flour found itself in the unlikely crosshairs of a pandemic (David H. Freedman |



What Quarantine Taught Me About Cooking (Kim Rhodes | A Cup of Jo)



I know I’ve shared more than one aerial photography series here recently but they’re just so AMAZING!

Stunning Aerial Photographs by Mitch Rouse Capture the Precise Patterns of Farmland (Grace Ebert | Colossal)



How to Clean and Care for Wood Cutting Boards (Sara Bir | Simply Recipes)



For your grill this weekend:

Baked Potatoes on the Grill (The Kitchn)

Grilled and Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Gorgonzola (Giada de Laurentiis)



Friday Finds #180

Rejuvenate that Zoom Body

Hello Memorial Day Weekend!

Many of us are in a place right now where we’re wrapping up our school term of lessons and (hopefully) taking a breather before we start the Summer term.

After sitting on my bum in front of Zoom for 6-7 hours a day over the past eight weeks, I’m feeling anxious to get my body moving a little more again.

I thought it appropriate that this week we focus on wellness content!


1 – Pilates

Let’s kick it off with my #1 recommended item. It’s one that I’ve mentioned in recent weeks that has been a life-saver for me these past two months. It’s an online pilates program I heard about from Natalie Weber called The Balanced Life.

All it takes is 15-18 minutes a day (approximately once a week there’s a 25-30 minute workout). Within a couple of weeks, my muscles started loosening up, popping and cracking of shoulders began to lessen, and I felt stronger and more toned. The best part? You barely break a sweat!

P.S. Yes, I will get a referral credit if you join through this link, but don’t worry, it doesn’t cost you any extra! As a matter of fact, the only way to join outside of the open membership window is through a referral link! 


2 – Yoga

Yoga is not the choice for me – my body enjoys Pilates much more – but Yoga is very popular with many these days!

Lesley McAlister has a new book coming out:
Yoga in the Music Studio

My Explorations of Yoga as a Pianist & Teacher (Joy Morin | Color in My Piano)

Focus Your Piano Lessons with Mind-Body Warm-Ups (Rebekah Maxner)


3 – Alexander Technique

Why I Take Lessons in Alexander Technique as a Piano Teacher
(Joy Morin | Color in My Piano)

We had an excellent Alexander Technique clinician at our last state conference. If you’re looking for someone, I highly recommend Meagan Johnson.


4 – Weight Training

Is Weight Training Safe for Pianists? (Tim Topham |


5 – Wellness Resources

Wellness Resources for Musicians (Music Teachers National Association)


6 – Simple Workouts

Sitting at a desk or piano all day can be tough on the lower back. Did you know you can find workout routines on YouTube?

Of course…YouTube has everything! LOL.


7 – Inspiration

A few favorite wellness quotes and mantras:

Eat three meals a day; keep portions small; eat seasonal fruits and vegetables;
drink lots of water; savor wine; walk more, and have occasional treats.
~Murielle Guiliano

Guiding principle: eat less meat and junk food,
eat more vegetables and whole grains.

Eat like Food Matters.

~Food Matters by Mark Bittman


8 – Relieve Tension

Several years ago, I spent a year or two doing a lot of the Classical Stretch Routines with Miranda Esmonde White. I used to rent the DVD’s from the library then I used their online streaming service.

Also called Essentrics, you can find a few teaser routines on YouTube. Here’s one on Relieving Shoulder Pain & Tension.


9 – MEditation

I have no idea where I got this, but it’s a fun little meditation on Psalm 46:10.

Be still, and know that I am God.
Be still, and know that I am.
Be still, and know that I.
Be still, and know that.
Be still, and know.
Be still, and.
Be still.

Help Your Students “Enable Original Sound” on Zoom With This Email Template

You know how sometimes in life you’re told about something that you know you should do but at the moment, you just can’t bring yourself to mentally mess with it?

That’s how I was when we started using Zoom for our online lessons.

Teachers in Facebook groups were mentioning the importance of the “Enable Original Sound” setting to help with sound quality but I was just trying to wrap my head around getting myself set up online to pay it any mind.

Then two or three weeks of lessons went by and I was DONE with the garble. It was time to upgrade our sound.

Do I kick myself a little for not dealing with this sooner? Yep. But, oh, well, I’m over it now.

Through all of this, I have to say one thing all my studio families have been mentioning in our evaluation meetings this week, was the quality of my communication throughout this whole process. They felt the instructions were incredibly helpful and easy to follow.

That’s part of our job! Quality communication.

To spell things out as clear and easy as possible, I gave my step-by-step instructions using screenshots. It doesn’t get easier than that!

Teachers: You have my permission to copy and paste this entire email and use these images to send to your studio families (if you don’t mind having my mug shot! LOL).

Continue reading