Evernote for Gmail: A Review

In April 2019, Evernote came out with a new add-on, “Evernote for Gmail.”

If you’re not sure what an add-on (extension/plug-in) is, it’s simply an extra little program that extends the functionality of whatever program you’re using whether it’s your internet browser, WordPress site, or email client.

You are likely most familiar with add-ons in your internet browser. As you can see in this small screen-shot, in the Google Chrome browser, add-ons are viewable to the right of the URL bar.

Today I wanted to share with you a few thoughts on whether or not Evernote for Gmail is a useful tool.

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Friday Finds #137



Four Essential Piano Teaching Tools Everyone Needs in Their Studio

Agreed, Tim! They’re so simple but the absolute basics.



While we’re talking about the very basics things you might need to teach piano, you might check out my “minimalist’s list” list of piano teacher must-haves.



Understanding Piano Parents: What Minor League Baseball Taught Me

If you’re not already following Rebekah Maxner, add her to your list. Every article I’ve come across of hers on piano teacher groups has been well-written and insightful.

Here’s another excellent one I just read while browsing her site:

‘Quitting’ piano: 7 options for teachers, students, and parents



I finally added Rebekah’s website, Rebekah.maxner.ca to my Feedly account. Find out why I think RSS reader’s like Feedly are the best way to follow your favorite websites in this post: Managing Content the Easy Way.



A couple of items to help you through your summer:

Simplify Summer | Becoming Minimalist

Grasping for Summer Routine | The Lazy Genius Podcast



I’m dying to make these recipes::

Chickpea Ceasar Salad

1-Bowl Peanut Butter Protein Pancakes

Easy, Crispy Baja Fish Tacos

Fresh Lemonade



Some posts that focus on Instagram for Piano Teachers:

Instagram for Independent Music Teachers: The #1 Reason You Should Be There

Is Instagram for Piano Teachers? Yes, here’s why! (On Using Hashtags)

How piano teachers can leverage Instagram

Instagram for Piano Teachers: 5 Fun Accounts to Follow


Instagram for Piano Teachers

5 Fun Accounts to Follow

This is a post I’ve been excited to write for a long time. I don’t know why exactly.  I think it’s just because it’s a fun and light post that doesn’t require any of us to revamp our piano-teaching or extend our to-do list. LOL.

If you’re not already on Instagram, you might want to check out this post first on the #1 Reason Why You Should Be On Instagram as in Independent Music Teacher.

Whether you’re just creating your Instagram account for the first time, or if you’ve been on there since the day it launched in 2010, there are five Instagram accounts I’ve really enjoyed recently you might want to consider following if you’re not already.

Before I give you my list, I wanted to let you know exactly what I was looking for in this particular list.


The Criterion

While there are a TON of piano teachers, bloggers, etc. on Instagram, this post is focused on accounts that spark a little “fun” in the piano studio world.

They can include a little (but not too much) of:

  • Marketing for their website or product.
  • Videos of their own playing or their students playing.

They should include:

  • Student / studio-related photos (but not too many).
  • A few personal photos – keep yourself real and relatable!
  • A lot of fun, beautiful piano-related eye candy.

In other words, I was looking for accounts that balanced life and studio, that didn’t seem focused on marketing their self or products, and that included a lot of piano beauty, fun, and even humor.

Here’s are my recommendations in no particular order. (Except the last one which is definitely my favorite!)

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Instagram for Independent Music Teachers

The #1 Reason You Should Be There

With so many social media apps out there, many teachers are hesitant to put the time and effort into trying a new platform. Believe it or not, though, Instagram isn’t new – it’s been out for almost 10 years!

As a fellow skeptic, I want to share with you today the biggest reason why any music teacher who is running an independent music studio needs to be on Instagram.

My own personal journey to Instagram is a big part of this story, so let me start there.


Entering Instagram

In July 2015, I opened my account and posted my first photo.

Since it was August, the month for fresh produce and canning (and you all know I love food), I had a little fun posting a lot of food photos.

Then it was pretty much crickets until October 2016 – more than a year later. Eek!


I’m suddenly back in and using Instagram even more than Facebook.


What happened?

Inspiration finally set in from a session I attended earlier that year at the 2016 MTNA Conference in San Antonio. The session was actually put on by a friend and colleague of mine and was called The Varsity Musician’s Playbook.: Commitment-Building Strategies from Team Sports to the Studio.

I was so inspired by her session, that I asked her to write a 3-part series here on Piano Pantry.

Part 1: Studio Interdependence
Part 2: Studio “Locker Room”
Part 3: Community Presence

Part 3 is where the conviction to start using Instagram again set in. Granted, it took me almost 7 months to gear up to start using Instagram again, but once I did, I haven’t looked back and there’s one big reason why.


Student-Studio Connection

Instagram is (one place) where my students go to connect. Every single one of my high school students is on Instagram as well as a few younger students.

Students can see what’s going on in the studio outside of just their lesson. Most of my students go to different schools, so it’s fun for them to see the life of their piano peer’s outside of piano studio life as well as inside our piano studio life.

They can celebrate each other’s achievements and connect with each other outside of group classes. I witness students “loving” (as it goes on Instagram) and commenting on each other’s photos as well as the studio.

I always like to imagine that if I had social media like this growing up, and I saw a photo of a fellow student who has finished a book that I was struggling through, it would have been great motivation to work hard to also complete the book.


My Instagram Focus

Instagram is such an important part of my studio that I try to keep it focused on just that – my studio. Do I share personal things? Of course. Do I share a few Piano Pantry things once in a while? Yep.

If you follow me on Instagram though, you’ll see that I am 95% focused on my students.

Can we use Instagram as a way to market our studios? Absolutely! My mindset, however, is less on “outward” marketing and more “inward” marketing. That is, developing a community within your studio which then seems to radiate outward on its own.

P.S. Just a tip that in order to actually allow outward marketing to also occur, don’t keep your Instagram account private – be sure it’s a public account. You still want to the public to see all the wonderful things you do in your studio!

Stay tuned for the next Instagram post here on Piano Pantry on what Instagram accounts all piano teachers should be following!

Follow me on Instagram @amystudio88


Friday Finds #136



Add this quote to your next studio newsletter.

“You can’t judge success by the day, the week, the month, or even the year. You have to judge success by the decade.” -Nicholas Cole

from: What 15 Years of Classical Piano Taught Me About Discipline (and Judging Your Own Potential)

(I discovered this article only after it was shared by Benjamin Steinhardt earlier this week on The Art of Piano Pedagogy Facebook group.)



Millennial Music Teachers: 4 Traits They Bring to the Table



Sweetwater is giving away $5,000 of gear any music lover will love in celebration of this year’s Gearfest.



The headphones I wish I had purchased for my keyboards and music lab time 7 years ago.

The AKG K52 has an automatically-adjusting head band that fits nicely to any size head whether it’s a 6-year-old or a 16-year-old. The sound is amazing, and the over-ear, closed-back design helps keep the sound of the other piano student in the room out while students do their music lab. Totally worth the money.



One Way to Think About Talent | Seth Godin



The “Traditional” Teacher (Some Encouraging Words) from Forrest Kinney.


A fun activity for group class: Meter Test – play clips of music to determine if the meter is duple or triple.


As we’re getting our feet wet in Summer: 4 Lessons I Learned From Doing Less.

What I Learned in my 11 months as a Worship Team-Leader

I’ll never forget that day. I was at the 2017 MTNA Conference in Baltimore, Maryland when I got a text from a good friend letting us know that a big announcement would be made at our church that Sunday. It sounded really, really serious.

Since I wouldn’t be there, I called him immediately and was shocked to hear that our Senior Minister, who had been with nearly 30 years, was being let go. (The nitty-gritty of the reason why, of course, is not pertinent to this story, so we’ll skip over those details.)

After hanging up the phone, my next outing at the conference was brunch with my good friend (and author of The Varsity Musician’s Playbook), Christina Whitlock, and Wendy Stevens.  Bless their hearts, they were very sympathetic to my blubbering shock at the information I had just received.

That is one of my life moments I will never forget.

Fast-forward just over a year. It’s now the summer of 2018.

Our church was going through a formal “transition” process with a company called Interim Pastor Ministries. It was a long process, but the results were well worth it in the end.

During this time, a person in our congregation who had been a worship leader in a previous career had been filling in as our worship leader. After a year he was ready to step down, but our church still had not hired a new pastor and wanted to wait until the new pastor came before hiring other staff.

Thus, I was next in line as the most obvious person to ask to lead the worship team.

This is another one of those life-moments where it throws you a complete curveball.

MY plans for 2018-2019 were to vamp up my work here on Piano Pantry, open up a shop, etc. His plans were otherwise, however, and I am so glad I took the fork in the road.


The Job Situation

Since this was a temporary situation and I already had a job playing for a small Lutheran church in our town, the elders wanted to ensure I did not have to quit my job to take on this role. Thus, it was set up that I was the “coordinator” of the team, not necessarily the weekly “up-front” worship leader.

My duties included scheduling the team, choosing music, putting together all the chord charts and sound files, and rehearsing the band and vocalists every Thursday night and Sunday morning. (Plus all the other little things that get wrapped up into it that you can’t really articulate).

On Sunday mornings, I would arrive at our church at 7:00 am to prep, rehearsed the worship team from 8:00-9:15, left to play at the Lutheran Church at 9:30 (while our worship team led the 9:30 service), then came back and attended our 11:00 service with my husband.

Every 6 weeks or so, I would take a week off from the Lutheran Church (I just recorded the music for them on a Yamaha Clavinova) and would lead worship at my church. Otherwise, we had 3-5 team members we rotated as worship leaders from week to week.

It’s been a whirlwind, but the past 11 months has taught me a lot as it’s been a new and unique experience for me. The only other time I’ve been in charge of music in a church was for two summers after I graduated high school. I moved out of my parent’s house and lived with my aunt and uncle so I could lead music at my uncle’s small church. That was 20 years ago though, and things have changed quite a bit!

This week is my last week in this role and I thought it might be nice to share with you some of the things I learned not only so you might glean some tips, but as kind of a final recap for myself mentally.

It’s that whole “putting a period on the end of a sentence” thing in life where you mark the end of one venture before moving onto another.

Here are a few things I’ve learned over the past year:


1) Appreciate the person who is leading.

Just like a lot of things in life, it’s easy to nit-pick and finds fault if things aren’t exactly the way you would like them. We tend to like things catered to our exact tastes.

There is so much more that goes into the role of worship leader – I had no idea. I learned that I need to appreciate the person who is in that role more and be positive and supportive of that person, even if their “style” or the way they operate things is not exactly the way I would do things.


2) Plan with Planning Center Services

Planning Center is a website for churches focused on managing different areas of the church such as member databases, check-ins for child programs, church event management, and so much more.

One of those areas is Planning Center Services which is designed to organize all things worship-team including team schedules, weekly planning, and file-sharing. We have our own song database, can organize our songs with tags and can see a history of when and how often we’ve done each song. I don’t know what I would have done without it!

Planning Center Services also has a sheet music app called Music Stand that links to your P.C.S. account and syncs your Order of Service playlist so it will create a set list from your service order. The best part is that if you make any updates to the files, it will automatically update in Music Stand as well.

It even has the ability to connect everyone’s iPad on the team to one “session” so one person can turn everyone’s page at the same time. (This feature never worked for us quite the way we wanted but it’s still a cool feature!)

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Studio Awards Update (Including Some Awesome Trophies!)

This year marked the eighth year of my full-time piano studio. Suddenly, this spring, it just felt like it was the year to go through a revision of the studio awards I give every year at our year-end Spring Recital.

I’ve already written a detailed post on how I track my studio awards using an Awards Policies and Procedures Manual. This post (which I just updated), also includes details on the types of awards I give each year as well as the specific trophies, etc.

This year I went through a pretty good overhaul. Not only have I changed what awards students get for their years of study as part of the MTNA Music Study Award (again, see the first post), but I changed trophy companies and I am very happy with the results.

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Friday Finds #135



People Magazine is not my idea of a regular reader, but I have two stories from People to highlight this week.

First, I’m a huge fan of Ina Garten but this Ina-themed Bachelorette Party kind of freaks me out. Mostly the photo where they all dressed like her. Weird.

Second, my husband’s niece just graduated high school and for her Senior Prom, her date MADE her prom dress. The story was not only featured in the June 2 edition of People Magazine, but it made news in the Daily Mail of the UK!


Daily Mail UK
Fox 35 Orlando
Fox 5 NY
Fox 59



Fruit Pizza. Maybe we should be totally disgusted with those two words combined, but it’s totally American and totally yummy. Here’s one from Pinch of Yum.



How to Plan for Your Summer Growth

Part of me loves this but part of me wants to curl up in a bawl and scream…

“Stop making us have to grow and improve every moment of our lives! Sometimes we just need to live life and do summer and not have to have a 12-step plan for getting better at everything in life!”

Rant over.



An article to use in your upcoming newsletter to parents regarding the importance of keeping up a practice routine – especially through the Summer months! (This goes for teachers as well 🙂 )



Do you have a certain phrase you tend to use the most right of the bat at the beginning of lessons? Mine more often than not (after greeting the student and asking how their week has been) is something along the lines of…

“What did you work on or focus on most this week?”

“What was your favorite piece?”

“Is there anything particular you would like to share with me about your time at the piano this week?”

Here are 21 more phrases gathered by the Curious Piano Teachers.



The 2020 MTNA Collegiate Symposium is going to be held right here in my own state of Indiana and at my alma mater, Ball State University! Mark your calendar to attend!



Lifetime access to Piano Teaching Academy for only $127. Wow!



I handle my materials fees similar to the way Spring Seals describes in this article and completely agree with the reasons she states why it works.

The only small difference in the way I do it is rather than charting a flat amount per year, I charge $60 per student when they start and then when their account falls below $5 I ask them to recharge $60 again. This could happen at any point of the year. I just keep a spreadsheet for each student so I know what books I’ve given them and how much I’ve spent per students



Today is the last day to take advantage of the 50% Trade-in-offer from AirTurn. I mailed out my old Bluetooth pedal today in exchange for a new one. It’s a great deal!


Friday Finds #134

This past weekend was my student’s Spring Recital. It always feels so good to see my students and realize how far they’ve come from the previous year!

Having a recital as the final event at the end of the school term is kind of like a period at the end of a sentence. It’s a final statement of what’s been said while also being an invitation for what’s ahead.

Here’s to Summer and fresh beginnings!



Self-Care for piano teachers: 6 tips for mental, physical, and spiritual wellness

#2 has me curious. Do any of you drink the “Natural Calm” hot drink that the article recommends? If so, let me know in the comments what you think.



On Alfred Music blog:

The Worship Music Debate Continues: Understanding Music’s Role in Worship Services



It’s the end of the school year and I’ve been trying to Spring Clean my studio. One purchase I made to help tidy a little more is a 32 x 31 Portfolio Case to hold my extra poster boards and the thick foam boards I use for my One Minute Club sign.



Summer is upon us and my Amazon shopping cart also housed my second pair of these Sanuk Yoga Joy Metallic Flip-Flops.

The sole is made of rubber but the upper portion is made of Yoga mat material and is really comfortable. They also have a bit of arch support in them which makes them a winner in my book.



Still looking for a fab gift for your favorite graduate?

One of the best gift packages I’ve come up for a special graduate was a package with these three items.

Electric Water Kettle
I Love Ramen Cookbook
12 Pack of Ramen Noodles

The graduate I gave this gift to informed me it was the best gift they received and they absolutely loved it!



Taco Bell Is Opening a Resort in Palm Springs This Summer




If you haven’t already had the conversation with yourself yet on whether or not you will be raising your tuition for 2019-2020, check out these two articles from Wendy Steven’s as well as the cool Inflation Calculator she recommends.

How Often Should I Raise Teaching Rates?
Can You Raise Your Piano Lesson Price Too High?
CPI Inflation Calculator



Fiery Piano Sheet music: Showstoppers for Students Who Like to Play Fast



These “Sessions” Books from Teach Piano Today look interesting. I do have a few teen students that I think would enjoy these. Is anyone else using these books? If so, let me know what you think!


Friday Finds #133

Today’s featured image is the photos that I posted of my studio on Instagram to enter MTNA’s free membership giveaway! All you have to do is post a photo of your studio on Instagram, tag it #mtnamembership, and follow @MTNAorg on Instagram.

They will draw a winner on June 3. The odds are looking pretty good as there are only 21 entries so far!



“Do what you know. Finish what you started.  Use what you have.”
This is an excellent statement that I want to be part of my life’s mantras. I’m pretty good at the last one, OK at first, and not always so good with the middle one. :-/


I heard this quote from Myquillyn Smith on this episode of The Next Right Thing Podcast.


A Better Way to Freeze Bacon. Hmm, I’ve never tried this. I often will lay the individual pieces out on wax or freezer paper in layers so they will defrost quickly. Has anyone tried the rolling method they mention?



Street Food on Netflix. Looks like a great show!



Suggestions on The Best Disney Piano Books from Lauren Lewandski at PianowithLauren.com



Do you use Piano Safari’s sightreading cards? Consider using videos…



Teaching excerpts from Burgmüller’s Opus 100.



It was only a few months ago that I discovered LaCroix. I have no idea how far behind I am in that, but oh well, I know the product now and love it – mostly. Actually, only a few. I love the Pure (no flavor) and the Orange. The Berry flavor is OK but Cran-Raspberry is awful. Apparently, there’s a new Hibiscus flavor now.

If you’re into sparkling water though, definitely try Perrier’s Strawberry and Orange flavors. They’re awesome for summer