Friday Finds #109

Has anyone been to New Orleans? If so, you may have visited Cafe Du Monde. My husband was there last week for a big conference/training with Tableau Software.

He and his colleagues visited the cafe three times for Beignets over the week! LOL. Luckily he knows me well and brought home a box of the mix as well as their famous coffee with Chicory. Fun!



Nice and simple sticker charts for reviewing technique exercises in the keys of C/Am, G/Em, and F/Dm from Piano Safari.



Practice Strategy: Video-Game Start-Overs from Color In My Piano. P.S. My best memories of childhood video games is on Atari! I also loved the old computer game Oregon Trail. I’m really dating myself now…



Music Learning Theory basics brought to you in a fun and easy way from one of the best in the business. I absolutely love RG’s style!



Drew and I got on the Magic Eraser bandwagon last year when we bought our Quadra-Fire fireplace as they’re brilliant for cleaning the glass. Here are a few more Magic Eraser products that exist if you’re a fan.



How to Market Childhood Music Programs to Millennial Parents.



We’re approaching the gift-giving season. I know I’ve mentioned this product before on Piano Pantry, but I love it so much, I wanted to share it again as we go into this season.

Birchbox is a subscription box that sends you five product samples each month. The 3-month subscription is an awesome gift for a teenage daughter, or mom, or even a guy you know who likes those kinds of things – they have Birchbox for men!



How to Minimize Jet Lag and Perform Your Best When Crossing Multiple Time Zones.



You CAN Afford an Adjustable Bench from The Piano Studio.



Chocolate-Covered Chai Tea Bars. Sold.



What’s in Season in November.


Happy weekend, everyone! ~Amy



Teaching Syncopation with Rocket Man

On the assignment sheet I’m currently using with students there is a practice reflection that also includes a space for students to write down a piece they would like to learn.

“What piece would you like to learn?” is one of my favorite questions on the practice diary. Not only is it an opportunity for the student to communicate their musical interests with me, but it’s opened my eyes to new music. It’s amazing to see how many students push themselves to learn to play repertoire much harder than their “level” – especially when it’s a song they really want to play.

Giving students some autonomy and choice in music is also important for retention. For more on that, check out the post: A Picture Number is Worth a Thousand Words: Studio Retention-Rate Marketing.

One of my students who plays around the late-intermediate level recently wanted to play Rocket Man. is my go-to place for all individual song requests. The arrangement I found for her has proven to be an excellent study in syncopation and is challenging her rhythm skills.

Perhaps you have a student who may enjoy it as well?

Here is the arrangement of Rocketman on

Just for fun, here’s the Offical Music Video for Rocket Man.


Assignment Sheet with *that* Emoji Updated

A reader contacted me and asked if I would consider tweaking her favorite assignment sheet – #15 – on Assignment Sheet Central. Why?

Well, the “practice cake” graphic that shows students the steps for good practice kind of looked like *that* emoji. Yeah, you know which one I’m talking about. Don’t make me say it.

Well, OK…it is what it’s is.

It looks like the poop emoji. There. I said it. Do you agree?

In my defense, I’m pretty sure the poop emoji did not even exist when I created this assignment sheet.

That being said, I had to agree with her and thus, created a new design. Since the assignment sheet is titled “Practice Steps,” I thought it would be more fitting to use the visual of actual stair steps rather than a cake.

Like what you see? See more where that came from on Assignment Sheet Central.


Friday Finds #108

This past week was one of those weeks where I finally had a chance to work on a bunch of projects that always get cast aside due to the busyness of life. My husband has been gone since Sunday on a work-related training and I’m playing it solo.

Amongst my to-do list was updating my student photo board – a project I would normally like to have done by the first of September…

Despite the fact that my amateur photography skills had a hard time catching a good photo without reflections, I’m thrilled with how it looks this year.

Stay tuned for a “how-to” post in the next few weeks!



Catching up on Seth Godin’s Akimbo podcast recently, there were two, in particular, I found fascinating. One is somewhat music related and one not.

Anthems, Pledges, and Change: Where does change come from?

The Deletionists: Who decides what we know?



Reflections on the story of how Julie Andrews lost her voice and then found a new one on Becoming Minimalist.



Throat Coat is one of the best teas to have on hand for the winter months when colds and sore throats are prevalent.

It will become your new best friend, especially if you’re a voice teacher. We even keep it on hand on our breakfast food cart for the music worship team at church.



Speaking of being sick…we all know chicken soup has been dubbed the best thing to eat when you’re sick, but I have a problem with that. What if you don’t like chicken noodle soup?!

In all my 38 years I have never found chicken noodle soup recipe I really like – until now (and I am so relieved!). I mean, who doesn’t like chicken noodle soup?!

The best thing about this recipe is that it is chock full of other good nutrient-rich ingredients for when you’re feeling under the weather. Perfect. Here it is!

The Best Chicken Soup You’ll Ever Eat from The Ambitious Kitchen.

Besides the goodies like ginger, turmeric, garlic, rosemary, and thyme, it uses pearled couscous instead of noodles! Love it.



My most advanced student just choose her Christmas book this week and we were both mesmerized. It was the first time I had discovered and used Kevin Olson’s Advanced Jazzed Up Christmas. If she wasn’t going to play from it this season, I was!


It was a strong contender with Phillip Keveren’s Jingle Jazz which just became MY new Christmas book to play from for this season!




If you’re still on the search for Christmas repertoire, definitely check out Leila’s new arrangement of O Come, O Come, Emmanual which she has woven with “Pavane” by Faure´.



There are a couple of professional opportunities and deadlines approaching if you’re interested:

Apply for MTNA Studio Teacher Fellowship – Deadline November 1.   The winner gets a $3,000 cash award! I wish I had known about this award in my early years of opening my studio…

Proposals for the 2019 National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy are also due November 1.


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. 🙂



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 – several 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 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.

Continue reading

Friday Finds #104

Last weekend I celebrated my 30th birthday for the 9th time. 🙂 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! 😉



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 – Taming 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!