Top Posts from 2018

The Best of the Best


It’s that time of year! Yep, it’s time for a recap of life, including the life of Piano Pantry! In this post you will find:
  • Most popular posts written in 2018
  • Most popular posts/pages of all time
  • Most read Friday Finds of 2018
  • My personal favorite from 2018
  • A month-by-month recap of posts from 2018


Most Popular Posts Written in 2018

#1 Piano Teacher Must-Have’s: A Minimalist’s List

#2 Candy Jar Contest Printable

#3 Manipulatives and Games for Private and Group Lessons: A Master List

#4 One-Click Calendar: Your Annual Studio Calendar Simplified [Video]

#5 Back-to-Teaching: Six Easy Recipes for the Week Ahead


Most Popular Posts/Pages of All Time

#1 Assignment Sheet Central

#2 Piano Safari Stuffed Animal Shopping Guide

#3 Piano Teacher Must-Have’s: A Minimalist’s List

#4 Candy Jar Contest Printable

#5 Evernote: An Independent Piano Teacher’s Handbook, Part 1


Most-Read Friday Find of 2018

#1 = Friday Find #100 (of course, it was the big recap and giveaway winner announcement! ūüôā )


My Personal Favorite From 2018

While this was not one of the top posts, the addition of the monthly “Secret Letter” was the biggest addition to Piano Pantry this year and the one thing that has excited me (and still excites me) the most.

Writing them is a highlight of my month (and hopefully it’s a highlight for readers as well!). They feel like a special piece of me delivered right into your hands.

If you would like to subscribe, you can do so here.


Month-by-Month Recap of Posts from 2018

  • Piano Teacher World: A Year in Recap: 2018
  • This “Top Posts from 2018: The Best of the Best”¬† ūüôā


If you want to check out the recap posts from previous years check out:

Piano Pantry’s Best of 2016.

Piano Pantry’s Top Posts from 2017


Friday Finds #115

Christmas Edition

Last lessons are being taught, final gifts are being purchased and wrapped, and grocery cards are full of holiday treats as Christmas nears. May you have a blessed time with friends and family over the next week and find your time off from teaching rejuvenating and relaxing.

Merry Christmas!



Easy Christmas Lead Sheets to Inspire Creativity.



If you’re a user of hashtag’s, check out The Best Hashtags to Use During the Holiday Season.





I thought I was in heaven when one of my husband’s co-workers made this Peanut Butter Brownie Puppy Chow.  

His co-workers went bonkers over this Easy Cranberry and Apple Cake I made. (Tip: We like it better with about 1/2 the number of cranberries.)

Both our families go crazy over these Cranberry Feta Pinwheels when we make them during the holidays.



A beautiful night time Christmas tour.



Peppermint candy canes or fruity candy canes? Get in the debate!



We’re having ham for our family Christmas lunch. Here’s the most popular honey ham recipe on Pinterest. (My mom is making ours – she does her own thing and it’s awesome but I don’t have a recipe ūüėČ )



How to Host an Easy Holiday Brunch.



You Need To Follow These 10 Instagram Accounts For Holiday Inspiration.



Christmas season posts from my Instagram account (which I use mostly for my studio).


Piano Teacher World

A Year in Recap: 2018


Last year (2017), after being inspired by a post written by Leila Viss in 2016, I decided to sit down and think through everything that happened not only in my world as an independent piano teacher but just in general in what I would call “Piano Teacher World”.

Writing posts like these the last couple of years have been very enlightening, encouraging and really just a healthy exercise in gratitude in general.

The idea behind the “Piano Teacher World” recap is to take a look back at significant news, happenings, and impact in the world of independent piano teachers. The final part of this post also includes resources that have made a direct impact on my own teaching.

I tried to be as thorough as I could and will admit that the list is much smaller than it was last year. Be sure and share in the comments if there was anything you would add to the list!

For the sake of being thorough, I asked for recommendations on multiple Facebook groups and received a lot of excellent feedback on The Art of Piano Pedagogy group regarding overall trends – all of which I agree with. Let’s start with those. (If you’re interested in reading all the comments, which are much more specific, check out the full post here.)


2018 Trends

1 | Declining or leveled-off interest in iPads and apps. Better balance and understanding in the role they play in lessons.

2 | Teaching and learning piano online is becoming more and more viable and easily available.

3 | A shift in attitude and growing excitement toward rote teaching/learning.

4 | Increased curiosity and interest in Music Learning Theory and how it can impact piano teaching, not just Early Childhood Music.

5 | Continually improved quality and ease-of-availability in regards to self-published material.

6 | Rising interested in quality blogs, podcasts, and online communities.

7|  Continual professionalization of the field.

8 | A renewed interest in pedagogy outside of academia.

9 | Ongoing concerns with declining membership in professional organizations such as MTNA.

Also mentioned in the list, while not a “trend,” was¬†Brenda Wristen¬†and Lora Deahl’s book Adaptive Strategies for Small-Handed Pianists (Published November 2017).


In Piano Teacher News

ELISA MILNE opened a shop on her website.

Launch of CYBER CONSERVATORY that accompanies the app Super Score.

A teacher friend shared this one specifically with me. She has always loved Marvin Blickenstaff’s method “Music Pathways” and Paul Sheftel’s MIDI accompaniment for the series. She says there are lots of good compositions by Lynn Freeman Olson.¬†

THE FRANCIS CLARK CENTER is continuing to see changes as Dr. Pamela Pike was named the new Editor in Chief/Chief Content Director and Dr. Andrea McAlister was appointed as the new Director of Content Curation and Senior Editor for Clavier Companion. 

They also launched a Facebook group for subscribers called Piano Teach Learn.

Continue reading

Friday Finds #114

I’ve finally learned my lesson over the years that I should not wait until the last week of lessons to¬†give my students their Christmas presents.¬†Why? There have been plenty of years where students didn’t come to the last week of lessons and thus I had a handful of gifts left. It just felt strange giving it to them in January.

Next week is our last week of lessons so this week was the gift-giving week. The ornaments¬†I gave out this year were a breeze as they came pre-wrapped in cute little gift boxes with ribbons around them. Easy! That’s my cup of tea.

The other lesson I’ve learned is that I try to purchase next year’s gift the year prior, then I don’t have to worry about what to get my students when Christmas comes around next year. There have been plenty of years where I was down to the last wire getting an order in time. It was such as relief this year to find this box of ornaments all ready to go!

You can find the ornaments pictured above on Amazon.

(As always a reminder that anything linked to Amazon is an affiliate link which simply means that if you happen to purchase using that link, I receive a small percentage back at no extra cost to you which helps me maintain this website).

We’re in the long-stretch to Christmas break. Keep it up!



Ear infection. Yuck! I haven’t had one of those since I was a kid and yet here I am, fighting one this week (along with other cold symptoms). Consequently, I’m using a lot of my go-to tips shared in Germ-Alert: A Studio Teachers Guide to Staying Healthy.¬†(Or¬†maybe telling you I’m sick isn’t a way to get you to read¬†my tips to staying healthy…hmmm…I think I have that backward. ūüôā )



THAT person is more important than your phone.¬†Yes, Amen. I try to always keep this in mind when going through a drive-through. More than once I’ve found myself driving away and realizing I never even really looked the people in the eye that took me money or handed me food.

Be intentional at acknowledging people.



The best pack of stickers I’ve ever spent money on. I tell my students even¬†I want to earn one of these stickers! ūüôā

Koobar Year-Round Holiday Stickers Variety Pack (400+ stickers)



I’m always up for a good list of recommended podcasts.¬†Thanks, Leila.



While we’re on the topic of lists, Rosemarie Penner at has created a couple of lists on her Top Must-Have Teaching Apps and Top Must-Have Business Apps for the Studio.



If you need some help organizing those apps, watch my video on how I organize my devices in App-land Madness.



One of my students who has been with me for more than 5 years has always had TERRIBLE posture.  It is a continual battle to get him to sit up and not slouch.

This past week I finally had a revelation to have him sit on one of the vestibular wedges I purchased this summer after being at Joy Morin’s Piano Retreat where we talked about technique/posture, etc. The instant effect was astounding and he even said that he noticed himself sitting taller at school (even without it). I wish I would have thought about this years ago

Personally, I’ve been using this one on my teaching chair this entire semester and absolutely love it.

Friday Finds #113

Happy Friday!

In this weeks featured photo, my sweet little student was using some of our favorite winter-themed Japanese erasers to lay out the notes of the E minor scale(s). (I would suggest buying two sets since it only comes with 7.)

Recently, I shared my love for these erasers in the post Piano Teacher Must-Haves: A Minimalist’s List.

I love teaching all three forms of the scale at one time. We always start with the natural minor so they understand the relationship between the relative major and minor. This is also the reason why I use moveable DO with
LA-based minor. It makes not only the “theory” but the audiation of major and minor keys so much easier to understand! To execute the minor all you do is start on a different note of the scale (LA).

Enjoy this week’s links!



Here’s what your resume should look like in 2019.



My senses are enjoying the gentle and tantalizing scent of this Coconut, Vanilla, and Tangerine Essential Oils Body Lotion.¬†Diane Hidy’s first shared it a few years ago in one of her Christmas lists. It’s a bit of a splurge, so I’m using it sparingly, but it might make a great gift for someone you’re not sure what to get!



One concept I don’t have a game for in my Master List of Manipulatives is for Crescendo and Decrescendo. There are plenty of piano games out there for dynamics in general, but I like how this one from Teach Piano Today is specifically for crescendo and decrescendo only.



It’s about that time: 3 Gentle Ways to Review Your Life in the New Year.



Washing the Dishes May Help Relieve Stress.¬†This past year I’ve been hand -washing most of our dishes because the dishwasher in our rental is old and doesn’t do a great job anymore. I’ve actually been enjoying the somewhat liturgical practice and motion of hand-washing the dishes and even when I have a good dishwasher someday will likely continue to hand wash as much as possible. Not only that, but dishes just fare better with the gentle hand-washing.

One small downside to hand-washing is the skin on my fingertips tends to get really dry and annoyingly catches on things like my clothes. So, I finally started using dishwashing gloves and my hands are thanking me. These Playtext Living gloves ones are the best I’ve found. Plus, each season there’s a fun new color.



Congratulations to Tim Topham on the release of his new Inner Circle Piano Teachers App and to Elisa Milne for her new Shop!



Thoughts on making time stand still.



In past Friday finds, I’ve shared this fun lego piano.

Piano Street recently posted a video of a complex concert grand piano in Lego form that hopes to someday make it into retail production. Would this be amazing or what?



A fascinating video on how real Parmigiano Reggiano is made in Italy.



Managing Internet Content the Easy Way

Let's stop for a minute and think about how many people we "follow" online. To keep it even more specific and focused, only think about those you follow who create content for piano teachers.

Can you count them all on one hand or do you lose track after listing more than a dozen?

I stopped counting after 50. Yes, 50.  I'm pretty sure my number is actually closer to 90.

Let's crank that jaw back shut - it's not as scary as it seems!

Next to email, managing the influx of content from all our favorite blogs and websites seems to be the one area that teachers struggle with the most - and for good reason. The last five years especially have seen an explosion of new content creators - I'm one of them!

Believe it or not, it is possible to follow a large number of sites online in a manageable way without it feeling overwhelming. More importantly, you can do it without clogging your email Inbox or Facebook Newsfeed with articles. Curious?


Read More

Friday Finds #112

Now that our bellies are full of turkey, we can fix our eyes to the Christmas Season! I hope you had a joyful time with your family around the Thanksgiving table making memories and sharing joy and laughter.

(Due to the holidays, I took last week off from FF so if you missed the Thanksgiving Edition posted two weeks ago, you can catch it here.)

The turn from Thanksgiving to Christmas is practically a phenomenon as we seemingly go to sleep on Thursday and wake up Friday to the world transformed.¬† ‘Tis the season! Are you ready?



The photo above is at our City Hall. I follow a fun Instagram account that posts a lot around the holidays. The owner of the account even shares photos sent to them, so I passed this one on. If you follow the account you may catch it sometime!



As you prepare for the upcoming season, you may consider: Is it Time for Us to Rethink How We Give Gifts?



For all you Chai fans – Caffeine-Free Chai Mix.



If you’re struggling to come up with another gift idea for your students, have no fear, help is here! Christmas Gift Ideas for Your Music Students: Who Couldn‚Äôt Use Another Idea?



What you may not have known about IKEA.



Some great suggestions for the Advent season on The Art of Simple.



I am absolutely loving this Peppermint Chapstick by S.W. Basics. It’s made with beeswax, cocoa butter, olive oil, and of course, peppermint! A tiny touch of the season on my lips.



A gift guide for new cooks.



If you don’t have an Advent calendar yet, you can get a CHEESE one at Target!



Group classes don’t have to be stressful¬† – sometimes it’s nice to just keep it simple.



Winter is fighting with Fall here in Indiana. We’re not sure what season we’re in. It’s been colder than usual though and last Sunday I appreciated the opportunity to keep my oven on for an extended period of time making¬†¬†Slow-Roasted Sweet Potatoes.

The way the slow roasting completely permeates the flesh of the potatoes is incredible. The potato stood on its own two feet with absolutely no butter, brown sugar, or maple syrup added. Just beautiful orange-fleshy sweet potato.

Listening Guide Updated

Yesterday I posted a Visual Listening Guide to use with students during group classes. I accidentally included “Lydian” twice in the tonality section and forgot Locrian. The sheet has been updated. Thanks to the reader who pointed it out!

View the post here.

A Visual Listening Guide for Group Class Performances

Listening guides are like a collector’s item in my studio. The file drawers hold no less than six different forms obtained over the years from other wonderful teaching sites.¬†Unfortunately, none of them have hit it spot on for me, so last year I finally came up with my own.

Inspired by the Listening Card Race from Pianimation, this listening guide uses small visual cues and descriptors. This sheet is wonderful to use for student performances during group class to keep students engaged in listening to the music (and performance) actively.

My recommendation would be to go over the sheet first as a class and even do some demonstrations. With younger students, I sometimes even like to have them pronounce the words together to make sure they feel comfortable with the terms.

Laminating the sheets will keep them in good shape for repeated use. Sometimes we use dry-erase markers, but I prefer to simply have students use game markers such as pennies, Japanese erasers, or the clear flat marbles that you see.

Note: I don’t necessarily expect students to write down answers to the question of for “Mood,” etc.¬†They can simply be prepared with a verbal answer.





Friday Finds #111

Thanksgiving Edition

For some reason, the month of November feels like it’s gone faster than any other month this year. Every time I think about the fact that Thanksgiving is next week I feel like reenacting the face made by Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone.

Enjoy this week’s¬†finds and I’ll see you in two weeks! ~Amy



Some of my favorite recipes, gadgets, and music for the holiday season can be found in Amy’s Holiday Favorites.



Chasing the Turkey board game from Susan Paradis.



Melodic dictation of Thanksgiving tunes for intermediate levels and Pumpkin pie listening thermometers from  Compose Create.



When we lived in Australia, one of my favorite chefs to watch on TV was the Canadian show French Food at Home hosted by Laura Calder. As we’re coming into a season of having our homes full of family, food, and friends, it’s the perfect time to share her book The Inviting Life:¬†An Inspirational Guide to Homemaking, Hosting and Opening the Door to Happiness.

“The Inviting Life” what a beautiful idea!



#GivingTuesday is a large part of the upcoming season. As an independent teacher, if you’re looking for ways to give back to the profession, consider the MTNA Foundation Fund.



Speaking of giving…

If you use Amazon for shopping at all, consider connecting with a non-profit through before doing all your holiday shopping. For example, our local creative arts organization and the church camp Drew and I support both have an organizational account. Simply do your shopping at rather than on and 0.5% of your purchases will go back to your organization of choice without costing you any extra!



Lauren just shared a great little challenge she gave to her piano students. Maybe you’ll find the December Studio Challenge a great fit for your student next month!



Journals and diaries have never worked for me – I’ve tried over the years and it never lasts. The idea of the “One-line-a-day” journal is very appealing to me though and I’m thinking of doing this in 2019. It seems like a simple and yet beautiful way to reflect on life. Does anyone do this and if so what do you think? Do you have a particular journal you like? This is the one I’m looking at purchasing. Share in the comments!



Have you seen Natalie’s new website? It looks amazing¬† – so simple and fresh. Check it out!



Thanksgiving often is focused on the blessings of health, position, family, friends, home, and belonging Рall good things, but perhaps we should consider also giving thanks for spiritual blessings Рthe kind that has value beyond life on earth.

This beautiful song written by Keith and Kristy Getty focus on the spiritual blessings. They state:

In “My heart is filled with thankfulness” we give thanks to God for spiritual blessings ‚Äď past, present and future:¬† what Christ has done for us ‚Äď for forgiveness and new life, which only He could bring by coming here to earth and suffering for us…for how He walks beside us each day and having lived, breathed and walked here on earth…for how He promises to be with us whatever our future holds.