New Semester, New Assignment Sheet!

The beginning of a new semester is the best time to break out a new assignment sheet! It’s an easy way to shake things up and make the new semester feel refreshed.

Can you believe that Assignment Sheet Central has seen a total of 23,586 downloads in the past 3 years?! Yowzah!

The top downloaded sheets are the first five listed on Assignment Sheet Central. Literally, the further down the numbers go, the less the download numbers are.

Those numbers make it blatantly obvious that you simply don’t want to scroll through all 21 so you take the best of the first five. I get it!

You might be missing out, though!

Guess what? The assignment sheets are ordered (roughly) from the oldest I created to the newest. So, #01 is the first one I ever created and #21 is the most recent.

In my opinion, the final ones are the best. Try one out!

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Friday Finds #160

Ringing in the New Decade!

Happy last Friday of December (and of this decade!)

I was just looking back at old posts and realized that this is the first year I haven’t taken a break from Friday Finds through the holiday! Each year brings its own rhythm and this year I felt able to (and the desire to) keep things going.

Since I’ve been having fun adding themes to some the weekly Friday Finds recently (a trend that will continue into the new year), this week’s obvious theme is the upcoming turn into the next decade.

When I was a teenager in the ’90s, I explicitly remember not being concerned about the whole Y2K thing. However, the year 2020 always stuck in my mind as the year that was hard to fathom coming around. And yet, here we are.



Before we kick off the new year, let’s see what the best of 2019 gave us here on Piano Pantry. First off, the top Friday Finds posts from this past year:

#5Friday Finds #158: The Spirit of Christmas

#4Friday Finds #128 (April 12, 2019)

#3Friday Finds #138 (June 28, 2019)

#2 Friday Finds #148 (October 4, 2019

#1 – Friday Finds #150: Top 25 and a Giveaway! (of course)

I find it a little spooky that they all ended in the number eight…what’s up guys, do you have a thing with that number or something?



The Fabulous Five: Top Posts from 2019 (Amy Chaplin | Piano Pantry)



Is your belly feeling heavy already after just one holiday? Try one of my favorite salads: Seriously Delicious Detox Salad (Ali Martin | Gimme Some Oven)

Or maybe a recipe I haven’t had a chance to make yet: The Best Detox Crockpot Lentil Soup (Lindsay Ostrom | Pinch of Yum)



Since we’ve been slowly hosting more these past months, I’ve noticed a need for an ice bucket.

We’re loving this silver galvanized one from Amazon. The inner bucket comes out for easy cleaning and the scoop which hangs on the bucket is easier than using small tongs to get one piece at a time.



As you may have noticed, I’ve been having fun making Spotify playlists this year. I love all kinds of music and having various playlists to use for even just one, two, or a few weeks out of the year is a great way to change it up!

I just started a New Year’s playlist to use over the next week. It’s still in progress, but feel free to follow and see where it ends up!



10 Kitchen Resolutions for a Happy, Delicious Year (Clotilde Dusoulier | Chocolate and Zucchini)

My top ones from this list are:

#1 – Make the Most of the Cookbooks You Already Own

I’m starting this year off cooking from Amy Chaplin’s (the other one) book: At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen

#5 – Keep Your Greens Fresh

Clotilde’s tips have helped me in the past but I haven’t been consistent. It’s time.

#9 – Eat More Plants

…and also, seafood. I’ve been doing much better with this in recent months. Monday nights have generally become seafood night if possible. A few  favorite seafood recipes:

Buffalo Shrimp Lettuce Wraps (Gina Homolka | Skinny Taste)

Tilapia “Clubs” (Rachel Ray |

Frittata with Tuna and Tomatoes (Giada de Laurentiis | Food Network)



My Favorites of the Decade (Kendra Adachi | The Lazy Genius)

This is a fun idea for a post. So often we get favorites and top lists from the past year, but of the past 10?! Not so often.



ALL 10 are great tips:

10 Rules to Read More Books This Year: How to Make Reading Central to Your Personal Growth in the Coming Year (Joel Miller |



On morning routines:

What if, instead of making resolutions to get up and go faster and faster, we resolve to think about our day “starting in the evening” and making rest a priority?

Starting the New Year with Rest (Amanda Beck | Morning by Morning)

The False Promise of Morning Routines: Why Everyone’s Mornings Seem More Productive Than Yours (Marina Koren | The Atlantic)



Thinking About the Winter of 2019 (Rachel Schultz)


See you next year!!!

XO Amy


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The Fabulous Five

Top Posts from 2019

Here we are with the close of 2019 in our sight. The act of hitting pause and taking a moment to look back and reflect on the past 365 days has always proven to be a life-giving exercise.

I’ve been doing this since I started Piano Pantry and it always proves to be a lesson in gratitude – not just for what’s been “accomplished” – but for what life has given. Opportunity and the freedom to do what we love can easily be taken for granted in today’s world.

Thank you for being here, for connecting with me whether it be through Facebook comments, email replies to my newsletter, or comments on blog posts.

I hope that my little slice of pie in the online piano teacher content world proves to be, for you, not just useful, but inspiring, invigorating, and more than anything…inviting.

In today’s post, I’ll share:

  1. Five posts from 2019 that you deemed that most “fabulous” (by visiting them, of course 🙂 ).
  2. The top five posts of all time since Piano Pantry started in March 2016.
  3. A month-by-month run-down of the posts from 2019.
  4. A few fun stats.

I’m looking forward to what 2020 has in store!


Top Posts From 2019

#1 |  A Visual Guide for Formula Pattern Scales

A free and easy-to-use visual guide for introducing students to formula-pattern scales. Students enjoy playing this pattern once they get the hang of it!

#2 | 147 Tunes to Harmonize: Traditional, Popular, and Christmas

Get the free download of 147 tunes to harmonize using a little as the tonic chord or as much as four chords. Tips for teaching students to harmonize.

#3 | The Piece My Students and I Can’t Stop Playing

My students and I haven’t been able to stop playing this piece of music. Hear why they love it!

#4 | Instagram for Piano Teachers: 5 Fun Accounts to Follow

If you’re on Instagram and you’re a piano teacher, then you should be following these five fun accounts. A little piano, a little personal, a LOT of fun.

#5 | Christmas Gift Round-Up

An important tip for your studio gift-giving, a new gift idea from my studio, and a big ‘ole round-up of all the student gift ideas you could ever want!

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Friday Finds #159

Christmas Classics

This week our house has been buzzing with lots of construction!

Since the weekend before Thanksgiving, we’ve been working on finishing our stairwell. This was quite an involved task!

It included building and finishing the newel posts and handrails, removing the construction step treads, building and installing the outer and inner skirt boards, rebuilding/releveling the step bases (which has sagged slightly due to a year being unfinished), building the new treads, filling in nail holes, trimming, and painting.

The carpet is being installed as we speak (our final carpet install!) then we will put up the handrails and balisters.

On top of that, our master bathroom floor and shower are also getting tiled!

Long story short?

I’m thankful a friend encouraged me to schedule an extra week’s break over Christmas this year. It would have been impossible having students around this week!

Merry Christmas to you all!



Despite the busy week of construction, I still managed to make:

Poached Cod in Tomato Sauce (Michelle Tam | Nom Nom Paleo)

Seriously Delicious Detox Salad (Ali Martin | Gimme Some Oven)

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



While we’re on the topic of food…

As far as baking goes, cookies are definitely my favorite (to eat and to bake!). You may be shocked then, to hear that the whole Christmas cookie “thing” has never been a “thing” in our family.

I think it’s because we already have way too many sweets as it is in December. The thought of baking 12 kinds of cookies just seems like a sugar-overload disaster waiting to happen.

This is more my language: My Favorite Christmas Cookies Aren’t Cookies at All — They’re Candied Orange Peels (Christopher Michel | The Kitchn)



CBS This Morning hosted a nice segment on Mariah Carey’s 25-year old Christmas classic, All I Want for Christmas is You. Songwriter Walter Afansieff shares the story of their collaboration while sitting at the piano.



I’ve been working on two Spotify Christmas playlists.

The first one I shared in my last Secret Letter (and maybe in another Friday Finds? I can’t remember…) It includes all of my favorite Christmas songs and albums from over the years (including said song above).

The second one is more of a Christmas worship-focused playlist. Feel free to follow either one. You can even use them to start your own playlist!



In the hustle and bustle of the season, don’t forget the people that are right in front of you.

THAT Person is More Important than Your Phone (Joshua Becker | Becoming Minimalist)



Last week, I shared a delicious Cookie Butter Puppy Chow one of my students gave me. It currently ranks as my all-time favorite, but in a close second is this Peanut Butter Brownie Puppy Chow one of my husband’s co-workers made last year. (Lizzy Cox | Your Cup of Cake)

Do you have a favorite puppy chow recipe? Share it in the comments!



This SNL children’s clothing ad is absolutely hilarious!



Five ways Emily P. Freeman experiences sacred moments around the table. [The Next Right Thing Podcast, Ep. 104 Make Soup (And Eat It Too)]



Public libraries scraping late fines – now THAT’S a gift! (Emma Bowman | NPR)



I absolutely LOVE this mindset for giving gifts shared in this article by Christine Bailey on The Art of Simple.

“For gifts, we follow the plan of each child getting three gifts from us: Something you want, something you need, and a surprise.”

Since Drew and I don’t have kids, we don’t really have a special “rule” like this, but if I had children, I would definitely keep my gift-giving process along these lines.

Does your family have a special “rule” for gift giving?


Please note that Piano Pantry is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Simply put, being an associate allows me to make a small percentage from Amazon on items to which I link at no extra cost to you.

Friday Finds #158

The Spirit of Christmas

Can I tell you guys how much I enjoy writing these weekly finds? I don’t know why, but it often feels like therapy. Perhaps because it’s almost a way of recapping my own week – things I’ve found interesting, cooked, and discovered?

I was really dragging last night and this morning so, I decided to go out of my normal routine, stay in my P.J.’s a little longer, drink coffee, and write my weekly finds. The coffee in my cup is generally black, but a twit of cream felt like what my soul needed this morning – and it did.

Sometimes just a little change of routine or rest is all we need to give us the energy to do the next task. I’m ready.



One of my students gifted me with a bag of Cookie Butter Muddy Buddies (Bake Me Some Sugar). That night, I emailed the mom and asked for the recipe – it was that good. #bestpuppychowever

Here are her notes to me:

I always use rice Chex and white chocolate chips, but think cinnamon Chex and/or cinnamon chips would be good, too. It says to shake in a ziploc bag and dry it on a cookie sheet, but I always just do it all in a big bowl and it works just fine. I tossed in some broken up biscoff cookies for something extra, but that’s not necessary. And I’ve tried the generic brand of cookie butter and it doesn’t taste quite as good, in my opinion.

The addition of the biscoff cookies was brilliant and reeeaaaally tasty.



So, I had a dream two nights ago that included a few colleagues from the piano pedagogy world coming to my house for dinner…



Shopping local and supporting your local small business? This touching video by a family-owned hardware store says it all. #bestillmyheart (CNN)



Keeping up with “The Spirit of Christmas” is this one minute peek into this year’s White House Christmas decorations. (American Military News) Beautiful!



Add this Cranberry Mulled Wine to your holiday recipe list. (I haven’t made it yet myself, but I’m looking forward to it!) (Gimme Some Oven)



I’m generally assigned the meat for any of my family’s holiday dinners. We like to do turkey for Thanksgiving and ham for Christmas.

If you have a fresh ham, I like Paula Dean’s simple recipe.

If you have a cooked spiral-sliced bone-in ham, I like Cook’s Country’s Maple-Glazed Ham



I haven’t answered my phone in years. My voicemail states that I do not answer due to spam. Yes, I’m on our state’s do-not-call list, but it doesn’t make a difference. It’s not just me: How Robocalls Became America’s Most Prevalent Crime (The Week)



Recent winning recipes from my table to yours:

Ground Beef Taco Casserole (The Kitchn)

I would call this the best recipe I found this month! We used it on top of romaine lettuce as a taco salad and it was absolutely delicious. I will never make taco salad again simply using taco-seasoned ground beef. The pinto beans in this recipe really add a nice thick and creamy texture. It would be good as a hot dip as well!

Maple-Mustard Chicken (Mother Thyme)

Two tips: First, I would just mix together the chicken marinade then toss the chicken it rather than putting the chicken on top of the veggies then pouring the marinade it on top and turning to coat. Also, I would cut the potatoes into smaller sizes – like a 1/2 inch dice. They were still a little crunchy by the time the chicken was done.

Baked Chicken Thighs with Brussels and Sweet Potato (Skinny Taste)

The Best Energy Bites (Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)



The tile work is finishing up in our master bathroom so we’re getting ready to finally move out of a basement bedroom and into our master suite!

I’ve been on a heavy lookout for decorations and furnishings for the house in general (finally, the fun stuff!) and am loving these websites:

Overstock.comDuvet Cover

Hayneedle.comCard Display Holder

HobbyLobby.comGray Wire-Lined Basket Set (has several sites under its umbrella):

BirchLane.comPeachy Queen Upholstered Standard Bed


Please note that Piano Pantry is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Simply put, being an associate allows me to make a small percentage from Amazon on items to which I link at no extra cost to you.

Friday Finds #157

Another week of goodies from one fellow piano teacher to another!



A music theory parody on the “The Christmas Song” (a.k.a. Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire).



Get some winter-themed Japanese erasers to use as manipulatives over the next few months in your studio!

Kids go crazy over any kind of Japanese eraser. (Plus, they think you’re the coolest when you have fun little things like this!)


Those awesome erasers are just one of several items on my “minimalist list” of piano teacher must-haves. (Amy Chaplin | Piano Pantry)



Felt mistletoe on Etsy. So cute!



Generally, our tree and decorations go up the weekend after Thanksgiving, but this year due to various reasons, we’re delayed in the decorating festivities.

When Mr. Evergreen finally makes it into our living room though, I’m going to utilize these tips on How to Decorate a Christmas Tree Like a Pro (Williams Sonoma).



Let’s work to stay healthy over the holidays so we can enjoy it!

Germ-Alert: A Studio Teachers Guide to Staying Healthy (Amy Chaplin | Piano Pantry)



Here’s what I made with our Thanksgiving leftovers this year.

Potato Cakes: Mix 2 cups leftover mashed potatoes, with one egg (beaten), salt & pepper, 1/2 c. shredded parmesan or cheddar, and minced chives or scallions. Using 1/3 cup serving, form into a ball then flatten into a patty. Fry in a cast-iron skillet until golden. Serve with a dollop of sour cream.

Turkey Noodles: Bring 2 quarts leftover turkey broth (made by simmering the turkey bones in water) to a boil, add one large bag of noodles, 1 t. salt and 1/2 t. pepper. Bring back to a boil then simmer for 20 minutes or until the noodles are done and the broth has reduced. Add leftover turkey, chopped. Simmer for 10 minutes to heat through.



A fun Instagram account to follow: NYT Cooking Comments.



The Dark Cloud of December (Sara E. Westfall)



December Fun: Christmas Games and Activities for Your Studio (Amy Chaplin | Piano Panty)



Hershey knows how to do it. #holidaylove

Which one is your favorite?


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December Fun

Christmas Games and Activities for Your Studio

Are you looking for ideas on fun “off bench” activities to use in this Christmas season? Look no further! Today I’m going to share some of my favorite games and resources that I return to year after year along with tips for each one.

First, let me briefly share how I store my holiday games. We have to stay organized, right?


Storing Games (Both Hard-Copy and Digital)

Inspired by Nicola Canton I’ve started storing my holiday-themed games in these clear plastic document folders.

(P.S. The A4 size is nice because if you laminate a letter size-sheet, the lamination makes it larger.)

It’s not a cheap way to store games as they’re almost $1 a piece, so I’m currently only storing my holiday-themed games in these. The rest of my games are stored in hanging files in a file drawer. (I’ll write a post on that another day!)

The digital files are stored in my cloud file manager.

From there, I name files for what they are. This allows me to see how many games, for example, I have, how many worksheets, etc.


Favorite Christmas-Themed Activities

In no particular order…

Holiday Rhythm Cups from Wendy Stevens at Compose Create.

This is a great way to have fun with rhythm in a unique and collaborative way. The set includes three songs in three levels: Deck the Halls, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, and Joy to the World.

Check out a clip of my students having fun with “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

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Giving Tuesday

10 Music-Based Organizations to Consider

In light of the upcoming global cause called #GivingTuesday, I thought I would share with you a list of 10 organizations that we as music teachers could consider supporting as we approach the end of the year.

First of all, I was curious and did a little research on this initiative and wanted to share some fun facts:

  • It is held the Tuesday following the U.S. Thanksgiving.
  • Giving Tuesday was started in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation.
  • The movement was a response to the rise in commercialization and consumerism during the post-Thanksgiving season (a.k.a. Black Friday and Cyber Monday).
  • The hash-tag (#) makes it empowering via social media.
  • There’s a whole website dedicated to #GivingTuesday!
  • It’s not just about donating money but about encouraging people to find a way to give back – whether that’s monetarily or simply of your time.


Presented in alphabetical order, here are ten organizations working for the betterment of our musical world. (In order to give you the most accurate description of each of these organizations, the descriptions have been taken directly from their website.)

Disclaimer: This list is simply based on research. I am not being paid by any of these organizations nor do not have experience donating to all of these organizations. Always do further research so you know where your investment is going!


#1 Give A Note Foundation

Give A Note Foundation was created to bring awareness to the importance of music education and to nurture, grow, and strengthen music education opportunities—for every student, every school, and every community. Because music not only offers students the chance to develop creativity and self-expression, but also builds skills such as communication, collaboration, and critical thinking that are necessary for success.




#2 Hungry for Music

At Hungry for Music, our mission is putting quality musical instruments into hungry hands. We serve children who demonstrate a desire to learn music, as well as teachers who have students willing to learn.

In 25 years, we’ve delivered more than 13,000 instruments to children in 49 states and 30 countries.



#3 MTNA Foundation Fund

The Music Teachers National Association uses the Foundation Fund to expand its mission through a variety of grants and awards to deserving music teachers and their students.

More than $150,000 in grants and awards each year for:

  • Competition Prizes for the winners of the MTNA Student Competitions
  • Collegiate Grants for the professional development of Collegiate members
  • Program Development Grants for music organizations to use as seed money in their quest for larger-scale funding
  • Community Engagement Grants for programs and projects designed to be used by affiliates to engage the local community in musical events
  • Teacher Enrichment Grants for MTNA members to pursue needed professional development opportunities
  • Affiliate Enrichment Grants for local and state MTNA affiliates to develop educational and professional development projects and programs
  • Composer Commissioning Program for MTNA state affiliates to commission new music to be featured at the state conferences



#4 Music Link Foundation

Our Mission:Any child who has musical potential deserves the opportunity to nurture this talent to its full extent. Many children lack the chance to receive music lessons due to financial need. The MusicLink Foundation reaches out to low-income families by linking these students with professional music teachers willing to reduce their fees to make the lessons more affordable for the child.

Note: The MusicLink Foundation does not reimburse teachers for this scholarship donation, but supports them in a variety of ways.



#5 Music Unites

Music Unites is the leading non-profit charity organization supporting music education around the world. Music Unites partners with music stars, celebrity ambassadors and music sponsors to promote music projects and events at local schools – educating kids through music. Music Unites is a music foundation that empowers children through donations from individuals, foundation partners, organization events and music education projects. Along with our music partners, features news, events, video and press of the organization. Special charity partners have supported the Music Unites Foundation while guiding youth towards planning achievable goals for the future. Music Unites feature workshops with ambassadors such as Swizz Beats, John Forte, Sting, Gary Clark Jr., and more.



#6 The NAMM Foundation

The NAMM Foundation advances active participation in music-making across the lifespan by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving, and public service programs.

#7 National Association for Music Education

National Association for Music Education (NAfME), among the world’s largest arts education organizations, is the only association that addresses all aspects of music education. NAfME advocates at the local, state, and national levels; provides resources for teachers, parents, and administrators; hosts professional development events; and offers a variety of opportunities for students and teachers. The Association orchestrates success for millions of students nationwide and has supported music educators at all teaching levels for more than a century



#8 Pianos For Education

Pianos for Education supports piano education by loaning quality pianos to institutions…

…In pursuit of that goal, we have over time expanded our programs to seek out deserving institutions and organizations that lack the financial resources to acquire and maintain adequate inventories of quality pianos for their music-education curriculums. We also accept applications from private piano teachers and studios in need of piano loans for their students’ studies. All of our loan programs include regular service and maintenance throughout the term of the loan.



#9 Pianos for Peace

This program gives talented but disadvantaged young people the opportunity to acquire the skills and knowledge to actively contribute to the development of their communities…

…We encourage and support students to become “Ambassadors for Peace” to build bridges and heal communities through creative, educational and cultural exchange programs. Target groups include children, students, refugees, and deserving academic institutions.

At Pianos For Peace, we are achieving peace starting with the individual, to the community and the world.



#10 Pianos for People

Pianos for People inspires successful futures by providing free access to the transformational power of the piano.   For families and individuals with limited resources, we break down financial barriers and leverage the piano as a gateway to empowerment, community, and self-esteem. In an environment of support, inclusiveness, and equality, we do this four ways:

Inspiration:  Free Pianos
Education:  Free Lessons and Workshops
Community:  Free Special Events
Enrichment:  Free Summer Music Camps



I’m sure there are many, many more organizations out there that would benefit from our generosity on #GivingTuesday. If you know of any other organizations that work to support music education, please feel free to share in the comments!


Friday Finds #156

Hello, my friends!

How are you feeling? Are you bursting at the belt? Feeling lethargic? Sleepy because you got up at 2 am to go Black Friday shopping?

No matter what state you’re in today, let’s welcome the day for what it is and take a moment to focus on gratitude.



“Gratitude is where every positive attitude starts.” -Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy

“It is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.” -Dietrich Bonhoffer



A beautiful rendition of “Give Thanks” by Philipp Keveren & David Angell (Spotify)



Make Your Life Better by Saying Thank You in These 7 Situations (James Clear)



The Gift of Today – Lessons from a Monk (Michael Hyatt)



How a 17-Year Old is Helping to Feed 12,000 Homeless People



Life lessons: Man in Wheelchair Takes Head Coaching Job with “Let Me Run”



Is it Time for Us to Rethink How We Give Gifts? (Joshua Becker | Becoming Minimalist)



“Remember, the holidays are like a magnifying glass. Everything feels bigger during this season.” (Mary Carver |



Advent, the Birth of Christ is Too Big for One Day (Ed Stetzer | Christianity Today)



Five Holiday Movies Worth Bingeing This Season

We always manage to watch White Christmas at least once (usually while wrapping presents). I generally catch at least one or two Hallmark Christmas moves.

Share some of your favorite Christmas movies in the comments!



Please note that Piano Pantry is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Simply put, being an associate allows me to make a small percentage from Amazon on items to which I link at no extra cost to you.

Email Madness

Three Tips for Managing Your Inbox

You know who you are.

As soon as you read the title of this post you thought: “Busted!”

As independent teachers, not only do we get daily correspondence both personally and for our studio’s, but you likely get weekly emails from multiple professional organizations and website subscriptions.

Does your email Inbox have a big fat red number kind of like this (give or take a few thousand)? 🙂

Some of you may be nodding your head in agreement, raising your hand in confession, and some of you may be having anxiety seeing such a large number because you are already on a path of email management called “Inbox zero.” If you’re the latter, then kudos to you!

There are three major tips that I want to share with you today on how to manage your email and the first begins with this modern productivity term “Inbox zero.”

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