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!

 

1

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. 🙂 )

 

2

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.

 

3

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

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

 

4

I’m always up for a good list of recommended podcastsThanks, Leila.

 

5

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

 

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

 

7

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!

 

1

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

 

2

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!

 

3

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.

 

4

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

 

5

Washing the Dishes May Help Relieve StressThis 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.

 

6

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

 

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Thoughts on making time stand still.

 

8

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?

 

9

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

 

 

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?

 

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The photo above is at our City Hall. I follow a fun Instagram account @the.joy.of.it 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!

 

2

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

 

3

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

 

4

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’t Use Another Idea?

 

5

What you may not have known about IKEA.

 

6

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

 

7

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.

 

8

A gift guide for new cooks.

 

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

 

10

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

 

11

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.

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

 

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

 

2

Chasing the Turkey board game from Susan Paradis.

 

3

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

 

4

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!

 

5

#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.

 

6

Speaking of giving…

If you use Amazon for shopping at all, consider connecting with a non-profit through Smile.Amazon.com 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 smile.amazon.com rather than on amazon.com and 0.5% of your purchases will go back to your organization of choice without costing you any extra!

 

7

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!

 

8

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!

 

 9

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

 

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Thanksgiving often is focused on the blessings of health, position, family, friends, home, and belonging – all good things, but perhaps we should consider also giving thanks for spiritual blessings – the 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 – past, present and future:  what Christ has done for us – 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.

 

 

Friday Finds #110

This past week must have been a pretty dull week because I couldn’t find a photo worthwhile to share, so I’m jumping back just a bit.

This photo is from our Indiana State Conference in early October where we had Dr. Christopher and Katherine Fisher (Piano Safari) as our Pedagogy Clinicians. They were absolutely fabulous.

Dr. Fisher conducted an elementary/intermediate masterclass. Generally, we only have an advanced masterclass, so this was a treat. I’ve seen a lot of masterclasses in my career and Dr. Fisher certainly comes out on top for excellent ones. I especially loved how he engaged all the students directly in the class together as a group. (The one at the piano is my student!) I would highly recommend him (them) for your next state conference!

 

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As I was finally resetting my mini date/time clock in my studio this week (a little late) following the daylight savings time change, I realized I don’t think I’ve ever shared the awesome little clock I keep next to the piano. (Forgive me if I have!)

It’s perfect because it’s really small – so I can keep it out of the eye line of students and it can alternate the date with the time! (Optional)

 

2

Lauren has put together a nice list of resources for those of you who teach using the Piano Safari Method.

 

3

These binder dividers are what I use in my student binders. They are incredibly durable and reusable.

We keep our assignment sheets in the very front on top of the dividers, then label the dividers: Mastered Pieces (that’s where we keep our 40-piece challenge lists), Memorized Pieces (again, a list) and then from there, it varies depending on the student.

 

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Sandi Patty has one of the biggest voices I’ve ever heard. She was especially popular when I was growing up. Here’s an interview with her: Listening to God’s Voice and Finding Your Own: An Interview with Sandi Patty.

 

5

Joy Wilson, the baker extraordinaire and woman behind one of the most famous cooking blogs, Joy the Baker, shows us how she hosts friendsgiving.

I can’t wait to have a “friendsgiving” someday (gotta finish the house first)!

 

6

It’s gotten chilly around here this week – the perfect week to break out the first round of chili this season. 🙂

Chili, like meatloaf, is one of those foods for me that I like, but I’m really picky about and have never quite found a recipe that I absolutely love. Until now.

This Simple & Tasty Slow Cooker Chili was SO GOOD. I used fire roasted diced tomatoes, and our homemade venison stock in it which I’m sure added to the goodness. We like to top it with a dollop of our homemade plain greek yogurt, shredded sharp cheddar, and some kind of crunchy (I like Fritos! :-/)

 

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Want To Keep Your Brain Sharp? Take Care Of Your Eyes And Ears

 

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For a limited time, anyone can get free shipping on anything from Amazon with no minimum purchase. Wow, that’s a pretty amazing deal.

 

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This side-by-side trailer video of Aladdin from 1992 and 2019 is kind of cool! It’s amazing how far the animation world has come.

 

10

Finally, How to Trim Your Own Bangs at Home Like a Pro

 

 

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!

 

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

 

2

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…

 

3

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!

 

4

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.

 

5

How to Market Childhood Music Programs to Millennial Parents.

 

6

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!

 

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

 

8

You CAN Afford an Adjustable Bench from The Piano Studio.

 

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Chocolate-Covered Chai Tea Bars. Sold.

 

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What’s in Season in November.

 

Happy weekend, everyone! ~Amy

 

 

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!

 

1

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?

 

2

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

 

3

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.

 

4

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.

 

5

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!

 

 

6

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´.

 

7

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. 🙂

 

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Who wouldn’t love to have access to an office space like this? Amazing. Check out Michael Hyatt & Co.’s new [optional] workspace.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

4

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!

 

5

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.”

 

6

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.

 

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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

 

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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.

 

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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!

 

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American Cheese Is the Latest Victim of Millennial Murder (and That’s Okay)

 

Have a great weekend!

~Amy

 

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!

 

1

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.”

 

2

Getting started with rotating lessons 20/20/20.

 

3

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.

 

4

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… :-/

 

5

10 games you can play with students using those cute Iwako erasers.

 

6

How to Become an Indispensable Piano Teacher. 

 

7

Check out this teacher’s “BenchMark Program” for their students. Impressive video, Clinton!

 

8

Using a paper towel tube to help you vacuum?? Genius!

 

9

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

 

1

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

 

2

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.

 

3

An excellent Guide to Balsamic Vinegar.

 

4

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.

 

5

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… :-/

 

6

Joy Morin’s course “Excellence in Piano Teaching is gearing up soon!

 

7

10 Essential Cleaning Tools Every Home Should Have.

 

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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.