Top Tools and Resources

Grammarly: Spell-check on steroids

If you spend any time on Facebook at all, we’ve all seen posts in our news feed from trending sites like Lifebuzz, Buzzfeed, or Boredpanda such as:

10 Funny Spelling Mistakes.

or

18 Funny Spelling Errors Children Make That Made Me Burst Out Laughing.

While I find those types of posts typical annoying; sometimes they can give us a good chuckle.

Spelling and grammatical errors are good for a little social media humor, but today I’m going to share with you a tool that can save us, as working professionals, from becoming the next find on Buzzfeed.

I recommended this tool on my Resources page but wanted to explain in more detail why it’s such an important and useful to me as an independent music professional.
Continue reading

NCKP Meet-Up with Amy and Tim

The National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy is just around the corner. This biennial conference put on by The Francis Clark Center for Keyboard Pedagogy is always held in Lombard, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago.

The 2015 event was my first NCKP experience and I was hooked. Being that I’m only a 3-4 hour drive away, I plan on attending every one from now on!

After my first Piano Pantry reader’s dinner at MTNA in Baltimore, I was excited to get the chance to offer something again at NCKP. This time I’m honored to team up with Tim Topham who’s making the trek all the way from Australia for this great conference.

Let me share how I first came to meet Tim. Continue reading

Retreat at Piano Manor

My friend, Joy Morin over at Color in My Piano has been wanting to do a retreat at her home for piano teachers for a long time and this is the year!

I’m excited to be a part of this 3-day retreat at her home in Northwestern Ohio this coming August as the official “food planner.” Yea!

This is the time of year everyone’s making plans for the summer months. Add this to your list!

For details visit Joy’s website.

Digital Photo Organization

What’s the one digital item you find trickiest to keep organized?

For me, it’s photos.

A lot of readers have asked about this and when a friend asked the same question just the other day, that was my clue it was time to share.

I have a confession though – I wouldn’t call my way anything special, it’s just what I do for now. I love seeing ideas of how others organize, even if I don’t end up doing it that way, so hopefully, you can find some inspiration to clean up your photo files and share any great tips you have with me! Continue reading

Personal Teaching Tweaks

Recently, in an attempt to work on letting my students take more ownership of their lesson and learning, I’ve tried tweaking a few things with my teaching style. It’s nothing major but I thought it might be fun to share.

 

Ownership

As a very organized person who likes things neat and tidy, and wants to be as efficient with our short amount of time together, I found myself doing too many things for my students. Continue reading

The Language of Teaching

This is a guest post by Dr. Andrea McAlister. After attending the 2017 MTNA Conference in Baltimore, I wanted to bring you the session that impacted me most. Leading up to the conference, I had been noticing myself using the word “good” a lot and without thought (even though I knew better) so this was exactly what I needed. Andrea was a fantastic presenter. Despite being a 20-minute accelerated track session, she epitomized the saying that “less is more.” She got to the point, was clear, and very engaging. I hope you glean as much as I did from her regarding our use of language and words.

I recently had the opportunity to present Better Than “Good” at the 2017 MTNA National Conference and, while I’ve given numerous presentations throughout the years, I found this one to be strangely difficult to assemble. According to my abstract, I was to talk about praise, feedback, and the different ways in which we can effectively communicate with our students. It’s what I do every year in my pedagogy classes with the next generation of teachers. We discuss a variety of ways to put gestures, musical concepts, and technical skills into verbal cues for a variety of ages and levels. While it’s difficult enough for new teachers to put ideas into words, many of my students speak English as a second language, making the process that much more difficult and important. As they grow in education and experience, these new teachers fill their toolboxes with expressions they know will work with their students and pick up a new tip or two along the way.

I do this year after year with a new crew of pedagogy students, so why did it seem so difficult to prepare the same material for the conference? Why not take the same tried-and-true class activities, slap them on a power point slide, and be done with it? “Teaching is not telling,” says Frances Clark and yet here I was, telling teachers how to use words. Something didn’t feel right. Continue reading

Don’t Skip the Forward

In college, I recall one of my Bible class professors encouraging us to always read the forward/preface/opening words to any book before diving in. Up until that point, I always skimmed over those parts, including the “acknowledgments.”  Since then I have tried to take a moment to read opening words of the author and have found that it has made me more prepared for, aware of, and grateful for the person whose “art” I am about to absorb.

The same principal applies to sheet music/books. I recently purchased two new church music books. One for myself (What Praise Can I Play on Sunday? by Carol Tornquist) and one for an adult student, Phillip Keveren’s 2015 Weekly Worship: 52 Hymns for a Year of PraiseThe latter especially had touching words that resonated with me and touched my heart. All it took was one moment – one moment to stop and read the heart and intentions of another.

Meet My Piano Pantry Dinner Guests!

What a delightful time we had at the first annual Piano Pantry reader’s dinner!

Our party of 20 met on Monday night of the 2017 MTNA Conference in Baltimore at Ten Ten American Bistro. I was pleased to find such a great restaurant a convenient 5-minute walk from the Marriott. The interior was fabulous and the food matched the quality of the chic atmosphere.

Continue reading

2017 MTNA Teacher Enrichment Grant

On my 12-hour drive to the MTNA conference, I take a moment to check my email. I see an email from “MTNA Foundation Fund.”

“Oh my, this is it!” I think…”did I get it?”

The preview subject: “Dear Amy, The Teacher Enrichment Grant Committee has…”

Ah! The suspense. They’re going to make me OPEN the email to find out?!…

Continue reading

5-Days of Giveaways | 05: MTNA Membership

The final day has arrived for the one-year anniversary celebration of Piano Pantry!

Thank you to everyone who entered Monday’s (day 4) giveaway! Congratulations to Elizabeth Poore (who has been notified via email) winner of a one-year subscription (Plus) for the Sproutbeat app! Thanks to all who entered.

Unlike the rest of the 24-hour giveaways, I’ve decided to extend the deadline for today’s giveaway to three days. It will close at 12:00 am on Friday, March 17. 

Why you ask?

Today’s sponsor is Music Teachers National Association. Thanks to their generosity, they agreed to sponsor the price of a National membership to a NEW member (someone who has never been a member). I want to allow plenty of time to get the word out! *(To further clarify, the award is the national level portion, not state or local).

Continue reading