Friday Finds #225

Best of July



Music Teacher’s Helper has a new owner and CEO!



Check out how Natalie is using Evernote to save all her music theory worksheets!



If you’re not recycling your batteries, maybe now is a good time to consider getting started. Check out Call2Recycle for places near you!

My husband and I keep a small plastic container in our cleaning closet that we throw old batteries in. Once that piles up, we take them into our local Lowe’s store who recycles them.  Thank you, Lowe’s!



My favorite cloth for cleaning my pianos (recommended by my piano tuner) is the Guardsman Cleaning Cloth.

It has a slightly sticky surface that grabs dirty but doesn’t leave a residue on your piano. Simply rinse the cloth and hang it to dry!




One of my favorite MLT-practitioners and Ukulele Songbook creators, Robin Giebelhausen, has a Spotify profile with playlists of pieces in Duple Meter, Triple Meter, and all the “modes.” What a gem and fun way to start training your ear!



Brewed Cacao…say what?”



I have a lot of podcasts that I listen to – many of which I zip in and out of (basically, love it, but don’t feel the need to catch them all).

While The Next Right Thing has become one of those (and that’s OK!), her most recent episode, 185: Why Makers Struggle to Get things Done had me nodding my head in agreement and relief (that it was a thing) like a wild woman.

I love Ashley’s podcast episode on having students make a short video reflection on why they make music. This would be a fun little project to do at your first group class of the year! (Ashley Danyew | Field Notes on Music Learning Episode 032)

It doesn’t matter how many times I hear Marvin Blickenstaff, I always walk away feeling like teaching is a gem and he is my grandpa holding my hand along the way. (That’s a good thing, Marvin!) 🙂 It was no less so when I listened to his podcast episode with Ben Kapilow on the Nuts and Bolts of Piano Pedagogy.



Chrissy’s 2-minute tip on using pop-its to teach technique.



My friend has been making this summer fruit salad at recent gatherings and oh my goodness, SO GOOD. The photo doesn’t show it but there are banana slices and they really add a nice creaminess. (All Recipes)

Peaches, cucumbers, and avocadoes make a really lovely salad combination as well!  (What’s Gabby Cooking)

Very few things are so tasty that I make them twice in a two-week period. Not the case with this Ground Turkey Skillet with Zucchini, Corn, Black Beans, and Tomato (Skinny Taste). I could seriously eat it twice a week right now.



Joy has a giveaway going on of Wendy Chan’s Music Escapade products. You might know my luck, I ordered Wendy’s Grand Staff board just a week before Joy posted this giveaway. Darn! Oh well, one more chance for you! Enter before August 9.



Piano Safari has released a series for preschool students!



Instagram Debuts New Safety Settings for Teenagers (NPR)



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Speaker Events for 2021-2022 Including MTNA Minneapolis!

This past week I went to my first in-person workshop since…well, who knows when. It feels like forever, right?!

It was a workshop at Sweetwater Sound in Fort Wayne with Melody Bober. She did a session on practice tips, a feature session on many of her books and resources, and a masterclass.


Today I wanted to quickly let you know some of the places I’ll be this upcoming school year.

The first is the MTNA National Conference which will be held in Minneapolis, Minnesota March 26-30, 2022.

I’ll be presenting a 20-minute “One-for-All” session called Reset and Refresh: Tidying Tips for Studio Teachers.

Are you surprised by the topic? I bet not! 🙂

I’ll also be presenting my wildly popular session Taming the Jungle: Digital Management Strategies for the Independent Music Teacher for several groups in Indiana, Ohio, and Virginia.

If your local or state group is still on the lookout for some unique and refreshing sessions, check out my speaking page. I only have one or two spots left for the 2021-2022 season!

Contact me here to chat!

Crossing my fingers I will see you around (in person) sometime in 2021-2022!


Friday Finds #224

Best of June

It’s the end of the month which means I have a nice hefty list for you. Take what you need, leave the rest, and by all means, ignore it completely if you don’t have the bandwidth.

Otherwise, I hope you can find something that intrigues you, sparks your imagination, makes life easier, or even just brings a moment of joy.




A couple of weeks ago in our Summertime finds, I shared a Summer playlist for your listening pleasure.

Playlists are a fun little pastime for me so I was back at it again, creating a 4th of July one.

A disclaimer on the Independence Day playlist: it is not full of Patriotic marching band-type music but I will admit there might be some Country music involved (not normally my genre of choice). 🙂 Enjoy!

Eventually, I’m going to run out of playlist ideas. LOL.



Praise Students for their Effort, not their Talent (Chris Foley | The Collaborative Piano Blog)



I am absolutely loving the beautiful printable music posters that Joy shared recently. What a fun way to decorate your space! (Joy Morin | Color in My Piano)



If you follow me on Instagram, you got a peek at this recommendation earlier in the month. Oatsome Organic Coffee Creamer is my new favorite.

Some people were inquiring where to buy. While the link I just gave takes you to Amazon, I can get it at my local grocer – Walmart.



The Single Most Important Thing You Should Do On the First of Every Month (The Kitchen)

While classic bate-click marketing, it’s a pretty good recommendation. Just to make it easier for you – the article says you should clean your dishwasher filter once a month.

Let me go further. I put a reminder on my calendar the last Friday of the month to do the following things:

  • Run the dishwasher through a cleaning cycle (apparently, I should also clean the filter).
  • Run the coffee maker through a cleaning cycle.
  • Give the kitchen sinks a good cleaning with Bar Keeper’s Friend. (Probably should do this more often but it can get away from you easily.)
  • Plunk a cleaning tablet (Lemi-Shine is my favorite) into the garbage disposals. (Yes, that was plural. I have two – one in my regular sink and one in my prep sink. #spoiled)
  • Wash all bedding (including mattress and pillow covers and blankets).



Musicianship Monthly: Summer Edition (Chrissy Ricker)



Juneteenth: What it is and How it is Observed (NPR)



This is the kind of article that might easily give you some warm fuzzies: Coming Home Dinners (Jenny Rosenstrach | A Cup of Jo)



For years I had and enjoyed using Jennifer Foxx’s game I Have Who Has Rhythm Clapbacks.

So, I went crazy when I saw Melody Payne also a whole series of this popular game. You can purchase them as a bundle or, as I did, just pick and choose which ones you want and purchase them individually.



A studio teacher giving out a scholarship to a graduating senior? What a wonderful idea!



A couple of podcast episode recommendations:

99% Invisible Podcast #442 Tanz Tanz Revolution: On the development of and heightened popularity of techno music in Berlin

Music Studio Startup #078 Noa Kageyama on Building a Personally Fulfilling Business



Chris Foley always has something interesting and provocative to say including his most recent thoughts on blogging. (Foley Music and Arts)



Lastly, my obligatory good recipe recommendation/finds!

Salted Chocolate Peanut Butter Oat Cups (Gimme Some Oven)

These make nice bite-size snacks when you make them in mini cupcake pans!

Burger Bowls (House of Yumm)

We eat a LOT of salads in the Summer. It’s so nice having a variety to choose from and really loved the take on the Burger Bowl. It kind of feels like a taco salad but tastes like a burger without the bun!

Basic + Awesome Chicken Quinoa Salad (Pinch of Yum)

See? Another salad! LOL

The Best Rice Krispie Treats You’ll Ever Make (How to Make Cereal Treats)

We had some friends with young kids over for lunch after church one Sunday so I tried my hand for the first time with Rice Krispie Treats.

P.S. The secret ingredient that makes them the “best” is European Butter. 😉



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16th-note Rhythm Cards Resource

and free downloadable reference sheet

For several years now I’ve used and loved a set of “flashcard” patterns created by D’Net Layton over at Layton Music.

There are two sets:

  1. Dotted Quarter Note Rhythm Cards
  2. 16th Note Rhythm Cards


The latter set introduces 16th note patterns in a lovely progressive manner with 6 sets of color-coded patterns.

Download this set of flashcards here.


Free Reference Sheet

While I have always kept the sets bundled separately, I always find myself searching for which set to do first.

Today, I decided to take a few minutes to create a nice little reference sheet. It also makes it nice to see how the various patterns are introduced and then combined in a progressive manner.

Isn’t it pretty? 🙂



Subscribe to the Piano Pantry email list to keep up to date!

You’ll get my once-a-month “Secret Letter” which includes what’s been going on in my studio that month, books I’m reading, and more. You will also have the option to have new posts delivered to your inbox weekly.


Friday Finds #223

Summer Recitals



Summer is a wonderful time to do something especially creative for your student’s performance. A few things I’ve done in the past:

A Coffeehouse Recital

Picnic Performance

Theme: “Songs We Know” (I actually didn’t do this in the summer but it would be a fun theme for the warm months!)



44 Recital Themes Everyone Will Love (Wendy Stevens | Compose Crate)



Pieces that Boost Confidence (Lauren Lewandowski | Piano with Lauren)

Lauren is always a great resource for great repertoire finds!



There’s a good chance with Summer being busy for many people and kids being out and about, preparation for a Summer recital may not happen as easily for all. Rosemarie over at the Unfinished Lesson has some tips for us:

Help! My Student Doesn’t Have Their Recital Song Mastered



If your studio is still online, consider doing something unique such as digital performance rooms. Here’s more from LouAnn Pope:

A Glimpse into My Performance Room



A Look Back on my First Backyard Recital (Leila Viss)



How to Host an Outdoor Summer Piano Party (Melissa Quilitzsch | Colourful Keys)



Anyone else have students who love playing Billie Joel? One summer, one of my students requested “Rocket Man” and I must say, it was an excellent lesson in syncopation!



Piano Recital Showcase – Summertime Fun: 12 Favorite Pieces Carefully Selected for Elementary Level (Hal Leonard)



A rundown of repertoire that would be fun for students in the Summer as well as lists of some of my favorite individual sheet music solos

Friday Finds #218 Summer Repertoire
Favorite Elementary-Level Sheet Music Solos
Favorite Intermediate-Level Sheet Music Solos



Wendy Stevens once again has put together a lovely Summer-themed recital program template package.


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You’ll get my once-a-month “Secret Letter” which includes what’s been going on in my studio that month, books I’m reading, and more. You will also have the option to have new posts delivered to your inbox weekly.


Friday Finds #222


Since the first day of Summer is just a little more than a week away and many of us are already on our “summer” schedule, let’s celebrate all things for this upcoming season.

Whether you gather ideas for your studio, permission to find ways to unplug and getaway, or

I hope you find a little something for yourself today.



My favorite flip-flop is the Sanuk Yoga Spree. Every summer I buy one more pair. This year I went for the Summer Yellow. My arch’s never hurt when wearing these – even if I wear them ALL DAY!



Experiencing the Seasons in Our Studios and Life (Amy Chaplin | Piano Pantry)



Let’s Get Outside! Moving Music Lessons Out of the Studio (Rosemarie Penner | The Unfinished Lesson)



Some favorite summertime recipes:

Best Peach Cobbler (Pinch of Yum)
Herbal Iced Tea (Ina Garten | Barefoot Contessa)
Summer Fruit Crostata (Ina Garten | Barefoot Contessa)
Summer Garden Pasta (Ina Garten | Barefoot Contessa)
Summer Vegetable Tacos with Queso Fresco (Williams Sonoma)



A Summer Coffeehouse Recital (Amy Chaplin | Piano Pantry)



4 Lessons I Learned from Doing Less (Michelle Cushatt)



My Summer playlist on Spotify



Several podcasts on Summer themes from Kendra Adachi, “The Lazy Genius.”

Grasping for Summer Routine podcast #112
The Summer Meal Formula podcast #164
How to Plan a Summer Day podcast #211
A Guide to Summer House Rules podcast #212



Your Questions Answered (Amy Chaplin | Piano Pantry):

Summer Lessons and Curriculum
Light but Fun Composing Activities for Summer



The Single Most Important Thing You Can Do to Simplify Your Summer (Elissa Joy Watts | Becoming Minimalist)



Summer Repertoire (Amy Chaplin | Piano Pantry)



How to Be the Ultimate Summer Host (Myka Meier | Food 52)



4 Ways to Motivate Students: Banishing the Summer Practice Blues (Amy Chaplin | Alfred Music Blog)



How to Reverse the Piano Student Summer Slide (Teach Piano Today)


Subscribe to the Piano Pantry email list to keep up to date!

You’ll get my once-a-month “Secret Letter” which includes what’s been going on in my studio that month, books I’m reading, and more. You will also have the option to have new posts delivered to your inbox weekly.


YQA: What Do You Use After Piano Safari 3?

This post is part of a series called Your Questions Answered that highlights questions that readers like yourself have asked of me over the last few years. 

Hi Amy,

I’m really enjoying your posts, especially Friday Finds!

Regarding method books, my question is: what do you use after Piano Safari, level 3? Or do you design your own curriculum?

Many thanks, as always for your help.



Hi, MJP!

As far as method books go, I am definitely a zigzagger. Rarely do I put a student in one method book series covering books 1-2-3 back-to-back.

Sometimes that works just fine and can certainly give the student a feeling of progress by “moving to the next level.”

I find many students, however, transition better through levels if I either supplement between each one for a few weeks (or months) or even cover the same “level” in two different book series. For example, I might have a student finish Piano Safari Level 1 then do Piano Adventures Level 1 before moving into Piano Safari Level 2.

One thing to keep in mind is that (with the Piano Adventures series in particular), I’m not one to give students both the Lesson and Performance books. I usually just do one or the other, especially if I’m weaving it between levels of another series.

In answering your more specific question on what I would do after Piano Safari 3, I often go to Piano Adventures 3B or into a repertoire series such as Celebration Series Repertoire Level 2.

(The authors of Piano Safari say that book 3 transitions nicely into Celebration Series Repertoire Level 3 but I always find doing a little in C.S. book 2 first a nice transition.)

Piano Safari 3 covers Major and Minor keys and technical skills in the keys of C/Am, G/Em, F/Dm. Piano Adventures 3B focus on the minor keys only.

Here’s an example scenario.

  1. Piano Safari 2 (5-finger patterns)
  2. Piano Adventures 2B (Chords)
  3. Piano Adventures 3A (One-Octave major scales/keys of C, G, F)
  4. Piano Safari 3 (Two-Octave scales/keys of C/Am, G/Em, F/Dm)
  5. Piano Adventures 3B (Two-Octave scales/keys of Am, Em, Dm)

This may be a little excessive example overlapping however, something like this might work for a student who is professing a little slower. Also, as I said previously, keep in mind this would just include one book in the P.A. series (such as lesson or performance)

I hope this gives you some ideas. Good luck!



Reader friends, do you have any suggestions?

MJP and I would love to hear where you take your students when they finish Piano Safari Level 3. Please share in the comments!


Subscribe to the Piano Pantry email list to keep up to date!

You’ll get my once-a-month “Secret Letter” which includes what’s been going on in my studio that month, books I’m reading, and more. You will also have the option to have new posts delivered to your inbox weekly.


Friday Finds #221

Social Media Madness

Hello, my friends! As we enter this new season, many of us begin rethinking things we do in our studios from policies to studio setup and offerings and (yes), our social media.

Can I make a big confession? I’m not really a big fan of social media. Surprised? I am a fan, however, of YOU and my kiddos, and sometimes social is the only way to connect.

Otherwise, I would likely be outta-here. 🙂

Here are some wonderful resources for you this week if you’re ready to up your game on social media.



Using Social Media to Effectively Market Your Studio with Sara Campbell (Episode 15) (Teach Music Online The Podcast)



How to Create an Automated Message for Your Studio’s Facebook Page (Piano Pantry)



Social Media Image Sizes: Everything You Need to Know (Dustin Stout)



12 Facebook Settings and Notifications You Can Turn Off Immediately (Real Simple)



Is Instagram for Piano Teachers? Yes, here’s why! (Leila Viss)



Instagram for Independent Music Teachers: The #1 Reason You Should Be There (Piano Pantry)



How I Use Instagram, and an Invitation to Follow Me There! (Color in My Piano)


Instagram for Piano Teachers: 5 Fun Accounts to Follow (Piano Pantry)



10 Perfect Instagram Theme Ideas You Can Create (Helene In Between)



Instagram Content Ideas ANYONE Can Use (The Preview App)



Subscribe to the Piano Pantry email list to keep up to date!

You’ll get my once-a-month “Secret Letter” which includes what’s been going on in my studio that month, books I’m reading, and more. You will also have the option to have new posts delivered to your inbox weekly.


How to Create an Automated Message for Your Studio’s Facebook Page Inbox

Do you ever have a sudden realization that you’ve been making things much harder on yourself regarding something than needed?

Recently I had such an epiphany when it came to my studio’s Facebook page.

A lot of people like to contact me through Facebook. I really hate messaging through Facebook and much prefer email however, it’s 2021 and that’s just how a lot of people work now.

95% of the time, the message sent to me via my studio Inbox is the same.

I’m interested in piano lessons for my 6 years old. Can you tell me more about your lessons and prices?

Yada, yada, yada. You get it.

One by one I would type out a reply. Sometimes I would get smart and cut and paste from previous messages and then customize a little from there.

Today, I was suddenly DONE.

I knew it had to be easy to create a generic automated message that would direct people to my website where I really wanted them to be. It took a little research (I mean, nothing is terribly intuitive with Facebook, am I right?) but it was no big deal once I found my way.

Today I want to share a quick 2-minute video to show you how you can also do this as well as give you a copy of my message you can use as a starter to craft your own.

Continue reading

Friday Finds #220

Best of May



All my students are getting new binders this year. I’ve been rotating quite a few over and over but it’s time to start fresh. At their final evaluation meeting, I laid out 8 color options for them to choose from: black, blue, red, lime green, and peach, pink, periwinkle, and teal. 

Since I purchased them in sets of 4, I made students give me 3 color choices in order of favorite. That allowed me to utilize every binder I purchased.

Once I had everyone’s options, I sat down and assigned colors. It sounds like a lot of work but it really was quite easy.

Let me just say that the pastels were by far the favorite colors. Next time I may limit to those 4 colors.



Price-setting and finding the right balance for your business as well as your local community is definitely a difficult game to play. Clinton Pratt developed a really useful Tuition Calculator that can help you play around with numbers in a variety of settings/situations.



Nicola’s recent video on Project Management Software had me ready to give them a shot again.

I’ve tried Trello and Asana both in the past but am really picky about my workflow and I just didn’t love them. While Evernote has worked pretty well for me in the current format I’m using, I was starting to feel something a little more robust was needed. Nicola convinced me to give ClickUp a shot. I’ll let you know down the road if I stick with it!



Piano Studio Business Claims: The best things in life are tax-deductible (Rebekah Maxner)



Anyone else struggle to keep your dishwasher from getting nasty? I rinse everything before it goes in and take a paper towel and wipe out the gunk at the bottom hinge after I put away every load but it’s amazing how yucky they still get. Ever looked inside the side gears? Ick!

I’ve struggled off and on with having way too many dishes still come out unclean (and our dishwasher is only a year old). I would alternate back and forth between Cascade liquid and powder and others.

The pods have always felt way too expensive to me for something that isn’t really inconvenient.

However, that all changed when I became desperate to not have to re-wash half a dozen items every time and finally broke down and bought the most expensive pods. Voila. Problem solved.

Finish Quantum Powerball.

Haven’t had to re-wash one dish since.

I got the big pack.



Overcome the Disadvantage of Friday Piano Lessons (Nicola Cantan)



If only I had a reason or good space for this piano rug





If you’re interested in learning about MLT. Andy Mullen over at The Improving Musician is a great place to start. He has loads of quality resources in his Free Student Library.



Recently, I stumbled across a fantastic Ukulele teaching resource from Musical Mama. Uke lessons are a great 2nd instrument for teachers to offer. Entrepreneur that I am, a few years ago, I taught myself just so I could teach one of my student’s lessons that were interested instead of passing the income into someone else. Something to consider!



The past two weeks I have definitely been in a bit of a food funk. The last week of lessons was so crazy and my first week of I’m just tired and recouping. My drive to cook has been minimal, however, I never like to leave you hanging with food fun so here it is:

Grilled Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts (Cook’s Illustrated)

Olive Garden Salad copycat recipe (Dinner at the Zoo)

Cashew Crunch Salad with Sesame Dressing (Pinch of Yum)

Chicken Porridge a.k.a. Chicken Congee (Seonkyoung Longest)


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