Friday Finds #146

Next weekend is our state conference weekend. With the conclusion of the conference will come the end of my two-year term as President. It’s bittersweet for sure but I have loved every minute of this job (at least most of them).

I’ll never forget preparing for my first meeting. It took me HOURS to put it together and work through the process of combing through previous meeting notes to see what needed to be on the current agenda.

At my 5th meeting this past June, I felt like an old pro. That’s how it usually happens; just as you get the hang of how things work, it’s time to move on!

At one point, our state we moved the Presidency to a 3-year term, but we realized after two rounds that it was too long and taxing for the person in the position. Now I understand why!

One more thing before we get to this week’s finds. I need your opinion. 🙂

For the Friday Finds posts this past year, I’ve been trying to use a photo from that week as the “featured photo”. Some weeks I just don’t have one, so I use the Friday Finds logo image. In a nutshell, I’ve been really inconsistent about it and would like to settle it once and for all.

The featured photos are usually images I post to Facebook anyway, so I’m thinking of going back to using the logo only.

Now you can enjoy this week’s finds. 🙂



Great tip – Buy your parchment from the Dollar Store! (The Kitchn)



A few early level “spooky” pieces to add to your Halloween repertoire list. (Rebekah Maxner)



Interested in travel? Music Matters Blogger Natalie Weber has started a new travel blog! (Music Matters Blog)



If you feel like killing 10 minutes some evening when you’re chilling out, you’ve GOT to watch these 1980’s training videos from Wendy’s (the fast-food chain). They’re hilarious. (The Kitchn)



Dining at the World’s Best Restaurant: Don’t? (French Women Don’t Get Fat)



I’ve been trying to play catch-up on this past year’s issues of both AMT and Clavier Companion. In one of those issues was an article by Jeremy Siskind on a cool project he did with small house-recitals. (LOVE.)

Check out his YouTube Channel for some of these videos. I *think* they’re the videos that have (at_home) in the title. Definitely watch this video though where he talks about their group, the music they make and the setting they take their music to.



A resource for reviews of individual piano sheet music.



Alton Brown’s tip for how to store tomato paste. This sounds like a lot less messier way of doing it than my way which is to scoop it out into 1T. servings and freeze individually. I’m going to give it a shot. (The Kitchn)



Miso-Glazed Chicken with Mushrooms (Milk Street)

Never mind the fact I had to order in Light Miso and Mirin from Amazon in order to make this dish. It was very good. I used boneless skinless thighs because well, they’re awesome.

Udon Noodles with Shiitake Mushrooms and Spinach (Milk Street)

Yum, yum, yum. I also had to order in Udon noodles from Amazon since I can’t get them from my local grocery, but this was soooo good. Not only do we not have Udon available, but we can’t get shiitake mushrooms without driving 30 minutes so I keep a large pack of dried ones that you reconstitute. They’re definitely not as good as fresh mushrooms but it worked.

Cod Sautéed in Olive Oil with Fresh Tomatoes (Simply Recipes)

This is one of our favorite fish recipes right now. Make it while you still have beautiful tomatoes this season! I served it alongside jasmine rice and steamed brussel sprouts.

Thick, Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (Smitten Kitchen)

I love this recipe but this time they turned out dry. I’m sure it wasn’t the recipe though because I’ve made these several times. I’m still getting used to my new oven and I used the convection bake setting which I’ve learned makes them much faster so they need less time!

Instant Pot Lemon Chicken Thighs (Damn Delicious)

In general citrus and protein are not a combination I enjoy. This lemon chicken, however, was quite tasty. I love how it used lemon zest, thyme, and salt as a kind of “dry rub.”

Music Labs eBook Discount Extended!

After a few initial kinks in the shopping cart, I decided to extend the deadline for getting my Music Labs eBook for FREE to September 15.

How can you get it?

You can get the eBook for free with $45 of Music Labs purchases.

Please note that you must add the eBook to your cart. Once you have $45 or more of other items in your cart, it will remove the cost of the book from your cart.

Use discount code lablaunch2019 at checkout.

Offer expires at midnight on September 15.

Friday Finds #145

Happy Friday!

Today’s featured photo is of the beautiful artwork one of my students did for the envelopes that we use to keep Music Money in. Hmm…that just make me think that I should write a post on how I use Music Money sometime! LOL

As I type this, my Young Living diffuser is pumping out lovely bursts of “Clarity” essential oils. I’m feeling the Friday lull but have four siblings coming for piano lessons in just over an hour, so here we go!



Here is an excellent step-by-step example of how an MLT-focused teacher teachers a rote piece. I don’t do quite a many steps as Anna, but would aspire to a format like this!



I tend to find people like Tim Topham fascinating. (If you’re reading this Tim, yep, that’s you, LOL.) I love hearing how people like him manage such a large online presence. He’s spills a lot of that out in this post.

It kind of makes my head swirl seeing all those social media posts, but it’s certainly impressive!



This post gave me another book to add to my reading list. Maybe you’ll find one too.



Limiting the weight of children’s backpacks. Not a bad idea, India.



How to actually get work done on an airplane. I suppose if you travel a lot, this could be really useful advice!



Here’s what I made this week:

Crock Pot Loose Meat Sandwichs

These are based on a dive that was 45-minutes from our house growing up. The sandwich was called a Maidrite. We steamed the buns (small 100% whole wheat buns) in our new steam oven! They’re much better with steamed buns. Pickles and mustard are the best default toppings for this sandwich.

Asian Chicken Salad with Honey Sesame Dressing

I cheated and used pre-shredded lettuce and cabbage/carrots, but it was still all good. We love the edamame in this. It would be even better with some toasted shaved almonds on top in my opinion. It needed some crunchies.

Simple Zucchini Bread

Walnuts and raisins made it into this loaf but my preference is about half the amount of what they call for. I’m not big on nuts in baked goods but my husband likes it.

Garlic Butter Shrimp and Grits

Love, love, love grits. I only had 1 lb. of shrimp and it wasn’t quite enough. Definitely do the 1.5 lb. Otherwise, you’re left with a lot of extra “liquid/butter”.

Obsessively Good Avocado Cucumber Salad

I don’t know if I would say it was “obsessively” good, but I definitely love it.

1-Bowl Peanut Butter Protein Pancakes

Yum. Yum. I didn’t have flax on hand to make flax egg so I substituted with two eggs and it was fine.


Friday Finds #144

Happy holiday weekend everyone! It’s our last official “hurrah” for Summer here in the states. Make the most of it and resist the urge to WORK on anything related to your daily job!



This past week I experienced a first: calendar spam! Here’s a great link a fellow teacher sent my way after I shared my woes on Facebook.

How to Stop the Calendar Invite Spam



Halloween Piano Music for Beginners



How Habits Can Help Us Pray



7 Surprising Things You Can Do with Mayonnaise

Guess what #4 is?

Clean your piano keys. Really? Has anyone seriously ever tried that. I’m not sure I would even be willing to try.



We finally got our oven hooked up and after six months of a small convection oven. The first thing I was excited to bake was cookies!

I’ve always wanted to do taste test comparisons where I make 2 or 3 versions of one type of recipe then decide which version I like the best. My first one was peanut butter cookies.

I made three recipes I had in my files I’ve loved over the past years. Two were still keepers but I was finally able to let go of this one!

5-Ingredient Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies – Pinch of Yum

Salted Peanut Butter Cookies – Smitten Kitchen



I’ve been catching up on podcasts lately including the Muscialit Now Podcast. I loved these three, all of which I listened to while pulling weeds for three hours around our barn. LOL.

Episode 158: How to Truly Listen with Evelyn Glennie

Episode 156: Find and Make Peace with Your Voice, with Nikki Loney

Episode 152: Making Music Learning a Picnic, with Ruth Power (Piano Picnic)

Do you have a favorite episode of the Musicality Now podcast?


Friday Finds #143

I’m sorry but I just HAVE to lead this week’s finds with this because I’m SOOO excited I finally finished the project! 🙂

A shop is now finally open here on Piano Pantry! If you haven’t already, jump over and have a look at all the Music Lab materials that are posted. There’s lots of good stuff!

Can you hear me smiling?



Everyone’s been going a little crazy over this article on Facebook and for good reason…

Teaching is Relentless; Be Extra



How Habits Can Help Us Pray



A topic that we don’t always think to talk about in our industry but that is so important: Being a Professional – Safeguarding & Child Protection.



These are looking pretty yummy although I’ll admit I haven’t made them yet so I can’t give my full blessing…

Easy 5-ingredient Protein Bars (Peanut Butter Chocolate!)



Great takeaway, Seth Godin – The anatomy of annoying. 



Susan Paradis has a creative activity for beginners learning keyboard topography – a keyboard puzzle!



A thorough review of evenly-leveled piano duets by Nicola Canton.



Favorite iPad Apps for Music Lab

This post highlights a few of my go-to iPad apps for Music Lab time that my students enjoy: Rhythm Cat HD, Rhythm Lab, and Staff Wars.


Rhythm Cat HD

Rhythm Cat HD is a rhythm app available on iOS. If you would like to try it out, check out the free version, Rhythm Cat Lite HD.

The paid version, Rhythm Cat HD (currently $4.99), currently includes six stages, each with ten levels. If you are looking to use this as a lab for your students, then you will need the full paid version.

Please note that this app does not have a way for the student to hear the rhythm in playback. They tap the rhythm along to an accompaniment track. Often the accompaniment does not include the rhythm in any way, so students must have a solid sense of beat. If they miss just one note, they will receive two, not three stars.

Stages and levels can only be unlocked by successful completion. So, you cannot assign stage 4 to a student until someone has successfully mastered and unlocked stages 1, 2, and 3.


Corresponding Music Lab Sheet

Students cannot “sign-in” to this app to track their progress, so I like to assign stages and track progress by having them fill out this music lab sheet.

It is recommended not to assign a stage until the student is proficient at the rhythms included.

For example, even though level one only uses whole, half, and quarter notes, some of the exercises must be executed at fast tempos.

This download includes two pages covering all six stages and ten levels.

Add this lab to your cart now, or find it (along with other music labs in the shop)

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Two High-Quality iPad Theory Apps

This post highlights two of my current favorite apps that teach music theory (at various levels). I’m sure there will be more to come in the future but for now, let’s have a look at the Waay app and The Royal Conservatory’s Theory apps.



Waay is an app available on iOS that teaches music theory via two courses: melodies (free), and chords ($4.99). Each course is comprised of 8 videos and interactive practice exercises. Even more specifically, the app states that its intention is to teach “songwriting.”

My recommendation is that this app is best suited for high school or adult students. While the app states that it is great for beginners, the videos and concepts move very, very quickly. Students will do best if they’re already familiar with the concepts presented in the app.


Corresponding Music Lab Sheet

This app does not allow students to log in to track progress, so I have students use a music lab sheet.

The way the courses are set up, it works well to assign an entire course rather than individual videos and exercises. To assign a course, simply place a checkmark in the box next to “assigned.”

This download is two pages long – one page for each course.

Add this lab to your cart now, or find it (along with other music labs in the shop).

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Finally! A Music Lab/Assignment Sheet for Piano Explorer Magazine

For years, I’ve seen teachers in Facebook groups asking for some kind of assignment sheet to accompany Piano Explorer Magazine published by The Instrumentalist.

Well, today I am posting my version as part of the Music Lab Series on Piano Pantry!


What’s Piano Explorer Magazine?

Published once a month, this fun student-focused magazine covers topics such as composers, technique, practicing, instruments, and more. There are also puzzles, quizzes, student compositions, and the 100-day Practice Challenge!

At the time of this post, teachers can purchase a single subscription for the studio ($12), or a group subscription of five or more copies ($6 each). (Keep in mind that a group subscription would be mailed to one address.)

If teachers wanted to have students receive a copy of the magazine in the mail at home, you would have to purchase multiple individual subscriptions and set them up to mail to separate addresses. Kids get “real” mail so infrequently, it could be a fun addition to your studio for students to receive these!

For the purposes of using this as a music lab, it would be possible to use only one copy of the magazine for all students at your studio. That being said, the benefit to each student having their own copy is not only that they could take it home after completing the lab, but that they could actually complete the written puzzles and/or activities in the magazine.  (If students have their own copy of the magazine, they could complete it as an assignment at home as well!)

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More Than 100 Videos for Your Music Lab

For years, I’ve been collecting videos from all over the internet for my student’s music lab time.

This has resulted in two major sets of videos:

Music Theory Videos

Fun Music Videos

Access to both of these video series is FREE for Piano Pantry readers!

In order for students to easily access the videos, I would suggest you bookmark the link in your web browser or as an icon on your tablet.

It is important to note that since these are YouTube videos, individual videos may come unavailable at any time. It may be available one day and it gone the next. These types of things are completely outside of my control.

While I always found it nice for my students to have these videos, I needed a way to remember which ones they had watched from week to week, month to month, and even year to year!

Thus was born the corresponding Music Lab sheets!

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My Favorite Computer-Based Program for Music Lab Time

In the post Music Labs in the Independent Studio: A Brief History, I mentioned that when I first started to include music lab time in my piano studio,  I didn’t have an iPad so I started with computer-based programs such as Music Ace MaestroAlfred’s Interactive Musician, and Essentials of Music Theory, along with a subscription to the online Music Learning Community.

Of those programs, there’s only one that I’m currently still using and that’s Essentials of Music Theory published by Alfred. You can purchase it on their website or on Amazon.

Because it is an older program, you don’t download it directly from the internet, you have to purchase the CD-ROM and upload it to your computer. While this feels antiquated, I still find the program a valuable addition to my music labs as it is one of the most complete and comprehensive theory lesson programs out there.

The program comes in either a Student Version (single use), Educator Version (multiple students on one device), or Network Version (multiple computers).

There are 3 Volumes available that could be purchased separately or as one program called Essentials of Music Theory Complete.

If you are using the program in an independent studio setting for music lab time, then you will need to purchase the Educator Version – Complete. While it is one of the more expensive music theory programs to include in a music lab, it’s also one of the most thorough and comprehensive.

The program includes 18 units. Each of those units comprises four to five lessons, ear training, and a review test for a total of 75 lessons within the 18 units. For a detailed list of what’s included in each unit/lesson, visit this link.

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