Friday Finds #215

Parent/Student Questionnaires

Friday Finds Blog Post

Last week we looked at resources for writing end-of-year evaluations. That is, teachers assessing student’s progress, skills, and future goals.

At the same time, it’s good to ask students and parents to reflect on the past year, including things such as dedication, implementation, efforts, and progress. Not only that, but it’s good to obtain feedback on your own teaching and business from families for your own growth and reflection.

Here are a small handful of resources to get you started.



When I crafted my first questionnaire 10 years ago, I was super thankful for Natalie Weber’s example to get me started! She has two forms available, one for parents and one for students.



Curious what my forms look like? Download them here: Crafting Year-End Parent / Student Questionnaires (Piano Pantry)



Here are two fun examples of simple feedback forms for young children to fill out:

A Report Card for Piano Teachers – How to Get Honest Feedback from Piano Students (Teach Piano Today)

Here is a great self-evaluation form for younger students that uses smiley faces for measuring from Nicola Cantan



The Mind-Reading Music Teacher: How to Impress Your Customers (Daniel Patterson | Grow Your Music Studio)

My favorite snipped from this post:

It would be better to use an online survey tool like Polldaddy, Google Forms, or Typeform. These tools are free to use. Give people the chance to anonymously answer these questions on their own time. You will receive longer, more honest answers.

Ask non-threatening questions. Ask open-ended questions and give parents a chance to elaborate. Here are some ideas:

  • Why did the families in your Studio pick music lessons? (as opposed to dance, soccer, karate, etc.)
  • Why did the families in your studio pick you over everyone else?
  • What did the families think lessons would be like?
  • What concerns and fears did your families have with starting lessons?
  • What general goals do your families have for their child? (not related to music)
  • What do families not like about being in music lessons?



MTNA Music Study Award Printable Template

Every year at our Spring Recital, students are given a “Music Study Award” celebrating the milestones of their years of study and dedication to ongoing music lessons.

Made available by MTNA, (only members have access to this award), they have a free certificate available for download signed by the current MTNA President and the Executive Director/C.E.O.

For more details on how to find the award on the MTNA website, see this post: Studio Awards Policies and Procedures.

There is space for the teacher to fill in the student name, years of music study, and for the teacher’s signature and date given.

I have terrible handwriting and while it’s one thing to sign my name and write the date, it’s another to write out the student’s name and years of study and make it look nice.

So, I created a printable template I’m sharing with you today for free.

First, you will want to print the certificate.

P.S. If you are using a certificate paper that has a large border on it, you will need to scale down the print area. Here’s a 2-minute tutorial to show you how.

Next, return the printed page to the printer tray (be sure and put it in the correct direction).

Then, print the template on top of it. (You will, of course, have written in the student’s name and years of study. 🙂 )

P.S.S. If you had to scale your document based on the type of certificate paper you’re using as per above, remember to scale the template as well. 🙂

It’s a little tedious because you have to do it one-by-one for each student but is a project that can be knocked out pretty quickly with a good rhythm.

I would print as many awards as you need then put the full stack in your printer and print the names out one by one.


How to Access and Use the Template

The template is available in Google Docs.

Click here to access it.

The document is viewable only which means you cannot edit it. In order to edit the document for your own use, you will need to either download it or copy it onto your Google Drive. Here’s how:

  1. Click on the link.
  2. Be sure you are signed in to your Google Account (do this in the top right corner).
  3. Click on “File” in the upper left-hand corner.
  4. Four options down, select “Make a copy.”
  5. A box will pop up asking you to name the document and choose where in your Drive you would like to save it. Make your selections and hit OK.
  6. That’s it! You should now be able to edit the document.
  7. Just be careful as you change out the text that you don’t hit too many backspaces and alter the location. If that happens, simply go back to the original link and copy the document again. 🙂


Click on the image below to enlarge it.


Friday Finds #214

Year-End Evaluations

This week I started thinking about end-of-year evaluations. Too soon? I
think not.

Generally, I wait until the week prior to (or the week of) our end-of-year evaluations to start writing them. It took me 10 years, but I wouldn’t recommend that! LOL

Waiting until the last minute created a lot of pressure on me and made it tempting to not be as thorough or concise as I could have been at times.

This year I was determined to start sooner.

Here are some resources to help as you start thinking about your own student evaluations.



Writing Student Evaluations Using Evernote (Piano Pantry)



Piano Safari’s Mini Essay #21 on leveling repertoire can helpful (for your own reference) if you are discussing student playing levels with parents.




Set Your Studio Apart with Solid Feedback (Leila Viss)

One of my first evaluation forms I developed (and talk about in the post on using Evernote to write student evaluations), was originally inspired by Leila’s 5-point progress score.

Want to hear more? Check out one of Leila’s most recent podcast episodes: Maybe Measuring Progress is Really Measuring Something More Important



Part of evaluation time should be considering not just what skills students have developed and accomplishments they’ve achieved, but what their future study will look like.

Creating & Sharing Student Growth Plans in 5 Easy Steps (Rosemarie Penner)



This year I am experimenting with a new way of giving meaningful assessments to my students at the end of the year. There are two parts to this:

First, I’m looking to create mini-videos of their playing over their time in lessons. The videos will feature clips of their playing in no more than 1-3 minutes.

Providing Piano Student End-of-Year Assessments in a Meaningful Way (Teach Piano Today)



Second, I’m working on designing a new format for my forms in Canva inspired by these posts by @mslimusic on Instagram.

It’s still a work in progress and not ready for sharing but perhaps you can also be inspired by her example to create your own!

P.S. I also like the name “Piano Progress Report” rather than “Evaluation” 🙂

(Another post example @mslimusic)




How to Create Student-Led Conferences (Rosemarie Penner)

I absolutely love this idea but will admit, is something I’ve yet to try out.

Have you ever tried something like this? If so, I would love to hear your ideas as well in the comments!


Piano Explorer Magazine Discontinued

This a month of new discoveries and unfortunately, not great ones!

Last week I shared that The Royal Conservatory had removed its theory apps from the app store.

Today, I’ve learned that Piano Explorer Magazine, published by The Instrumentalist is no longer taking any new subscriptions.

Unfortunately, their subscriptions significantly decreased during the pandemic and they will no longer be able to continue the print magazine after the May/June issue.


Friday Finds #213

Recital Prep

Most likely 75% of us are in the throes of year-end recital preparation in our studios. As you plan, here are some resources to help you along the way.

This week, I’ve grouped them into themes to make them a little easier to absorb. But first – a couple of other goodies! 🙂


#1  Recipe Wins of the Week

Balsamic Roast Beef (Add a Pinch)

A lovely simple roast recipe. We had it alongside Braised Green Cabbage (Nom Nom Paleo)

Put the roast in the crockpot at lunchtime and prep the cabbage dish. Put it in the fridge and pop it in the oven between lessons two hours before you finish for the day.

Maple Mustard Vinaigrette (The Flour Handprint)

I have put off making this salad dressing forever but not again! Wow. Delicious, low in sugar, and easy to make. You’ll cover 1-2 weeks of side salads with this recipe.

Use a pint-size mason jar to mix in. I used a half-pint and it was a little tight!

High Protein Oat Waffles (Skinny Taste)

My husband and I enjoyed these waffles even more than Belgian waffles! Delicious, easy, and healthy to boot! Who needs waffles for breakfast? Not us. We had them for lunch! 🙂

See my final product on Instagram 🙂

Skillet Mushroom Chicken Thighs (Damn Delicious)

Seriously yummo. If you let it simmer for a few extra minutes, it really makes the “gravy” nice and thick. Serve it with roasted green beans and a simple side salad for a well-balanced meal. (Mashed potatoes would be nice with it as well!)


#2 Easter Tunes

Even though I shared this last week, since it’s Easter weekend, once again here’s a playlist for Easter filled with all of my favorite worship music celebrating the resurrection.



#3 Teacher Performance

5 Reasons to Perform Alongside Your Students at Studio Recitals and What to Play at Your Students’ Recitals (Joy Morin)


#4 Virtual Recitals

Tutorial: Editing virtual recital videos using Canva + Adobe Premiere Rush (Joy Morin)

How to Create a Virtual Piano Recital on YouTube (Lauren Lewandowski)

Zoom Recital: 7 Tips and Strategies for Success! (Rebekah Maxner)

9 Lessons Learned from My First Zoom Recital (Amy Chaplin)

Adapting Your Recital Online (Jennifer Foxx)



#5 Recital Planning

Recital Preparation Timeline and Checklist (Amy Chaplin)


#6 Special Features

How to Create a Studio Recital Movie Trailer (Music Helpers Blog)

What’s a Senior Showcase and How Do You Plan One? (Leila Viss)

The Recital Compliment Exchange (Compose Create)

Compliment Exchange [free card download] (4D Piano Teaching)


#7 Awards

Studio Awards Policies and Procedures

Studio Awards Update (Including some awesome new trophies!)


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Petition to Reinstate the RCM Theory Apps

It’s a sad day! I’ve recently discovered and now have 100% confirmation that The Royal Conservatory’s Theory apps are no longer available in the app store.

While the image above displays Prep – Level 3, there was actually a Level 4 as well (so 5 total); it just didn’t fit into my screenshot image – ha!

Apparently, they’ve been gone for quite some months. However, if (like me), if you already own these apps, you would have never known because they still work on your iPad!

I only discovered it when a reader contacted me regarding the correlating music labs wondering if there was a level 5. Rather than finding any newly published apps, I instead discovered they were gone entirely!

These apps were some of the best quality theory apps and my students loved them. I am incredibly bummed to see these no longer in the app store.

Thanks to Judy Naillion in the iPad Piano Teacher’s group for assisting in this research. She made the call to RCM to investigate (including a long hold wait) and obtained information on how we can submit complaints/petition to have them reinstated.

Taking her suggestion, I’ve created an online petition that will be sent to The Royal Conservatory requesting the reconsider publishing these apps.

Thank you for your participation!

Awards “Catch-up”?

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. 

This question was posed in reaction to two posts on giving out studio awards at the end of the school year:

Studio Awards: Policies and Procedures
Studio Awards Update (including some awesome trophies!)


Dear Amy,

I love your awards ideas and would love to implement it in my studio but have a couple of questions.

  1. If you have a transfer student, do you count the years they studied elsewhere in your calculations?
  2. If you were to start implementing this after your studio has been running awhile, would you play catch up with all the students and their trophies or just start in the current year? I would have several on the legacy award at this point.

I am excited that the students will have something else to strive for even if they don’t compete in the Federation or state exams.

Thank you for your input and thank you for sharing your wonderful ideas with all of us.




Hi, S,

Wow, these are GREAT questions! Here’s how I would handle each scenario:

In answer to your first question:

Transfer students receive their “Music Study” award based on how long they’ve been taking lessons – it’s about commitment – not just the time with you.

That being said, the “Legacy Award” IS about time with you. So, if you were to use that particular award in your studio and you had a transfer student that has been taking for 8 years (or however long you set your legacy award for), they would not get the legacy award – just the Music Study award for 8 years.

In answer to your second question, I have a two-part answer depending on what your question is asking…

If you’re asking if I would play catch-up as in giving them “back” awards, then no, I would not. That could, however, depend on how many students you have. If you have a really small studio and it won’t cost you a lot of money to do so, then certainly you could consider it. I think if you simply announce it’s a new program and from here on out, I would be surprised if anyone complained that you didn’t give them 3 trophies as “back pay”.

If you’re asking if I would play catch-up as in starting students at whatever year they’re at even if they haven’t received awards in the previous year awards then yes, I would. If a student has been with you for 4 years then they get an award for 4 years, even if this is the first year you’ve given awards.

I hope that makes sense and good luck with creating your own studio award program!




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Friday Finds #212

Best of March

Friday Finds February Blog Post

Congratulations to Jennifer Smith, winner of last week’s giveaway during Friday Finds #211, celebrating Piano Pantry’s 5-year birthday!

She will win a copy of Kevin Olson’s book “Impressions on Color”.

(Jennifer, check your email inbox for details!)



As someone who has given Ukulele lessons in the past (I don’t have anyone currently), I really enjoyed Andrea Miller’s interview with Judy Naillon on starting a Ukulele program. I wish I had this podcast when I first started!



Avocado Time (Seth Godin)

“Face-to-face is like a perfect avocado. The cost of in-sync time, real-time interaction time, that’s time that we don’t get again.”

[Peanut Butter Sandwiches and] The Order of Operations (Seth Godin)

“Like so many things, the order is not optional.”



A free digital download of a really fun and unique song written by Canadian composer Lynette Sawatsky called “Covid Blessing”.

From the composer:

I wrote the piece based on a C°VID motif (the letter C, a diminished chord (°), the dominant chord (V), the tonic chord (I), and the letter D). A little nerdy, but musicians understand. 🙂

I think we are all getting a little weary, and this music helped me process a bit of what I am experiencing. This short piece is my musical blessing for those who are alone and isolated. It’s a prayer as we wait for better days ahead.

How beautiful and clever is that?!



Lazy Genius Podcast #194 – From Selfies to Politics: How to Share Yourself Online with Laura Tremaine

I think we can all use a little reminder from time to time of healthy ways of using social media. 🙂



5 Activities for Online Piano Lessons (Melody Payne)



The GIML (Gordon Institute for Music Learning) website got a huge overhaul including a new logo. It looks soooo much better and in with the times. Well done to all those involved – it was much needed!



Sproutbeat recently went through a big overhaul combining their worksheets app with the Leap Games online into one location! Check it out:


3 Surprising Ways the Pandemic Improved Your Eating Habits (The Nutrition Diva Podcast)



A Paperless Way to Track the 40-Piece Challenge (Leila Viss)




A custom playlist for Easter filled with all of my favorite worship music celebrating the resurrection.



How to Create a Virtual Piano Recital on YouTube (Piano with Lauren)



I have lots of amazing recipes to recommend that I discovered this past month!

Baked Cod with Garlic & Herb Ritz Crumbs (Ina Garten)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Protein Shake (A Sweet Pea Chef)

Crispy Parmesan Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad (Giada de Laurentiis)

High Protein Oat Sandwich Rolls (Skinny Taste)

Hot Honey Garlic Skillet Chicken (The Kitchn)

Italian Sausage Balls (Food Network)

Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa (Damn Delicious)



How to Be a Better, Happier Cook Based On Your Enneagram Type (Sarajane Case | The Kitchn)



New podcast discovery this month: Sounds of Encouragement with Melissa Slocum.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen me post a story that said her voice reminded me of the old radio show host, Deliah, from the ’90s! She’s so soothing to listen to! LOL


Subscribe to the Piano Pantry email list and get my once-a-month “Secret Letter” which includes what’s been going on in my studio that month, new posts on the blog, books I’m reading, favorite Instagram posts, and other fun things like that. 

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Friday Finds #211

A Birthday Celebration Giveaway

As you may already be aware, this month we are celebrating the 5-year birthday of Piano Pantry!

While you can get 15% off your entire purchase in the Piano Pantry shop through the end of March (use the code: BIRTHDAY15 at checkout), I also wanted to use this week’s Friday Finds for a special giveaway. Why this week?

Well, the very first post went live on March 20, 2021 – that’s almost 5 years exactly to the day tomorrow.

The item I’ll be giving away is Kevin Olson’s brilliant book Impressions on Color.

One of my students is working on “Impressions on Blue” – a piece I am absolutely in love with!

See details at the end of the post to enter!



On celebrating student birthdays here on Piano Pantry:

Marketing With Postcards: It’s Not What You Think!

2019-2020 Birthday Postcards

Student Birthday Cards with a Surprise Twist!



This felt letter board would be a fun way to wish Happy Birthday to your students!




Currently, I started using mine to display a “word of the week”. (Follow me on Instagram here.)

(It wasn’t my original idea – but thank you to the teacher I saw doing it on Instagram. Unfortunately, I can’t remember who!)



Would you love for all of your students to be able to play “Happy Birthday” anywhere and at any time? Me too! The newest item in the Piano Pantry shop is the “Happy Birthday By Ear” teaching resource.  It’s also on sale as part of the month-long birthday celebration.



Perhaps one of the most popular people who has done something with the tune “Happy Birthday” in recent years is the late Forrest Kinney. If you’ve never heard of his 88 birthday variations series, check out more here:



Why Every Student Should Know Happy Birthday with Lucinda Mackworth-Young (The Top Cast podcast #110)



A previous Happy-Birthday-themed Friday Finds which includes some special family photos celebrating my baby brother’s birthday!




Entries close Thursday, March 25 @ 11:30 pm EST.

The winner will be announced next week in Friday Finds #212.



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Music Lab Time for Young Students

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. 


Do you have a certain age range that you have created your Piano Pantry Lab items for? Do you think 2nd graders would do fine watching the videos (like the 1st Halloween one that is 10 minutes)?

I only had one student today so I got to hear her feedback on the two videos of the organ and the wine glasses from page 1 of your Halloween videos. It was fun to see how excited she was about it!

Keep creating wonderful materials to help us teach our students. Love all that you do!




Hi, L!

I’m so glad to hear your student was enjoying the Halloween lab!

As far as the age range, lab time can definitely be trickier with students younger than 3rd grade. As I’m sure you have experienced, they have a hard time working on their own without you helping with every step. So, yes, most of the labs I have available work better for mid-elementary students or older.

That being said, sometimes it can depend on the student. I’ve had 1st or 2nd graders that do better than 3rd graders on their own!

My lab time for younger students is always shorter than most – 15 minutes is usually enough for them.

I still use many of my lab resources – like the Halloween video series you mentioned – but pick and choose which ones to assign. Shorter ones under 5 minutes or ones that are visually appealing like the animated version of Danse Macabre by Saint-Saëns work nicely.

In instances like this, rather than simply having them watch, I always give them a blank notebook when giving listening and ask them to color what they hear.

Several of the videos from Set 1 of the Music Theory video series are also good for younger student’s lab time.

One other thing I sometimes do with young students is listening to enriching music while coloring in their own personal art books. Check out more details in these posts:

Friday Finds: Productivity Tools and Simple Songs 

Inspiring Creativity with Student Art Books

Other programs I’ve used in the past with success during lab time for young students include:

Sproutbeat (which just went through an awesome update, merging their worksheets and games apps!)
Music Learning Lab Pro

My Orchestra App from Naxos
Beanie’s Musical Instruments
Pitch Painter
Rhythm Swing

I hope this helps!



P.S. If you would like to get a closer look into how I run my labs, you might check out the Music Labs Made Easy ebook!

This 15-page eBook is chock full of all kinds of “pro tips”.

We’ll talk about scheduling, set-up, and organizing labs.

Laid out in an easy-to-read and understand format, this book will answer all your questions regarding music lab time!



In celebration of the 5-year anniversary of Piano Pantry, everything in the shop (including the eBook!) is 15% off through the end of March 2021.

Visit the Piano Pantry Shop


Did you enjoy this post?

Consider subscribing to the Piano Pantry email list. You’ll get my once-a-month “Secret Letter” which includes what’s been going on in my studio that month, new posts on the blog, books I’m reading, favorite Instagram posts, and other fun things like that. 

Sound good?! Subscribe here.