Friday Finds #203

Goodies from Down Under

Early next week, our friends in Australia will be celebrating Australia Day which, like the 4th of July in America, is their official “national day” observing the founding of their nation.

Today, I thought it would be fun to feature all the amazing teachers and resources we have available to us from some friends “Down Under” along with a few other finds from afar.

I can’t help myself but also reminisce a little about the three years my husband and I lived in Melbourne back when we were young tykes. 🙂

The one Australia Day I remember is from 2009 when we picnicked by the Yarra River with ex-pat friends from Germany.



Elissa Milne is one of those teachers that when she writes an article ( I don’t miss it. Composer of the Little Peppers and Pepperbox Jazz books as well as much more, she is a conveyor of fun, unique, and introspective sound and thought. Elissa is also one of the administrators of The Art of Piano Pedagogy group on Facebook.

Some of my favorite articles from her over the years include:

Six Rules About Repertoire

Repertoire Rules (for students): How to Transition

5 Guaranteed Ways to Make Students Less Creative

Parents Who Sit in on Lessons

10 Things You Should Do Before Your Child Begins Piano Lessons

15 Things You Need to Know About Supporting Your Child Learning to Play the Piano



One of my favorite discoveries from our days living in Oz was the Electric Water Kettle! I honestly don’t think I even knew something like this existed at the time as they are not a staple kitchen appliance in most American homes (especially those that don’t drink tea). They are SO handy though!

The OXO Electric Kettle we have is absolutely amazing.



Samantha Coates has been a rising rockstar in piano-teacher-world over the last few years. Her brainchild, BlitzBooks, is repertoire that works to combine the worlds of rote teaching and notation-reading by creating pieces that are written in multi-levels.

To give you a quick description of how it works: a student would begin with level 1. Once they master that, they continue learning the same piece but level 2 (of that piece) adds a few more seemingly “harder” things in. Once they master level two, they take it a little further in level 3.



When we lived there, one of my husband’s customers was gracious enough to invite us to their farm for a weekend.

We got to see the countryside, a working farm including a sheep-shearing shed, and he got to go crawfishing.

His wife made Anzac Biscuits (cookies) just especially for us. Here’s her recipe:

1 c. rolled oats
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. brown sugar (lightly packed)
¾ c. coconut
½ c. butter
2 T. golden syrup (light Caro or maple syrup)
1 t. baking soda
3 T. boiling water

Preheat oven to 300. Blend oats, flour, sugar & coconut. Melt butter and syrup over low heat and remove. Dissolve baking soda in boiling water then add to the melted butter mixture. Stir this into the oats mixture. Drop rounded spoons of dough onto a tray lined with parchment paper. Bake 15-17 min. Cool for 5 min.



When you think of Australia, I would suffice to say Tim Topham is likely one of the first people to pop into your mind.

Tim’s website,, is home to all kinds of resources for teachers including his TopMusicPro membership site. He also recently launched



Anzac Girls (on Amazon Prime)

Description from Prime: “Anzac Girls is a moving series based on the unique, and rarely told true stories of Australian and New Zealand nurses serving at Gallipoli and the Western Front.”



Daniel McFarlane is a composer and creator of Supersonics Piano.

Description from his website: “Combined with backing tracks and additional teaching resources, my original piano method, books, and digital sheet music will motivate students at every age and level – and keep them coming back for more.”



Some Australians might laugh at me, but my favorite Australian TV show was McLeod’s Daughters.

Description from Amazon Prime: “When Jack McLeod passes away, his two daughters inherit Drovers Run, a vast cattle ranch in the Australian outback. Ultimately, Tess and Claire decide to run the ranch together, with their housekeeper, Meg, her teenage daughter, Jodi, and a local girl, Becky.”



If you’re a teacher from Australia, you might want to check out the Facebook group The Piano Teacher Hub Australia



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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. 

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Waay Music Theory App

New courses, a giveaway, and an updated music lab tracking sheet

Back in August 2019, I introduced you to two of my favorite high-quality music theory apps for the iPad.

One of those, Waay, has added two new courses.

In this post, I’ll share a little about the new courses and introduce you to the updated music lab tracking sheet available in the Piano Pantry Shop that’s designed to go along with the app.

As an extra bonus, thanks to Waay’s founder and developer, Alex Andrews, I have FIVE promo codes to give away for the new courses!


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Friday Finds #202

Planning for a New Semester

Friday Finds January Blog Post

The beginning of a new semester always seems to bring with it a little extra work. This is the time many teachers sit down and consider what’s coming up in the weeks and months ahead for each individual student.

There may be students who are preparing for a competition or non-competitive festival, students preparing a senior recital, or students getting started playing in their church’s worship band or accompanying congregational singing.

I tell myself ahead of time to not worry about getting much else done that first week of the semester as most of my time outside of lessons will be dedicated to student planning.

Here are some resources to help you with your planning plus a few other end-of-week goodies.



Cheers to One Word (for Teachers) | Beyond Measure Podcast with Christina Whitlock

A tried-and-true one-word-philosophy strategy to help busy teachers keep focused on what matters most.



Lesson Planning – A King-Size Master Spreadsheet | Amy Chaplin –

If an online program like Tonara isn’t right for you, the best thing I ever did for my lesson planning life was to create one big spreadsheet.



Lesson Plan Templates for Teachers | Tim Topham – TopMusic.Co

Free downloads of a variety of weekly and quarterly lesson plan templates.



Born to run (things) | Seth Godin

Why Bruce Springstein is proof talent is overrated.



Lessons Learned Teaching Online and Applying Them for Lessons In-Person | Marilyn Floyd –



3 Useful Styles of Lesson Plans for Piano Teachers | Nicola Cantan

Introducing time-based, categories, and mine-mapping styles of lesson plans.



A Piano Teacher’s Planning Kit |

Purchasable resource with a lesson template, a sample lesson assignment sheet, sample scope and sequence, and practice strategies for practice stages.



CPTP112: Having Mission & Planning Lessons Effectively w/ Leila Viss

Tips for planning lessons effectively for both groups and individual lessons.



A 5-Step Formula for Easy Lesson Planning | Dr. Sally Cathcart – The Curious Piano Teachers



5 Changes to My Piano Lesson Planning that Have Saved My Sanity | Andrea Down – Teach Piano Today



Creating & Sharing Student Growth Plans in 5 Easy Steps | Rosemarie Penner –



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.


40% off Evernote Premium

Just a quick note here to let you know that Evernote Premium is on sale at 40% off until 2/4/2021.

Click this link to sign up!


Interested in learning more about how to use Evernote in an effective way in your independent studio and daily life? Visit these articles on Piano Pantry to learn more:


Your Questions Answered: Evernote – Basic or Premium?

Organizing Piano Games with Evernote

Writing Student Evaluations Using Evernote

Conference Management 101: Tips for Managing Evernote Plus a Resource

Evernote for the Independent Music Teacher: Part 1 – Studio Organization

Evernote for the Independent Music Teacher: Part 2 – Web Clipper

Evernote for the Independent Music Teacher: Part 3 – Account Features, Tagging and More

Friday Finds #193: Evernote Updates

Evernote for Gmail: A Review



Affiliate Disclaimer: Please note that Piano Pantry is part of the Evernote Community affiliate program which simply means I get a very small percentage from Evernote sign-ups (or upgrades) that come via my website (at no extra cost to you). Since I provide free content, this small amount means a lot. Thank you for your support!


Friday Finds #201

Getting Taxes Organized

Friday Finds January Blog Post

Welcome to the first Friday Finds of 2021!

I’ve been trying to think of ways to keep this series fresh in the new year. As one who has definitely been feeling information overload these past 9 months more than ever, I want to make sure that what you’re getting here is useful and succinct without feeling like too much.

Here’s what I’m going to experiment with:

Things will continue as normal, but I’m going to try and focus each weekly post a little more.

Rather than 8-12 random items, I’m going to try and have the majority of them focused on one topic and sprinkle in a few randoms – such as recommended products and recipes as usual.

While this is the main idea I’m shooting for, let’s be real – it probably won’t be cut and dry that way every time. It’s just a new way for me to think about what I’m sharing with you.

We’re going to kick off the year with a little fun… TAXES.

OK, maybe not so fun, but we have to think about it sooner or later so we might as well just get it over with.  🙂



Get Organized: Bills, Expenses, and Receipts (Piano Pantry)

A peek into how I keep our day-to-day financial paperwork and transactions up-to-date and tidy.



Take Advantage of the “Qualified Income Business Deduction” for Piano Teachers (Compose Create)

This is one you definitely don’t want to miss out on. In short, you may qualify for 20% of your net income to be un-taxed.*



My Top 6 “Buy It Again” Office Products from Amazon (Piano Pantry)

In this list are some of the products I use on a daily basis throughout the year to keep myself organized so when tax time does hit, I’m not scrambling.



Forum Q&A | Studio Business Structure: Sole Proprietorship, LLC, Corporation…? (Color in My Piano)



Food you won’t regret (because it’s that good):

Cheesy Baked Eggs (The Girl Who Age Everything)

Italian Sausage and Zucchini Soup (Taste of Home)

Sausage Gravy (Ree Drummond)




Lowering Taxes with Business Expenses (Music Studio Startup)



The Fir-Tree by Hans Christian Andersen (Becoming Minimalist)

A sweet short story.



Seven Tax Deductions for Music Teachers (Sara’s Music Studio)



Ten Tax-Saving Tips for Private Music Teachers (



I’ve been totally getting into Instagram Stories (finally!) and would love to see you there! Follow me on Instagram.



*Disclaimer: Any statements in this post should not be considered legal or tax advice. Please consult with a tax professional about your specific situation.


Evernote Basic or Premium?

This post is part of a series called “Your Questions Answered“.

Over the years I’ve gotten lots of emails with great questions from readers like yourself.

Recently, it dawned on me that instead of keeping that information between me and the person who asked, perhaps others could find it useful!


Hi, Amy,

I saw that there are three levels of Evernote to choose from.
Is the free version worth trying?

I definitely want to get more than my feet wet with Evernote (perhaps knees??? lol!), but I’m not sure which version to start with.

Do I need the Business level? Can you give me one or two differences between Basic and Premium please?

Organization is not my forte….



Hey, A,

I get it. Things like this can be confusing!

There are currently three plans for Evernote:

  1. Evernote Basic (FREE)
  2. Evernote Premium ($7.99/month)
  3. Evernote Business ($14.99/user/month)

As an independent music teacher, you definitely do not need Evernote Business unless you have a team of teachers you want to have access.

In comparing Basic and Premium, there are two big items independent teachers like yourself would benefit from considering:

 1. SPACE:  How much will you be using it?
(A question you can’t really answer until you use it.)

Basic = 60 MB of uploads per month
Premium = 10GB  of uploads per month

2.  DEVICE LIMIT: How many devices will need access?
(Desktop, tablet, phone, etc.)

Basic = 2 devices
Premium = Unlimited

The short answer to your first question is YES, it is worth trying Evernote Basic for free, of course! It won’t hurt to start there.

It’s no big deal to upgrade if you begin to find that you need more space, devices, or want more features.

A few features of the extra features I use and love that Premium offers but Basic doesn’t:

  • Annotating directly on PDFs.
  • Search the text of PDFs. (When you do a search, it will search the text – including handwriting – inside PDFs and Office Docs.)
  • Forwarding emails directly into Evernote.

Here is a great comparison chart on all these features and details from Evernote.

Good luck and I hope you find Evernote to be a useful tool in your professional and daily life as I do!



P.S. Evernote is offering 40% off premium through 2/4/2021!

If you haven’t signed up yet, please consider using my link! 🙂


Affiliate Disclaimer: Please note that Piano Pantry is part of the Evernote Community affiliate program which simply means I get a very small percentage from Evernote sign-ups (or upgrades) that come via my website (at no extra cost to you). Since I provide free content, this small amount means a lot. Thank you for your support!


2020 Top-10 Countdown

Bye-bye, 2020!

Here is a countdown of the top 10 posts from the “year of the pandemic”.

Your favorites were definitely a recap of what life was like and what we needed as teachers!

After this quick list, you’ll also find:

  • Top 5 Friday Finds of 2020
  • Top posts of all-time on Piano Pantry





Musings on Keeping a Positive Perspective During the COVID-19 Pandemic


Top Tools and Resources: Four Tools I Can’t Live Without


Save Time and Money Taking Online Payments with Coinhop


The One-Minute Club Goes Virtual


My Top 6 “Buy It Again” Office Products from Amazon


Favorite Sheet Music Piano Solos for Halloween


Help Your Students “Enable Original Sound” on Zoom with this
Email Template


A Simple (and Free) Video Supplement to Support Your Online Teaching


10 products to Make Your Online Teaching More Comfortable


9 Lessons-Learned From My First Zoom Recital




Friday Finds of 2020


Friday Finds #173: Health, Care, and Comfort
This included a big heart-to-heart on my near-breakdown when online teaching first started.


Friday Finds #189: Condolences and Congratulations


Friday Finds #171: Spring Goodness


Friday Finds #168: Clean up what? Your contacts!


Friday Finds #175: Best-Of (and a Giveaway!)
It’s almost a given that the top one is one of the big recaps with a giveaway! 🙂






One-Minute Club Note-Naming Challenge


Favorite Hymn and Praise Piano Books (and a Church Music Recital)


Lesson Planning: A King-Size Master Spreadsheet


Trusty Christmas Favorites: Repertoire I Return to Year After Year


A Visual Guide for Formula Pattern Scales


Assignment Sheet Addiction


147 Tunes to Harmonize: Traditional, Popular, and Christmas


Evernote: An Independent Music Teacher’s Handbook (Part 1)


Piano Safari Stuffed Animal Shopping Guide


Candy Jar Contest Printable

Candy Jar Contest Printable Blog Post

P.S. Can I say that I think it’s hilarious that this is the #1 post on this website? Really? LOL.



The Fabulous Five: Top Posts from 2019

Top Posts from 2018: The Best of the Best

Top Posts from 2017: Your Favorite Topics All in One Place

Piano Pantry’s Best of 2016



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.


Giveaway Winner – Friday Finds #200

Just a quick announcement to let you know that using a random number generator, the winner of the Friday Finds #200 giveaway was:

Janelle Bracken (check your email for details!)

Her comment on the post was:

I have enjoyed your Friday Finds for a long time now, Amy, and my husband (he’s a foodie) has now downloaded the Paprika app and is enjoying it! Thanks for having this drawing. If I win, they are going to Larry, my husband. He would love receiving them.

Congratulations, Janelle, and I hope Larry enjoys the magazines! 🙂


Friday Finds #200

Top Items and a Giveaway

Wow – we’re here.

The big 2-0-0!

We’re celebrating as usual with a giveaway. If you caught the announcement the Friday after Thanksgiving, you got a preview of what’s up for grabs.

You can enter the giveaway at the bottom of this post. 

First, here’s my list of the best finds from the past 25 posts:
Friday Finds #176 (April 24, 2020)Friday Finds #199 (Dec 4, 2020).

They’re grouped into categories and arranged alphabetically.
  1. Fun things
  2. Kitchen
  3. Music
  4. Online Teaching/Learning
  5. Resources for Piano Teachers
  6. Recipes
  7. Thought-Provoking Articles
  8. Tools
  9. Wellness

Continue reading

Friday Finds #199

The Start of the Season



To get you in the holiday spirit! Steinway Artists The 5 Browns performing Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride” arranged by Greg Anderson.



Speaking of fun Christmas videos…

Thrill your students with the free Christmas music video series here on Piano Pantry. Take it a step further and use the listening guide available in the PP shop. Your students will be absolutely delighted.



If you’re like us and bought your Christmas tree but have yet to decorate it…

How to Decorate a Christmas Tree Like a Pro (Williams Sonoma)



Do you have a friend or extended family member who you would like to get a gift for but are completely stumped?

Don’t laugh, but consider a takeout pizza carrier!

I know it sounds kind of silly and quirky and it’s certainly not fancy, but we’ve found it to actually be a hit!

It’s a good price point and completely practical – assuming, of course, they do takeout pizza on any kind of a regular basis, of course!

We get takeout pizza maybe once a month. Believe it or not, my husband and I finally bought a second one to put in his car. It’s one of those things, if you don’t keep it in your car, you won’t remember to grab – or, in his case, if he’s picking it up on the way home from work, he couldn’t get it out of my car…

It makes such a difference in keeping the pizza hot and fresh!



Holiday (Re) Considerations (Beyond Measure Podcast)



Simple Christmas Decorating Ideas (The Wood Grain Cottage)



Kale, Sweet Potato and Chorizo Soup (Kitchenista diaries)

Instant Pot Weeknight Chicken Enchilada Bowls (The Kitchn)



The Art of Tidying Up Your Space for Online Lessons (



The Best Online Group Lesson Ideas for Music Studios (The Unfinished Lesson)



My (public) Christmas playlists on Spotify you can follow or use to begin creating your own personal lists:

Christmas Classics


Christmas Worship


Christmas Album Favorites