Friday Finds #163

Start the Year with Re-Reads!

Hello friends,

Welcome to another Friday! Is it your favorite day of the week? If not, it has good reason to be – or at least close to it.

What’s not to love about the feeling of another work cycle coming to a close?  A week of (hopefully satisfying) work done, a weekend to come, and the opportunity for a fresh start always looking you in the eye.

My offering to you at the end of this second full week of the year, my fellow teachers, is below. Don’t feel like you have to take in it all, pick a piece of the pie that’s just what you needed for this week whether it’s for your students, or just for you.



Looking for some ensemble music for your students this semester? Check out Lauren’s Ensemble Music Archives. (Lauren Lewandowski | Piano with Lauren)



Get Organized with Piano Repertoire ‘Elements and Outcomes’ sheet. (Rebekah Maxner)



After looking back at the last few years of my reading lists, I’ve realized while I have good intentions of including re-reads in my annual book consumption, it just wasn’t happening. So, this year I determined that the first books I read of the year will be re-reads. Smart, right?! This was a small but perfect habit change. Use what you have first. What was my first choice to re-read?

Women, Work & the Art of Savoir Faire: Business Sense & Sensibility (Mireille Guiliano). It may be written with the business world working woman as its focus but I found great advice and application as a working woman, period. I love all of her books.

That act drew me to take an inventory of all my books which inspired this post: Books for Piano Teachers Including My Top 3 Recommendations (Amy Chaplin | Piano Pantry)



This would have been a good one to share a few weeks ago but oh, well. It’s still satisfying to look at. Best of 2019: Top 50 Photographs from Around the World. (My Modern Met)



Recognize that you are not the same person you were ten years ago. Your interests, tastes, and life circumstances have changed. Maybe it’s time for you to declutter your attachment to the title “Quilter” because that’s no longer who you are. Decide you’ll keep only those things that support who you are today.

Declutter Your Fantasy Self (Karen Trefzger | No Side Bar)



Looking to do some tidying this month? I purchased these bags to store our outdoor table’s chair cushions in and they were absolutely perfect. Be aware there are two sizes! Lifewit Clothes Storage Bag.




Add a little fun to your calendar. Sync your calendar with the Solar System (The New York Times)



Yep. Fed Up With Fundraisers on Facebook? You’re Not Alone (Tovia Smith | NPR)



The High Cost of Having a Baby in America: The average delivery now costs more than $4,500—even with insurance. (Olga Khazan | The Atlantic)



An easy way to spice up a simple hot dog. Sonoran Hot Dog (Michelle Tam | Nom Nom Paleo).

(Personally I found the wrapping of bacon not to work well because the inside of the bacon doesn’t brown nicely nor does it like to stay “wrapped” while cooking – even when I used toothpicks – so I pulled it off, cooked separately and simply placed one slice of bacon on each hot dog. Much easier.)


Please note that there may be links to Amazon in this post. Piano Pantry is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Simply put, being an associate allows me to make a small percentage from Amazon on items to which I link at no extra cost to you.


Books for Piano Teachers

Including My Top 3 Recommendations

Hey there!

I just wanted to mention something you may or may not know about.

Did you know there was a whole page devoted to books for piano teachers on Piano Pantry?

Check it out!

The page has been published for a couple of years but I'm not sure if I ever actually told you about it! Whoops!

You may have come across it, but if not, now you know! 🙂

It includes more than 30 books that can help you in your career as an independent music teacher.

I've divided them into seven categories to make your browsing easier:

  • Music Education and Teaching Inspiration
  • Music Business / Entrepreneurship for Independent Music Teachers
  • Elementary-Intermediate Piano Pedagogy & Repertoire Guides/References
  • Intermediate-Advanced Piano Technique & Repertoire Guides/References
  • Music Learning Theory (Introductions)
  • Music Learning Theory (In-Depth)
  • Faith and the Arts


Top Recommendations

In this post, besides letting you know about the Books for Piano Teachers page, I thought I would share more details on the three books I love the most.

Basically, if you were to only read three books on music teaching in your lifetime, I would recommend these three.

Read them. You won't regret it!

If you would like to read more details on each of these top books, read on!

If you just want to jump right to the page with 30 books, click here.

For the three books I'm highlighting in this post, I've included three things.

1. The book descriptions directly from Amazon. (Yes, I am an Amazon affiliate which means I will earn a small percentage if you purchase through the link but it won't cost you any more.)

2.  A statement on why I love the book.

3.  A listing of 6-7 of my favorite quotes/excerpts that I feel best define the content of the book.


#1 Intelligent Music Teaching

Intelligent Music Teaching: Essays on the Core Principles of Effective Instruction by Robert Duke

Description: In this collection of insightful essays, the author describes fundamental principles of human learning in the context of teaching music. Written in an engaging, conversational style, the individual essays outline the elements of intelligent, creative teaching. Duke effectively explains how teachers can meet the needs of individual students from a wide range of abilities by understanding more deeply how people learn. Teachers and interested parents alike will benefit from this informative and highly readable book.

Why I love it: The first sentence to the preface of this book says it all. "This collection of essays is not about how to each. It's about how to think about teaching and learning."

Favorite Quotes:

Teaching is neither necessary nor sufficient for learning. People can learn without being deliberately taught and a teacher can inform, instruct, explain, and demonstrate in the presence of students without the students' learning what the teacher intends to teach. (Page 10)

Learning to play or sing any scale, any exercise or any piece is never the real goal of music instruction...The real goal... is for students to become superb musicians, doing all of the things that superb musicians do, irrespective of what is being played or sung at the moment... The far-reaching goal remains the same from the first day of instruction to the time when the student reaches the highest levels of artistic musicianship. In this sense, the goals of the lesson plan never change, regardless of the skills or experience level of the students you're teaching. Only the contexts in which the goals are taught (i.e. the activities, the music) change over time. (Page 29)

Students need to learn to study effectively, to practice effectively, to think effectively. So, when and where will they learn that? In class, with us. Not by our telling them what to do when they're alone in a practice room or in a carrel in the library, but by our leading them through the very activities that we expect them to do on their own in our absence. (Page 61)

...the decisions of what to teach when are central to artistic teaching. (Page 103)

In order to become independent thinkers and doers, learners must eventually use information and skills in situations in which they have had little or no prior experience. (Page 141)

All of this suggests a redefinition of what it means to learn something. Much of what we learn as part of formal education is presented to us in very limited contexts, and we have few opportunities to practice applying what we know and can do in contexts beyond those in which the knowledge and skills are initially taught. But if the goal of educaton is that students learn to use knowledge and skills effectively in the future, even in unfamiliar circumstances, then transfer must be definited as the goal of instruction. The goal is no longer the acqusition of knowledge and skills but the application of knowledge and skills in situations that have not been taught explicitly. For the developing musician, the goal is no longer to play a given piece beautifully, but to play beautifully (period). (Page 157)


#2 The Ways Children Learn Music

The Ways Children Learn Music: An Introduction and Practical Guide to Music Learning Theory by Eric Bluestine

Description (from GIA):  The perfect introduction to Edwin E. Gordon's music learning theory!

With clear and compelling language, Eric Bluestine sheds light on the most vexing issues in music education—all the while drawing from the contributions of perhaps the most influential thinker in the field today, Edwin E. Gordon. In the process, Bluestine unlocks the mystery that frees a child’s mind to think on its own musical terms.

Why I love this book: Please don't let the fact that it's an "introduction to Music Learning Theory" deter you in any way! Even if you weren't necessarily looking to learn more about MLT, music teachers of every instrument and philosophy will get great value from and depth of understanding on how to teach music from this book.

In all my years of music education, this is the first book I read that really addressed how to teach "music." That is, how to understand the sound that music is and not just the symbols (a.k.a. music "notation") that we often define as teaching music.

Favorite Quotes:

I hold the elegantly simple belief that learning to understand music is its own reward. (Page xiv)

One of the basic tenets of Music Learning Theory is that children do not audiate intervals; they audiate functional tonal patterns made of intervals...In short, we don't audiate pitches, or even intervals. We audiate structured pitches, pitches that we organize into functional patterns that relate to a tonal center. (Page 42)

Music education could be separated into four topics. They are 1) the musical and pedagogical principles that give rise to Music Learning Theory "irrefutable truths about music and music education"; 2) Music Learning Theory itself; 3) learning methods; and 4) classroom teaching (techniques, musical examples, and materials).  Now, think about these in a pyramid shape with #1 as the larger foundation and #4 as the top of the pyramid. (Page 60)

The nature of Music Learning Theory is that one cannot use it directly. To use it, a music teacher must design a method based on it, and then use techniques, materials, and musical examples to get the method off the ground. (Page 75)

A child is not a miniature adult! (Page 88)

If we are to help our students to become independent musicians and musical thinkders - our most important task - then we must encourage them to generalize what they hear. (Page 149)


#3 Coffee with Ray

Coffee with Ray: A Simple Story with a Life Changing Message for Teachers and Parents by Nick Ambrosino

Description: Through the eyes of a simple piano teacher, learn the strategies to remove any self-made learning obstacles so that you can achieve all you put your mind too.

After ten years of teaching piano, Matt had become completely disillusioned with his career choice. Teaching was increasingly more frustrating, students were more difficult to motivate and coping with the stress had become much more challenging. He was on the verge of quitting until he decided to have a cup of coffee at a café suggested by his GPS. That’s where he met Ray and that’s when everything started to change.

An engaging, funny and thought-provoking parable, written as creative non-fiction, Coffee With Ray will introduce readers to revolutionary ways of communicating that will help make students become more accountable and teachers more skilled at facilitating learning.

Why I love the book: I especially love that this book is an easy read. It's simply a direct peek into the life of one teacher and is a beautiful example of how we can learn to be better at our profession by learning from others not in our profession. This would be a great summer read. It feels casual but is still directed toward being a better teacher.

Favorite Quotes:

Teachers tend to think about teaching a subject. When you redefine yourself as a facilitator, you become responsible for facilitating your student through the learning of how to teach himself. (Page 61)

Instead of telling my students what they should do, I offered suggestions and asked them to take responsibility for choosing goals that felt best for them. (Page 102)

I asked her what she had accomplished this week that she felt proud of (I found that to be a better and more effective way of starting the lesson than asking them if they had practiced.) (Page 102)

[The last four excerpts are focused on using "but" vs. "and".]

I like the way you made contact with that pitch, Mike, and now you’re ready to turn your back foot. (Page 74)

The point is that if you validate someone’s performance, as Dominic did, and then you use the word ‘but’ to create a change in the performance, the student never remembers what came before the ‘but.’ “If, however, you use the word ‘and’ as the invitation for change after the validation, the student feels he has earned the right to go onto the next part of his training and he will both remember the validation AND create the change. (Page 75)

You feel as though there is always something to fix. While that may be true, the word ‘but’ creates a feeling of ‘less than.’ It creates a closed condition for learning as well as an ‘undesirable’ feeling. The word ‘and,’ however, creates a feeling of greatness, of progress. It creates an opening for learning and that is a much more desirable feeling. (Page 76)

Everything you have ever accomplished was at one time outside of your comfort zone. Yet, by labeling it as hard you put a question mark on your ability to learn or accomplish it. By labeling it as new you never question your ability but, instead, actually acknowledge that you are capable. (Page 78)


Those are my three favorite books! Do you have any favorites? Share them in the comments!





My Reading Lists

If you would like to check out some of my posts on books I've read in previous years, check out these posts.

Recommended Reads: My 2016 Reading List
Recommended Reads: My 2017 Reading List

As you can see, I haven't kept up very well with publishing my annual reading list. However, I do include books I'm currently reading in my monthly "secret letter" which goes out at the end of every month.

If you would like to be on my mailing list so you can receive that monthly communication, you can sign up here.

Friday Finds #162

A Slow Start

How have you fared on your first week back to teaching? Personally, I’ve been tired all week (mostly from finally slowing down after a busy December), but it was still a good start.

I decided to give myself this week to as much rest as I could every morning and evening and it’s been divine. A couple of afternoons you may have even caught me in a long nap before afternoon students arrived. Next week I’ll kick in even more of my routine but for now, it felt good to start the year out slowly.



Two weeks ago I shared this article on Friday Finds #160, but it felt completely relevant to the idea of starting the year out with rest.

Starting the New Year with Rest (Amanda Beck | Morning by Morning)



Having a chalkboard to write a message to my students and other things for my studio is a GREAT idea (check out Joy Morin’s). However, because I have terrible handwriting and hate to write, it’s never been a good choice for me.

I finally decided to buy one of these cute letter boards instead.

This one from Amazon includes white and gold lettering as well as some fun cursive words, months, and days. Eventually, I’ll either end up with more than one of these or get a bigger one in addition to this one but it’s a good start!



The real scam of ‘influencer.’ (Seth Godin)


My mom and I went and watched It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood finally over Christmas break. It was a nice mother-daughter Sunday afternoon out.

Tom Hanks, of course, was brilliant as always. Here are some delightful stories about the goodness of the man who played Mr. Rogers.



Would you like to get a full look into what a 100% MLT (Music Learning Theory)-based piano lesson looks like? Here is a demonstration from this past year’s GIML Conference.



“I Can’t Wait to Practice!”: How Tonara is Revolutionizing the Practice World (Jennifer Foxx | Music Educator Resources)



The third season of Anne with an E is finally available on Netflix! Unfortunately, after this season, Netflix will no longer air the program. How sad!

Why the 1980s Anne of Green Gables is such a hard act to follow (Joanna Robinson | Vanity Fair)

Personally, I think the joint product of Anne with an E by CBN (Canadian Broadcasting Network) and Netflix is pretty great considering it was such a hard act to follow. Even my husband enjoys it!



Are you still working on your “to read” list for 2020? Check out a few of these recommendation lists:

Eye-Opening Books (The Lazy Genius)

The Best Books to Read at Every Age, from 1 to 100 (Book World Staff | The Washington Post)

Unputdownable: 17 Books I Read in 24 Hours or Less (because they were just that good) (Anne Bogel | The Modern Mrs. Darcy)

The 37 Best Business Books I’ve Ever Read (Michael Hyatt)



Green Giant Cauliflower Gnocchi

This freezer gnocchi are amazing! I simply followed the package instructions, then at the end, added a few tablespoons of pesto to the skillet. Serve alongside any protein! (We did smoked pork chops.)




What else can you make this week that’s simple? Well, I’m glad you asked!

Skillet Lemon Dill Chicken Thighs (Chungah Ree | Damn Delicious)

Jiffy Corn Casserole (Meghan Splawn | The Kitchn)



Please note that there may be links to Amazon in this post. Piano Pantry is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Simply put, being an associate allows me to make a small percentage from Amazon on items to which I link at no extra cost to you.

Friday Finds #161

2020 Vision

OK, I’ll admit I didn’t come up with this week’s title completely on my own. I was inspired by Seth Godin’s post “Seeing Clearly in 2020.” LOL

It was the perfect title though for the first Friday Finds of 2020.

What will you see from this weekly post in the upcoming year? 

What will stay the same… This will continue to be a Piano Pantry staple in the same format each week with around 10 good things put together in one list just for you.

What will change… In the past month, I’ve been trying to freshen things up with two small tweaks. First, notice each week now has a title. The items may or may not necessarily all fit into that theme, but it will help distinguish each week a little more.

Also, my creative flair will change up the Friday Finds image according to themes, months, holidays, seasons, etc.

That all. 🙂

Just for fun, did you know that this isn’t the first time Friday Finds has gone through small changes?

Phase one – Every week was titled by the date. The most popular of those, Friday Finds 05.13.2016 was actually the last one! That only lasted two months (thankfully) until I realized how boring it was to just use the date.

Phase two – Every week was titled from two or three items on the list to try and catch your interest. The two most popular from this phase were:

Friday Finds: Bubble Wrap Voicing and Triscuits

Friday Finds: Potato Variations and a Flying Piano…Up, Up, and Away!

That lasted almost two years to the exact week!

I found it started to stress me out a little not only having to come up with the list and meta description (blogger stuff), but also pick the items that would create a catchy list in the title. So, phase three gave me a little mental break.

Phase three – When I announced the countdown to the big #100, I started titling them with the number. 96, 97, 98, 99, 100! (I follow Joy the Baker who titles her weekend list this way. I figured if it worked for her, it could work for me!)

That’s lasted just over a year and a half.

It was time for a little shakeup so I started testing it out using a simple title beginning with Friday Finds #158: The Spirit of Christmas, and liked it, so here we are. What do you think?

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Enjoy your first Friday Finds of 2020, my friends!




11 Pop Culture Predictions for 2020 (Jeva Lange | The Week)

The first one had me a little confused at first (dead movie stars will be the new (alive) movie stars) but otherwise, it’s quite an interesting list!



When I first told you about my New Year’s Spotify playlist, I didn’t have the list set to “public.” If you had a hard time accessing it, here’s the link again! Sorry!



Do you have to deal with this on a regular basis like Rebecca?

Cold church blues: practicing organ in the winter. (Rebekah Maxner)



Keep your mind sharp and take up a pastime for the winter months.

Why Jigsaw Puzzles Are Incredibly Good for You (Piece Out)

I’ve always liked the idea of doing jigsaw puzzles more regularly but it’s one of those things that always seems to remain a “desire” more than an action…



The BEST roller mat ever.

Crystal Clear Heavy Duty Hard Chair Mat, Can Be Used on Carpet or Hard Floor




A beautiful poem on the conversation between us and our pianos. “What Music Gives Us.” (Nicole Douglass | Tonara)



There are certain foods that I’m just weird with. Meatloaf, spaghetti, and chicken soup are the first that quickly come to mind. I’m not a big fan of any of them and it has to be pretty darn good for me to partake.

This chicken soup, however, I can handle (and it’s not chicken noodle soup). It uses Israeli Couscous!) The addition of ginger, garlic, turmeric, and fresh herbs make it rich in flavor and high in nutrient goodness. (Monique Volz | Ambitious Kitchen)

If you can’t find Israeli Couscous in your local grocery like me, get it on Amazon.




Casseroles in general area also a weird thing for me, but I love this King Ranch Casserole (Nealy Dozier | The Kitchn).

Traditionally made with all the “cream of” soups, they found a way to do it without those. Yea!



How Rich Is Ina Garten? Really, Really, Rich. (Naomi Tomky | The Kitchn)

I discovered a few more fun facts I didn’t know about one of my favorite chefs!



Giving up your 1st class seat on a plane? THAT’S a good deed to tell about. (The Week)



Please note that there may be links to Amazon in this post. Piano Pantry is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Simply put, being an associate allows me to make a small percentage from Amazon on items to which I link at no extra cost to you.

An Assignment Sheet for Piano Safari

There are a whole lot of assignment sheets on Assignment Sheet Central – 21 to be exact.

I thought it might be nice to highlight one, in particular, that was designed around the Piano Safari method.


Download Now!

As you can see in the image, it uses clip art images of each of the safari technique exercises so you can simply circle which exercise the student is doing that week.

Weekly sightreading cards are also a big part of the Piano Safari method so there is a section specifically for that as well.

One of the things I learned from the mini-essays from Piano Safari is the importance of having students continue to play and review pieces they’ve already mastered.

Not all pieces are “reviewed for fun,” just the ones the student loves and wants to keep playing. That’s their choice! (Check out Piano Safari’s Mini Essay 4: Assigning Pieces for more on this.)

New Semester, New Assignment Sheet!

The beginning of a new semester is the best time to break out a new assignment sheet! It’s an easy way to shake things up and make the new semester feel refreshed.

Can you believe that Assignment Sheet Central has seen a total of 23,586 downloads in the past 3 years?! Yowzah!

The top downloaded sheets are the first five listed on Assignment Sheet Central. Literally, the further down the numbers go, the less the download numbers are.

Those numbers make it blatantly obvious that you simply don’t want to scroll through all 21 so you take the best of the first five. I get it!

You might be missing out, though!

Guess what? The assignment sheets are ordered (roughly) from the oldest I created to the newest. So, #01 is the first one I ever created and #21 is the most recent.

In my opinion, the final ones are the best. Try one out!

Continue reading

Friday Finds #160

Ringing in the New Decade!

Happy last Friday of December (and of this decade!)

I was just looking back at old posts and realized that this is the first year I haven’t taken a break from Friday Finds through the holiday! Each year brings its own rhythm and this year I felt able to (and the desire to) keep things going.

Since I’ve been having fun adding themes to some the weekly Friday Finds recently (a trend that will continue into the new year), this week’s obvious theme is the upcoming turn into the next decade.

When I was a teenager in the ’90s, I explicitly remember not being concerned about the whole Y2K thing. However, the year 2020 always stuck in my mind as the year that was hard to fathom coming around. And yet, here we are.



Before we kick off the new year, let’s see what the best of 2019 gave us here on Piano Pantry. First off, the top Friday Finds posts from this past year:

#5Friday Finds #158: The Spirit of Christmas

#4Friday Finds #128 (April 12, 2019)

#3Friday Finds #138 (June 28, 2019)

#2 Friday Finds #148 (October 4, 2019

#1 – Friday Finds #150: Top 25 and a Giveaway! (of course)

I find it a little spooky that they all ended in the number eight…what’s up guys, do you have a thing with that number or something?



The Fabulous Five: Top Posts from 2019 (Amy Chaplin | Piano Pantry)



Is your belly feeling heavy already after just one holiday? Try one of my favorite salads: Seriously Delicious Detox Salad (Ali Martin | Gimme Some Oven)

Or maybe a recipe I haven’t had a chance to make yet: The Best Detox Crockpot Lentil Soup (Lindsay Ostrom | Pinch of Yum)



Since we’ve been slowly hosting more these past months, I’ve noticed a need for an ice bucket.

We’re loving this silver galvanized one from Amazon. The inner bucket comes out for easy cleaning and the scoop which hangs on the bucket is easier than using small tongs to get one piece at a time.



As you may have noticed, I’ve been having fun making Spotify playlists this year. I love all kinds of music and having various playlists to use for even just one, two, or a few weeks out of the year is a great way to change it up!

I just started a New Year’s playlist to use over the next week. It’s still in progress, but feel free to follow and see where it ends up!



10 Kitchen Resolutions for a Happy, Delicious Year (Clotilde Dusoulier | Chocolate and Zucchini)

My top ones from this list are:

#1 – Make the Most of the Cookbooks You Already Own

I’m starting this year off cooking from Amy Chaplin’s (the other one) book: At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen

#5 – Keep Your Greens Fresh

Clotilde’s tips have helped me in the past but I haven’t been consistent. It’s time.

#9 – Eat More Plants

…and also, seafood. I’ve been doing much better with this in recent months. Monday nights have generally become seafood night if possible. A few  favorite seafood recipes:

Buffalo Shrimp Lettuce Wraps (Gina Homolka | Skinny Taste)

Tilapia “Clubs” (Rachel Ray |

Frittata with Tuna and Tomatoes (Giada de Laurentiis | Food Network)



My Favorites of the Decade (Kendra Adachi | The Lazy Genius)

This is a fun idea for a post. So often we get favorites and top lists from the past year, but of the past 10?! Not so often.



ALL 10 are great tips:

10 Rules to Read More Books This Year: How to Make Reading Central to Your Personal Growth in the Coming Year (Joel Miller |



On morning routines:

What if, instead of making resolutions to get up and go faster and faster, we resolve to think about our day “starting in the evening” and making rest a priority?

Starting the New Year with Rest (Amanda Beck | Morning by Morning)

The False Promise of Morning Routines: Why Everyone’s Mornings Seem More Productive Than Yours (Marina Koren | The Atlantic)



Thinking About the Winter of 2019 (Rachel Schultz)


See you next year!!!

XO Amy


Please note that Piano Pantry is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Simply put, being an associate allows me to make a small percentage from Amazon on items to which I link at no extra cost to you.

The Fabulous Five

Top Posts from 2019

Here we are with the close of 2019 in our sight. The act of hitting pause and taking a moment to look back and reflect on the past 365 days has always proven to be a life-giving exercise.

I’ve been doing this since I started Piano Pantry and it always proves to be a lesson in gratitude – not just for what’s been “accomplished” – but for what life has given. Opportunity and the freedom to do what we love can easily be taken for granted in today’s world.

Thank you for being here, for connecting with me whether it be through Facebook comments, email replies to my newsletter, or comments on blog posts.

I hope that my little slice of pie in the online piano teacher content world proves to be, for you, not just useful, but inspiring, invigorating, and more than anything…inviting.

In today’s post, I’ll share:

  1. Five posts from 2019 that you deemed that most “fabulous” (by visiting them, of course 🙂 ).
  2. The top five posts of all time since Piano Pantry started in March 2016.
  3. A month-by-month run-down of the posts from 2019.
  4. A few fun stats.

I’m looking forward to what 2020 has in store!


Top Posts From 2019

#1 |  A Visual Guide for Formula Pattern Scales

A free and easy-to-use visual guide for introducing students to formula-pattern scales. Students enjoy playing this pattern once they get the hang of it!

#2 | 147 Tunes to Harmonize: Traditional, Popular, and Christmas

Get the free download of 147 tunes to harmonize using a little as the tonic chord or as much as four chords. Tips for teaching students to harmonize.

#3 | The Piece My Students and I Can’t Stop Playing

My students and I haven’t been able to stop playing this piece of music. Hear why they love it!

#4 | Instagram for Piano Teachers: 5 Fun Accounts to Follow

If you’re on Instagram and you’re a piano teacher, then you should be following these five fun accounts. A little piano, a little personal, a LOT of fun.

#5 | Christmas Gift Round-Up

An important tip for your studio gift-giving, a new gift idea from my studio, and a big ‘ole round-up of all the student gift ideas you could ever want!

Continue reading

Friday Finds #159

Christmas Classics

This week our house has been buzzing with lots of construction!

Since the weekend before Thanksgiving, we’ve been working on finishing our stairwell. This was quite an involved task!

It included building and finishing the newel posts and handrails, removing the construction step treads, building and installing the outer and inner skirt boards, rebuilding/releveling the step bases (which has sagged slightly due to a year being unfinished), building the new treads, filling in nail holes, trimming, and painting.

The carpet is being installed as we speak (our final carpet install!) then we will put up the handrails and balisters.

On top of that, our master bathroom floor and shower are also getting tiled!

Long story short?

I’m thankful a friend encouraged me to schedule an extra week’s break over Christmas this year. It would have been impossible having students around this week!

Merry Christmas to you all!



Despite the busy week of construction, I still managed to make:

Poached Cod in Tomato Sauce (Michelle Tam | Nom Nom Paleo)

Seriously Delicious Detox Salad (Ali Martin | Gimme Some Oven)

Raspberry Orange Almond Muffins with Sprouted Wheat Flour (Amy Chaplin – the other one)



While we’re on the topic of food…

As far as baking goes, cookies are definitely my favorite (to eat and to bake!). You may be shocked then, to hear that the whole Christmas cookie “thing” has never been a “thing” in our family.

I think it’s because we already have way too many sweets as it is in December. The thought of baking 12 kinds of cookies just seems like a sugar-overload disaster waiting to happen.

This is more my language: My Favorite Christmas Cookies Aren’t Cookies at All — They’re Candied Orange Peels (Christopher Michel | The Kitchn)



CBS This Morning hosted a nice segment on Mariah Carey’s 25-year old Christmas classic, All I Want for Christmas is You. Songwriter Walter Afansieff shares the story of their collaboration while sitting at the piano.



I’ve been working on two Spotify Christmas playlists.

The first one I shared in my last Secret Letter (and maybe in another Friday Finds? I can’t remember…) It includes all of my favorite Christmas songs and albums from over the years (including said song above).

The second one is more of a Christmas worship-focused playlist. Feel free to follow either one. You can even use them to start your own playlist!



In the hustle and bustle of the season, don’t forget the people that are right in front of you.

THAT Person is More Important than Your Phone (Joshua Becker | Becoming Minimalist)



Last week, I shared a delicious Cookie Butter Puppy Chow one of my students gave me. It currently ranks as my all-time favorite, but in a close second is this Peanut Butter Brownie Puppy Chow one of my husband’s co-workers made last year. (Lizzy Cox | Your Cup of Cake)

Do you have a favorite puppy chow recipe? Share it in the comments!



This SNL children’s clothing ad is absolutely hilarious!



Five ways Emily P. Freeman experiences sacred moments around the table. [The Next Right Thing Podcast, Ep. 104 Make Soup (And Eat It Too)]



Public libraries scraping late fines – now THAT’S a gift! (Emma Bowman | NPR)



I absolutely LOVE this mindset for giving gifts shared in this article by Christine Bailey on The Art of Simple.

“For gifts, we follow the plan of each child getting three gifts from us: Something you want, something you need, and a surprise.”

Since Drew and I don’t have kids, we don’t really have a special “rule” like this, but if I had children, I would definitely keep my gift-giving process along these lines.

Does your family have a special “rule” for gift giving?


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Friday Finds #158

The Spirit of Christmas

Can I tell you guys how much I enjoy writing these weekly finds? I don’t know why, but it often feels like therapy. Perhaps because it’s almost a way of recapping my own week – things I’ve found interesting, cooked, and discovered?

I was really dragging last night and this morning so, I decided to go out of my normal routine, stay in my P.J.’s a little longer, drink coffee, and write my weekly finds. The coffee in my cup is generally black, but a twit of cream felt like what my soul needed this morning – and it did.

Sometimes just a little change of routine or rest is all we need to give us the energy to do the next task. I’m ready.



One of my students gifted me with a bag of Cookie Butter Muddy Buddies (Bake Me Some Sugar). That night, I emailed the mom and asked for the recipe – it was that good. #bestpuppychowever

Here are her notes to me:

I always use rice Chex and white chocolate chips, but think cinnamon Chex and/or cinnamon chips would be good, too. It says to shake in a ziploc bag and dry it on a cookie sheet, but I always just do it all in a big bowl and it works just fine. I tossed in some broken up biscoff cookies for something extra, but that’s not necessary. And I’ve tried the generic brand of cookie butter and it doesn’t taste quite as good, in my opinion.

The addition of the biscoff cookies was brilliant and reeeaaaally tasty.



So, I had a dream two nights ago that included a few colleagues from the piano pedagogy world coming to my house for dinner…



Shopping local and supporting your local small business? This touching video by a family-owned hardware store says it all. #bestillmyheart (CNN)



Keeping up with “The Spirit of Christmas” is this one minute peek into this year’s White House Christmas decorations. (American Military News) Beautiful!



Add this Cranberry Mulled Wine to your holiday recipe list. (I haven’t made it yet myself, but I’m looking forward to it!) (Gimme Some Oven)



I’m generally assigned the meat for any of my family’s holiday dinners. We like to do turkey for Thanksgiving and ham for Christmas.

If you have a fresh ham, I like Paula Dean’s simple recipe.

If you have a cooked spiral-sliced bone-in ham, I like Cook’s Country’s Maple-Glazed Ham



I haven’t answered my phone in years. My voicemail states that I do not answer due to spam. Yes, I’m on our state’s do-not-call list, but it doesn’t make a difference. It’s not just me: How Robocalls Became America’s Most Prevalent Crime (The Week)



Recent winning recipes from my table to yours:

Ground Beef Taco Casserole (The Kitchn)

I would call this the best recipe I found this month! We used it on top of romaine lettuce as a taco salad and it was absolutely delicious. I will never make taco salad again simply using taco-seasoned ground beef. The pinto beans in this recipe really add a nice thick and creamy texture. It would be good as a hot dip as well!

Maple-Mustard Chicken (Mother Thyme)

Two tips: First, I would just mix together the chicken marinade then toss the chicken it rather than putting the chicken on top of the veggies then pouring the marinade it on top and turning to coat. Also, I would cut the potatoes into smaller sizes – like a 1/2 inch dice. They were still a little crunchy by the time the chicken was done.

Baked Chicken Thighs with Brussels and Sweet Potato (Skinny Taste)

The Best Energy Bites (Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)



The tile work is finishing up in our master bathroom so we’re getting ready to finally move out of a basement bedroom and into our master suite!

I’ve been on a heavy lookout for decorations and furnishings for the house in general (finally, the fun stuff!) and am loving these websites:

Overstock.comDuvet Cover

Hayneedle.comCard Display Holder

HobbyLobby.comGray Wire-Lined Basket Set (has several sites under its umbrella):

BirchLane.comPeachy Queen Upholstered Standard Bed


Please note that Piano Pantry is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Simply put, being an associate allows me to make a small percentage from Amazon on items to which I link at no extra cost to you.