Friday Finds #134

This past weekend was my student’s Spring Recital. It always feels so good to see my students and realize how far they’ve come from the previous year!

Having a recital as the final event at the end of the school term is kind of like a period at the end of a sentence. It’s a final statement of what’s been said while also being an invitation for what’s ahead.

Here’s to Summer and fresh beginnings!



Self-Care for piano teachers: 6 tips for mental, physical, and spiritual wellness

#2 has me curious. Do any of you drink the “Natural Calm” hot drink that the article recommends? If so, let me know in the comments what you think.



On Alfred Music blog:

The Worship Music Debate Continues: Understanding Music’s Role in Worship Services



It’s the end of the school year and I’ve been trying to Spring Clean my studio. One purchase I made to help tidy a little more is a 32 x 31 Portfolio Case to hold my extra poster boards and the thick foam boards I use for my One Minute Club sign.



Summer is upon us and my Amazon shopping cart also housed my second pair of these Sanuk Yoga Joy Metallic Flip-Flops.

The sole is made of rubber but the upper portion is made of Yoga mat material and is really comfortable. They also have a bit of arch support in them which makes them a winner in my book.



Still looking for a fab gift for your favorite graduate?

One of the best gift packages I’ve come up for a special graduate was a package with these three items.

Electric Water Kettle
I Love Ramen Cookbook
12 Pack of Ramen Noodles

The graduate I gave this gift to informed me it was the best gift they received and they absolutely loved it!



Taco Bell Is Opening a Resort in Palm Springs This Summer




If you haven’t already had the conversation with yourself yet on whether or not you will be raising your tuition for 2019-2020, check out these two articles from Wendy Steven’s as well as the cool Inflation Calculator she recommends.

How Often Should I Raise Teaching Rates?
Can You Raise Your Piano Lesson Price Too High?
CPI Inflation Calculator



Fiery Piano Sheet music: Showstoppers for Students Who Like to Play Fast



These “Sessions” Books from Teach Piano Today look interesting. I do have a few teen students that I think would enjoy these. Is anyone else using these books? If so, let me know what you think!


Friday Finds #133

Today’s featured image is the photos that I posted of my studio on Instagram to enter MTNA’s free membership giveaway! All you have to do is post a photo of your studio on Instagram, tag it #mtnamembership, and follow @MTNAorg on Instagram.

They will draw a winner on June 3. The odds are looking pretty good as there are only 21 entries so far!



“Do what you know. Finish what you started.  Use what you have.”
This is an excellent statement that I want to be part of my life’s mantras. I’m pretty good at the last one, OK at first, and not always so good with the middle one. :-/


I heard this quote from Myquillyn Smith on this episode of The Next Right Thing Podcast.


A Better Way to Freeze Bacon. Hmm, I’ve never tried this. I often will lay the individual pieces out on wax or freezer paper in layers so they will defrost quickly. Has anyone tried the rolling method they mention?



Street Food on Netflix. Looks like a great show!



Suggestions on The Best Disney Piano Books from Lauren Lewandski at



Do you use Piano Safari’s sightreading cards? Consider using videos…



Teaching excerpts from Burgmüller’s Opus 100.



It was only a few months ago that I discovered LaCroix. I have no idea how far behind I am in that, but oh well, I know the product now and love it – mostly. Actually, only a few. I love the Pure (no flavor) and the Orange. The Berry flavor is OK but Cran-Raspberry is awful. Apparently, there’s a new Hibiscus flavor now.

If you’re into sparkling water though, definitely try Perrier’s Strawberry and Orange flavors. They’re awesome for summer


Friday Finds #132



Two great articles on a similar topic you may relate to!

How Motherhood changed the way I teach piano (Piano Teacher Confessions) by Rebekah Maxner

Has Parenthood Changed My Teaching? by Elissa Milne



I’m totally loving this steel frame dish rack. Would you pay that much for a dish rack?



Awesome new podcast alert! Check out Decomposed with Jade Simmons

“Decomposed breaks down the stories that have shaped classical music, from secrets and scandals to acts of sheer genius. Hear these stories accompanied by the symphonies, operas and other masterpieces they inspired. Hosted by Jade Simmons, a classical concert pianist and storyteller, the first season of Decomposed takes on gender expectations, Cold War propaganda and the danger of putting your personal life on the stage. Produced in partnership with Classical Minnesota Public Radio.”



In other Podcast news, NPR hosted a Student Podcast Challenge. I think this is so cool!



Choose Your Life Every Day



Buying plants on Amazon? Why am I surprised?



Prep your students for their recital (if you haven’t already had it!) using the Compliment Exchange Cards.



How to Make More Time as a Piano Teacher with Help from technology



Friday Finds #131

Today’s featured photo is the piano teacher family tree I give to each one of my students when they join my studio. I updated it recently and am going to frame it along with a photo of me with my two most recent teachers.

Unfortunately, as you can see, I can’t remember the last name of one of my teachers! She was a college music major I studied with for a couple of years. Someday it will come back to me!

My piano teacher when I was in grad school at Ball State, Dr. Lori Rhoden gave this piano teacher heritage list to all her students. She studied with Dr. Maurice Hinson who is the one that did all the research.

How cool is that when you can tell your students they are the great, great, great, great, great grandstudent of Beethoven?

(Much of this was inspired by the Varsity Musician’s Playbook series here on Piano Pantry.)



The Gordon Institute for Music Learning has announced its 2019 Professional Development Courses.



Piano Music for Teens



I’ve seen Clinton present on his Music Alive! Recitals and it’s such a fun idea! Bookmark it for a unique and fun future recital in your studio!



Snooze is a Trap | Seth Godin



What’s the difference between a frittata and a quiche?



My husband sent me a link to these Soft Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies Cookies. I think he’s trying to give me a hint.



Check out these beautiful food-themed silver necklaces! What a fun and unique gift they would make for the food-lover in your life!



Looking for a unique and practical gift for a high school or college graduate? Consider a subscription to Birchbox!



Ina Garten’s Tips for When Store-Bought is More than Just Fine. I completely agree! I mean, who is seriously going to make their own puff pastry! LOL. (I do make my own vanilla extract though.)



Music Education Benefits for Kids In A 90 Second Animation

Improve Your Audience’s Recital Experience with these Simple Signs

Organizing a studio recital involves lots of different aspects beyond student repertoire preparation. Many of us, I’m sure, have stories we can tell of the lessons learned in our first few years of recital-planning.

One of my first lessons-learned was to put up some kind of signage, especially when the recital is not in the same location every year.

Is it a necessity? No. Can people generally find their way to the recital hall or auditorium eventually? Yes.

So why use direction signs?

If you’ve ever attended a graduation party, baby shower, or conference, I’m sure you will agree that the minute you see a sign indicating you are in the correct location, you breathe a sigh of relief.

It’s comforting to not have to wonder if you’re in the right location or to have to search for where you’re going. Relieving this small anxiety for your audience will not only make a great first impression but will add a professional touch with little effort. All it takes is a few signs posted around the building where the recital is being held.

The signs are very simple – no frills. I kept them pretty plain rather than with a design so they can be used at any kind of recital, no matter what your program looks like.

They’re being made available to you in Microsoft Word format so you can download the document and make tweaks to your heart’s content or print only the signs you’ll use.

I like to include my logo at the top of the page.  Feel free to import your own!

Signs include:

  • Arrows pointing to the correct direction to find the recital location/room.
  • Asking the audience to wait in the foyer until the doors open.
  • Reminding attendees food and drink should be taken into the recital hall. (Unless you’re having a special recital like a picnic of course! 🙂
  • Asking the audience to sit toward the front half of the room. (I use these when we’re in a large sanctuary so it doesn’t feel like they’re all spread out. I set them on either end of the row/pew encouraging people to keep moving forward.


Consider taking your signage a step further and purchase a yard sign you can reuse from year to year that has your studio logo and says “Recital Here” or something generic that could be used for any kind of performance(s) you organize in your studio.

What was one of the first things you learned when planning a recital that helped it go smoother the following year and each year since?

Winner of Piano Lessons by Noah Adams

The winner of last week’s giveaway is Suzanne H. She will get a copy of Piano Lessons: Music, Love and True Adventures by Noah Adams.

I will email you, Suzanne to obtain your address. Thanks to all who entered!

Friday Finds #130

My photo-highlight this week is a little project I worked on this past week. It was an update of my One-Minute Club board. To read more about how I run this program in my studio, visit this post.

I must say, I was pretty proud of how this board turned out! The inspiration behind it was two-fold. First, one of my students asked who all had won in the past and while I told her names, I realized faces help us connect more. Second, the photos were also inspired by by the Varsity Musician’s Playbook series.



Here’s the photo mat I purchased on Amazon for this project. I simply put it on small velcro rounds behind it and velcroed it to the board. The photos are taped from behind so I can easily remove the frame each year to add the winner’s photo.



I finally got around to reading a couple of bookmarked articles I had from the new year. I was going to wait to share but decided they were too good to hold back even if we’re not in “new year” mode.

Finding Sabbath Again

Starting the New Year with Rest (her way of thinking about our cycles of rest is really interesting)



Amazing things in education!

Bal-A-Vis-X from OSDE on Vimeo.



5 Books that Helped Me Heal (P.S. I’m currently reading #3 with the staff at my church!)



Not normally a casserole girl, but with my need for very easy food right now, this one is going on rotation for a while!

Marsala Chicken-and-Mushroom Casserole



Don’t miss entering the giveaway I posted earlier this week!



Piano Lessons: Music, Love & True Adventures

Today I have a giveaway for you!

A few years ago I read the book “Piano Lessons: Music, Love, & True Adventures” by Noah Adams. In my quest to always minimize “things” in my possession, I was looking over a few books I owned and asking myself whether they were ones I would want to read again and take with me into my future.

This book, while I recall enjoying it, is not one that I necessarily would need to read more than once.

It’s a memoir by Noah Adams, long-time co-host of NPR’s All Things Considered. He writes of his journey with learning to play the piano over the course of a year.

I’m not a big reader of memoirs and biographies, but if you are, I’m sure you will find this book delightful!

Please keep in mind, what I’m giving away is my used copy. It’s paperback with slight wear on the outside and a few highlights throughout.

Rather than just donate it to a bookstore, I thought one of my readers might enjoy it. (It will be mailed within two business days of the giveaway ending via media mail at no cost to you.)

In order to enter this giveaway, please comment on this post and answer the simple question: Do you enjoy memoirs? (Even if you don’t, you can still win! 🙂 )

You can gain an extra entry by visiting the Piano Pantry page on Facebook.

Only those with a U.S. mailing address can win.

The drawing opens at 12:00 am on Tuesday, April 23 and ends at 12:00 am on Tuesday, April 30. The winner will be randomly selected.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Are you a reader? Check out more recommended resources on Piano Pantry!

Books for Piano Teachers

Books for Piano Teachers interested in Music Learning Theory (MLT)


Friday Finds #129

OK, so you may find this a little bit of a strange feature photo for today, I don’t know, but it summarizes what I’ve been up to. If anything, the photo just makes me happy because the Scrabble word is just so cute!

Since July I’ve been working as the interim worship team coordinator for my church. Basically, (since I have another job at another church as well), it means I do all the scheduling (we use Planning Center Services), choose all the music, rehearse the band on Thursdays nights, and at 8:00 on Sunday morning. Then, I say “go” and the team plays for 9:30 and 11:00 services while I go play for the Lutheran church in our town at 9:30 and then come back for worship at 11:00 with my husband.

It’s craziness, I know. No wonder I just purchased the newest book from Michael Hyatt, “Free to Focus”!

We’re about to hire a new worship pastor finally, so my time is coming to an end in the next month or two. We had an appreciation dinner for our worship team last Friday and brought in BBQ from an amazing local BBQ joint.



If I had another great photo to wrap up this past week in the life of the world, you know what it would be…the burning of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. 🙁

Here’s an update on the great organ of Notre Dame.



How Inuit Parents Teach Kids To Control Their Anger



Maverick Composer, George Crumb turned 90. Here’s a great article on him from the New York Times.

Access the Spotify playlist the NY Times created in celebration of his birthday here. (I listened to it while writing these Friday Finds. 🙂 )



The presentation I gave to Kansas City MTA two weeks ago was held in a beautiful Steinway shop. Before I left, one of the workers gave me a  copy of the most recent Steinway owners magazine. It was as hefty and beautiful as I would expect any publication from Steinway to be. There were three articles in particular that I found really fascinating that I found published online I wanted to share with you:

Seven Centuries in Eighty Minutes: In An Ambitious Program, Jeremy Denk Surveys the History of Western Music

Playing the Barre: The Invisible But Dispensible Ballet Rehearsal Pianist

In Celebration of the 165th Anniversary of Steinway, here’s their Limited Edition model.



Some ideas to help your students as they prepare for upcoming recital performances.



I was looking for a fresh arrangement of something to play for the prelude on Easter Sunday, so I purchased Leila’s newly-released arrangement of “Lift High the Cross.” Thanks, Leila!



Wow! Heather has some really great ideas for one area of the recital no one really ever talks about: the welcome speech! Hmmm…now I feel convicted to try something different!



Why Kids Don’t Practice and What to Do About It

An excellent article from Leila once again. This is not the first time she has written an in-depth article in reflection of a TED-Talk.

P.S. I agree that you should spend the 15 minutes to watch the TED-Talk she mentions. Grab a cup of coffee and don’t do anything else.



Friday Finds #128

Last week I mentioned that my husband and I were on our way to Kansas City for a short 4-day getaway as an extension to a contracted session I had on Friday morning with the Kansas City MTA. I’ve been slow to get many photos up on social media from this trip, but we had a great time and the Spring weather was incredible!

One of the big sites we visited was the National WWI Museum. This photo is taken from the museum overlooking the city. The building you see front and center in the photo is Union Station which is absolutely beautiful inside. I thought this was a beautiful overview of the city to share with you today.



A fun little finger number activities worksheet from 4D Piano Teaching.



Indiana school district turns unused cafeteria food into take-home meals for kids in need. Why isn’t every school doing this?



The Best Electric Kettles, According to the Best Experts.

We first discovered electric water kettles when we lived in Australia. It was common for every home to have one as many homes drank instant coffee (yuck!). They are an absolute gem to have available and so convenient for boiling water!

We have the Capresso Kettle which is recommended by America’s Test Kitchen (at least it was at the time!)



A few fun finds for piano teachers from Natalie Weber.



I am determined to have green plants in my home even though I do not have a green thumb. Articles like this one on how to stop killing your plants are for people like me!



At the 2019 MTNA Conference a few weeks ago, I attended a fantastic session in Pedagogy Saturday’s Teaching Artistry Track called “Do These Five Things Always and Forever.” The presenter, Veda Suponic, recently gave this session for an MTNA Webinar which can be accessed here.



Jennifer has a great idea for your summer session. Check out how she does practice packets.



Two weeks ago, Evernote launched the Evernote for Gmail add-on. I’m trying it out now and hope to write a review in the near future after using it for awhile.



Wendy’s recital programs are always sooooo beautiful! I use her programs almost every year. Check out her new Spring Recital Program Package.



One of my favorite recipes I’ve been making without a kitchen these past 4 months are these Spicy Chicken Soft Tacos. All you do is toss chicken tenders in a mixture of EVOO and Sriracha and bake them (I’m using a small countertop oven). Pre-shredded cabbage and plain yogurt are all we need to make a decent toping and dinner is done!