Friday Finds #173

Health, Care, and Comfort

A new month has arrived and with it, blades of green grass are popping through.

Earth is ready to rejuvenate itself as the season propels forward. Our lives may not feel the same as we sit in limbo, but we can allow the new season and fresh air to energize that which may feel stagnant, and brighten that which may feel dark.

It’s Thursday – four days into online lessons and here’s the range of emotions I’ve experienced in the last 4 days:

Monday and Tuesday…I love online lessons! This is actually not bad at all. Hmm… maybe I should consider moving my studio online full time!

Wednesday…Get me out of here now! I still have two more students. I can’t do this! 7 hours on Zoom and my throat hurt and I wanted to crawl out of my office.

Thursday morning…Anxiety attack. On the verge of tears but I manage to hold them back. I can’t do this again, I can’t go through this day if it’s anything like yesterday.

An hour later…OK, the internet is better today. Maybe it will be OK after all. Breathe, Amy.

Three hours later…Oh, look at that beautiful blue sky – so thankful for the small joys like this. Life isn’t so bad. I’m keepin’ it positive!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been feeling a little bi-polar this week. This too shall pass.

It all comes down to…internet connection. If it’s bad, online lessons suck the life out of you. If it’s good, it feels like the coolest thing in the world.

Breathe in – I can do this. Breathe out – we’re all in it together. 

Breathe in – I can do this. Breathe out – we’re all in it together.

May this list serve as a little part of your week that helps emote a sense of consistency and routine. Take what you need for this week and think nothing of the rest.



Back in October, Natalie Weber wrote a blog post announcing a new pilates program she had joined and was loving. Last month I decided I needed a new workout routine so I dug up her affiliate link and joined.

She highlighted it again this past week along with some other great resources:

Taking Care of Your Health as a Piano Teacher with Virtual Resources (Natalie Weber | Music Matters Blog)



10 Products to Make Your Online Teaching More Comfortable (Amy Chaplin | Piano Pantry)



Piano student care packages. The best. (Rebekah Maxner)



How to listen to podcasts: A 101 Primer (Tsh Oxenreider | The Art of Simple)



Three Activities for Online Music Lessons (Lauren Lewandowski | Piano with Lauren)



Online Piano Lesson Games and Activities Part 1 (Whitney Hawker | 4-D Piano Teaching)



Jonathan Roberts on Virtual Recitals for Students (Joy Morin | Color in My Piano)



Wash the Next Dish (Chris Wheeler | The Rabbit Room)



The Calm Place (The New York Times)



The Side Effects of Social Distancing (Freakonomics Podcast)



Do-Re-Mi COVID-19 Style



Don’t forget to follow my new Instagram account ( It’s my new outlet for sharing my passion for food and the journey with food photography!


10 Products to Make Your Online Teaching More Comfortable

If you’re not already teaching lessons online, many of us will be this week following Spring Break.

I think we can all agree that online teaching can take a little bit (or even a lot) more energy than in-person. Hopefully, the more we do it, the easier it will get!

To help you along the way, here are 10 products I love that can help make your next few weeks feel a little less stressful and a little more comfortable.

Remember, it’s the small things that can bring us joy in stressful times!

Here’s a quick reference guide – descriptions follow!


#1-4 Hydrate and Moisturize

Staying well-hydrated is always important for good health, but we may need to be even more conscious of it now. If we’re not intentionally conscious of it, we may tend to find ourselves talking a little louder than normal which leads to dry mouth and dehydration.

Consider keeping an electric kettle next to you for cups of tea or even warm lemon water. Chef’s Choice Electric Glass Kettle is good quality and well-priced.


One of my favorite teas is The Republic of Tea’s Spring Cherry Green Tea


The individual bags are convenient for on-the-go teaching.

Excess talking can also easily dry out the lips. Don’t forget a stash of chapstick! SW Basics Organic Beeswax Lip Balm


With everyone being more conscious of handwashing perhaps longer and more frequently than before, the skin on your hands may be suffering.

Keep this lovely-smelling EO Body Lotion, Coconut and Vanilla on your desk to enjoy after each hand-washing.

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Friday Finds #172

This or That?

I’m torn, you guys.

Do I make this week’s finds all about resources to deal with our current situation, do I keep it light and fun for the sake of our sanity and brain overload, or do I do a little of both? A little of this and a little of that.

*Theme to Jeopardy plays while I think….*

A little of this and a little of that feels right. We can’t ignore life but we can’t let our present situation drive our entire being.

Hey, I think I just gave a little life lesson! Boom!

In the post I shared yesterday on keeping a positive perspective, I shared a little about my grandmother and her disposition.

Today I want to tell you that my grandfather was well known for his bear hugs – guaranteed to be accompanied by a verbal and warm grunting sound. (The word grunting doesn’t seem to do the sound justice but I can’t think of another way to describe it. Rest assured it was a good sound 🙂 )

So, here’s me sending you a big virtual bear hug if you need it accompanied by a warm and enveloping grunting sound! *Squeeze*



The first thing I am dying to tell you is that I finally started an Instagram account sharing my passion for food and journey with food photography! My husband used to be a photographer and he bought me a small photography light for Christmas. It’s all just for fun!

Follow me here:



Is Homemaking the New Wellness?

I love everything about this. My mom and both grandmothers were both homemakers and all before them. I have to admit that I love home-keeping. I love my job but I honestly think I could also be happy as a full-time household manager. Cooking, cleaning, organizing…



Helping Special Needs Students Adjust to Online Lessons (Rosemarie Penner | The Unfinished Lesson)



A free 1-minute video improvisation you can send to students to play along with! (Christina Whitlock)



N.C. Sheriffs Find 18,000 Pounds of Toilet Paper and Other Products in Stolen Truck (NPR)



7 Funny Cartoons About Coronavirus Hoarding (The Week)



Podcasts I’m somehow just now discovering but really excited about:

The Bulletpoof Musician (Noa Kageyama)

Everyday Musicality (Heather Shouldice)

The Literate Musician (Andy Mullen)



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

A Simple (and Free) Video Supplement to Support Your Online Teaching (Amy Chaplin | Piano Pantry)



Looking to change up your egg routine? This Seven-Minute Egg is absolutely delicious!



This time in Friday Finds History:

2019 – Friday Finds #126
2018 – Friday Finds: Easter Week
2017 – Friday Finds: Colors
2016 – Friday Finds 03.25.2016 (The pilot!)



This is killing me. Thanks, Starkey Comics for the laugh!



Save Time and Money Taking Online Payments With Coinhop

As many teachers are considering what it may look like to run their studio (temporarily) online, one topic that may be necessary and quite urgent is making the move to online payments.

If you’re still taking checks from parents and worried about making the switch, rest assured, while it may take a little leg work setting everyone up, your future self won’t regret it.

Taking online payments will not only save you time from manually depositing checks but the payment portal I want to share with you today will save you money compared to 90% of the other online payment services out there.
(P.S. That number was arbitrary. Basically, the fees are cheaper than anything else I’ve found out there.)

Coinhop has been my payment portal of choice for several years now. I hope the reasons why I love it will help you as you’re considering online payment options for your studio.

Continue reading

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

Is you Inbox overloaded with emails titled “Person/company name’s response to COVID-19″?

Are you feeling a little bit like you’re in the Twilight Zone?

Do you just want to make it all go away and get back to normal?

Is one side of you glad to know that “we’re all in this together,” and another part of you tired of hearing the phrase already?

Yeah, me too.


Strong Declarations

Over the past week as posts on Facebook have ramped up regarding online lessons, we’re seeing success, generosity, and encouragement, but also escalating anxiety and even negativity.

Several posts popped up of people expressing their frustration with online lessons and in the heat of those frustrations, they declared them to be “worthless.”

Really?, I wondered…

Worthless? Continue reading

Friday Finds #171

Spring Goodness

How are you feeling, my friends?

I’m guessing there’s a good chance one side of you is sick and tired of hearing about all of this and another side is wanting to stay abreast of the news.

I do hope if anything, we all continue to do our part no matter how big or small that may seem. Stay informed, make good decisions, keep calm, and enjoy the sense of community in all of this as we all live through a (likely and hopefully) once-in-a-lifetime type of pandemic.

On the bright side? Yesterday was the first day of Spring (the earliest in 124 years apparently)!

Let’s use the new season as an opportunity to a deep breath of fresh Spring air and look at all we can in a positive light.






If you’re a member of Music Teacher’s National Association, you’re about to be in for a big treat! The 2020 conference in Chicago that was supposed to go on next starting tomorrow is going to be made available online FREE to all members online over the coming weeks!




Well, that was easy!

When it comes to going online, I agree with Joy about keeping it simple. Facetime is my #1 platform and Zoom my #2. Make sure you have either a copy of their book or screenshots you can view of their music.





From Seth Godin:

“You have a chance to reinvent the default, to make it better. Or we can maintain the status quo. Which way will you contribute?

Rather than doing what we’ve always done in real-life (but online, and not as well), what if we did something better instead?”

Read the full post here: The Conversation.





One of my teacher-friends who used to live in Indiana moved a few years ago and took her studio with her – online! She’s been sharing a lot of great tips for online teaching via Facebook groups. You may have already caught some of her videos but if not, here is a link to Melissa Willis’s YouTube Channel.



Making music

Bono found inspiration in the times to write a new tune.



You now have time to make things like…

Homemade Chicken Stock (Homemade Chicken Stock)

Homemade Vanilla Extract (Joy the Baker)

Homemade (and easy!) Sprouted Wheat bread (Jenny Can Cook)

Homemade Whole-Grain Banana Bread (King Arthur Flour)





I know this is a little old news but if you didn’t hear about it – movers dropped Angela Hewitt’s rare concert piano… Eek!





Time Magazine’s 100 Women of the Year.



Just Because

Inside the Cutthroat World of Royal Gossips

“They jet off to Fiji with Harry and Meghan, hike the Himalayas with William and Kate, and hit the South of France with Charles and Camilla. But the life of the royal correspondent isn’t all glamour…”


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

Are you looking for a few extra (but simple) tools to help you with your new journey into online teaching?

Here’s one you may have not even considered!

A free compilation of 48 of the best music-theory videos from all over the web is available to you here on Piano Pantry.

How can this video-series help make your life easier over the coming weeks?

The videos have been leveled into four sets based on the rough/general order in which concepts are introduced in most piano methods.

You will be able to quickly and easily access videos that can help reinforce new concepts your students may be learning. Here are a few examples of videos in each set:

Set 1
  1. Key names and the music alphabet
  2. How to draw the treble and bass clef
  3. Landmark notes
Set 2
  1. Skips alphabet on the staff
  2. Sharps, flats, and naturals
  3. How to build major and minor triads
Set 3
  1. AB and ABA Form
  2. Chord inversions
  3. Circle of fifths
Set 4
  1. Scale degree names
  2. Augmented intervals
  3. Double sharps and flats


Before, during, or after your online lesson, grab the link and text or email it to students/parents. (If you use a program such as Tonara, simply attach a link to the video in a theory lesson assignment. Easy!)

Should these videos replace a lesson?

Are they an easy and fun way to provide additional e-learning to your students?

Access the video series here.

Here’s a screenshot showing a few videos that are included in the series:


Tracking Sheet

If you’re interested in having a way to keep track of what videos you’ve assigned to each student, find the 2-page guide that accompanies this series in the Music Labs Shop or simply add it to your shopping cart now.

P.S. All music labs are studio licenses so you can print it as much as you need for your students.




Friday Finds #170

Cancellations Galore

Toilet paper.

It’s all gone.

For real. Apparently, our town of 9,000 has been bought-out of toilet paper.

Our local Achievement in Music Festival has been canceled with the hopes of rescheduling in May.

Universities around us are moving to online learning for extended weeks and even the rest of the semester.

The Music Teachers National Association Conference in Chicago has been canceled. (Luckily this was the first year in a while I was NOT planning to go!)

Hopefully, we’ll all look back someday and sigh a breath of relief that precautions were taken and that COVID-19 didn’t get out of control.

For just this moment, let’s close our eyes, take a deep breath and rest in a few good things as we end this week.



If you’re not already having students wash their hands before their lesson and wiping down the keyboard between students, now is the time. It certainly can’t hurt anything and is a good practice regardless of what germs are circulating our globe.

As a piano teacher you may want to check out:

The new Facebook group: Piano Teachers with Coronavirus Concerns

A well-written letter from a piano teacher to his studio families setting them up for the potential option of online lessons in future weeks if they so choose. (Daniel Light | Light Piano Studio)

Coronavirus and Piano Lessons (Dr. Sally Cathcart | The Curious Piano Teachers)




It’s taken years, but I’ve finally been experimenting with Irina Gorin’s “Tales of a Musical Journey” piano method this year. I’ve been pleased so far. If you’re interested in more training with Irina, you may want to first read Joy Morin’s review of Irina’s online course. (Joy Morin | Color in My Piano)



Thanks to the “This Old House” magazine that still makes it to our mailbox, I found a good source for recycling batteries! Check out the website to find local places near you.

Unfortunately, while many Lowe’s stores do, ours only takes rechargeable batteries. Luckily I discovered from a friend a hardware store that will take them. Do some research and ask around!



This is kind of fun: 17 Maps of the United States that Made Us Say “Whoa” (Tucker DeSaulnier |



Calling all Trader Joe’s Fans! Did you know they have a podcast? Inside Trader Joe’s

Are you lucky enough to have a Trader Joe’s near you? I’ve been hoping for one to come to Fort Wayne (40-minute drive). The closest one currently is in Indianapolis (90-minute drive) so I only get to go twice a year.

News broke that one may be coming our way! Yea for us!



Here is the Correct Way to Serve Grapes (Christine Gallary | The Kitchn)

It makes sense to me!



This past week I discovered an amazing bread recipe!

Quick & Easy Sprouted Wheat Bread (Jenny can Cook)

I used Organic Sprouted Spelt Flour and bread flour as my combination.



Besides this bread, for the last two weeks, I have been struggling to feel motivated to cook anything but am determined to do better!

My grocery cart filled up this morning to make these easy and tasty meals:

Authentic Greek Salad (Gimme Some Oven)

Egg Roll Skillet (The Kitchn)

Spinach and Feta Frittata (The Kitchn)

Quick and Easy Egg Drop Soup (Simply Recipes)

Southwest Chopped Chicken Salad (Greens & Chocolate)

Spicy Chicken Tacos (Rachel Ray)

The Seven-Minute Egg (Saveur)



Please note that items in the post may link to Amazon and 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.

Implementing Incentives

The Struggle Is Was Real

To incentivize or not to incentivize. That is the question.

(Or maybe you’re simply wondering at the moment whether or not “incentivize” is actually a word? It is, by the way. 🙂 )

Do you struggle with implementing an incentive program?

Is it because you’re torn between the philosophy of extrinsic versus intrinsic motivation or is it because it’s a struggle to be consistent in implementing something? (Or maybe a little of both?)

While there’s plenty of research supporting both sides of this age-old question of extrinsic versus intrinsic motivation, today I’ll be sharing my journey with (and support of) implementing incentives. Specifically:

  1. Why I struggled for years with implementing incentive programs.
  2. Four things I found an incentive program (and I) needed for long-term success.
  3. How others in the field helped inspire and develop my own philosophy regarding extrinsic rewards along the way.
  4. How short term rewards can turn into long-term joy including a specific example from my studio.

In a later post, I’ll get more specific with the incentive program I’ve been using with success for several years, and a list of popular prize box items.

Continue reading

Friday Finds #169

Day-Specific Holidays

It’s a new month and a new Friday Finds color! Just for fun, I was looking up what holidays there were in March (beside St. Patrick’s Day). Apparently there’s a lot! Today alone is:

  1. National Day of Unplugging
  2. National Dentist’s Day
  3. National Dress Day
  4. National Oreo Cookie Day (the best one of all, of course!)

No wonder we’re all so stressed. How are we supposed to do anything and celebrate four “national holidays.” LOL.

The last one has me wondering…what’s your favorite kind of Oreo?

Original? Double Stuf? (Yes, it’s spelled with 1 “f”) Mint? White cookie? Holiday? Or maybe you don’t like them at all? Continue the conversation in the comments! (I’ll tell you mine at the end of the post. See if you can guess…




If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that this week I finally put out a sign asking students to go wash their hands before their lesson. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for years but never put it into action. Now seemed appropriate.

Coronavirus and Piano Lessons (Dr. Sally Cathcart | The Curious Piano Teachers)



Many of you may have been following our dear colleague Leila Viss’s journey with her son’s boating accident since Thanksgiving. Not surprisingly, she put her journey to music in a piano solo: Angel 94.



Do you sponsor a child with Compassion, World Vision or perhaps through another agency? Do you know someone who has been a sponsored child? This is a heart-touching story of how a mailman who was formally sponsored through Compassion encourages other sponsors during his day-to-day work life. (Compassion)



We’re still slowly unpacking boxes from the move into our new house. The boxes were in our garage and barn. This week I unpacked all the books and sorted them. This article on minimalism and books is helpful when you have a lot! I’m celebrating the fact that I got rid of five books. It’s a start!

A Book Lover’s Guide to Reading More While Owning Less (M.C. Starbuck | Becoming Minimalist)



7 Things Pro Decorators Say Aren’t Worth Splurging On (Sarah Lyon | The Kitchn)

Yep. Except, what in the heck is #7? Coffee Table Tchotchkes? Never hear of it.



Thanks to a fellow teacher who shared this on Facebook:

Hedgehog Inadvertently Plays A Respectable Measure of Jazz Just By Walking Across the Piano Keys (Laughing Squid)



Micro-Generation Born Between 1977-1983 Given New Name (Jorrie Varney | Sammiches & Psych Meds MockMom)



This week has been an off-week for cooking. Every night I’ve been super tired. Monday was all good – I did manage a healthy soup lunch and an easy casserole for dinner.

Pasta e Ceci (Italian Pasta and Chickpeas) – The New York Times

Marsala Chicken and Mushroom Casserole – Rachel Ray


That’s all for this week! Don’t forget…

What’s your favorite kind of Oreo?

Mine? Double Stuf! Also, Oreos must be accompanied with milk or they’re not worth it! Do you agree?