Friday Finds #153

My piano tuner finally got in this morning to tune my “new” Yamaha C2 grand piano I bought back in August. The word new is in quotes of course because it was manufactured in 1993 – but it looks like new and is new to me!

We got our wires crossed on the day and while I was sitting on the spa chair getting my toes ready for winter boots (a.k.a. a pedicure), he calls.

“Uh-oh,” I tell my pedicurist, “it’s my piano tuner.” I’ll bet he’s at my house waiting on me.

Sure enough…

Luckily, out in the country, we leave our doors unlocked so I told him to just go on in and leave me the bill. I confessed however that I was disappointed I wouldn’t get to talk to him because I wanted to see what he thought of my new piano. Minutes later I got this text:

“I like it already. Very powerful in octaves five and six where we have trouble with most pianos tone quality. Good tone and feel all the way around, nice purchase!”

Yea! My piano tuner approves! LOL.

Hold your tuner dear to your heart.



Reflecting on Nearly 3 Decades of Teaching: What Has Worked (Laura Lowe | The Piano Studio)



My favorite cutting boards: OXO Good Grips 2-Piece Cutting Board Set. Only $19.99 on Amazon.

If you haven’t replaced your cutting boards in several years. Consider doing so – they get so yucky!



After Five Decades of Pushing Bachelors Degrees, U.S. Needs More Trades People (PBS)

Surprise, surprise.



How to Steal a Website (Janna Carlson |

Something we all need to hear.



My favorite furniture polish: The Original Bee’s Wax Old World Formula Furniture Polish

Keep a bottle under your kitchen sink and under each bathroom cabinet for easy access to wipe down/clean wood cabinets. Keep an old cotton rag with it so cleaning feels quick and easy!



In France, Elder Care Comes With the Mail: Carriers for La Poste Have a New Job: Checking in on the Aged (The New Yorker)

Hmmm…very interesting!



“What’s the difference between Late Elementary and Early Intermediate? What the heck is Big Note anyway, and why is Easy Piano NOT easy??”

Get this awesome free leveling chart, courtesy of Carol Matz!



Now, THIS is kind of fun! 🙂

4 Kathleen Kelly Looks with 9 Key You’ve Got Mail Wardrobe Pieces (Kelle Hampton)



A great big hearty congratulations go out to Tim Topham as he re-brands to TopMusicCo to reach an even wider musical community!



Good news in the world.

Songs for Kids: A Prescription for Healing (CBS News)



It’s that time of year my freezer was ready to stock with some homemade goodness – chicken stock, that is!

Ina Garten’s is my favorite. Last Saturday our house smelled soooo good!

Frittata with Tuna and Tomatoes (Giada de Laurentiis | Giada’s Feel Good Food)

I never thought about making a frittata with tuna in it! What a nice and different way to get more seafood in your diet! I served an arugula salad on the side tossed in a light mustard vinaigrette and parmesan cheese.

Best Yogurt Parfait Ever (Ree Drummond | Pioneer Woman)

The ladies at my husband’s work always request this when they have a carry-in.

Turkey, Kale, and Brown Rice Soup (Giada de Laurentiis | Giada’s Feel Good Food)

One of my absolute favorites and a great way to get some greens in your diet! Drew likes soups that are less “soupy” and more “stewy” so I doubled the ground turkey and brown rice and it made a nice thick soup.


Tell me, what’s the winning find for you from this week?



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.

Friday Finds #152




10 Safety Protocols for the Independent Music Teacher (Jennifer Foxx | Music Educator Resources)

Why You Need a Piano Studio Child Protection Policy and Plan (Rebekah Maxner)



James Clear’s hit book “Atomic Habits” is now on sale on Amazon for 40% off!




How Much Should My Child Practice? (Samantha Coates | BlitzBooks)



Short and Funny (Seth Godin | Seth’s Blog)

It’s literally two sentences. Read it. We all need a little more of this simple logic in our lives.



Lance Crackers: Gluten-Free-Baked-Original.

Best. Crackers. Ever. They don’t need a topper – they’re good just on their own. I don’t eat them for the sake of gluten-free but for the sake of yumminess!

Thanks to Joy Morin for introducing these to me!


Why You Never See Your Friends Anymore: Our unpredictable and overburdened schedules are taking a dire toll on American society. (The Atlantic)



Just this past week, I started receiving my Amazon orders using what’s called “Amazon Day”. This is a new Prime-member service that allows you to schedule your deliveries to come on the same day of the week to help minimize shipments and thus waste. (Business Insider)



How Tobasco Sauce is Made (Insider)



My Favorite Christmas Resources for Piano Teachers (Tracy Selle)



A Season of Excess (Joshua Becker | Becoming Minimalist)



A few items we dined on this past week:

Apple, Pecan, and Blue Cheese Salad (Ree Drummond Pioneer Woman)

Psst…we used the really stinky Roquefort blue cheese! Yum!

Farfalle (a.k.a. bowtie pasta) with Chicken, Mushrooms, and Swiss Chard (Giada de Laurentiis)

I used the recipe out of her cookbook Feel Good Food. It calls for 1 lb. sliced cremini mushrooms which I would prefer over dried porcini’s as the linked recipe uses. You basically would just skip step 1 in the linked recipe if you use fresh mushrooms and sautee them with the shallots before adding the liquid to make the sauce.

*This is so, so good! It has great flavor. Like anything, it’s even better if you use homemade chicken stock instead of store-bought.

Cauliflower Gratin (Ina Garten | Barefoot Contessa)

If I were to make this again, I would completely forego the nutmeg. Yuck. It’s just not my thing in savory dishes.

Blueberry Lime Oatmeal Muffins (Lisa Fain | Homesick Texan)


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.


Friday Finds #151

Last week we celebrated 150 of these weekly posts!

The first Friday Finds EVER was one of my first posts here on Piano Pantry back in March 2016. Oh, how time flies!

Twenty-five of my absolute favorite items and posts from the past 50 weeks made it onto my offerings last week. One of those items, a $13 pack of stickers (that I’ve shared more than once), was offered as part of a giveaway to celebrate.

I’m pleased to announce that using Google’s random number generator, out of 21 comments/entries, the winner is…

The first person to comment on this post! Congratulations, Gina F! I’ll be emailing you to get your details.

Now onto the first post in our next 50!



Halloween-Themed Jars from Mason Jar Lifestyle: lids, straw toppers, straw, straw holders. (Marisa McClellan | Food in Jars)







Halloween Favorites: Games, Resources, Graphics and More (Amy Chaplin | Piano Pantry)



A Piano Teacher’s Guide to Surviving Halloween Week (Andera Dow | Teach Piano Today)



We had our Fall group class last week and even though Halloween was two weeks away, I made it a “Halloween” group class.

As students entered, I was playing some of the pieces from Jason Sifford’s “The Creeps” book. Students would then tell me if it was in duple or triple/major or minor.

I’ve had this book for a couple of years but because I don’t do a lot with Halloween, I hadn’t pulled it out yet. Now I’m especially glad to have it as part of my music library as the pieces are pretty awesome!

It’s not currently available on Amazon, but you can get it from Sheet Music Plus following this link:

look inside
The Creeps
Composed by Jason Sifford. Sheet Music. Book. The FJH Music Company Inc #FJH2260. Published by The FJH Music Company Inc (FJ.FJH2260).




Junior Virtuosos: What is a Natural Hand Position? (Benjamin Steinhardt)

Two of my favorite tips from this post:

Addressing students trying to stretch and place one finger on each key:

I find it useful to have students practice bringing the hand to the keyboard with their eyes closed to avoid this problem. Most are shocked how few keys the hand covers.

Addressing students dropping their thumbs below the keys:

In addition to reminding students of their natural alignment, I enjoy the image of the thumb tip being a “ghost with a flashlight (or laser beam).”  The light can go up or down, side to side, or shine at an angle but it should always shine on the fallboard when not playing.

Junior Virtuosos: Dropping into a Key (Benjamin Steinhardt)

Favorite tips from this post:

Addressing the weight of the forearm:

Before involving the fingers I find it useful to have the student make a gentle fist (like holding a bird’s egg) and play short rote pieces on black key clusters to feel how the weight of the forearm is responsible for producing sound.

Addressing the hand and forearm working as one unit:

To get the sensation of the hand and forearm working as a unit I like to have students give me “high-fives” and playing “pat-a-cake.”



How I’ve missed Benjamin Steinhard’s blog all this time, I don’t know, but I finally added his blog to my Feedly. Check out why I prefer to use an RSS like reader like Feedly for following my favorite website rather than email in “Managing Internet Content the Easy Way” (Amy Chaplin | Piano Pantry).



In ‘The Water Dancer’, Ta-Nehisi Coates Creates Magical Alternate History (Annalisa Quinn | NPR Book Reviews)



This Video of How Cookie Cutters Are Made Will Blow Your Mind (The Kitchn).



The Rise of the “Getting Real” Post on Instagram (Carrie Batton | The New Yorker)



7 Things that Shouldn’t Impress Us Anymore (Joshua Becker | Becoming Minimalist).



Happy Halloween!


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.

5 Reasons Why Google Photos Might Be the Perfect Solution for Your Music Studio

Are you looking for a better way to organize and store photos and videos?

Would you love an easy way to share those special clips directly with students and their families – especially those that aren’t a part of social media (yes, they exist).

Google Photos might be YOUR perfect solution!

My husband and I are PC users. He’s in the business world so that’s just how it goes in our house. For years I tried but never loved iCloud Photos. The interface just didn’t feel good to me and I was frustrated and unhappy.

For years I was hoping for a way to store photos and videos that would easily allow me to tag photos of multiple students on one photo.

Don’t laugh, but in the old old days, I even tried renaming every photo on my desktop file manager to include the name of each student that was in the photo.

This was a TERRIBLE idea but I was desperate.

I felt like I had the rest of my digital life organized and in order but photos were getting the best of me.

Then I met fellow Louisville-based piano teacher Daniel Light at a session I was giving to the teachers of Louisville MTA and he changed my world forever by introducing me to Google Photos!

Today, I want to share with you five reasons why Google Photos may answer your needs (as they did mine) for a better media storage solution.

Continue reading

Friday Finds #150

Top 25 and a Giveaway!

Wow, I can’t believe we’ve hit another milestone of Friday Finds once again! It seems like just yesterday I was putting together the celebration post for #100, but that was more than a year ago!

After #100, I took the Summer of 2018 off of Friday Finds and there have been a few random weeks missed here and there which is why we are more than 50 weeks past #100.

In #100, I shared a HUGE list of the top 100 items from the first two and a half years of Friday Finds posts. That was A LOT to recap, so moving forward, celebrating in 50-week increments seemed a little more manageable!

To make it even more of the best of the best, I’ve trimmed down this week’s celebration list to the top 25 finds from the past 50 weeks. All of these items are ones that, when looking back, still stuck out to me as extra special, interesting, or things I still absolutely love.

You’re getting them in alphabetical order. At the end, you’ll find a giveaway!

Continue reading

147 Tunes to Harmonize Updated

Just a quick note to let you guys know that I recently did a small update to the free download 147 Tunes to Harmonize: Traditional, Popular, and Christmas.

I couldn’t believe it when I saw how many hundreds of you have downloaded this freebie!

Here are a few quick ideas on how you could use it:

  1. Pull it out when students forget their materials or haven’t practiced enough on their pieces.
  2. Use it for a month-long focus on harmonization.
  3. Practice harmonizing these tunes on your own to develop your own ear!
  4. At Christmas time, have students choose one piece off the list that they’re not learning as part of their Christmas repertoire and have them play that Christmas tune with chords while they sing!


P.S. I would definitely recommend printing it out and keeping it next to the piano at all times!

Happy harmonizing!

Christmas Gift Round-Up!

A couple of years ago I shared quite a few ideas for great Christmas gifts to give to your music students.

Since not much time has passed since that post, I only have one new idea to add to my original list, so I thought it might be fun to also give you links to everyone else’s ideas too!


First, a Tip!

Before I give you my round-up, I do have one new BIG TIP to share:

Keep a list of what you give your students each year!

The first year I opened my studio, I didn’t record the gift I gave and I regretted it because it is SOOOO nice to be able to look back and see what you’ve done recently.

Keeping a list means that you can easily repeat gifts with confidence.

This year, I’m cycling back and giving a gift that I did six years ago which means I’m confident a large majority of my students haven’t received this gift from me!

It’s a simple as writing it down in your favorite note-taking app (like Evernote, of course!). Here’s my list:

  • 2018 Metal treble clef bookmark
  • 2017 Ceramic snowman ornament with music notes
  • 2016 White Mess Puppy chow with Japanese Piano Eraser attached
  • 2015 Black sparkly music ornament
  • 2014 Bag of puppy chow
  • 2013 Hot chocolate mix
  • 2012 Hershey symphony bar

All of these items (except 2018) were shared in my original gift-giving post. 


More Ideas

Last year I gave my students these Metal Treble Clef Bookmarks

At $13.00 for a pack of 10, you can’t go wrong for such a cute but economical gift! 

BONUS: The tassel almost makes them feel like an ornament and they come in a cute little box!

Continue reading

Friday Finds #149



Sara Bareilles – “Saint Honesty” This one practically gives me chills every time I listen to it. Play it while you keep reading. Your ears, mind, and heart will thank you.



13 videos that will introduce your students to “spooky” classical music. (Piano Pantry)



In Friday Finds #147, I mentioned that I was going to purchase one of the artificial arrangements from Target’s new fall line.

Getting nice artificial plants can be tricky and this one did not disappoint! It was a bonus when I found out there were two different sizes! (Yes, I got them both!)

Artificial Goldenrod Arrangement in Ceramic Pot Yellow/White – Threshold 16.5″ x 10″ and 11″ x 10″ (pictured)



9 Ideas for You Piano Studio  Chalkboard / Whiteboard (Color in My Piano)



Halloween Favorites: Games, Resources, Graphics, and More (Piano Pantry)



I don’t watch many random videos on Facebook, but my husband introduced me to The Bus Brother. Have you heard of this?

A brother who wanted to do something special to create memories his last year living at home before going off to college decided to dress up every afternoon to welcome his younger brother off the bus. How special is that?!



Which Drink is Best For Hydration? Hint: It isn’t Water. (CNN)



Get a free download of Leila Viss’s arrangement of “Doxology” with the purchase of a studio license of one of my favorite arrangements of “It Is Well.” (Piano Pantry)



We love this coffee.

Lavazza Super Crema Whole Bean Coffee Blend, Medium Espresso Roast, 2.2 Pound (Amazon)




Reading this felt a little bit like a therapy session (in a good way!): It’s So Much More than Cooking (The Week)



Whether you’re a person of faith or not, I think most of us could relate to at least the opening few paragraphs of this: The God Who Asks.

To be honest, I often long to leave social media for good but feel the conflict of also needing to be present for what I need/want to do with my studio business and even on here with you.

Summer, perhaps might be a good time to check out, just once…



Coming from our kitchen recently:

“British” Baked Potatoes (The Kitchn)

BLT Panzanella Salad (Pinch of Yum)

No-Bake Energy Bites (King Arthur Flour)

Butter-Bath Corn on the Cob (Spicy Southern Kitchen)



Stay tuned next week for a special Friday Finds as we’ll be celebrating 150 posts!


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.

Halloween Favorites

Games, Resources, Graphics, and More

Halloween may be one of my least favorite holidays of the year, but since it’s tied up smack-dab in the middle of my favorite season of the year, it’s doesn’t go completely missed in my studio.

Here is a quick round-up of some of the best Halloween-themed activities and resources I’ve come across over the years.

13 “Spooky” Classical Music Videos
(Amy Chaplin | Piano Pantry)

Classical Music to Attract or Scare your Trick-or-Treater’s
(Joy Morin | Color in My Piano)

Fall and Halloween-Themed Social Media Graphics
(Leila Viss | 88 Piano Keys)

Halloween Candy = Opportunity For Free Marketing
(Joy Morin | Color in My Piano)

Halloween Music Lab
(Amy Chaplin | Piano Pantry)

Shades of Sound Listening & Coloring Book: Halloween
(Jenny Boster | The Playful Piano)

Continue reading

Friday Finds #148

This past week I’ve been feeling a let-down (the good kind, that is). Often, we don’t know how much stress we are under until we’re no longer “under” it and suddenly you realize what it’s like to breathe again. That’s how I’ve been feeling.

There are several factors contributing to this:

  1. In June, I finished my temporary 1-year stint as an interim worship-leader at my church. That was a 10-15 hour/week job.
  2. In July we finally moved out of our unfinished basement and into the main level of our house and had a kitchen after going without for 6 months.
  3. In August we moved my studio out of my office complex and into the (now almost finished) basement of our home. P.S. Working from home is AWESOME. (In the next couple of months I’ll share new studio photos!)
  4. In September I finished my two-year term as President of Indiana music teacher’s association.

Two weeks have passed since the final turn-over and I’m noticing how much more time I have for life!

Not just life, but I actually feel like I have permission to use the time I got back here again. You may not have noticed much missing, but I know how much I’m bursting to do here. So, if the coming months seem like there are more posts than ever, you know why! 🙂

On to all I have for you this week…



Now that I finally have a little more time on my hands, I’m tempted to use Natalie’s link to join The Balanced Life online pilates membership. Does anyone else use this program? I’m curious to hear any more feedback. I did Classical Stretch regularly for a couple of years and loved it, but shaking things up is always a good thing for me. (Music Matters Blog)



How Tim Topham Went From Side-Hustle To Full-Time Musical Pioneer With Content Marketing (CoSchedule Podcast AMP067)



If you use forScore, it is recommended you wait a bit before moving to iOS13.



We asked two of our female editors to wear the same thing every day. Here’s what happened (Fast Company)

If I were to wear the same thing every day, it would be comfortable jeans, comfortable closed shoes of some kind, and a black 3/4 length cotton top kind of like this one.



How to Write by Elizabeth Gilbert (swiss miss)



7 Killed In Crash Of WWII Aircraft At Connecticut Airport. So sad. My husband is an airplane junkie so I heard about this from him. (NPR)



Plácido Domingo Resigns From LA Opera.  (NPR)



An 8-hour playlist of sleep music from Max Richter. I’m going to have to try this on my next trip! (New York Times)



“So, as my homage to Richter’s eight-hour lullaby, here instead are 10 pieces of music not to put you to sleep – 10 pieces that turn falling asleep into a variously magical, creepy or supernatural drama.” -Tom Service (The Guardian)



After 2-3 weeks of working my way through my back-log of Milk Street recipes, I deemed this week and next “clean-out-the-fridge-and-pantry” week.

We had a colleague/friend of Drew’s and his wife over for dinner last Friday though and I made Ina Garten’s awesome lasagna (with Italian sausage; I can’t find turkey sausage) and Milk Streets French Apple Cake.

Saturday mornings are deemed “special breakfast” mornings in our household. Breakfast isn’t my thing during the week, but I’m sad if we miss it on Saturdays. Last Saturday was our favorite waffle recipe (Gaufres de Liege). 

This is my waffle iron of choice.


What’s your favorite weekend breakfast item/recipe?


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.