Featured on Key Ideas Podcast

Plus, 50% off my favorite recipe app

Hey, friend!

I’m so excited to share with you my first podcast appearance. Yea! 🙂

The super-awesome Leila Viss started a fresh new podcast called Key Ideas a couple of months ago and I was honored to be one of her spotlights!

For a little change of pace from a typical piano pedagogy-type podcast, we talk about other good things like organization strategies and cooking!

Happy listening! 🙂

Organizing Tips for Piano Teachers with Amy Chaplin

P.S. One of the resources I share in the podcast is my favorite digital recipe manager: Paprika. I just saw they are having a big Thanksgiving/Black Friday Sale that will get you 40-50% off both the apps and desktop versions. I LOVE having the desktop version as well as the app – totally worth it!

Friday Finds #198

Favorite coffee and a good laugh



We recently started a subscription with Black Rifle Coffee Company (owned by veterans) and LOVE their coffee. Our favorite so far is the “Just Black” medium roast. Delish!



Do you want a good laugh to boost your spirit? Listen to Episode #7 of the Beyond Measure Podcast. I guarantee you a good chuckle.



Now is about the right time to decide if you will be giving students Christmas presents and if so, what?! Here are some ideas to get you started:

DIY Music Scroll Tree Ornaments (Rebekah Maxner)

Christmas Gift Ideas for Music Students: Who Couldn’t Use Another Idea? (Piano Pantry)

Christmas Gift Round-Up (Piano Pantry)



Life is Full of First Days (Joshua Becker | Becoming Minimalist)



I’m super intrigued by the recipe: Citrus-Cranberry Tart



Are Christmas Studio Activities Worth It? (Rosemarie Penner | The Unfinished Lesson)



Do you ever use the app Flashnote Derby? Guess what – you can send specific drills to your online students via email. Here’s a quick tutorial. It’s super easy!



A good and simple recipe: Easy Tuna Patties



For your listening pleasure: A Thanksgiving playlist



Experiencing the Seasons

The term “seasons” to me is an encouraging word. Why?

Because whether you’re talking about it in regards to the actual weather or life in general, it means a new start, a turn of events, a change.

Today we’re going to talk about five fun ways we can boost our experience of the seasons and embrace all that they are in multi-sensory ways.

In hard times – like when you’re quarantined for days, weeks, or months on end – finding ways to relish and participate in the current season can help bring a feeling of freshness and renewal.


#1 Music in our Studios

Christmas, of course, is the main season that immediately comes to mind when it comes to music because, as piano teachers, we get to experience Christmas music for two months multiple hours a day!

(Every year I try out a new Christmas book series. Last year it was Piano Safari’s “The Joy of Christmas” and this year Piano Pronto-pictured above.)

What about beyond Christmas though? Have you ever given your students a special piece just because it had a theme for Winter, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Summer, or Fall?

Not that every student has to have a special piece of music for every holiday or season, but it’s certainly a fun way to interject something different and a change of pace on occasion.

Individual sheet music solos would be the easiest and most convenient way to do this!



#2 Our Personal Music Playlist

As far as our personal listening goes, it can be easy to get stuck only listening to our favorite type of music (or group) such as classical, contemporary worship, or folk/bluegrass (like me! :-).

What if we could open our horizons a little more by changing it up with the seasons? A couple of years ago I started using Spotify. One of the things I love about it as opposed to Pandora is that you can create your own personal playlists and not just customized radio stations.

At first, it started with an Easter playlist because at the time I was filling in as a temporary Worship Team Coordinator for my church while we were on the search for a full-time Worship Leader.

I got addicted to creating these lists though and realized that even though they were playlists of the same tunes (not a radio station), it helped me explore even more music because I would listen to one list for a month, then change with the next month and/or season.

Don’t get me wrong, these lists aren’t all I listen to, but they’re often my first choice when popping on the tunes.

All of these playlists are public on my Spotify profile so you can enjoy them as well and maybe even create your own from my list!

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Friday Finds #197

Thanksgiving Prep

As of today, we have just under two weeks to prepare for the often overlooked and yet beautiful holiday called Thanksgiving.

This holiday is placed at the perfect time of year, forcing us to count our blessings as the year comes to an end and before we begin indulging in all of the spoils of life.

Here are some items to help prepare and set the mood in multiple areas of your life this Thanksgiving.



Two songs I love to sing around Thanksgiving:

Come Thou Fount (I Will Sing) by Chris Tomlin. It beautifully combines the best of the timeless hymn with a contemporary bridge (I Will Sing).

My Heart is Filled with Thankfulness by Keith and Kristyn Getty.



Spiced Pumpkin-Raisin Cookies (Giada de Laurentiis)

These cookies are a staple in my fall food repertoire. They pack a slight crunch as they use sugar in the raw instead of white or brown sugar. As a bonus – if it matters to you – they’re vegan!

Pumpkin Bread (Smitten Kitchen)



It’s time to switch over from our Autumn playlist to Thanksgiving.

My Thanksgiving playlist is public on Spotify which means you can enjoy it as well! Favorite songs include:

  • All Meat and No Potatoes (Louis Armstrong)
  • Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie (Jay & The Techniques)
  • Everybody Eats When They Come to My House (Cab Calloway)
  • Let’s Turkey Trot (Little Eva)
  • Mashed Potato Trot (Dee Dee Sharp)
  • Simple Living (Keith & Kristyn Getty)

Not only are the titles awesome, but the tunes themselves will make your day and get you in the mood for the upcoming holiday!



Amy’s Holiday Favorites (Recipes, Gadgets, and Music)



10 Easy Ideas for Thanksgiving Fun (Williams Sonoma)

#3 is an awesome free PDF of Thanksgiving puzzles, word search, Thankfulness cards, and more. I’m SO EXCITED to use some of these when hosting my family’s Thanksgiving meal!



Thanksgiving sheet music for piano:

Now Thank We All Our God arranged by Leila Viss.

A Thanksgiving Prayer (elementary solo) by Wendy Stevens



Overcoming Envy (Joshua Becker | Becoming Minimalist)



Two games from Susan Paradis: Chasing the Turkey and Save the Turkey

From Wendy Stevens: Melodic dictation of Thanksgiving tunes and Pumpkin pie listening thermometers



The Perfect Teaching Table (Piano Pantry)



Congratulations to Wendy Stevens on her 20th anniversary celebration!



The Perfect Teaching Table

Have you ever experienced a feeling of giddy elation over finding the “perfect” (insert: piano, piece of office furniture, studio equipment, or teaching chair)?

It’s amazing how the physical things around us affect how we move and interact in our spaces.

When I first opened my studio I remember being on the hunt for MONTHS for the perfect piece of furniture to place next to the piano to help store all the items I liked to have within arms reach such as pens, stickers, teaching tools, etc.

The one I found (and still love after 9 years) is the Graphix Open Rolling File Cabinet, Graphite


I purchased it initially from Walmart.com for $79, but it has also been available in the past on Amazon for $65.

Unfortunately in both places, at the time of this post, it’s unavailable. (Sorry, I didn’t share this sooner!)  I did some searching though, and currently, you can get it here:

USOfferStore.com ($65)
OfficeSite.com ($90)
HomeGoodsCenter.com ($126)
eBay ($142)

There are lots of options for this kind of thing out there, so here are a few things I love about mine you might consider as you search for YOUR perfect teaching table.

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RSS and Your Secret Letter

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

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

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

This question was posted by a reader after reading this post:
Managing Internet Content the Easy Way.


Hi, Amy!

I’m trying to set up my RSS reader so I can get my email under control.

If I add Piano Pantry to my RSS reader and unsubscribe my email, will I still get the Secret Letters?  I don’t want to mess everything up!




Hey, L!

Yea for RSS! You’re going to love it. I’m also glad to hear you’re enjoying the Secret Letters and don’t want to miss them! 🙂

That being said, if you unsubscribe from my email list, you will NOT get the Secret Letters. That’s why they’re called “Secret.” 😉 They’re not available to find anywhere online and only go to those on the email list.

RSS is about feeding new blog posts into one spot so you can visit one website and see all the new content from your favorite websites at one time.

I still stay subscribed to a lot of email lists because most of them nowadays send more than just blog post updates. To keep all of those subscriptions out of my inbox I use Unroll.me which I then set up to send me a Daily Digest.



It’s all so confusing!  How does one know if it’s an email list or a blog post update?  I suppose I will have to figure it out!  I’ll take a look at Unroll.me.  My inbox is out of control at the moment.  I was doing well in the email department but somehow I got behind and now it’s a MESS!

One more question for you – how do you remember where to find something later?  It might be in the RSS reader, it might be in an email, it might have been in a Facebook group.

Do you have a way to put what you glean all in one place so you aren’t trying to remember where you saw it?  No way do I have enough brainpower to remember all that!  (I’m guessing you might say Evernote, but I still thought I’d ask!)



Hey again!

Great question and yes, it CAN be confusing!

You can’t always know until you sign up for a list, what types of emails they will be sending. If you notice a subscription is only sending you posts to your inbox (and you’re already seeing new posts in your RSS reader), then you can unsubscribe.

RSS isn’t so much about completely getting rid of all of your newsletter subscriptions as it is giving you a place to read website content in one location rather than relying on your time in your email to be when you see and read new content.

As far as saving and retrieving your favorite articles for later, Feedly (my RSS Reader), allows you to save (and search) articles – so that’s one good option. You can also send articles from Feedly directly into Evernote.

I try to be very picky about saving too many blog articles, but if I do, you are correct – I save them into Evernote then tag that note by whatever it’s about such as “group lessons” “apps” “lesson planning” etc.

The search function of programs like Feedly and Evernote is really great so you really don’t have to get super caught up in labeling and tagging articles too much. Just type a keyword into the search box and it will usually find it.

Friday Finds #196

Happy Halloween 2020

Happy Halloween!

The crops are coming down, the air is getting cooler, pumpkin carving is underway, and candy may be in our near future.

Have a great weekend!



After trying various erasable pens over the years for writing in student’s music, I’ve finally given up on them. They just don’t write nicely and they don’t last.

Good old lead pencils and Erasable, Twistable Colored Pencils (even those that don’t have erasers on them will still erase) are my writing tools of choice.

After having students constantly break the lead on “clicky” pencils, I went on the search for stronger ones and found the BIC X-tra Strong Mechanical Pencil (0.9mm). No breaks so far!



Streamline your piano teaching schedule for COVID-19 (Rebekah Maxner)



There’s No Such Thing as ‘Quality’ Time (Ryan Holiday | Medium)



Holiday Recital Alternative: Musical Advent Calendar (Compose Create)



Creating a home that feels like Fall (The Nester)



Storing your games in clear plastic A4 envelopes is a great way to organize them. I’ve found, however, that if I print the game instructions on a letter-size paper then laminate it, the instructions don’t fit in the envelope.

So, I recently purchased Expandable Clear Plastic Folder/Envelopes. They were the perfect solution!



Blueberry Baked Oatmeal (Cookie + Kate)

Roasted Butternut Squash (Minimalist Baker)

Jalapeno Cheese Grits with Jammy Eggs and Bacon (the Kitchn)
(1-2 jalapenos were enough for us!)



The New Christmas Lab Video Series (Piano Pantry)



This time in Piano Pantry history:

2019 – 5 Reasons Why Google Photos Might be the Perfect Solution for Your Studio

2018 – Teaching Syncopation with Rocket Man

2017 – Trusty Christmas Favorites: Repertoire I Return to Year After Year

2016 – Inspiring Creativity with Student Art Books



The New Christmas Lab Video Series

Ready for a little joy and good cheer?

The Christmas season is just around the corner and that means it’s time to start thinking of ways you can incorporate this glorious season into your lesson time.

We’re all a little tired, so can I help you out? 

Believe me when I say that the new free Christmas Video series here on Piano Pantry is a guaranteed smile on your student’s face.

The best part of it? This is a series that can easily be assigned to your online students, especially if you use a program like Tonara (see how I set up assignments like this in Tonara).


Where to find this video series

You can easily navigate to all of the free video series here on Piano Pantry by going to the Menu > Resources > Music Labs.

Currently, there are four different video series available:

Music Theory Videos

Holiday Lab – Halloween

Holiday Lab – Christmas

Fun Music Videos


Listening Guides

If you would like to go a little further, both the Halloween Lab and the new Christmas Lab have listening guides available in the Music Labs Shop.

The Christmas video series includes 23 videos and around 90 minutes of listening in a 9-page document.

A variety of songs and artists are included.

You’ll see pieces such as Silent Night, Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, Winter from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Mary Did You Know, and Sleigh Ride, and hear from artists like Cameron Carpenter, Eric Whitacre, The Piano Guys (a lot, of course), the Berlin Philharmonic Choir, and more.

The accompanying lab sheet gives students brief and easy-to-digest background information on each piece followed by a reflection question.

Students are not necessarily asked to physically write out an answer to the reflection question (although you could certainly ask them to!), it is simply there to help guide them in active listening.

They are also asked to rate the video with 1-3 stars, which serves both as a way for students to reflect on how much they enjoyed the video and to track the pieces that they’ve listened to in the lab.

Add this lab to your cart now, or find it (along with other music labs in the shop).



Friday Finds #195

A Sneak-Peek

Friday Finds #195 – can you believe it?

We are fast approaching 200 weeks of finds for you, my dear teachers. It’s kind of funny because when I first launched this website, I was desperate to get content up quickly before I left for MTNA 2016, San Antonio.

Several websites out there I followed did weekly posts like this I loved so I thought – why not! Although this series started on somewhat of a whim without much thought, it’s withstood the test of time.

When we hit #100, I did a big “best of” post with the top 100 items from the previous 100 posts but that was way too much work so I started doing best-of review posts more frequently (which always includes a giveaway 🙂 )

Here’s a sneak-peek of what will be up for grabs in post #200:

-It’s a foodie thing.

-It’s worth about $75

Stay tuned to find out!



Who needs another Zoom call? Why sending letters might help your loved ones. (The Washington Post)

Can I give you an organizational tip? Pick one day of the week that you send a card/letter. Make your goal just one. For years I wanted to do better at sending cards. It wasn’t until I put it on my calendar as part of my Monday tasks that it became a habit.

Not only that, but keeping a stash of blank cards or general cards like sympathy, recovery, etc. means I can easily just grab one and not have to put it on my shopping list.

Every Monday, I send one card. It could be a card for quick recovery from someone at church, it could be words of encouragement and thanks to someone in your life who has blessed you, it could be a long-lost friend who isn’t on Facebook.

Do it. You won’t regret it.



A Solo Festival with an Online Judge (Lauren Lewandowski)



The Greatest Blessings in Life Are Often the Most Forgotten (Becoming Minimalist)



Fall-time food:

Ham, Gruyere, and Apple Panini (Giada de Laurentiis)

Face it, it’s only a “fall-time recipe” because it has an apple in it – ha! 🙂
I prefer it without the thyme.

Braised Chicken Thighs with Carrots, Potatoes, and Thyme
(Williams Sonoma)

A simple but absolutely delicious and warm comfort food recipe!

Taco Soup (Simply Rebekah)

My husband loved this particular taco soup. It’s very tomato-based. Let it simmer for several hours and it will continue to thicken.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies (The Kitchn)

This uses browned butter. I skipped the step where they say to cool it but it made my batter too warm and the chocolate chips started to melt when I mixed them in. It’s a delicious cookie – just don’t skip the butter cool-down.



We’re out of picnic season in this part of the world, but this is a fun post:
How Do People Picnic Around the Globe? (Smithsonian Magazine)



Adapting Online Group Lessons for Special Learners
(The Unfinished Lesson)



Take a listen to Paula Dreyer’s new solo album: Central Star.



Check out the Cookin’ Piano Teachers Facebook group



This podcast episode brightened my morning bigtime this week.
Ep3: Cheers to Seasons, Beyond Measure Podcast (Christina Whitlock)


Did you enjoy this post?

Consider subscribing to the Piano Pantry email list. You’ll get my once-a-month “Secret Letter” which includes what’s been going on in my studio that month, new posts on the blog, books I’m reading, favorite Instagram posts, and other fun things like that. 

Sound good?! Subscribe here.

How to Free-Up Storage Space in Gmail

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

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

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


Hi, Amy! I keep getting emails from Google saying that I am close to being out of Gmail storage. Of course, they just want me to buy some. Is there a good way to free this up?



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