Friday Finds #239 Best of January

Welcome to the first Friday Finds of 2022! It’s been a busy January with the startup of The Piano Pantry Podcast. I hope you’ve had a chance to catch at least one episode if not all four.

As life moves forward, things change and evolve including what I’m doing here on Piano Pantry. If you’ve been around here awhile, you may have noticed that this weekly series has become a little more sporadic.

My beloved Friday Finds series has and will continue to remain, but may be more dependent on what life allows from week to week and month to month. At a minimum, you will always see an end-of-month “best of” publication.

So, thanks for sticking around for this series my friends, a Piano Pantry staple and reader favorite since 2016!



I discovered the most DELICIOUS soup recipe this past weekend Pulled Pork Chili Verde (The Kitchn).

I added 1 c. fire-roasted corn (from Trader Joe’s) as well as additional liquid – the liquid that came out of the instant pot from cooking the pork shoulder. No additional salt was needed at the end due to the addition of that liquid.

Soooooo good!!!!!



In Praise of Slowness (



As you’re building your list of books to read in 2022, consider some suggestions from Chris Foley of Books Read in 2021



Piano Studio Business Claims: Things that spark joy can be claimed at tax time (Rebekah Maxner)



How I organize all my receipts for tax time: Get Organized!: Bills, Expenses, and Receipts (Piano Pantry)



12 Podcasts for Piano Teachers to Follow in 2022 (Joy Morin | Color in My Piano)



Podcast episode: The Life and Legacy of Sidney Poitier (The Daily)

Podcast episode: How Disgust Explains Everything (The Daily)



97-year-old pianist, and last surviving pupil of Rachmaninov, signs landmark record deal (Classic FM)



How to Teach Form and Memorization to Beginning Piano Students (Natalie Weber | Music Matters Blog)



Baking Bread as an Act of Hope (The Rabbit Room)



While we’re on the topic of bread, recently I discovered a wonderful store-bought pita at our Walmart – Joseph’s Flax, Oat Bran & Whole Wheat Pita. It’s low in calories (60 apiece), soft, light-weight, and a good source of protein.



A few more favorite bread recipes:

Everything Bagel Pull-Apart Bread with Cream Cheese – so easy and so good! (Just a Taste)

High Protein Bread (Oat Sandwich Rolls) (Skinny Taste)

The Easiest Bread Recipe You’ll Ever Bake (Williams Sonoma)



Seth Godin on piano tuning…kind of, LOL. Do You Have a Tuner?



Best Kitchen Towels: Zeppoli Kitchen Towles (The Kitchen)



What Makes a Great Intermediate Piano Teacher (Janna Williamson)



Cooking Demonstration at Piano Connect 2022

Hello! Just a quick announcement to let you know that I giving a cooking demonstration for the 2022 Piano Connect Virtual Conference.

I’m honored to be stepping in at the last minute, filling in for The Hungry Musician who normally works with Paula Dreyer on the food side of this virtual conference.

Hope to see some of you there as we make fluffy omelets together this Saturday, January, 29 @ 11:00 am PST.

If you’re interested in registering for the conference, you can do so here:

Register for Piano Connect


What iPad and Page-Turner Device Do You Use?

This post is part of a series called Your Questions Answered that highlights questions from readers just like you. If you have a question you would like to submit, you can do so here.


Hi Amy,

Which iPad do you use and what type of page-turner device do you use with that?

Do you use SuperScore or something else to play digital music?

Do you have your students purchase iPad if they don’t have one?

Need your advice as I would like to update my old mini iPad and stay current with tools.


Twinkle R.


Hi, Twinkle – good to hear from you!

For the last 5 years or so, I have been using the iPad Pro 12.9. There are two reasons I like the 12.9″

  1. Once I started a full-time church job, I much preferred to read music off the larger screen.
  2. I do not have a laptop so for travel, having the larger iPad makes it nicer to work from.

I like the Pro version because I can use the Apple pencil with it. Over the years I tried several different types of stylus’ but not of them has come close to the smooth use of the Apple Pencil. I find it to be much more accurate for annotation on my music and as a bonus, it charges directly from the iPad itself and does not need a separate plug to charge.

That being said, if I had a laptop, I would probably be OK with the 11″ iPad for sheet music. I know several people who have and like that size.

I have also always used and loved the Apple Smart Keyboard. The one that goes with my current 4th generation is a folio-style, which envelops the iPad.

The Apple Pencil 2 works with this 4th generation iPad and charges through magnetism along the side of the iPad.

While my current iPad is the 4th generation, if I were to do it all over again, I’m not sure if I would go with the 4th generation iPad 12.9″. It’s not because of the iPad itself – I actually love the 4th generation iPad 12.9″ because it’s a little smaller edge-to-edge than the 3rd generation 12.9″.

It’s because of the smart keyboard. I really loved the style of the original smart keyboard. The folio-style only allows you to set it up as a keyboard or fold it back and hold it as an iPad. The older Smart keyboard allowed you to prop up the iPad without having the keyboard out. Plus, since the old one did not wrap around the entire iPad, the backside of the iPad was exposed which means when I set it down it would slide more nicely on a surface.

This is just a personal preference though.

The first-generation Apple Pencil that worked with my old iPad Pro had a lightning plug directly on the end with a cap – you would charge by plugging into the iPad female end.

My page-turner is the iRig BlueTurn. I love it and highly recommend it. For years I used the Airturn PedPro. While I liked the slim profile, I had too many troubles with it not responding when I needed it to or turning more than one page at once. There’s a chance it was just a user error but I’ve found having the feel of actually pressing the button makes a big difference for me.

As for sheet-music readers, I have been using ForScore for years and love it. You can create setlists, annotate, export PDFs either with or without annotation, crop, and do all kinds of crazy amazing things with it. I highly recommend it.

As for your question regarding students purchasing iPads, no I do not find any reason to require my students to have iPads.

I hope this helps – if you want to check out more of my recommended resources including apps, business tools, and more, check out the Recommended Resources page here on Piano Pantry.


Group Class Lesson Planning Made Easy

Ever since I started teaching piano full-time just over ten years ago, group classes have always been part of my studio offerings in one way or another.

While we’re not necessarily going to cover the variety of group class format options in this post (check out episode 3 of The Piano Pantry Podcast for that), I do want to share an overall group class lesson plan format that has consistently proven successful for all of my group classes no matter the level.

In this post, I’ll be referring to the style of a group class that is more of an occasional enrichment class, not a weekly “group piano lesson.”

Each class generally includes four key areas:

  1. Performances
  2. Audiation Activities
  3. Ensemble Work
  4. Music Theory Games

In this post, we’ll talk about why each area is important and will share some of my favorite go-to resources.

Continue reading

Music-Themed Comic Books for Your Studio Lending Library

Last week I shared a large list of 15 of my favorite piano-themed children’s books. You can check that out along with tips on managing a lending library in your own studio here.

Today, I wanted to share some fun music-themed comic books I’ve run across over the years.

I never even knew such a thing existed until I won a copy of Welcome to Harmonium by William Soller at an MTNA conference years and years ago.

Some of my students enjoyed it so much I went looking for more and this is what I found:


The Metronome Man series by William Soller (Music Theory Super Hero Comic Book)


Description from the publisher: Read about the adventures of Harmonium’s Super Hero, Metronome Man. In the issue, music theory puns and adventures abound! Metronome Man is an educational comic book. Loved by musicians of all ages, the educational comic book was pilot-tested in 7th-grade music classes.

Cost: $6.95 each

#1 Welcome to Harmonium

#2 Now Where Could He Be? 


The Art of Piano Performance series by Peter Coraggio

Published by:

Description from the publisher: The Art of Piano Performance is a series of comic books perfect for use as an engaging and humorous teaching aid. The comic book form has an immediate appeal to young adults and adolescents. Pianists and teachers will enjoy the “in-jokes” within the illustrations and settings. All musical terms are defined when introduced, while the illustrations present important pedagogical information in a light-hearted, understandable manner.

Cost: $3.95 – $4.95 each


Do you know of any other music-themed comic books? Share in the comments!



Build a Lending Library of Piano-Themed Children’s Books

(Note: This photo is missing a couple of my recommendations you’ll read about below.)

Thanks to reader Emily Suszko for this post suggestion!

Ever since I opened my studio, I have been building a collection of piano-themed children’s books in my lending library. I’m not sure if I got the idea from someone else or it just seemed the natural thing to do. In any case, a lending library can be a fun and valuable addition to your music studio.

Today I want to share with you 15 of my favorite books thus far so you can begin building your own library! Since it can be an expensive endeavor if you’re not careful, I’ll also share a couple of tips on how to do so without breaking the bank as well as how to track check-outs.


Why Keep A Lending Library

First of all, let’s talk about some of the benefits of keeping a lending library in your music studio.

#1 Reinforcement

Many books will support what we do in the lesson as well as teach valuable life lessons including the joy of creating at the piano, the importance of practice, the joy of music-making, and more.

#2 Added Value 

Anything we can do in our music studios to take it to the next level shows potential clients they’re getting added value. It also conveys to families that we care about students in a multitude of ways outside of just their time at the piano.

#3 Ease of Access

Families may not have ever considered looking for books at the library for their children that are music-themed. Having a collection right in your studio makes it easy for them to utilize and enjoy.

Continue reading

Friday Finds #238…for the New Year

It’s only every 7 years (ish) that New Year’s Eve will land on a Friday. We celebrated our “Best of December” Friday Finds before Christmas and I told you it would likely be the last unless I just ended up with some great stuff. Well, here I am with one more batch of goodies as the new year turns over!



If you buy much of anything on Amazon, you know that sometimes the order total does not always end up being the transaction amounts that show up on your form of payment. Multiple items in an order may ship differently and don’t charge to your form of payment until they ship.

This has proven quite tricky for me as we download and categorize all of our transactions into Quicken for budgeting purposes (read more on that here). As we were struggling through the holiday transactions, Drew finally Googled something like “how to quickly find Amazon transaction amounts”.

Lo and behold!!!!

It took a few steps, but here they are:

  1. In Amazon go to > Accounts & Lists in the top right corner
  2. Click on “Account”
  3. Click on “Your Payments”
  4. Click on the “Transactions” tab
  5. Voila!

To make it a little easier, here’s the direct link:

This was a huge life-saver! It’s so much easier to find transaction amounts than searching directly through your order invoices!



Looking for a good laugh? Listen to the “Your Holiday Horror Stories” episode on The Lazy Genius Podcast.

Other recent enjoyable episodes include “A Season to Savor” from the Death, Sex, and Money Podcast, and Special Edition: News Defining 2021 from The Newsworthy Podcast.



Speaking of podcasts…if you didn’t already see the announcement, I’ll be launching The Piano Pantry Podcast in January 2022!



A play on Auld Lang Syne using Hanon’s first pattern in “The Virtuoso Pianist” from the Faber’s.



Chad Twedt doesn’t post often on his site, Cerebroom, but when he does, I always find it thought-provoking and fascinating. Check out: New MyNoise Soundscape: Piano Escape.



Following up from #4, in my opinion, the best way I find to keep track of new content on your favorite sites (especially those that don’t post a lot like Chad’s) is to use an RSS reader. Find out more here: Managing Internet Content the Easy Way.



Joy just launched a new product, it’s a project kit on creating a studio-wide video of The 12 Days of Christmas. The launch promo code expires on January 10.



5 Things to Do Before you Declutter (Becoming Minimalist)



Some New Year-themed jams for your listening pleasure this week.


Announcing The Piano Pantry Podcast!

As we wrap up one year and head into another, I’m excited to let you know about a new podcast I’m launching in January 2022.

An extension of all we do here at, The Piano Pantry Podcast will be a place where together, we’ll live life as independent music teachers.

We’ll talk about all things teacher-life related from organizing our studios to getting dinner on the table and all that comes between. You’ll get loads of easily-actionable tips on organizing and managing your studio while balancing life and home.

The plan is for the 8-15 minute podcast to publish each week. The voice is such a powerful tool and I can’t wait to connect with you in this space!

Want a sneak peek? Check out the 60-second trailer!


Friday Finds #237 Best-of-December

Happy End of 2021 everyone! Unless I just end up having a big list of goodies pile up by New Year, I plan for this to be the last Friday Finds of 2021!


Christmas Treats



I have been connected to and following fellow teacher Daniel Light for quite some time and especially love his #thingspianostudentssay hashtag. It wasn’t until recently I discovered he has quite a lovely website and fabulous piano arrangements including some Christmas ones!



My new favorite Christmas candy – Andes Peppermint Crunch! I grabbed a bag of these randomly while at the story early in the season and they did not last long, oh my!

Peppermint + white chocolate + Andes brand = heaven to me.



How to Wrap a Gift the Williams Sonoma Way



As you continue to tickle your ears with all kinds of Christmas music, try some of my holiday playlists including Christmas Jazz and Christmas Classics, and Christmas Worship.


Holiday Eats



A few things I’m looking forward to trying in the next few weeks:

Dill Dip (The Kitchn) Always with cucumbers. Always.
The Very Best Chocolate Cookies (Pinch of Yum)
Cranberry Pecan Bread (Smitten Kitchen)
Maple Glazed Ham (Cook’s Country) This is the ham I make every Christmas
Cauliflower Fried Rice with Ham and Egg (The Kitchn)


A Year in Recap



A year in review from some fellow piano teacher friends:

The 5 Best Books I Read in 2021 (Ashley Danyew)
A 5-Point Countdown of the Best of 2021
(Amy Chaplin | Piano Pantry)
2021 in review: 10 Resources You Might Have Missed (Chrissy Ricker)
My 2021 Studio Snapshot – A Music Teacher’s Guide to Measuring the Year & Setting Goals (Janna Carlson | Studio Rocket Web Design)


In the News



Inflation hits highest level since 1982 (NPR)



I mentioned this in last week’s Advent Friday Finds, but you still have until the end of the month to catch the 50% off sale over at Prima Music.


Music Notation



The Big Free Music Notation Image Library (Midnight Music)

I was very late to the game discovering Katie Wardrobe and her podcast, Music Tech Teacher. Ever since, however, I’ve been enjoying her email list. this month she shared a great Advent calendar with lots of goodies including this free music notation library!


Speaking of music notation image files, Joy Morin also has some great hand-drawn music-notation images as well as Music Symbol PNG Files


Podcast Episodes



The Three Santa’s of Slovenia (99% Invisible)

A fun podcast to listen to this holiday season! Kids in Slovenia don’t have to settle for just one santa! Each santa has had his moment in the spotlight—each in a different period of Slovenia’s complicated history.



James Clear Discusses Personality Types and Atomic Habits (Typology)

I’ve been a fan of James Clear for years – even prior to his famous book Atomic Habits. This podcast is for anyone who has an interest in the Enneagram and is hosted by Ian Morgan Cron, author of the famous book The Road Back to You



The Life and Legacy of Stephen Sondheim (The Daily)

Around Thanksgiving, the musical world lost a great. This podcast is a nice reflection on his life and all the beautiful creations he left behind.



7-Figure Music School

Friend and colleague Daniel Patterson of Grow Your Music Studio along with Nate Shaw of Brooklyn Music Factory has launched a new podcast for music school owners.


A 5-Point Countdown of the Best of 2021

Do you often find yourself wondering what happened to the last 12 months.? Life can move so quickly!

While it may feel a bit cliche at times, the clear distinction in time as the end of the year approaches really does make for a wonderful opportunity for reflection.

Every year when I start this process I go into it thinking that I’ve not accomplished as much as I wanted. Making the effort to look back puts me in my place every time because there is so much we can easily forget!

Whether you’re going through blog posts like I am or scrolling through photos on your phone, take a moment to feel gratitude for what life brought in 2021. I won’t pretend life is always warm fuzzies but we made it. We’re here and life is moving forward.

Here is a 5-point countdown to some of the best from me to you here on Piano Pantry in the past year. This year I also celebrated 5 years of this blog! Wahoo!


5 New Products

Happy Birthday By Ear: The Ultimate Teaching Resources

Enable your students to always be prepared to play Happy Birthday at request – without music.

Flexible for students of all levels, this step-by-step guide boost the confidence of both teacher and student on playing the piece by ear

A Big One-Minute Club Update and Two Free (Landmark Note) Downloads

The One-Minute Club is a great studio-wide note-naming challenge. One of my teacher friends told me the free landmark download is the prettiest they’ve ever seen! 🙂

A Sequenced Assignment Series for At-Home Practice with Note Rush

This product was a result of wanting to give all my students well-sequenced, note-naming assignments to do at home each week that focused on small groups of notes at a time with lots of repetitions. Rather than creating these assignments manually for every student every week, I sat down and designed an entire well-sequenced set all at once.

Teachers will find it especially useful when using it in conjunction with any kind of online assignment tools such as email, Google Docs, or Tonara.

Consulting Sessions with Amy

Would you love to “pick the brain” of a fellow savvy IMT on something you’re struggling with? Fresh inspiration and helpful feedback are right at your fingertips. I’m really excited to now be offering consulting sessions!

The Most Versatile Christmas Book You’ll Ever Own

This unique and versatile Christmas book is a format like no other.

Students will walk through the process of what they hear in 8 famous Christmas tunes, learn to play from a chord chart, and create a variety of variations.


4 food-focused Posts

Food Prep and the Studio Schedule – Three of my best food prep tips for keeping your meal-time work efficient and organized so when you walk in the door late at night, you can breathe easy knowing dinner will be ready in a jiffy!

Music Teacher Eats: A Week of Easy, Healthy Meals (Fall Edition) – A new series designed to ease the burden of meal planning as a studio music teacher!

My Trader Joe’s Shopping List – Any other TJ fans out there? If so, here is my go-to list of items when I am lucky enough to make the trek to my favorite grocer!

My Perfect Homemade Student Christmas Gifts: Homemade Hot Cocoa – Soooo easy and students are always delighted.


3 Big Organization Tips

Sync Student Birthdays to your Calendar with My Music Staff

Purging Old College Notes and Professional Magazines

Organizing Your Hardcopy Music Books


2 Discontinued Resources

It was a sad day for many when we discovered that Piano Explorer Magazine and the RCM Theory Apps were both discontinued!


1 New Assignment Sheet

A Star Wars-Themed Assignment Sheet


Do you have any particular resources that were a huge win for you this year? Share in the comments!

Thank you for a great year, my friends and I look forward to what 2022 has to bring!



2020 Top-10  Countdown

The Fabulous Five: Top Posts from 2019

Top Posts from 2018: The Best of the Best

Top Posts from 2017: Your Favorite Topics All in One Place

Piano Pantry’s Best of 2016