Friday Finds #191

Happy Birthday

The theme “Happy Birthday” seems to be playing around in my life this week.

First, the new post that went up on Piano Pantry this week was about a
tweak I made this year with my student birthday cards.

Second, this was the first week since our fall lessons started that I had a student with a birthday, so I just sent out my first card!

Third, I’ve corresponded with several of you recently about student birthday-card-related things.

Fourth, today is my baby brother’s birthday so I’ll give him a shout-out (although I’m pretty sure he doesn’t read my blog! Ha!).  Just for fun, here are a couple of pictures from a family photo session last year that I think sums up our relationship

So BOOM, we have our weekly theme!



Thanks to reader Karen Shuart for sharing two student birthday ideas with me (and now, I with you!).

First, here’s what she had to say about this Etsy shop which has super cute cards you could use for your student birthdays:

I don’t know the owner personally, but have purchased several items and they arrive on time and the recipient often comments on how creative the cards have been. I also purchased some sticker pages, clipped them apart and gave them as fellow piano teacher gifts along with some of post-it flags from the Dollar Tree. It seemed to be well received.

Second, she reminded me of Leila Viss’s resource Perry’s Party Piano Camp for teaching students to play Happy Birthday!



That, in turn, made me remember a free resource from Jennifer Fink at Pianimation. It’s a Harmonization sheet for Happy Birthday using the primary chords.



This isn’t a find, but just a little teaser that I have my own “Happy Birthday” resource I’m working on to share in the near future. My students have already seen four or five versions of it over the last two years but I’m getting closer to my end product. Stay tuned!



Recommended recipes:

Chicken Enchilada Stuffed Spaghetti Squash | Closet Cooking
Sometimes I just used jarred enchilada sauce rather than making my own.

Slow Cooker Garlic Parmesan Chicken and Potatoes | Damn Delicious



I’ve been listening to fellow teacher/colleague Marlowe Carruth’s channel on Spotify while working and it has been so soothing!

She also has a beautiful rendition of the Downton Abbey theme.



Use a Bowl of Vinegar to Get Rid of Food Smells | The Kitchn

I’m trying this – I filled a pint-sized ball jar with white vinegar, put a thin layer of cheesecloth on top, and crimped it down with a metal jar ring. I plan on keeping it out in my kitchen, next to the stovetop at all times, and am excited to see the results!



Using Screen Mirroring Wirelessly with Your iPad | Deborah Rambo Sinn



Piano Pouches: Something Fun for New Online Students | Joy Morin, Color in My Piano



Nebraska: Images of the Cornhusker State | Alan Taylor, The Atlantic

Now that I know about this collection, you may be getting the link to the new one each week. I just think it’s such a fabulous series! My favorites this week include #1, 3, 6, 10, 15.



This time in Piano Pantry history:

2016 – Friday Finds: Unlocking Creativity, Unfurling Jolene

2016 – Announcing Piano Pantry’s first Big Resource!

2017 – Friday Finds: PawPaw and Money-Making Tips




Friday Finds #190

Using forScore with Online Students



Creating a video in forScore for your online students
(Deborah Rambo Sinn)

Using forScore to give written feedback from online lessons
(Deborah Rambo Sinn)



New Piano Studio Layout for COVID-19 Social Distancing
(Rebekah Maxner)



Piano on the Patio! Quarantine Teaching Adventures Continued
(Joy Morin | ColorInMyPiano)



How COVID Led My Students to Amazing Creative Music Endeavours
(LouAnn Pope |



Lots going on in our profession!

Last week I gave a shout-out of congratulations to Sara Campbell on her rebranding.

This week we’re giving three more shout-outs:

Nicola Cantan from Vibrant Music Teaching just opened a shop with some fun t-shirt and coffee mug swag.

Beginning today and running through September 27th, Jennifer Foxx is celebrating her 10-year blog-aversary with 10 days of freebies and giveaways!

Tim Topham officially launched the new Top Music Marketplace.
(P.S. You can find some of my top-selling music lab resources there!)
(P.S.S. I was tickled to get a little shout-out on the podcast announcement at around the 2:55 marker. 🙂 )



Washington: Images of the Evergreen State (The Atlantic)



Christmas Music Round-Up, 2020 Edition (Chrissy Ricker)



“Because” vs. “And” (Seth Godin)



This Spinach and Feta Frittata made for a lovely lunch this past week! Now that my husband works from home full time – we both do – some days our lunches are a little more special than just leftovers!

P.S. I added 8oz. sliced mushrooms in and sautéed them with the onions before adding in the egg mixture. 


Friday Finds #189

Condolences and Congratulations



The piano pedagogy world has experienced a great loss in the passing of Nancy Bachus.

You may be most familiar with some of her publications including Exploring Piano Classics, Beyond the (Baroque/Classical/Romantic) Spirit, and Alfred’s Great Music & Musicians: An Overview of Music History.



Bluegrass music makes it into my playlist often. One group I have been especially fond of is The Arcadian Wild. Some of my favorite pieces include (links to the songs will open in Spotify):

Blue Eyed Girl
The Food Truck Blues
Wander. Wonder.
The Ballad of Donnie Gene



Everyone is going bonkers for Rock out Loud, but here’s some great information on how Zoom is stepping up from Davis Dorough over at Creative Piano Teacher – High-Fidelity Music Mode in Zoom.



Life is Too Short (Joshua Becker | Becoming Minimalist)



Louisiana: Images of the Pelican State (The Atlantic)



How one kid can destroy the performance of John Cage solo for sliding trombone.

This is hilarious and, bless his heart, the performer was a trooper! The title is wrong though in my opinion. The kid didn’t destroy the solo – the solo brought the child great joy! 🙂 I’m with the kid – it’s a hilarious solo! LOL.

If you don’t want to watch the whole thing, the highlight starts around 3-min in.



Send piano tuning reminders to your studio families. (Sara Campbell | Saras Music Studio)



Congrats to Sara, by the way on her rebranding from Sara Campbell-Biz Coach to Savvy Music Studio.



Load up on some great Halloween sheet music to give out over the next few weeks! Favorite Sheet Music Piano Solos for Halloween.



Here are some ideas for easy meals as you’re getting back into the swing of teaching.




Friday Finds #188

These are a few of my favorite things

For our first week of finds in September, I’m going to change it up a bit and bring you a list of “a few of my favorite things!”

*Please note that I am an affiliate for many of these products which simply means if you sign up using the link I give, I will get a small percentage back at no extra cost to you.


1 – Online Lesson Assignments

Are you considering getting on the TONARA bandwagon? If you decide to subscribe beyond the free trial, use this code to get 20% off your first year: PIANOPANTRY.


2 – Monthly Automatic Payments

Save time and money using COINHOP. With a minimalist interface and ease of use, you can turn the work over to them and collect monthly payments for only a 1% fee. So much cheaper than PayPal, Stripe, or many other options out there!

Read more about Coinhop here.



LASTPASS will be your last stop for password management. You can use it on your mobile phone, tablet devices, and desktop. It’s easy to use, will help you generate secure passwords, and will remember them so you don’t have to!



PAPRIKA. I love this app for managing all my recipes for many reasons. First, it has a built-in browser so you can easily import recipes from any site. Second, there is a desktop version so I can manage recipes from my desktop and not just the app which I find to be much more efficient.


5 – email scheduling

Write an email but schedule it to be sent at a later date. Even cooler yet, tell it to “boomerang” an email you sent back into your inbox if someone doesn’t respond to it by a certain date! A great email tool for any working professional – BOOMERANG FOR GMAIL.



Using GRAMMARLY is like having a personal proof-reader in your back pocket.

Let me convince you!



You can literally organize your entire life in EVERNOTE. Imagine a digital filing cabinet where you can save basic text notes, PDF files, screenshots, text selections off a web page, clip images from the web, and more. Pull up all saved information easily with simple keyboard searches.

Get more of my tips on using Evernote here.



GOOGLE PHOTOS. Switching to Google Photos was one of the best things I did for managing my studio photos.

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



FEEDLYUsing an RSS Reader is, in my opinion, the only way to properly manage content in today’s world. An RSS Reader is like a personalized digital newspaper. You tell it the website you want to follow and it will stream all the newsfeeds into one location so you can keep up on new content in one place.

Read more about how I use Feedly: Managing Internet Content the Easy Way



I hate shopping for hair and face products. With BIRCHBOX, every month you get a small box of samples. You can even opt for some months to trade in your box for points you can spend to buy full-size products in their shop!

Try it out!






Friday Finds #187




Looking for an alternative to Zoom for your online lessons? Here’s a really detailed review comparing Muzie and Rock Out Loud Live (Clinton Pratt | Piano Sensei)



A friend recently told me about a book of short pieces she’s going to use this year called “Doodles” by Alison Mathews. I immediately checked them out and have already purchased the digital download myself!

While researching it, I came across a really excellent review that will give you a close look at the product. Read the review at

It was actually a bit of a struggle to find where to purchase the digital download so I’m going make your life a whole lot easier:

Doodles (Digital Download)

Doodles (Physical Book)



Ever since my studio moved into our new home last year, I started asking students to remove their shoes. It’s not always a pleasant thing, so I decided to buy shoe covers and small “announcement” holder to place in my entryway. That way, students can choose which they prefer – shoes or no shoes (and I will just hope the stinky feet ones chose the former ha! 🙂 )

Foldable Shoe Cover Holder

Disposable Shoe Covers

P.S. A shout-out to Jennifer Foxx who I saw mention this somewhere online!



Baring my soul with a ginormous list of my favorite all-around technology tools, studio marketing and social media tools and programs, software and apps, recording equipment, website hosting, and more. Check out this page on Piano Pantry: Recommended Resources.



Guaranteed successful recipes for your September menu – tried, tested, and loved by me 🙂 :

Cheesy Garlic Zucchini Rice (Damn Delicious)

Creamy Avocado Corn Salad (Clean Food Crush)

Sriracha Orange-Glazed Green Beans (Simply Recipes)

Stir-Fried Zucchini and Shiitakes (Williams Sonoma)

Tilapia “Clubs” (Rachel Ray)



Teaching Piano Students During Challenging Times (Lauren Lewandowski | Piano with Lauren)



Who loves Amazon? I do, I do! 🙂

My Top 6 “But It Again” Office Products from Amazon (Amy Chaplin | Piano Pantry)




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Friday Finds #186

Back in the Saddle

Hey, friends, it feels good to be back!

After a light summer of Friday Finds, we are now back to our normally scheduled weekly program starting with a full dozen goodies for you today!

Have a great weekend and let me know in the comments which find was the most useful for you this week.

Hope you’re well and have a great start to this new school year!




I think I just found my blogging doppelganger! 🙂

8 Genius Organizing Tools for Music Teachers (Pianosaurus Rex)



Natalie’s recent “finds” for piano teachers.



If you’re still teaching online lessons, it sounds like you might want to strongly consider the product whose goal is to “kill Zoom”:

Rock Out Loud (Tim Topham |



Online is certainly still the name of the game. Check out how one entrepreneur is making online festivals easier for teachers!

Online Music Festivals – A Better Way for 2020 (Whitney Hawker | 4D Piano Teaching)



Getting even the smallest things organized in your life can make everything else around you feel much saner.

Get Organized: Bills, Expenses and Receipts (Amy Chaplin | Piano Pantry)



Data has no value without trust and connection.

The Stolen Address Book (Seth Godin)



Ooh, interesting! Nazis looted thousands of music instrumental – where are they? (NPR)



I really enjoyed hearing my friend Eik Mar and her husband, James, on Tim Topham’s podcast chatting about their awesome digital theory program Sproutbeat.

Like Tim, I also met them for the first time in 2016 at the San Antonio conference. We actually all hung out one evening and went and checked out a cool historical light show on a cathedral. Unfortunately, I didn’t capture a group photo!



Covid-19 Resources for Music Teacher (Deborah Rambo Sinn)



My cast iron pans are due for a good cleaning. Try this method.  (The Kitchn)



After 20 years, King Arthur Flour changed its name to King Arthur Baking Company – makes sense to me!



My husband and I lived in Melbourne Australia from 2003 – 2006 and thus flew with Qantas quite a bit back and forth to the US.

Back in July, the Qantas 747 fleet marked the end of their 49 years of service with a cool message across the Pacific.  Pretty amazing.




Friday Finds #185


Friday Finds Blog Post

You may or may not have noticed I’ve been taking the “lighter” side on Friday Finds posts this Summer.

Rather than weekly, two per month has been my goal – just for a bit of a breather. We’ve all got enough going on what with enjoying Summer break and figuring out how to live life.

So, since it’s been a while…hello! It’s so nice to see you today!

Since I’m been playing hooky, I have quite a few good things in store for you!



Since it’s part of our daily life, I splurged on a good mask. I haven’t had a chance to wear it a lot, but like it so far!

It’s really comfortable, (the large fit me just fine), has a nose-pincher to help keep fog off my glasses, and is a lovely color. The only downside I’m seeing so far is it’s hotter than any of the homemade cotton ones I’ve had.

Vogmask Organic AquaSplash VMC2V



Who couldn’t use a suggestion like this?!

My Top 5 Video Game Arrangements for Beginners | Chrissy Ricker



Or this…

8 Tips to Make Washing Dishes Easier | The Kitchn



Speaking of washing dishes, it’s true what you’ve heard,
Dawn Powerwash is amazing.





Because it’s still Summer:  6 Best Ice Cream Bars and Fruit Pops | The Kitchn



My studio had our end-of-summer recital yesterday evening via Zoom. If you’ve not had yours yet, check out the 9 Lessons I Learned from My First Zoom Recital. (P.S. It includes an email template invitation for students to forward to friends and family!)



Do you use the Celebration Series books from the Royal Conservatory? Here’s a website that has some really great study guides to go along with the pieces!

Prep A Study Guide
Prep B Study Guide



In case you missed the last Friday Finds, here’s #184 Summer Holiday Weekend.



Have you updated your studio website recently? Here’s 3 Ways to Look at Your Studio Website with Fresh Eyes.



Please make this:  Edamame Succotash (P. Allen Smith)



Friday Finds #184

Summer Holiday Weekend

Happy Independence Day, everyone!

The 4th of July weekend sure is a special one, don’t you agree? Not only do we get to celebrate the official birth of our nation, but being only two weeks into Summer, it’s the long holiday weekend that officially kicks off the season.

Let’s be mindful of taking precious time for rest and fun with our families while also meditating on the world around us – both remembering our history and finding our future through what happens in the present – the good, bad, and the ugly.

Kind of like a marriage, LOL. 🙂

Have a great weekend!



A reading of The Declaration of Independence set to music.  (Eric Bluestine | The Ways Children Learn Music)

Congress, July 14, 1776 – The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America.



5 Incredibly Creative Studio Plans for Fall (Janna Carlson Studio Rocket Web Design)



Cleaning Your Piano (Steinway & Sons)



The look on this pianist’s face each time he changes tunes absolutely cracks me up! He’s so straight-faced he almost gives me the willies! LOL.



Sara Campbell’s list of free-downloadable Patriotic Music.



What kind of salad dressing do you enjoy?

It doesn’t matter because this review from The Kitchn tested EVERY SINGLE KIND of store-bought bottled dressings to find the best brand. Did they choose the brand you like?



If you’re interested in the Enneagram at all and like the singer Audrey Assad, then you’ll enjoy this podcast interview with her on The Enneagram Journey, Episode 47.



3 Ways to Look at Your Studio Website with Fresh Eyes (and, my own studio website overhaul!)



A digital tool I use EVERY-SINGLE-DAY? Grammarly. Have you ever heard of it? It’s like having your English teacher by your side (but not in an annoying way, Ha!)



Have you ever thought about organizing your piano games digitally using Evernote? Check out how this teacher does it.


Did you enjoy this post? Consider subscribing to the Piano Pantry email list where you’ll get my once-a-month “Secret Letter” which includes what’s been going on in my student that month, books I’m reading, favorite Instagram posts, and other fun things like that. 

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Friday Finds #183

Weekend Links Junkie

I am a weekend-links junkie.

Saturday mornings are a great time in our house to sit on the couch with a cup of coffee, watch the CBS Morning News (or This Old House), and scroll through content using my favorite content manager: Feedly.

There are several people I have been following for years that do similar weekend roundups that inspired me to start my Friday Finds for teachers. Today, I share those favorites with you.

Be a pal and start your weekend off as a weekend-links junkie so I don’t feel alone. 🙂



Let it Be Sunday | Joy the Baker. This weekend she will hit #275!



Inspiring Simplicity. Weekend Reads. (Joshua Becker | Becoming Minimalist)



Emily P. Freeman, creator of The Next Right Thing podcast has an email list dedicated to her One Last Thing list that comes out every Saturday morning. It includes interesting links for things to “Listen”, “Read”, and “Discover”.



Listening is Difficult (Seth Godin)



Researchers in Australia Record Enormous Breakthroughs in Internet Speeds (The Week)



A 9-part series from Rebekah Maxner on teaching “Heart and Soul.”



This time in Piano Pantry history: Evernote for Gmail: A Review



An excellent resource for free printable staff paper. It’s really cool how it will shift the preview of the staff as you change settings.



9 Lessons Learned from My First Zoom Recital (Amy Chaplin | Piano Pantry)



Did you enjoy this post? Consider subscribing to the Piano Pantry email list where you’ll get my once-a-month “Secret Letter” which includes what’s been going on in my student that month, books I’m reading, favorite Instagram posts, and other fun things like that. 

Sound good?! Subscribe here.


Friday Finds #182

Dandelions and Grace



I was incredibly inspired by Leila’s “making sense of it all” comparison of dandelions and grace that accompanied her new arrangement of Amazing Grace.



Congratulations to composer Chrissy Ricker who is now a Signature Artist with! 

Several of my teens recently absolutely played and LOVED her piece, Epic.



Considering a Gap Year (Seth Godin)

When we lived in Melbourne, Australia (2006-2009), Drew and I were both fascinated to learn that many students in Oz take a “gap year” between high school and college. Unlike the US’s tendency to push all students to college immediately, the gap year was a time for them to travel, work, and explore the world.

I’ve always thought education in the US could benefit from encouraging something like this. I mean, who really knows what they want to do for a career when they’re 18? NO ONE, really. A large majority of people end up doing something different than what they studied in college.

Something to think about.



George Floyd Left a Gospel Legacy in Houston (Kate Shellnutt | Christianity Today)



An excellent resource for free printable staff paper. It’s really cool how it will shift the preview of the staff as you change settings.



Food recommendations for the week:

Super easy and delish…
Spring Asparagus Pancetta Hash (Smitten Kitchen)

This fresh salad takes a bit of prep work but is VERY worth it. It makes a huge bowl and the leftovers keep well for a day or two. 
Mediterranean Three-Bean Quinoa Salad (Two Peas and Their Pod)

Soon I will be canning my favorite Strawberry Jam. The blueberries add deep color and the apple a little texture and zing.
Easy Strawberry Jam (Ina Garten | Food Network)



This time last year…

The #1 Reason Independent Music Teachers Should be on Instagram (Amy Chaplin | Piano



I Ate Like a Gilmore Girl for a Week and Here’s What Happened (Julie Tremaine | The Kitchn)

A few months ago I started my second-go of watching The Gilmore Girls series on Netflix. Are you a fan?