Friday Finds #203

Goodies from Down Under

Early next week, our friends in Australia will be celebrating Australia Day which, like the 4th of July in America, is their official “national day” observing the founding of their nation.

Today, I thought it would be fun to feature all the amazing teachers and resources we have available to us from some friends “Down Under” along with a few other finds from afar.

I can’t help myself but also reminisce a little about the three years my husband and I lived in Melbourne back when we were young tykes. 🙂

The one Australia Day I remember is from 2009 when we picnicked by the Yarra River with ex-pat friends from Germany.



Elissa Milne is one of those teachers that when she writes an article ( I don’t miss it. Composer of the Little Peppers and Pepperbox Jazz books as well as much more, she is a conveyor of fun, unique, and introspective sound and thought. Elissa is also one of the administrators of The Art of Piano Pedagogy group on Facebook.

Some of my favorite articles from her over the years include:

Six Rules About Repertoire

Repertoire Rules (for students): How to Transition

5 Guaranteed Ways to Make Students Less Creative

Parents Who Sit in on Lessons

10 Things You Should Do Before Your Child Begins Piano Lessons

15 Things You Need to Know About Supporting Your Child Learning to Play the Piano



One of my favorite discoveries from our days living in Oz was the Electric Water Kettle! I honestly don’t think I even knew something like this existed at the time as they are not a staple kitchen appliance in most American homes (especially those that don’t drink tea). They are SO handy though!

The OXO Electric Kettle we have is absolutely amazing.



Samantha Coates has been a rising rockstar in piano-teacher-world over the last few years. Her brainchild, BlitzBooks, is repertoire that works to combine the worlds of rote teaching and notation-reading by creating pieces that are written in multi-levels.

To give you a quick description of how it works: a student would begin with level 1. Once they master that, they continue learning the same piece but level 2 (of that piece) adds a few more seemingly “harder” things in. Once they master level two, they take it a little further in level 3.



When we lived there, one of my husband’s customers was gracious enough to invite us to their farm for a weekend.

We got to see the countryside, a working farm including a sheep-shearing shed, and he got to go crawfishing.

His wife made Anzac Biscuits (cookies) just especially for us. Here’s her recipe:

1 c. rolled oats
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. brown sugar (lightly packed)
¾ c. coconut
½ c. butter
2 T. golden syrup (light Caro or maple syrup)
1 t. baking soda
3 T. boiling water

Preheat oven to 300. Blend oats, flour, sugar & coconut. Melt butter and syrup over low heat and remove. Dissolve baking soda in boiling water then add to the melted butter mixture. Stir this into the oats mixture. Drop rounded spoons of dough onto a tray lined with parchment paper. Bake 15-17 min. Cool for 5 min.



When you think of Australia, I would suffice to say Tim Topham is likely one of the first people to pop into your mind.

Tim’s website,, is home to all kinds of resources for teachers including his TopMusicPro membership site. He also recently launched



Anzac Girls (on Amazon Prime)

Description from Prime: “Anzac Girls is a moving series based on the unique, and rarely told true stories of Australian and New Zealand nurses serving at Gallipoli and the Western Front.”



Daniel McFarlane is a composer and creator of Supersonics Piano.

Description from his website: “Combined with backing tracks and additional teaching resources, my original piano method, books, and digital sheet music will motivate students at every age and level – and keep them coming back for more.”



Some Australians might laugh at me, but my favorite Australian TV show was McLeod’s Daughters.

Description from Amazon Prime: “When Jack McLeod passes away, his two daughters inherit Drovers Run, a vast cattle ranch in the Australian outback. Ultimately, Tess and Claire decide to run the ranch together, with their housekeeper, Meg, her teenage daughter, Jodi, and a local girl, Becky.”



If you’re a teacher from Australia, you might want to check out the Facebook group The Piano Teacher Hub Australia



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Friday Finds #202

Planning for a New Semester

Friday Finds January Blog Post

The beginning of a new semester always seems to bring with it a little extra work. This is the time many teachers sit down and consider what’s coming up in the weeks and months ahead for each individual student.

There may be students who are preparing for a competition or non-competitive festival, students preparing a senior recital, or students getting started playing in their church’s worship band or accompanying congregational singing.

I tell myself ahead of time to not worry about getting much else done that first week of the semester as most of my time outside of lessons will be dedicated to student planning.

Here are some resources to help you with your planning plus a few other end-of-week goodies.



Cheers to One Word (for Teachers) | Beyond Measure Podcast with Christina Whitlock

A tried-and-true one-word-philosophy strategy to help busy teachers keep focused on what matters most.



Lesson Planning – A King-Size Master Spreadsheet | Amy Chaplin –

If an online program like Tonara isn’t right for you, the best thing I ever did for my lesson planning life was to create one big spreadsheet.



Lesson Plan Templates for Teachers | Tim Topham – TopMusic.Co

Free downloads of a variety of weekly and quarterly lesson plan templates.



Born to run (things) | Seth Godin

Why Bruce Springstein is proof talent is overrated.



Lessons Learned Teaching Online and Applying Them for Lessons In-Person | Marilyn Floyd –



3 Useful Styles of Lesson Plans for Piano Teachers | Nicola Cantan

Introducing time-based, categories, and mine-mapping styles of lesson plans.



A Piano Teacher’s Planning Kit |

Purchasable resource with a lesson template, a sample lesson assignment sheet, sample scope and sequence, and practice strategies for practice stages.



CPTP112: Having Mission & Planning Lessons Effectively w/ Leila Viss

Tips for planning lessons effectively for both groups and individual lessons.



A 5-Step Formula for Easy Lesson Planning | Dr. Sally Cathcart – The Curious Piano Teachers



5 Changes to My Piano Lesson Planning that Have Saved My Sanity | Andrea Down – Teach Piano Today



Creating & Sharing Student Growth Plans in 5 Easy Steps | Rosemarie Penner –



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Friday Finds #201

Getting Taxes Organized

Friday Finds January Blog Post

Welcome to the first Friday Finds of 2021!

I’ve been trying to think of ways to keep this series fresh in the new year. As one who has definitely been feeling information overload these past 9 months more than ever, I want to make sure that what you’re getting here is useful and succinct without feeling like too much.

Here’s what I’m going to experiment with:

Things will continue as normal, but I’m going to try and focus each weekly post a little more.

Rather than 8-12 random items, I’m going to try and have the majority of them focused on one topic and sprinkle in a few randoms – such as recommended products and recipes as usual.

While this is the main idea I’m shooting for, let’s be real – it probably won’t be cut and dry that way every time. It’s just a new way for me to think about what I’m sharing with you.

We’re going to kick off the year with a little fun… TAXES.

OK, maybe not so fun, but we have to think about it sooner or later so we might as well just get it over with.  🙂



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

A peek into how I keep our day-to-day financial paperwork and transactions up-to-date and tidy.



Take Advantage of the “Qualified Income Business Deduction” for Piano Teachers (Compose Create)

This is one you definitely don’t want to miss out on. In short, you may qualify for 20% of your net income to be un-taxed.*



My Top 6 “Buy It Again” Office Products from Amazon (Piano Pantry)

In this list are some of the products I use on a daily basis throughout the year to keep myself organized so when tax time does hit, I’m not scrambling.



Forum Q&A | Studio Business Structure: Sole Proprietorship, LLC, Corporation…? (Color in My Piano)



Food you won’t regret (because it’s that good):

Cheesy Baked Eggs (The Girl Who Age Everything)

Italian Sausage and Zucchini Soup (Taste of Home)

Sausage Gravy (Ree Drummond)




Lowering Taxes with Business Expenses (Music Studio Startup)



The Fir-Tree by Hans Christian Andersen (Becoming Minimalist)

A sweet short story.



Seven Tax Deductions for Music Teachers (Sara’s Music Studio)



Ten Tax-Saving Tips for Private Music Teachers (



I’ve been totally getting into Instagram Stories (finally!) and would love to see you there! Follow me on Instagram.



*Disclaimer: Any statements in this post should not be considered legal or tax advice. Please consult with a tax professional about your specific situation.


Giveaway Winner – Friday Finds #200

Just a quick announcement to let you know that using a random number generator, the winner of the Friday Finds #200 giveaway was:

Janelle Bracken (check your email for details!)

Her comment on the post was:

I have enjoyed your Friday Finds for a long time now, Amy, and my husband (he’s a foodie) has now downloaded the Paprika app and is enjoying it! Thanks for having this drawing. If I win, they are going to Larry, my husband. He would love receiving them.

Congratulations, Janelle, and I hope Larry enjoys the magazines! 🙂


Friday Finds #200

Top Items and a Giveaway

Wow – we’re here.

The big 2-0-0!

We’re celebrating as usual with a giveaway. If you caught the announcement the Friday after Thanksgiving, you got a preview of what’s up for grabs.

You can enter the giveaway at the bottom of this post. 

First, here’s my list of the best finds from the past 25 posts:
Friday Finds #176 (April 24, 2020)Friday Finds #199 (Dec 4, 2020).

They’re grouped into categories and arranged alphabetically.
  1. Fun things
  2. Kitchen
  3. Music
  4. Online Teaching/Learning
  5. Resources for Piano Teachers
  6. Recipes
  7. Thought-Provoking Articles
  8. Tools
  9. Wellness

Continue reading

Friday Finds #199

The Start of the Season



To get you in the holiday spirit! Steinway Artists The 5 Browns performing Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride” arranged by Greg Anderson.



Speaking of fun Christmas videos…

Thrill your students with the free Christmas music video series here on Piano Pantry. Take it a step further and use the listening guide available in the PP shop. Your students will be absolutely delighted.



If you’re like us and bought your Christmas tree but have yet to decorate it…

How to Decorate a Christmas Tree Like a Pro (Williams Sonoma)



Do you have a friend or extended family member who you would like to get a gift for but are completely stumped?

Don’t laugh, but consider a takeout pizza carrier!

I know it sounds kind of silly and quirky and it’s certainly not fancy, but we’ve found it to actually be a hit!

It’s a good price point and completely practical – assuming, of course, they do takeout pizza on any kind of a regular basis, of course!

We get takeout pizza maybe once a month. Believe it or not, my husband and I finally bought a second one to put in his car. It’s one of those things, if you don’t keep it in your car, you won’t remember to grab – or, in his case, if he’s picking it up on the way home from work, he couldn’t get it out of my car…

It makes such a difference in keeping the pizza hot and fresh!



Holiday (Re) Considerations (Beyond Measure Podcast)



Simple Christmas Decorating Ideas (The Wood Grain Cottage)



Kale, Sweet Potato and Chorizo Soup (Kitchenista diaries)

Instant Pot Weeknight Chicken Enchilada Bowls (The Kitchn)



The Art of Tidying Up Your Space for Online Lessons (



The Best Online Group Lesson Ideas for Music Studios (The Unfinished Lesson)



My (public) Christmas playlists on Spotify you can follow or use to begin creating your own personal lists:

Christmas Classics


Christmas Worship


Christmas Album Favorites



Friday Finds Giveaway Teaser and Announcement

Happy Thanksgiving weekend, everyone!

Since it’s a holiday weekend, I’m taking a week off from our regular Friday Finds, but wanted to let you know what’s going to be up for grabs in our Friday Finds #200 celebration giveaway.

A few weeks ago, in #195, I gave you a hint:

-It’s a foodie thing.

-It’s worth about $75

Well, here it is:

20 Milk Street Magazines!

In full disclosure, they are not brand new. When Milk Street first launched, I signed up immediately and have been getting every issue since.

I’ve exhausted my use of these particular magazines and have gotten lots of great recipes from them.

All my favorite recipes from these issues are now saved in my favorite digital recipe manager: Paprika (which is on sale through the end of November!)

Since I’m not one to hold onto things, I was about to recycle the magazines when my husband spoke up and said: “Hey, why don’t just use them for a giveaway item?”


While you may find a few handwritten notes here and there, they’re still in really good condition – why not let someone else benefit from them as well?

So, mark your calendar for:

Friday Finds #200 on FRIDAY, DECEMBER 11.

Enter to win 20 volumes of Milk Street Magazine (Fall 2016 Charter Issue to July/August 2020).

Also, since we will be hitting #200 in December, Friday Finds (a.k.a. Amy) will be taking a holiday break from the weekly series, resuming with #201 in January 2021.

See you in a couple of weeks!


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



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!



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