Friday Finds #215

Parent/Student Questionnaires

Friday Finds Blog Post

Last week we looked at resources for writing end-of-year evaluations. That is, teachers assessing student’s progress, skills, and future goals.

At the same time, it’s good to ask students and parents to reflect on the past year, including things such as dedication, implementation, efforts, and progress. Not only that, but it’s good to obtain feedback on your own teaching and business from families for your own growth and reflection.

Here are a small handful of resources to get you started.



When I crafted my first questionnaire 10 years ago, I was super thankful for Natalie Weber’s example to get me started! She has two forms available, one for parents and one for students.



Curious what my forms look like? Download them here: Crafting Year-End Parent / Student Questionnaires (Piano Pantry)



Here are two fun examples of simple feedback forms for young children to fill out:

A Report Card for Piano Teachers – How to Get Honest Feedback from Piano Students (Teach Piano Today)

Here is a great self-evaluation form for younger students that uses smiley faces for measuring from Nicola Cantan



The Mind-Reading Music Teacher: How to Impress Your Customers (Daniel Patterson | Grow Your Music Studio)

My favorite snipped from this post:

It would be better to use an online survey tool like Polldaddy, Google Forms, or Typeform. These tools are free to use. Give people the chance to anonymously answer these questions on their own time. You will receive longer, more honest answers.

Ask non-threatening questions. Ask open-ended questions and give parents a chance to elaborate. Here are some ideas:

  • Why did the families in your Studio pick music lessons? (as opposed to dance, soccer, karate, etc.)
  • Why did the families in your studio pick you over everyone else?
  • What did the families think lessons would be like?
  • What concerns and fears did your families have with starting lessons?
  • What general goals do your families have for their child? (not related to music)
  • What do families not like about being in music lessons?



Friday Finds #214

Year-End Evaluations

This week I started thinking about end-of-year evaluations. Too soon? I
think not.

Generally, I wait until the week prior to (or the week of) our end-of-year evaluations to start writing them. It took me 10 years, but I wouldn’t recommend that! LOL

Waiting until the last minute created a lot of pressure on me and made it tempting to not be as thorough or concise as I could have been at times.

This year I was determined to start sooner.

Here are some resources to help as you start thinking about your own student evaluations.



Writing Student Evaluations Using Evernote (Piano Pantry)



Piano Safari’s Mini Essay #21 on leveling repertoire can helpful (for your own reference) if you are discussing student playing levels with parents.




Set Your Studio Apart with Solid Feedback (Leila Viss)

One of my first evaluation forms I developed (and talk about in the post on using Evernote to write student evaluations), was originally inspired by Leila’s 5-point progress score.

Want to hear more? Check out one of Leila’s most recent podcast episodes: Maybe Measuring Progress is Really Measuring Something More Important



Part of evaluation time should be considering not just what skills students have developed and accomplishments they’ve achieved, but what their future study will look like.

Creating & Sharing Student Growth Plans in 5 Easy Steps (Rosemarie Penner)



This year I am experimenting with a new way of giving meaningful assessments to my students at the end of the year. There are two parts to this:

First, I’m looking to create mini-videos of their playing over their time in lessons. The videos will feature clips of their playing in no more than 1-3 minutes.

Providing Piano Student End-of-Year Assessments in a Meaningful Way (Teach Piano Today)



Second, I’m working on designing a new format for my forms in Canva inspired by these posts by @mslimusic on Instagram.

It’s still a work in progress and not ready for sharing but perhaps you can also be inspired by her example to create your own!

P.S. I also like the name “Piano Progress Report” rather than “Evaluation” 🙂

(Another post example @mslimusic)




How to Create Student-Led Conferences (Rosemarie Penner)

I absolutely love this idea but will admit, is something I’ve yet to try out.

Have you ever tried something like this? If so, I would love to hear your ideas as well in the comments!


Friday Finds #213

Recital Prep

Most likely 75% of us are in the throes of year-end recital preparation in our studios. As you plan, here are some resources to help you along the way.

This week, I’ve grouped them into themes to make them a little easier to absorb. But first – a couple of other goodies! 🙂


#1  Recipe Wins of the Week

Balsamic Roast Beef (Add a Pinch)

A lovely simple roast recipe. We had it alongside Braised Green Cabbage (Nom Nom Paleo)

Put the roast in the crockpot at lunchtime and prep the cabbage dish. Put it in the fridge and pop it in the oven between lessons two hours before you finish for the day.

Maple Mustard Vinaigrette (The Flour Handprint)

I have put off making this salad dressing forever but not again! Wow. Delicious, low in sugar, and easy to make. You’ll cover 1-2 weeks of side salads with this recipe.

Use a pint-size mason jar to mix in. I used a half-pint and it was a little tight!

High Protein Oat Waffles (Skinny Taste)

My husband and I enjoyed these waffles even more than Belgian waffles! Delicious, easy, and healthy to boot! Who needs waffles for breakfast? Not us. We had them for lunch! 🙂

See my final product on Instagram 🙂

Skillet Mushroom Chicken Thighs (Damn Delicious)

Seriously yummo. If you let it simmer for a few extra minutes, it really makes the “gravy” nice and thick. Serve it with roasted green beans and a simple side salad for a well-balanced meal. (Mashed potatoes would be nice with it as well!)


#2 Easter Tunes

Even though I shared this last week, since it’s Easter weekend, once again here’s a playlist for Easter filled with all of my favorite worship music celebrating the resurrection.



#3 Teacher Performance

5 Reasons to Perform Alongside Your Students at Studio Recitals and What to Play at Your Students’ Recitals (Joy Morin)


#4 Virtual Recitals

Tutorial: Editing virtual recital videos using Canva + Adobe Premiere Rush (Joy Morin)

How to Create a Virtual Piano Recital on YouTube (Lauren Lewandowski)

Zoom Recital: 7 Tips and Strategies for Success! (Rebekah Maxner)

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

Adapting Your Recital Online (Jennifer Foxx)



#5 Recital Planning

Recital Preparation Timeline and Checklist (Amy Chaplin)


#6 Special Features

How to Create a Studio Recital Movie Trailer (Music Helpers Blog)

What’s a Senior Showcase and How Do You Plan One? (Leila Viss)

The Recital Compliment Exchange (Compose Create)

Compliment Exchange [free card download] (4D Piano Teaching)


#7 Awards

Studio Awards Policies and Procedures

Studio Awards Update (Including some awesome new trophies!)


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.


Friday Finds #212

Best of March

Friday Finds February Blog Post

Congratulations to Jennifer Smith, winner of last week’s giveaway during Friday Finds #211, celebrating Piano Pantry’s 5-year birthday!

She will win a copy of Kevin Olson’s book “Impressions on Color”.

(Jennifer, check your email inbox for details!)



As someone who has given Ukulele lessons in the past (I don’t have anyone currently), I really enjoyed Andrea Miller’s interview with Judy Naillon on starting a Ukulele program. I wish I had this podcast when I first started!



Avocado Time (Seth Godin)

“Face-to-face is like a perfect avocado. The cost of in-sync time, real-time interaction time, that’s time that we don’t get again.”

[Peanut Butter Sandwiches and] The Order of Operations (Seth Godin)

“Like so many things, the order is not optional.”



A free digital download of a really fun and unique song written by Canadian composer Lynette Sawatsky called “Covid Blessing”.

From the composer:

I wrote the piece based on a C°VID motif (the letter C, a diminished chord (°), the dominant chord (V), the tonic chord (I), and the letter D). A little nerdy, but musicians understand. 🙂

I think we are all getting a little weary, and this music helped me process a bit of what I am experiencing. This short piece is my musical blessing for those who are alone and isolated. It’s a prayer as we wait for better days ahead.

How beautiful and clever is that?!



Lazy Genius Podcast #194 – From Selfies to Politics: How to Share Yourself Online with Laura Tremaine

I think we can all use a little reminder from time to time of healthy ways of using social media. 🙂



5 Activities for Online Piano Lessons (Melody Payne)



The GIML (Gordon Institute for Music Learning) website got a huge overhaul including a new logo. It looks soooo much better and in with the times. Well done to all those involved – it was much needed!



Sproutbeat recently went through a big overhaul combining their worksheets app with the Leap Games online into one location! Check it out:


3 Surprising Ways the Pandemic Improved Your Eating Habits (The Nutrition Diva Podcast)



A Paperless Way to Track the 40-Piece Challenge (Leila Viss)




A custom playlist for Easter filled with all of my favorite worship music celebrating the resurrection.



How to Create a Virtual Piano Recital on YouTube (Piano with Lauren)



I have lots of amazing recipes to recommend that I discovered this past month!

Baked Cod with Garlic & Herb Ritz Crumbs (Ina Garten)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Protein Shake (A Sweet Pea Chef)

Crispy Parmesan Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad (Giada de Laurentiis)

High Protein Oat Sandwich Rolls (Skinny Taste)

Hot Honey Garlic Skillet Chicken (The Kitchn)

Italian Sausage Balls (Food Network)

Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa (Damn Delicious)



How to Be a Better, Happier Cook Based On Your Enneagram Type (Sarajane Case | The Kitchn)



New podcast discovery this month: Sounds of Encouragement with Melissa Slocum.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen me post a story that said her voice reminded me of the old radio show host, Deliah, from the ’90s! She’s so soothing to listen to! LOL


Subscribe to the Piano Pantry email list and 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.


Friday Finds #211

A Birthday Celebration Giveaway

As you may already be aware, this month we are celebrating the 5-year birthday of Piano Pantry!

While you can get 15% off your entire purchase in the Piano Pantry shop through the end of March (use the code: BIRTHDAY15 at checkout), I also wanted to use this week’s Friday Finds for a special giveaway. Why this week?

Well, the very first post went live on March 20, 2021 – that’s almost 5 years exactly to the day tomorrow.

The item I’ll be giving away is Kevin Olson’s brilliant book Impressions on Color.

One of my students is working on “Impressions on Blue” – a piece I am absolutely in love with!

See details at the end of the post to enter!



On celebrating student birthdays here on Piano Pantry:

Marketing With Postcards: It’s Not What You Think!

2019-2020 Birthday Postcards

Student Birthday Cards with a Surprise Twist!



This felt letter board would be a fun way to wish Happy Birthday to your students!




Currently, I started using mine to display a “word of the week”. (Follow me on Instagram here.)

(It wasn’t my original idea – but thank you to the teacher I saw doing it on Instagram. Unfortunately, I can’t remember who!)



Would you love for all of your students to be able to play “Happy Birthday” anywhere and at any time? Me too! The newest item in the Piano Pantry shop is the “Happy Birthday By Ear” teaching resource.  It’s also on sale as part of the month-long birthday celebration.



Perhaps one of the most popular people who has done something with the tune “Happy Birthday” in recent years is the late Forrest Kinney. If you’ve never heard of his 88 birthday variations series, check out more here:



Why Every Student Should Know Happy Birthday with Lucinda Mackworth-Young (The Top Cast podcast #110)



A previous Happy-Birthday-themed Friday Finds which includes some special family photos celebrating my baby brother’s birthday!




Entries close Thursday, March 25 @ 11:30 pm EST.

The winner will be announced next week in Friday Finds #212.



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.


Friday Finds #210

Spring Fever

Spring is only a week away – can you smell it in the air? It was only a few weeks ago I was confessing to you that I was enjoying Winter, but now that Spring is peeking through, it’s feeling really good, don’t you think?



Snowflakes in Spring by Naoka Ikeda is one of my favorite Intermediate Sheet Music solos

I love its various textures and beautiful melody. Like many of the pieces by Naoko, I would counter that this piece is slightly more challenging than early intermediate.



A few favorite spring recipes using things like asparagus, peas, and radishes.  I’m a pretty lucky girl in that I have a neighbor only a mile and a half away that sells fresh asparagus!

:: Asparagus, Ham, and Goat Cheese Quiche
(Wives with Knives)
:: Chicken & Sugar Snap Pea Stirfry (Williams Sonoma)
:: New Potatoes and Ham in Browned Butter (Farmer Owned)
:: Peas with Pancetta and Lemon (What’s Gabby Cooking) – except I skip the lemon…
:: Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan and Soft-Boiled Eggs
(Damn Delicious)
:: Shaved Asparagus Pizza
(Smitten Kichen)
:: Snow Pea-Radish Slaw (Food Network)
:: Spring Asparagus Pancetta Hash (Smitten Kitchen)
:: Wagon Wheel Pasta with Pancetta and Peas (Giadzy)
– a great tone for kids!



If you know me at all, you’re not going to be surprised to see this one! 🙂

Last week I started building a “Spring” playlist on Spotify. My husband gets a complete kick out of the fact that I build playlists like this – he’s more of a random Spotify Radio listener.



Although custom playlists are not my husband’s thing, I’m certainly not the only person who loves creating playlists. Phew!

Recently I was listening to the 10 Things To Tell  You podcast with Laura Tremaine. It was a BONUS episode called “How to decorate for the seasons without buying more stuff with Myquillen Smith (The Nester)”.

Yes, creating seasonal playlists was one of her pieces of advice, but I have to say I couldn’t believe how many points she made that was exactly what I was talking about in the recent post: Experiencing the Seasons in our Studios and Life. (I promise I did not listen to that podcast before I wrote the post –  Ha!)

P.S. Last weekend I finally took down my Christmas tree in my studio! Anyone else? LOL



Rev yourself up…spring cleaning is just around the corner! The Hidden Benefits of Spring Cleaning [Video] (Laura Calder | The Inviting Life)



How to Spring Clean Your Kitchen (Williams Sonoma)



I’m quite a fan of Leila Viss’s sheet music arrangements.

When I think of Spring, I think of her arrangement of Amazing Grace and the new one I just purchased for Easter – Risen Today.

There’s one other piece my students and I absolutely love in particular from Leila. Find out which one!



A Trader Joe’s Shopping List to Liven Up Your Spring Eating




Don’t forget! In celebration of Piano Pantry’s 5-year birthday, you can get 15% off your entire order in the Piano Pantry shop which includes the entire Music Lab series and the new Happy Birthday-By Ear resource through March 31, 2021.

Use the code BIRTHDAY15 at checkout.



Keep an eye out for next’s week’s Friday Finds!

I’ll be giving away a copy of Kevin Olson’s book Impressions on Color.

Stay tuned!



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.


Friday Finds #209

Virtual Events (and discounts)

With several online events happening over the course of the next month, I thought this might be a good time to highlight those along with a few useful resources on participating in professional development.



Conference Management 101: Tips for using Evernote plus a free resource (Piano Pantry)



A week from today is the start of the virtual MTNA National Conference (Saturday, March 13-17). It’s not too late to register!



New effort vs. Old effort (Seth Godin)

On old conferencing vs. new conferencing.



8 Tips for Making the Most of a Virtual Conference (Natalie Weber | Music Matters Blog)

My favorite post on virtual conferencing to date!



Tonara’s INSPIRED Summit 2021 will be on Saturday, March 13 from
10-2 EST.

The ticket list price is $10-$15 but if you use this link you can get 20% off ($8-$12).



What We Can Learn from Considering One’s Ideal Piano Teacher Life (Joy Morin | Color in My Piano)



Getting Value from Professional Development with Amy Comparetto, episode 172 (Tim Topham |The Top Cast podcast)



Load yourself up for these virtual events with some healthy snacks: Here are some all-around favorites as well a few favorites from Trader Joe’s.



Nicola’s Turboboost event will be from March 29th – April 2.

This 5-day event is designed to help give a refresh before gearing into the final weeks of the school term. While it’s 5 days, it will only be 3 hours a day (10 am-1 pm EST), and the guest speaker sessions are 15-minutes so they will be easy to absorb.

My session will be on the final day. It’s called:

Reset and Refresh: Tiding Tips for Studio Teachers

Enjoy a workspace that is always fresh and orderly by implementing a simple, consistent, and sustainable tidying routine. Four specific time points, a small checklist, and an incremental (but minimal) time commitment will be your steps for a well-kept studio.

Read more details and SIGN UP for the event here!*

Use the code PANTRY to get a $10 discount ($59 instead of $69)

*Disclosure: I will also get a very small affiliate percentage back but it doesn’t cost you any extra.


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.


Friday Finds #208

Best of February

As I continue to consider what this slightly new Friday Finds format looks like (with more themed content each week), I realized I also didn’t want to lose the charm of the fun list of random finds that this post series has always thrived on.

Thus, I’m going to shoot for the last Friday of each month being a compilation of the best finds from the past month – just like I used to do.




Congratulations to my good friend Joy Morin on celebrating 12 years of blogging!

I can’t imagine what the piano teacher world would be like without you – you’ve inspired so much of our world!

(P.S. She’s doing a great discount and giveaway this month so be sure and jump over there right away!)



If you’re a Google Chrome user, did you know you can organize your tabs into groups? Who knew?!



In February, Music Teacher’s National Association (MTNA) released a big new Business Resources section on their website



What to Do When Parent’s Don’t Want to Be Online for Music Lessons
( The Unfinished Lesson)

There may be more to it than we think! Here are four great tips from Rosemarie Penner.



6 Brilliant Websites for Original Piano Sheet Music (Pianosaurus Rex)



Notated versions of the RCM Level 9 and 10 Chord Progressions – for free. (The Collaborative Piano Blog)



“The shelves at Trader Joe’s do what?!” That’s what I said when I read this post: The Mind-Blowing Trader Joe’s Trick We Just Learned on TikTok (The Kitchn)



Speaking of Trader Joe’s, here’s my Trader Joe’s shopping list. (Piano Pantry)



21 Podcasts for Piano Teachers in 2021 (Joy Morin | Color in My Piano)



Using Social Media Effectively to Market Your Studio (Teach Music Online Podcast)

Some great tips with guest Sara Campbell. The top tip I told away was from their conversation on the difference between Marketing and Advertising!



I can’t wait for season 2 of Nadiya Bakes on Netflix! Her personality is so fun and inviting. They haven’t announced a release date, but until then, enjoy season 1. Her happy face will be sure to brighten your day.



The rest of February’s Friday Finds:

#207 Winter

#206 For all the Office Product Junkies

#205 A Superbowl-Inspired Friday



Friday Finds #207

It’s all Winter!

Many of us in the US have been hit these past couple of weeks with some serious weather. I can’t remember the last time we here in Indiana have seen this many days in a row of 20-degree weather and consistent snow with no melting and slush.

I have to say that I’m loving it! Working from home, of course, certainly makes it easier to enjoy and not dread. 🙂 I’ve always been of the opinion that if it’s going to be winter, I would rather experience the season with all it has to offer.

Stay warm and safe – especially all of you that have had to go through all the power outages!




Winter’s Serenade Intermediate-level sheet music by Dennis Alexander



The winter-scenes over on Kiel James Patrick’s Instagram account have been incredibly enjoyable to follow!



A Winter playlist on Spotify. (Amy Chaplin)

Music that will set the scene for the beautiful side of winter including scenic white views, crisp cold, and comforting warm fuzzies.



Look at this downtime for fresh produce as an opportunity to take advantage of all the beautiful fruits and vegetables that you can get in your freezer section!



Trader Joe’s is one of my favorite places to buy frozen products. Check out this podcast episode highlighting their freezer section.



The Perfect Winter Piano Piece (Wendy Stevens)



Shades of Sound Listening & Coloring Book: Winter (Playful Piano)

Winter-time inspired grand-piano coloring page (Leila Viss).



A short story: The Fir-Tree by Hans Christian Anderson (Becoming Minimalist)



Cold church blues: practicing organ in the winter. (Rebekah Maxner)



Friday Finds #206

For all the office-product junkies



My Top 6 “But It Again” Products on Amazon (Piano Pantry)

Amazon is a great place to buy consumable office supplies!



My New Favorite Tool in the Studio: Dry Erase Crayons! (Jennifer Foxx)



My 6 Favorite Office Suppy Items as  Piano Teacher (Joy Morin)

Can office supplies really bring you joy? They sure can! Here are some joyful products that bring joy to our teacher friend, Joy! Ha! LOL.



Chicken Fajita Stuffed Poblano Peppers (Simply Recipes)



Favorite Tools of the Trade (Melody Payne)

Scroll CLEAR down to the “Office Supplies” section



A Piano Teacher’s Shopping List: Organize and Inspire with these 13 Items (Teach Piano Today)

13 things Andrea Dow uses over and over, year after year.



Piano Teacher “Must-Have’s”: A Minimalist’s List (Piano Pantry)

If I were a brand new teacher or if I had to start all over again in a very small space, what are the items that would be “must-haves”?



Did you miss a previous week of Friday Finds? Here are quick links:

#205 Superbowl Inspired Friday
#204 Valentine Goodies
#203 Goodies from Down Under
#202 Planning for a New Semester
#201 Getting Taxes Organized


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.