Friday Finds #221

Social Media Madness

Hello, my friends! As we enter this new season, many of us begin rethinking things we do in our studios from policies to studio setup and offerings and (yes), our social media.

Can I make a big confession? I’m not really a big fan of social media. Surprised? I am a fan, however, of YOU and my kiddos, and sometimes social is the only way to connect.

Otherwise, I would likely be outta-here. 🙂

Here are some wonderful resources for you this week if you’re ready to up your game on social media.



Using Social Media to Effectively Market Your Studio with Sara Campbell (Episode 15) (Teach Music Online The Podcast)



How to Create an Automated Message for Your Studio’s Facebook Page (Piano Pantry)



Social Media Image Sizes: Everything You Need to Know (Dustin Stout)



12 Facebook Settings and Notifications You Can Turn Off Immediately (Real Simple)



Is Instagram for Piano Teachers? Yes, here’s why! (Leila Viss)



Instagram for Independent Music Teachers: The #1 Reason You Should Be There (Piano Pantry)



How I Use Instagram, and an Invitation to Follow Me There! (Color in My Piano)


Instagram for Piano Teachers: 5 Fun Accounts to Follow (Piano Pantry)



10 Perfect Instagram Theme Ideas You Can Create (Helene In Between)



Instagram Content Ideas ANYONE Can Use (The Preview App)



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Friday Finds #220

Best of May



All my students are getting new binders this year. I’ve been rotating quite a few over and over but it’s time to start fresh. At their final evaluation meeting, I laid out 8 color options for them to choose from: black, blue, red, lime green, and peach, pink, periwinkle, and teal. 

Since I purchased them in sets of 4, I made students give me 3 color choices in order of favorite. That allowed me to utilize every binder I purchased.

Once I had everyone’s options, I sat down and assigned colors. It sounds like a lot of work but it really was quite easy.

Let me just say that the pastels were by far the favorite colors. Next time I may limit to those 4 colors.



Price-setting and finding the right balance for your business as well as your local community is definitely a difficult game to play. Clinton Pratt developed a really useful Tuition Calculator that can help you play around with numbers in a variety of settings/situations.



Nicola’s recent video on Project Management Software had me ready to give them a shot again.

I’ve tried Trello and Asana both in the past but am really picky about my workflow and I just didn’t love them. While Evernote has worked pretty well for me in the current format I’m using, I was starting to feel something a little more robust was needed. Nicola convinced me to give ClickUp a shot. I’ll let you know down the road if I stick with it!



Piano Studio Business Claims: The best things in life are tax-deductible (Rebekah Maxner)



Anyone else struggle to keep your dishwasher from getting nasty? I rinse everything before it goes in and take a paper towel and wipe out the gunk at the bottom hinge after I put away every load but it’s amazing how yucky they still get. Ever looked inside the side gears? Ick!

I’ve struggled off and on with having way too many dishes still come out unclean (and our dishwasher is only a year old). I would alternate back and forth between Cascade liquid and powder and others.

The pods have always felt way too expensive to me for something that isn’t really inconvenient.

However, that all changed when I became desperate to not have to re-wash half a dozen items every time and finally broke down and bought the most expensive pods. Voila. Problem solved.

Finish Quantum Powerball.

Haven’t had to re-wash one dish since.

I got the big pack.



Overcome the Disadvantage of Friday Piano Lessons (Nicola Cantan)



If only I had a reason or good space for this piano rug





If you’re interested in learning about MLT. Andy Mullen over at The Improving Musician is a great place to start. He has loads of quality resources in his Free Student Library.



Recently, I stumbled across a fantastic Ukulele teaching resource from Musical Mama. Uke lessons are a great 2nd instrument for teachers to offer. Entrepreneur that I am, a few years ago, I taught myself just so I could teach one of my student’s lessons that were interested instead of passing the income into someone else. Something to consider!



The past two weeks I have definitely been in a bit of a food funk. The last week of lessons was so crazy and my first week of I’m just tired and recouping. My drive to cook has been minimal, however, I never like to leave you hanging with food fun so here it is:

Grilled Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts (Cook’s Illustrated)

Olive Garden Salad copycat recipe (Dinner at the Zoo)

Cashew Crunch Salad with Sesame Dressing (Pinch of Yum)

Chicken Porridge a.k.a. Chicken Congee (Seonkyoung Longest)


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Friday Finds #219

Self Care: Rest and Renewal

This week is my last full week of lessons. Wahoo!

Next week, while the studio will still be on its regular schedule, students will come in and do a final run-through of their recital pieces (which I plan to record), and then parents will join in and we will have our final evaluation meeting.

I don’t know about you, but my body and mind are extra ready for a breather this year! That makes me extra happy I decided to end my semester one week earlier than usual and give myself a two-week break before Summer lessons begin.

Today is all about taking care of ourselves through rest and (thus) renewal.



Cheers to Acknowledging Rest (Beyond Measure podcast with Christina Whitlock)

“Let’s face it: especially this time of year, rest is HARD for ambitious teachers. Rather than making you feel guilty for not incorporating more white space into your spring schedule, this episode encourages us to acknowledge the rest that comes – intentionally or not – and to embrace it for the benefits it brings.”



What if We Approached Taking Care of Ourselves the Way We Approach Our Jobs? (Shonda Rhimes)

“…what if the only person I’m competing with is the me I was …yesterday?”



Paid Time Off for Piano Teachers (Nicola Cantan | Colourful Keys)



24/6: A Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life by Matthew Sleeth.

I read this book several years ago and really enjoyed it. There are other similar ones out there with the same name.



Use some of this “slow” time to make some “slow” foods. Here are some suggestions:

Irish Soda Bread (Ina Garten)

The Easiest Bread Recipe You’ll Ever Bake (it really is!) (Williams Sonoma)

Chicken Stew with Biscuits (Ina Garten)

Rhubarbecue (slow-braised ribs in Rhubarb BBQ sauce) (Taste of Home)

Scalloped Potatoes and Ham (The Kitchn)



4 Lessons I Learned from Doing Less (Michelle Cushatt)



A Helpful Guide to Becoming Unbusy (Joshua Becker | Becoming Minimalist)

“Busy” has become the new “fine” – the new “default state” for our lives.



How to Make Your Weekend a WOW Experience: My 5-Ingredient Recipe for Total Rejuvenation (Michael Hyatt)



Finding Sabbath Again (Mike Glenn | Patheos)

“Sabbath gives you the time and space to remember what matters.”



Subscribe to the Piano Pantry email list to keep up to date with what’s happening on Piano Pantry!

You’ll get my once-a-month “Secret Letter” which includes what’s been going on in my studio that month, books I’m reading, and more. You will also have the option to have new posts delivered to your inbox weekly.


Friday Finds #218

Summer Repertoire

Happy May! If you missed last week’s big April re-cap, you can read it here: Friday Finds #217 Best of April.

I don’t know about you, but I often struggle to remember to put in music orders far enough in advance from when new terms start to actually have music by the first lesson!

So, today, I’m sharing some resources to help you as you plan your student’s Summer repertoire. This list focuses on what I would call more relaxed repertoire such as popular tunes, what my teens like to call “flowy” music,  and some fun and unique patterned repertoire.

You’ll also see a few favorite repertoire lists from other bloggers as well. Let me know what fun repertoire you have planned for your students this Summer in the comments!

P.S. This week, I answered a reader question regarding how I run my Summer lessons. Catch that post here.



Back in 2018, my studio’s Spring Recital theme was “Songs we Know.” In a follow-up post, I shared a list of some favorite books with popular tunes.



Will Bailey has a great site full of fun original music kids seem to enjoy. I especially love his Way Cool Keyboarding Books for teens who play at a mid-late elementary level.

The music is very patterned and young teens absolutely love the way it sounds. Plus, they get a taste of how to play chord charts intertwined between each piece.



Piano Music for Teens (Lauren Lewandowski)

Favorite Beautiful Modern Piano Music for Teens (Jill Ice)



Who doesn’t love fun variations on Chop Sticks? Here are a few I keep bookmarked:

Chopped Sticks Rag for Three by Joyce Grill (1 piano, 6 hands / Early Intermediate)

C.S. Theme and Variations by Randall Compton (1 piano, 4 hands / Early Advanced)

Whitewater Chopped Sticks by Calvin Jones (Early Advanced)



Summer might be a good time to explore the rote repertoire series, Blitz Books, from Samantha Coates.



How about having students spend time learning some tunes by ear and harmonizing? Perhaps better yet, have them sing the melody while chording in the RH and playing octaves or other patterns in the left.

Here are 147 Tunes to Harmonize (Piano Pantry) to help get you started!



Chrissy Ricker’s Let’s Quest! (video game-inspired music) Songbook or any of Andrea and Trevor Dow’s Classical Pop Sessions or would be a fun way to change things up for students in the summer!



Summer is a wonderful time to do a studio-wide project to learn the important Happy Birthday tune. Use my new Happy Birthday by Ear teaching resources to guide both you and your students through the process!



What fun repertoire you have planned for your students this Summer?
Share in the comments!


Subscribe to the Piano Pantry email list to keep up to date with what’s happening on Piano Pantry!

You’ll get my once-a-month “Secret Letter” which includes what’s been going on in my studio that month, books I’m reading, and more. You will also have the option to have new posts delivered to your inbox weekly.


Friday Finds #217

Best of April

Friday Finds Blog Post

Happy end-of-April!

Here are my favorite fun finds from all over the web this past month for you, my dear peeps.





The Real Book (Episode #438) from 99% Invisible podcast

The absolutely fascinating story of how the popular “Real Book” evolved into fruition.



My Hunt for the Original McDonald’s French Fry Recipe (Atlas Obscura)

How interesting! Do you remember the original McDonald’s french fries (prior to 1990?) Even though I was a kid in the ’80s, I don’t.

They were apparently fried in beef tallow rather than vegetable/soybean oils as they are today and in turn were much crispier.

Of course, I’ve already put beef tallow in my Amazon shopping cart. We’re not McDonald’s eaters, but like a good American, enjoy eating a good french fry now and then.




Have you heard of CeraVe? If you have any kind of skin sensitivities, it’s a product developed by Dermatologists that’s available in your local drugstore or grocery.

I found out about it when I had a crazy heat rash on my legs a couple of summers ago that wouldn’t go away. After going to the dermatologist, their simple recommendation was the CeraVe Itch Relief Moisturizing Cream and a mild antibiotic.



Do you hold year-end evaluation meetings with parents and students? Here are some resources to help.

Friday Finds #214 – Year-End Evaluations (Piano Pantry)

Friday Finds #215 – Parent/Student Questionnaires (Piano Pantry)

Maybe Measuring Progress is Really Measuring Something More Important? (Key Ideas podcast)



8 Solo Piano Collections for Worship (Ashley Danyew)

Ashley has a podcast called Field New on Music Teaching and Learning I’ve been enjoying recently thanks to a recommendation by Joy Morin.



A fun virtual tour of Leila Viss’s piano studio.



My highly recommended recipes from what I made in the past four weeks:

Chicken Fajita Stuffed Poblano Peppers (Simply Recipes); For a little healthier side, serve alongside quinoa rather than rice.

High Protein Oat Waffles (Skinny Taste); I already shared these several weeks ago but they are too good to not bring up again!

Rhubarb Dream Bars (Baking You Happier)

Southwestern Apple and Radish Salad (Cook’s Country); Add some shredded rotisserie chicken to make it a meal.

White Bean and Tuna Salad (Simply Recipes); Add some extra salad greens for a more robust salad.



The Ultimate Music Education Book List (Mrs. Stouffer’s Music Room)

Wow, an incredibly comprehensive list!!



In case you missed them and they are just what you need at this time:

Friday Finds #213 – Recital Prep

Friday Finds #216 – New Student Interviews and Registrations



12 Facebook Settings and Notifications You Can Turn Off Immediately (Real Simple)



How Music Teachers Can Sell Digital Products (Piano with Lauren)



Music Publishing 101 (Chrissy Ricker)



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. 

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Friday Finds #216

New Student Interviews and Registrations

Friday Finds Blog Post

You may not be mentally ready for it, but this is the time of year to be thinking not only about Summer lessons but about your student load/list for the Fall term.

Along with that comes the work of meeting with/interviewing and registering new students. Take some time to think about the process you use. The way we run our student interview meetings, and the process set up for registering students is the first peek families will have into the quality of your studio.

Do you like what you see? Is it the kind of onboarding process you would feel good about if you were the one signing up? Is everything streamlined, easy to understand, and smooth and painless?

Here are some resources for you today as you consider your own interview and registration process.



How to Plan a New Piano Student Interview or Meeting (Colourful Keys)



3 Printables for Interviewing Students (Color in my Piano)

Interview Evaluation Forms (Music Educator Resources)




One activity I find great to do with students during your first meeting is to decorate the piano. It gives you a chance to engage with the student and shows parents you work to make lessons fun. (Piano Safari)



New Piano Student Interviews – How to Seal the Deal (Compose Create)



How and When to Say No to Prospective Students (Teach with Diane)



One Registration Question Not-to-be-Missed! (Piano Pantry)

Here are 5 Questions Ask Every Piano Parent (Teach Piano Today)




If you’re looking to book interview meetings and/or do your registration forms online, there are all kinds of tools out there to make it easier. Some favorites I’ve heard of from other teachers over the years:

Google Forms

Typeform: People-Friendly Forms and Surveys

JotForm: A Typeform Alternative

Doodle: Free online meeting scheduling tool

Simplify This: Online Appointment Scheduling & Booking Software



Would you like to obtain signatures on your policy documents but want to keep it all digital still? Check out Sign Easy, an electronic signature app.



Supercharge Your Piano Studio Organisation with Google Gadgetry (Top Music Co)



Why You Need a Piano Studio Child Protection Policy and Plan (Rebekah Maxner)



The Email Every Piano Teacher Should Send Home at the Start of the Term (Teach Piano Today)



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!)


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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.