Friday Finds #235 Best-of-November

Happy end of November! Here are a few photos from my family’s gathering. We love turkey day!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and will take time this weekend to rest and recharge for the season ahead.

Now I can say, welcome to Advent/Christmas! 🙂



A Holiday Wishlist for Music Teachers and 10 Supplemental Collections for Intermediate Piano Students (Ashley Danyew)



10 Films About Piano Players You Might Want to See (Doug Hanvey | Portland Piano Lab)

What a wonderful list!



My next public playlist on Spotify: Advent.



Two baked oatmeal recipes we recently enjoyed: Chocolate Peanut Butter Baked Oatmeal and Cinnamon Raisin (Sweet Savory and Steph)



After reading my post on organizing printed music, Natalie has been cleaning out and updating her own music files. Check out her before and after photos and get a free download of folder labels. (Natalie Weber | Music Matters Blog)



Piano Recital Showdown: Zoom Recital vs. Playlist Recital vs. In-Person Recital (Rebekah Maxner)



Create a Virtual Holiday Recital in 5 Minutes (or less!) (Chrissy Ricker)



Chrissy also has a great round-up of holiday resources including ear-training activities, improv, lead sheets, and more. (Chrissy Ricker)



Speaking of holiday resource round-ups, I’ll add mine to the mix – December Fun: Christmas Games and Activities for Your Studio (Piano Pantry)



A few years ago I started choosing a new devotional book to read each Advent season.

This year I choose a book recommended by my pastor – Clarifying Christmas by Mike Edmisten.

Do you have any favorite Advent reads? Share in the comments!



A new worksheet on Identifying Ledger Lines and Who buys the music books – teacher or student? (Joy Morin | Color in my Piano)



10 Rules for Holiday Gift Giving (The Lazy Genius Podcast)


Friday Finds #234: Thanksgiving-Style



Even though we’re approaching Thanksgiving, as music teacher’s we’ve already started on Christmas music. Here’s a great post from Janna Williamson: How to Teach Holiday Music.

P.S. She recommends my new Christmas By Ear book as part of her first tip!



It’s time to cue up our Thanksgiving listening playlist! Mine is Thanksgiving playlist is public on Spotify which means you can enjoy it as well! Here’s a sneak peek:



Thanksgiving piano music:

Now Thank We All Our God arranged by Leila Viss.

A Thanksgiving Prayer (elementary solo) by Wendy Stevens



As you know, the minute Thanksgiving is over, the world moves onto the Christmas/giving season. As you consider where you might be able to give even amidst rising prices in our own lives, consider these 10 Music-Based Organizations on #givingtuesday.



Our book club selection of the month is Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist.

I’m only a few chapters in, but I can say without a doubt, it is a great book to be reading this season!

I can’t believe it was published in 2013 and I am just now reading it.

This book speaks to my soul so much! Highly recommended!



Eight Thanksgiving-themed games activities from Susan Paradis.

My two favorites from her I pull out every year at this time are Chasing the Turkey and Save the Turkey



From my kitchen to yours, here are some of my favorite holiday recipes, music, kitchen gadgets, and more. 



For your group performance classes: Pumpkin pie listening thermometers



Two songs I love to sing this time of year:

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).

This next song, written by Keith and Kristy Getty, focuses on spiritual blessings.

My Heart is Filled with Thankfulness by Keith and Kristyn Getty.



Friday Finds #233: Best of October



A Holiday Season Survival Guide for Piano Teachers (Mallory Byers | Alfred Music Blog)



If you’re an MTNA member with an established studio and teaching professionally for no more than three years, consider applying for the MarySue Harris Studio Teacher Fellowship. It’s a wonderful opportunity for new teachers and one I wish I knew about when I first started my studio.



You guys, I have developed a serious hobby of creating playlists on Spotify. My husband gets the biggest kick out of it. Over Fall break last week we traveled to Virginia Beach for a speaking session on digital management strategies I gave to a local group there. On the way home I created two: Indiana, My State, and Halloween.



An Indiana town is wooing new residents with on-demand grandparents. (NPR) Is this absolutely beautiful or what?



No time for Theory in piano lessons? Copy J.S. Bach’s time-saving approach! (Rebekah Maxner) Not the first time I’ve heard this idea but for some reason, Rebekah really made it come alive and really inspired me to start doing this.


Continue reading

Friday Finds #232: Music Staff Magnet Boards



On a recent “Your Questions Answered” post on what method and theory books I use, a reader shared in a comment about a resource she was using and loving called Easy Notes by Rebecca Wilson.

One of the tools in this series is a pretty cool magnet board which, after having a look myself on her recommendation, inspired this week’s finds. First of all, I thought it might be nice to hear directly from this reader on why she loves Easy Notes.

I have recently found and love Easy Notes by Rebecca Wilson (find it at There are two workbooks, as well as charming character magnet manipulatives. I have used mnemonics, not because I thought it was the way to go, but because I didn’t know there was a better way (yes, I use intervals some too).

Easy Notes teaches note names (four octaves) through stories. It’s simple and whimsical, and the students really like it. Most importantly, it is making a difference in their note reading.

I only happened upon her and her new creation when I watched a webinar. I think she’s from New Zealand. The workbooks used to be $10 each but are now $18 each, but I recommend the Easy Notes Teachers Kit (with Large Magnetic Stave) for $109.99. The Easy Note Student Kit (with Small Magnetic Stave) is $99.99, is fine, too, but I just like having more space between the treble and bass staff.

-Ginny G.



E-Z Notes

This was the first magnet board I purchased. I love that it’s compact, double-sided, and has multi-colored magnets that come along with it. I did find the space above and below the staff a bit cramped for teaching ledger line notes though.

Lots of other great resources available on this site as well.



After E-Z Notes, my next find for a magnet board was from Musical Escapades. Similar to E-Z notes, I like the compact size of the board and multi-colored magnets that accompany it. It’s not doubled-sided like E-Z notes but there is more space for ledger line notes.

I find both the E-Z Notes and Musical Escapades staff board magnets to be a bit small to manipulate but with the more compact size, that’s to be expected.


4, besides a staff magnet board she also has a great music note slider tool as well.



Here are some really cool roll-up magnetic-backed boards!



Many of these listed above as well as others are (of course!) available on Amazon.



Want a cost-effective option? Check out Susan Paradis’s “do-it-yourself” version!


What am I missing? 

Do you have any other great music staff magnet board resources to add to the mix? Share in the comments!

Friday Finds #231: Playing By Ear

With this week’s launch of my new Christmas by Ear: 8 Tunes to Harmonize book, I thought it would be fitting for this week’s finds to continue on the theme of harmonizing and playing by ear. 🙂

P.S. There’s a 15% off launch celebration discount going on that will end on Oct. 26 so don’t delay in getting your copy!



Is Learning to Play by Ear Worth it? What the Best Piano Education Experts Really Think (Piano Picnic)

I, along with a lot of other wonderful online content creators, chimed in on this post a few years ago.



How Do You Play a Song By Ear? (Musical You)



I know playing by ear can be a hard topic – it’s something I struggle with every day myself. If we do anything with our students on playing by hearing though as piano teachers, let it be about them playing “Happy Birthday“.

Just this week I had one of my 6th-grade students excitedly tell me about how she gets to be part of the middle school show choir now. In their first practice, the teacher asked if anyone could play the piano. After stating she did, the class (of course!) asked her to play something. What did she play? Happy Birthday! She was SO PROUD she could sit down and do that!

Happy Birthday By Ear: The Ultimate Teaching Resource.



3 First Pop and Rock Songs to Teach by Ear (Chrissy Ricker)



How to Play Pop Tunes by Ear (Bradley Sowash)



How to Simplify and Teach a Pop Song By Ear (Creative Piano Teaching Podcast #107)



While I’ve had a small handful of students over the years that have incredibly strong ears for playing music by ear, this little guy is probably one of the best. He amazes me at every lesson! Hear him play “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” in 12 keys.


Friday Finds #230: Best of September

Hold onto your hats – I have a whole lot of goodies for you this month. I’m pretty sure this is one of – if not THE biggest list I’ve ever published!



Julie Knerr shared a lovely series of photos by her mother that, in 5 images, display the steps it takes to bring a painting from a sketch to a work of art. Use these images as a synonym for your students taking pieces from just learning to polished performance.




Unfortunately, Teach Piano Today has discontinued its Piano Game Club! The page is still live, but you are no longer able to sign up. It was announced in an email directly to current subscribers.

Get other great game resources from:

Music Discoveries
Vibrant Music Teaching
Susan Paradis
Color in My Piano


I’ve been catching up on Nadia Bolz-Weber’s podcast (which is not currently active), The Confessional. One episode almost brought me to tears – Meg Lavery, Storyteller, and Teacher.



Ashley Danyew outlined 15 of her favorite supplemental collections for elementary piano students.



It’s time to give my kitchen towels a spiff up. I’m going to use this technique with Oxi Clean recommended by America’s Test Kitchen and subsequently The Kitchn.



With the turnover of the new season this week, amplify your fall time mood with my Autumn playlist on Spotify.




Joy Morin came up with a simple and yet brilliant incentive program for her students.



The Lazy Genius #228 – 5 Ways to Organize Your Books

Since we moved into our new house, I’ve discovered rather than keeping all my books in one location on a designated bookshelf, I love keeping them in small groups in a location that fits their theme.

For example, I keep books about having a welcoming home on the kitchen windowsill, books on Music Learning Theory next to my desk, books on learning and personal growth in the stairwell going to my studio so my students see them, and so forth.

Of course, it doesn’t help that I don’t actually have a big enough bookcase to keep all of them in one location but even so, I still love the idea of theme areas!



Natalie Weber discovered a piece that worked brilliantly as a rote piece for a student who desperately needed it. She shared it along with how she is organizing her rote repertoire both physically (and in Evernote!)



Are you interested in learning more about Music Learning Theory? Did you know I have a whole page here on Piano Pantry dedicated to MLT resources? Find a list of recommended books, a series of some of my favorite YouTube videos on the topic, podcast episodes, and more!

One resource I recently added was a podcast from Musicality Now: Mind Before Fingers with Marilyn Lowe. I thought this was one of the best I’ve heard from Marilyn.



One of my former students is an avid songwriter. Follower her on Instagram for wonderful monthly songwriting prompts!



Speaking of songwriting, our beloved Chrissy Ricker has a beautiful updated new YouTube channel!



Thanks to Clinton Pratt for sharing details on the upcoming American Eurhythmics Society Conference.

I’ll be presenting to a local association in Ohio that weekend but it looks like a great low price and students are free!



If you’ve been around here awhile, you might remember my Piano Teacher Must-Haves: A Minimalist’s List.

Another teacher has put together their own list! Aren’t they the best types of lists?!  Check out Piano Studio Must-Haves from Lassen Piano Studio.



A great little instant-read thermometer for only $12!



Congratulations to Christopher Goldston on the launch of his new website where he’s self-publishing his own compositions as well as (potentially) some unseen solos from his mother, Margaret Goldston!


Friday Finds #229: Welcoming Students (including photos of my studio entrance!)

As I was preparing this week’s list, I realized this is a topic that’s not really covered a lot in piano teacher world!

How do you welcome students into your studio? By welcome, I mean both in the sense of when a new student comes to your studio for the first time as well as in your daily welcome to weekly recurring students.


This is definitely something I’ve started to think about!



I was first inspired by this topic when Joy Morin shared a printable welcome poster. Ah! What I brilliant idea!



I needed my welcome poster to say a few different things though so I created my own in Canva. Here’s how it turned out:

(Our front door doesn’t always go all the way shut – especially in the winter -and while you think you have shut it, sometimes it needs a good push. Thus, the first step. 🙂 )

At the first week of lessons, for the first time ever, I went outside and greeted students as they came into the studio for our group class. I had everyone gather outside together as others arrived and then we all went in together.

Here’s my full entryway. It’s the front door to the house and students enter and go directly down the steps to the basement. There is a bathroom just off to the right of the entryway.

I took time with the group to point out the checklist which I have in a photo frame right when they enter.



I don’t know about you, but I’m so tired of nasty hand sanitizer! Lol.

In Leila Viss’s recent studio tour, one of the items she shared was a hand sanitizer she loved.

I’m a sucker for recommended products so, while it was a little expensive for my taste for hand sanitizer, I tried it out. It IS pretty amazing. 

P.S. My students still get the cheap stuff! 🙂



(Kudos to Jennifer Foxx for this idea!)

Ever since my studio moved into our new home, I started asking students to remove their shoes.

Not all students may be comfortable removing their shoes, so I decided to buy shoe covers and a small “announcement” holder to place in my entryway. That way they have a choice.

Foldable Shoe Cover Holder

Disposable Shoe Covers



Whether it’s for my students or visitors in general, there’s something nice about having a little inviting dish of candy.

Lifesaver mints are a nice one for an entryway candy dish.





Friday Finds #228: Best of August

Happy Friday, piano teacher friends!

As we get going into a new school term, I just wanted to quickly share about the Friday Finds series – especially if you’re new around here – so you can know what to expect. 🙂

First, my goal is that I can make your life a little easier by weeding through all the content that is out there and sharing the best of what’s worth your time and attention.

Second, I hope that you find these posts unique, refreshing, lighthearted, and fun.

Third, it’s not always just 100% about piano teaching because that’s just how I roll and as you can attest, we aren’t our profession.

Lastly, each week I focus on a specific topic. One of my most recent favorites: was #227 What’s New in Piano Teacher World. At the end of the month, I present a more random list such as today’s “Best of August.”

If you’re new, thanks for being here, and if you’re a regular reader, thanks for sticking around.

Here’s to another school year!




Natalie recently shared a review on a really interesting online sheet music company where you can stream over 20,000 pieces of sheet music!



While the piano podcast world is starting to get a little saturated, I feel like one person I haven’t gotten to hear much on podcasts is Wendy Stevens. (Of course, I could have just missed them! LOL). Anyway, I really enjoyed hearing her chat with Leila Viss on Episode 28 of the Key Ideas Podcats.

(I’ve been playing catch-up big time on podcasts so you’re going to get quite a few in today’s list!)



I absolutely love playlists focused on popular tunes that use specific chord progressions. There are two people I found recently that have some great lists on Spotify.

Katie Wardrobe – Melbourne-based music technology trainer, consultant, blogger, and podcaster – has a list for 12-Bar Blues Progressions, 1-5-6-4, Pentatonic Melody, and more.

Robin Giebelhausen – assistant professor of music education at the University of Maryland, College Park, and MLT practitioner extraordinaire – has playlists on the I-V-vi-IV progression, and all the tonalities (Dorian, Mixolydian, etc.), and more.



How to Use Milanote as an Educator (Ashley Danyew)

She says it’s basically Evernote meets Pinterest so obviously I’m intrigued! Are you using Milanote? I would love to hear from you on how you like it. Please share in the comments or drop me a message!



You guys, this moment right now is my absolute favorite food season and it’s 100% because of tomatoes.

Lunch – dinner – lunch – dinner – lunch – dinner….every day our meals include something with tomatoes. There is nothing like a fresh August tomato – especially beefsteaks. *sigh*

Cod Sautéed in Olive Oil with Fresh Tomatoes (Simply Recipes). This is SUCH an easy and delicious fish recipe. Do it.

Frittata with Tuna and Tomatoes (Giada De Laurentiis). Such a quick cook plus healthy and delicious. Don’t skip the dollop of mascarpone on the side.

Paleo Chicken Salad with Bacon and Tomatoes (America’s Test Kitchen). I’m not after “paleo”, just a good healthy mayo-free chicken salad.

Pesto Salmon with Burst Tomatoes (The Kitchn). Admittedly, I haven’t yet tried this one, but it sounds delicious.

Tomato, Mozzarella & Pesto Panini ( While it’s on, it’s actually Ina Garten’s recipe from one of her cookbooks I have.



What is the best time to post on Instagram? It’s not just when your followers are online, it’s when there’s less competition for posts. While surprising, it makes total sense! Instagram in 2021 According to 35 Million Posts (



My news often comes from The Newsworthy podcast. While I generally skip the Saturday special editions, I did catch and love the July 31st episode with The Grammar Girl including a little talk on using the Oxford Comma.



Training Us to Be Present for the Sacred All Around Us by Ed Cyzeweski.



A new recent podcast find is Sharon Says So. Episode 10 on How to be a good news consumer was especially interesting. Specifically, they talk about how to pay attention to what really matters and let go of what you don’t really need to know.



How to Create an Amazing Home Office (Organize Like a Pro podcast with Liz Toombs)



5 Tech Tools for Online Teaching (Teach Music Online podcast with Carly Walton)



99% Invisible podcast: Episode #453 The Book of Tasty and Healthy Food

This episode was one of the only cookbooks to exist in the Soviet Union. It was part of a radical Soviet food experiment aimed at addressing hunger in the USSR.



Subscribe to the Piano Pantry email list to keep up to date!

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 #227: New Things in Piano Teacher World

A few years ago, I started an end-of-year series here on Piano Pantry called  “Piano Teacher World.”

2017 – Piano Teacher World: A Year in Recap: News, Happenings, and Impact.
2018 – Piano Teacher World: A Year in Recap: 2018

The reason it fizzled out was simply that it was hard to roll out a big post like that during such a busy time of year.

After seeing several new things pop up here recently, the start of the new school year felt like another good time of year to do this kind of a post!

Cheers to those bringing us new products, tools, and resources to make our lives easier, and cheers to you, the teachers, who help make creative dreams possible!

P.S. I’m considering things “new” within the past 12 months or so.


1 – Membership Sites and Blogs

Tim has just introduced Top Music Guitar.

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

Rosemarie Penner of The Unfinished Lesson has gone through an update and moved Facebook and Instagram accounts. Be sure and follow her new accounts before the end of August when the old ones close.


2 – Podcasts

Within a week of each other in August 2020, Leila Viss’s Key Ideas podcast and Christina Whitlock’s Beyond Measure Podcast hit the airwaves.

South Shore Piano Podcast with Jonathan Roberts – a podcast that celebrates how the arts are changing lives – launched in March 2021.

Ben Kapilow started the All Keyed Up podcast in April 2021.


3 – Methods

Piano Safari announced their new series for preschoolers. They are holding a webinar on August 13.


4 – Apps

Music Teacher’s Helper has a new owner and CEO.

Tonara is launching a big update soon if it hasn’t already been posted.

In March, Sproutbeat went through a really big update/overhaul combining their worksheets app with the Leap Games online into one location.


5 – Products

Last year, Joy Morin began releasing a few sheet music solos. There are currently three in her shop.

This year I launched two new products: a Happy Birthday by Ear teaching resource and a Sequenced Assignment Series for At-Home Practice with Note Rush.

Preorders are now being taken for Nicola Cantan’s Practice Pie book which is designed for piano parents. At the moment, just the ebook version is available. Hardcopy preorders will be taken starting August 23.


Subscribe to the Piano Pantry email list to keep up to date!

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 #226: New Term Ideas and Organization

Whether you’re starting lessons up in the next week or two or at the beginning of September, now is the time to start gathering ideas for the beginning of the term and get your space in order.



Wendy Steven’s “This or That” Ice Breaker Game would be great for a first group class!



A few years ago, after my friend Christina Whitlock told me how she avoids scheduling madness by doing only group classes in August, I’ve been doing it ever since! (Well, at least the first week or two.)

Hear more about this brilliant idea in Episode 38: Cheers to a Less-Conventional August of the Beyond Measure Podcast.



The first lesson of the year – whether private lessons or group classes – are a great time to focus your entire studio on learning to play Happy Birthday.

My Happy Birthday By Ear teaching resource will give you and your students a tangible guide for learning (and remembering) how to play this popular tune!




Reviewing music terms and symbols would be made a lot more fun with Leila’s Piano Charades game using the Decide Now app or Melody Payne’s “I Have… Who Has? Music Symbols Game.



Antipasto Salad makes a wonderful summer meal (The Kitchn)



I finally broke down and bought myself a set of really sturdy plastic file folders.

Besides the fact that they’re sturdy, I especially love that they’re a little narrower than conventional magazine holders.

Get them on Amazon. mDesign Plastic File Folder.

I can’t tell you the relief I felt when I was able to organize a lot of items that I had in piles using these.



This matching desk organizer also made it into my Amazon cart and has been a great addition to my desk space.

mDesign Desk Organizer on Amazon.