Start the School Year More Organized Than Ever!

Did you make a pact with yourself to get better organized this summer?

Since I know my teacher friends pretty well, I would bet that this isn’t the first year you’ve tried to make this same pact. The hard part is that IT’S SUMMERTIME! We want to spend time doing fun things with family and friends (as it should be)!

I get it. I know you have a strong need to get yourself in order before the school year returns full force and I’m here to help!

No matter how great our intentions are, the thing we really need is for someone to be right there with us to walk us step by step.

So, in the month of July, I’m offering a series of eight 75-minute power-hour sessions.

By committing yourself to dedicated time with other teachers and working through the digital landscape in a progressive manner, you will walk away feeling ready to tackle the new year.

While each session will have a focus area, there are no rules to how you spend your time! The main goal is that we power through and get some things done.

I will be there to kick off each theme focus with a few tips and tricks. After that, it will be heads down and off to work. We’ll finish with a quick check-in at the end and be on our way.

  • 10-15 minutes of Amy talking through some things for you to consider
  • 50-60 minutes with microphones off, task-focused (Amy available for questions).
  • 5-10 minute check-in at the end

We will meet for eight sessions on Mondays and Wednesdays 11:45 am – 1:00 pm EDT.

  • Session 1 – Devices (Smartphones & Tablets)
  • Session 2 – Computers (Desktop/Laptop)
  • Session 3 – Daily Capture and Save (Notes apps)
  • Session 4 – Blog Content
  • Session 5 – Documents (File Explorer / Cloud Drives)
  • Session 6 – Media (Photos & Videos)
  • Session 7 – Email
  • Session 8 – Social Media

Click here to check out more details.

 

Organizing Piano Games and Teaching Resources

Teaching areas can be hard places to organize. Not only do we like to keep items close at hand, but if you teach a variety of levels, the number of teaching resources can easily double.

There are games, scale books, sight-reading materials, pedal extenders, dry-erase boards, game markers, technique tools, highlighters, and much more.

The great thing about organization (like many things in life), is that there’s no right or wrong way.

What we DO need in order to make it happen though is:

  1. Intention
  2. Action
  3. Some kind of (consistent) system
  4. Regular upkeep
  5. Ability to recognize when your “system” needs an update/refresh

In this post, I want to share a few different ways I have stored my own teaching games and resources over the years as well as links to loads of other teachers’ ideas.

As you’re considering a system that works well for your space, keep these things in mind:

  1. Make it easily accessible – Store items in a way that will help you to both use and remember what you have
  2. Categorize – Group your items according to level, concept, game style (such as group games vs. solo games), and more.
  3. Contain – Use a variety of storage formats including magazine holders, containers, drawers, files, and more.

I hope this post gives you lots of fresh ideas as you freshen up your own teaching space!


For more on that, listen in on episode #19 of The Piano Pantry Podcast – Spring Cleaning: It’s Time.


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Webinar Appearance with Duet

Just a quick note here to let you know that I will be presenting a webinar, Connect and Engage: Online Professional Development Resources for the Independent Music Teacher on Wednesday, April 6th @ 10 am PT/1 pm ET.

This is a free webinar sponsored by Duet Partner.

Register here: https://zoom.us/…/tJwsc-yurD0uGtaAVX7pA9gWT7l4rygudbLe

In this webinar, we will explore the wealth of both professional development and teaching resources available to teachers as well as best practices for utilizing information without getting overwhelmed. Whether you’re a new or seasoned teacher, this will give you a wonderful snapshot into all that’s at your fingertips.

Big Discounts on My Favorite Recipe and Password Manager Apps

I recommend many resources and tools here on Piano Pantry to help you be more organized and productive in your personal and studio life. Find a list of those resources here: Recommended Resources.

Two of those are LastPass, my favorite password manager, and Paprika, my favorite recipe app.

Both of them have big sales going on this week.

 

All four versions of Paprika are on sale from now until the end of November.

Sale prices will vary by country but the currently displayed prices on their website, the App Store, and the Play Store are indeed the correct prices.

Some of my favorite features of this app are:

  1. You can purchase a desktop version
  2. It has a built-in browser so you can browse the internet directly in the app and download recipes directly from there
  3. You can download a browser bookmarklet so you can download recipes from the browser you use on a daily basis.

iOS and Android apps are currently 40% off:
Paprika 3 for iOS
Paprika 3 for Android

MacOS and Windows apps are currently 50% off:
Get Paprika 3 for macOS
Get Paprika 3 for Windows

 

Gone are the days of repeating the same password over and over or using the same one but changing one number every month, or, like my dad, writing it down on a half-dozen index cards (oh my!).

Some of my favorite features of the premium version of Last Pass are:

  1. Get access to all devices.
  2. Generate passwords that are secure and customizable
  3. It’s more than just for passwords! Save:
    • Health Insurance Informaiton
    • Drivers Licenses
    • Credit Cards
    • Bank Accounts
    • Wi-Fi Passwords

Save and secure personal information in one location.

 

Get 25%

On November 23-29th, 2021, Lastpass is running a 25% off sale for annual plans.

Don’t miss out on this great opportunity!

Signup here.

 


P.S. Please note that Piano Pantry is an affiliate with LastPass. All this means is that if you purchase using my link I will get a small percentage back without it costing you extra. This helps offset the fee of running this blog. Thank you in advance for using my link!

 

Organizing Your Hardcopy Music Books

It’s finally time to talk about organizing hardcopy music books! This is a topic I’ve wanted (and I know YOU’VE wanted) me to address for a long time. I’m sorry it took long!

Organizing music – whether hardcopy or digital – is one of the biggest organizational struggles for many teachers out there. It’s understandable why; I mean, who of us doesn’t own too much music?! 🙂

Should we organize by artist, genre, title, or dare I say color? LOL (Sorry, Home Edit, not this time!) There are so many ways!

Not only that, but we need to be able to locate music quickly and maintain perspective on what we own so we don’t keep buying music we already have.

Today we’ll look at a couple of different storage solutions for storing music as well as ways of categorizing for ease of use. You’ll also get a peek into my own personal system.

Are you ready to tackle that stash of music? Here we go!

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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.

 

1

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

 

2

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.

 

3

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!

 

 

4

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.

 

5

Antipasto Salad makes a wonderful summer meal (The Kitchn)

 

6

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.

 

7

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.

 

 

 

Purging Old College Notes and Professional Magazines

This post is part of a series called Your Questions Answered that highlights questions from readers just like you. If you have a question you would like to submit, you can do so here.

 

Dear Amy –

Help!

I have these enormous binders from college many years ago.

I know I need to toss a lot of it, but there are definitely resources in there I don’t want to get rid of (and would love to make more easily accessible to review).

Any advice?

-Christina W.

 

Hey, Christina!

I would hedge a guess many-a-teachers are nodding their heads in agreement – me being one of them. Ha!

You’re beating me to this task as it’s one I’ve also had on my list for years but never seems to move up in importance. Bravo to you for tackling it!

That being said, I went through a similar purge of all my MTNA American Music Teacher and Clavier Companion magazines last year.

8 years’ worth and something like 5 magazine file boxes was weighing me down mentally. Why? Because how does someone utilize any of that information or recall what they need to from stacks (or binders) of information.

You don’t!

That’s when you decide (as we did) that enough was enough.

How did I tackle it?

A little at a time – not putting pressure on myself to use one of my days off to do it all.

I placed a small stack next to the couch and every day – either first thing in the morning during my brief quiet reading time or at the end of the day’s downtime – I would flip through one or two magazines.

It’s surprising how much I remembered what articles I enjoyed and found benefit in. (It helped that the first time I read them years ago, I folded down the page on my favorite articles. 🙂 )

 

Step #1 – Find a time frame that works that feels achievable, not overwhelming.

 

Step #2 – Flip through, skim, and determine what is most beneficial moving into the future. (Have high standards – only the best information/articles. For me, that was no more than 1 or 2 per magazine – sometimes none!)

Next, I used the Scannable app to scan the articles. (Genius Scan is another favorite app for scanning).

When you scan with Scannable, you can choose to save it in either PDF or image format into Evernote, or “send” it into another program.

So, even though Scannable is an Evernote product, you could use it to scan items and send to any of your file managers such as Google Drive or iCloud Drive.

 

Step #3 – Scan and save in the best digital management place for you.

Remember that simply saving articles digitally will not do you any more good than the physical ones if you don’t make them easily accessible – that is, easily searchable).

One of the reasons I absolutely adore Evernote is because Evernote Premium gives you additional search powers. It can search the text of PDFs as well as your handwriting on hand-written notes! I find that amazing (and incredibly helpful).

Without Evernote Premium, it will only search the titles of notes and text typed in the notes themselves.

If you don’t want to pay for Premium, or if you prefer to use a cloud file manager such as Google Drive or iCloud Drive to save all of your stuff, the best way around this would be to make sure you title the document thoroughly for what it’s about.

Sometimes I add additional words outside of the title – ones that I might use when searching for information on that particular topic. This will make it much more searchable in whatever digital storage place you use.

Here’s an example (from an online article/resource):

Natalie Weber has a composition resource called “The Psalms Project.” I might title the file name (or Evernote note) like this:

The Psalms Project_Composition_Composing

Otherwise, if I saved that PDF file and was looking in my digital files for a composing activity, using the word “composition” is not in the original article title.

I hope that makes sense!

If you use Evernote, you can also tag every item with a multitude of things. So I might tag that one note with the tags:

composition, bible, summer camp

Then, that one note/file will show up under each category without being duplicated in Evernote.

Step #4 – Make sure the materials you are converting to a digital format are easily searchable and thus useful.

Once you make your choice of what’s worth keeping. The last part may feel a little difficult…

Trash the rest.

It’s time.

You didn’t look at it for 10 years anyway, right?

Is it really that important?

I don’t think so.

Feel the weight lift from your shoulders? Ahhh…

Sweet relief.

Step #5 – Let it go. The trash is your friend. 

 

~Amy

 

P.S. Please recycle.

P.S.S. If you’re interested in diving into all the great ways that Evernote can work for you and your business, check out the Evernote for Independent Music Teachers series here on Piano Pantry.

 


Please note that Piano Pantry is an Evernote affiliate, which means I earn a small percentage back if you sign up using my link at no extra cost to you. See all disclosures here.

 

Evernote Basic or Premium?

This post is part of a series called Your Questions Answered that highlights questions from readers just like you. If you have a question you would like to submit, you can do so here.

 


Hi, Amy,

I saw that there are three levels of Evernote to choose from.
Is the free version worth trying?

I definitely want to get more than my feet wet with Evernote (perhaps knees??? lol!), but I’m not sure which version to start with.

Do I need the Business level? Can you give me one or two differences between Basic and Premium please?

Organization is not my forte….

-AH

 

Hey, A,

I get it. Things like this can be confusing!

There are currently three plans for Evernote:

  1. Evernote Basic (FREE)
  2. Evernote Premium ($7.99/month)
  3. Evernote Business ($14.99/user/month)

As an independent music teacher, you definitely do not need Evernote Business unless you have a team of teachers you want to have access.

In comparing Basic and Premium, there are two big items independent teachers like yourself would benefit from considering:

 1. SPACE:  How much will you be using it?
(A question you can’t really answer until you use it.)

Basic = 60 MB of uploads per month
Premium = 10GB  of uploads per month

2.  DEVICE LIMIT: How many devices will need access?
(Desktop, tablet, phone, etc.)

Basic = 2 devices
Premium = Unlimited

The short answer to your first question is YES, it is worth trying Evernote Basic for free, of course! It won’t hurt to start there.

It’s no big deal to upgrade if you begin to find that you need more space, devices, or want more features.

A few features of the extra features I use and love that Premium offers but Basic doesn’t:

  • Annotating directly on PDFs.
  • Search the text of PDFs. (When you do a search, it will search the text – including handwriting – inside PDFs and Office Docs.)
  • Forwarding emails directly into Evernote.

Here is a great comparison chart of Evernote features and details.

Good luck and I hope you find Evernote to be a useful tool in your professional and daily life as I do!

 

~Amy

 

Featured on Key Ideas Podcast

Hey, friend!

I’m so excited to share with you my first podcast appearance. Yea! 🙂

The super-awesome Leila Viss started a fresh new podcast called Key Ideas a couple of months ago and I was honored to be one of her spotlights!

For a little change of pace from a typical piano pedagogy-type podcast, we talk about other good things like organization strategies and cooking!

Happy listening! 🙂


Organizing Tips for Piano Teachers with Amy Chaplin


P.S. One of the resources I share in the podcast is my favorite digital recipe manager: Paprika. I just saw they are having a big Thanksgiving/Black Friday Sale that will get you 40-50% off both the apps and desktop versions. I LOVE having the desktop version as well as the app – totally worth it!

The Perfect Teaching Table

Have you ever experienced a feeling of giddy elation over finding the “perfect” (insert: piano, piece of office furniture, studio equipment, or teaching chair)?

It’s amazing how the physical things around us affect how we move and interact in our spaces.

When I first opened my studio I remember being on the hunt for MONTHS for the perfect piece of furniture to place next to the piano to help store all the items I liked to have within arms reach such as pens, stickers, teaching tools, etc.

The one I found (and still love after 9 years) is the Graphix Open Rolling File Cabinet, Graphite

 

I purchased it initially from Walmart.com for $79, but it has also been available in the past on Amazon for $65.

Unfortunately in both places, at the time of this post, it’s unavailable. (Sorry, I didn’t share this sooner!)  I did some searching though, and currently, you can get it here:

HomeGoodsCenter.com ($126)

There are lots of options for this kind of thing out there, so here are a few things I love about mine you might consider as you search for YOUR perfect teaching table.

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