Save Time and Money Taking Online Payments With Coinhop

As many teachers are considering what it may look like to run their studio (temporarily) online, one topic that may be necessary and quite urgent is making the move to online payments.

If you’re still taking checks from parents and worried about making the switch, rest assured, while it may take a little leg work setting everyone up, your future self won’t regret it.

Taking online payments will not only save you time from manually depositing checks but the payment portal I want to share with you today will save you money compared to 90% of the other online payment services out there.
(P.S. That number was arbitrary. Basically, the fees are cheaper than anything else I’ve found out there.)

Coinhop has been my payment portal of choice for several years now. I hope the reasons why I love it will help you as you’re considering online payment options for your studio.

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Top Tools and Resources

Four Tools I Can’t Live Without

Being known as an organized person means I frequently get asked what some of my favorite tools and resources are I use on a day-to-day basis.

Of course, if you’ve been around Piano Pantry long enough, you know my #1 is by far Evernote.

When we talk about “tools” though, there is a wide gamut we use daily whether it’s for organizing music, social media, our schedule, resources, etc.

Today I want to highlight four digital tools that help me stay organized that I in 2020 I would now find it very hard to live without.


P.S. All of these along with a whole lot more of my favs are listed on a permanent page here on Piano Pantry.

Under the Menu select Resources > Recommended Resources


 

Evernote. The easiest way to describe Evernote is that it’s a digital filing cabinet where you can save multiple types of content formats in one location: documents, URL links, clips from YouTube, selections from internet pages, PDF files, and more. Highly useful for both our teaching and personal lives!

Check out all my Evernote tutorials on Piano Pantry.

 

Feedly. Using an RSS Reader is, in my opinion, the only way to properly manage content in today’s world. An RSS Reader is like a personalized digital newspaper. You tell it the website you want to follow and it will stream all the newsfeeds into one location so you can keep up on new content in one place.

Read more about how I use Feedly in this post: Managing Internet Content the Easy Way

 

Grammarly. My English teacher and writing sidekick. With Grammarly Premium, you not only get the basic critical grammar and spell-check errors, but you also get instant feedback on over 400 advanced grammar rules. Microsoft Word spell-check can’t even touch the capability of this program.

Read more on why I love Grammarly in this post: Grammarly – Spell Check on Steroids

 

LastPass. In this day and age, I couldn’t manage all my accounts and passwords properly without Last Pass. Your life will be made easier (and more secure).

Since I haven’t written a full post about LastPass, I’ll just direct you to an excellent one on Leila Viss’s site: Keeping Safe with Password Safety and Online Security.

 


P.S. All of these along with a whole lot more of my favs are listed on a permanent page here on Piano Pantry.

Under the Menu select Resources > Recommended Resources


 

What’re your top four resources you couldn’t live without?

 

December Fun

Christmas Games and Activities for Your Studio

Are you looking for ideas on fun “off bench” activities to use in this Christmas season? Look no further! Today I’m going to share some of my favorite games and resources that I return to year after year along with tips for each one.

First, let me briefly share how I store my holiday games. We have to stay organized, right?

 

Storing Games (Both Hard-Copy and Digital)

Inspired by Nicola Canton I’ve started storing my holiday-themed games in these clear plastic document folders.

(P.S. The A4 size is nice because if you laminate a letter size-sheet, the lamination makes it larger.)

It’s not a cheap way to store games as they’re almost $1 a piece, so I’m currently only storing my holiday-themed games in these. The rest of my games are stored in hanging files in a file drawer. (I’ll write a post on that another day!)

The digital files are stored in my cloud file manager.

From there, I name files for what they are. This allows me to see how many games, for example, I have, how many worksheets, etc.

 

Favorite Christmas-Themed Activities

In no particular order…

Holiday Rhythm Cups from Wendy Stevens at Compose Create.

This is a great way to have fun with rhythm in a unique and collaborative way. The set includes three songs in three levels: Deck the Halls, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, and Joy to the World.

Check out a clip of my students having fun with “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

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Email Madness

Three Tips for Managing Your Inbox

You know who you are.

As soon as you read the title of this post you thought: “Busted!”

As independent teachers, not only do we get daily correspondence both personally and for our studio’s, but you likely get weekly emails from multiple professional organizations and website subscriptions.

Does your email Inbox have a big fat red number kind of like this (give or take a few thousand)? ūüôā

Some of you may be nodding your head in agreement, raising your hand in confession, and some of you may be having anxiety seeing such a large number because you are already on a path of email management called “Inbox zero.” If you’re the latter, then kudos to you!

There are three major tips that I want to share with you today on how to manage your email and the first begins with this modern productivity term “Inbox zero.”

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5 Reasons Why Google Photos Might Be the Perfect Solution for Your Music Studio

Are you looking for a better way to organize and store photos and videos?

Would you love an easy way to share those special clips directly with students and their families – especially those that aren’t a part of social media (yes, they exist).

Google Photos might be YOUR perfect solution!

My husband and I are PC users. He’s in the business world so that’s just how it goes in our house. For years I tried but never loved iCloud Photos. The interface just didn’t feel good to me and I was frustrated and unhappy.

For years I was hoping for a way to store photos and videos that would easily allow me to tag photos of multiple students on one photo.

Don’t laugh, but in the old old days, I even tried renaming every photo on my desktop file manager to include the name of each student that was in the photo.

This was a TERRIBLE idea but I was desperate.

I felt like I had the rest of my digital life organized and in order but photos were getting the best of me.

Then I met fellow Louisville-based piano teacher Daniel Light at a session I was giving to the teachers of Louisville MTA and he changed my world forever by introducing me to Google Photos!

Today, I want to share with you five reasons why Google Photos may answer your needs (as they did mine) for a better media storage solution.

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Managing Internet Content the Easy Way

Let's stop for a minute and think about how many people we "follow" online. To keep it even more specific and focused, only think about those you follow who create content for piano teachers.

Can you count them all on one hand or do you lose track after listing more than a dozen?

I stopped counting after 50. Yes, 50.  I'm pretty sure my number is actually closer to 90.

Let's crank that jaw back shut - it's not as scary as it seems!

Next to email, managing the influx of content from all our favorite blogs and websites seems to be the one area that teachers struggle with the most - and for good reason. The last five years especially have seen an explosion of new content creators - I'm one of them!

Believe it or not, it is possible to follow a large number of sites online in a manageable way without it feeling overwhelming. More importantly, you can do it without clogging your email Inbox or Facebook Newsfeed with articles. Curious?

 

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App-Land Madness

How I Organize My Devices

App-land madness.

Yeah, you know what I’m talking about!

As teacher especially we deal with twice the amount of apps because we have not only our personal apps, but endless apps on rhythm, sight reading, note-naming, and on and on and on. It’s likely most of us don’t even use half the apps on our screen on a regular basis.

While our smartphones and tablets are incredible devices that have given us the ability to access all kinds of useful (and some not so useful) tools that can enhance the way we work, teach, and go about our daily lives, they’ve also become another item that we have to figure out how to manage.

You guessed it. Today we’re talking about device organization.

If you’re anything like me, since the day you’ve owned a smartphone and/or tablet, you’ve played around with and rearranged the layout of your devices again and again.

Over the past year, I’ve finally settled on a layout I like and have stuck with. As a bonus, the layout is almost exactly the same on both my iPhone and iPad.

Today I have a video for you on how I organize my devices.

Care to have a peek?

If you prefer to watch it on YouTube, just click on the word “YouTube” on the bottom right-hand corner of the video. In order to see the video as clearly as possible, I would recommend expanding the video to full screen by clicking on the broken box-shape clear to the right of the screen at the bottom.

Do you have any tips that work for you when it comes to device organization? Share below!

Organizing Piano Games with Evernote

This is a guest post by Missouri teacher, Anita Byers. After Anita commented on one of my posts here on Piano Pantry on how she organized her music games in Evernote, I quickly asked her to share. Many thanks to Anita!

 

As my collection of piano games has grown the past several years, I have needed to organize them in a way that I can find a game that reinforces a certain concept without physically searching through a huge stack!

My goal for this summer was to attack the game monster and make it easy to find and use games during lessons.

I use Evernote in my studio to keep track of weekly lesson plans for each student.  I am not sure why it took me so long to realize that Evernote could help organize my game inventory!

I set up a notebook in Evernote and named it ‚ÄúGames.‚Ä̬† Then for each game, I added a note.

The information I typed on the note included:

  1. Name of the game
  2. Where I found or purchased the game
  3. Objectives of the game

I took a photo or screenshot of the game board, instructions, and cards. (This was super easy to do with my iPad).

*Note that the next three photos are all a part of the same note (just taken in 3 screenshots).

 

I used tags to make categories for each game.  For example, tags I used for the Ladybug game were: grand staff, keyboard topography, music alphabet and staff notation.  This will help me as I search for games in my Evernote notebook.

For more on the benefit and power of using tags in Evernote, see Amy’s video post,¬†Evernote:¬†Account Features, Tagging, and More.

 

 

The image below shows a search I did for ‚Äúkeyboard topography.” As you can see, the list of games that I have is shown on the left.¬† I really like that it brings up the photos!

 

 

I also took this opportunity to set up a file cabinet to physically store my games, and I added the drawer number right after the name of the game when I entered each note.  My games are easy to look up in Evernote and easy to find in their file cabinet.

This system is working great for me so far.  Now, I just need to keep up with it as I add new games.  It feels so good to have the pile of games organized and the game monster conquered.  Thanks, Evernote!

Bonus tip from Amy: since Evernote can also house Microsoft Word, Excel, and Google Drive documents, you could even attach the digital file directly into the note or link directly to the webpage from which you found the game.


Anita Byers is the owner of Anita’s Piano Studio located in Nevada, Missouri.  She currently has a full studio of 27 students. She recently retired from Nevada High School after ten years as the choir accompanist.

 

 

From AMy: Bonus for Signing Up

If¬†I’ve convinced you that Evernote can change your productivity, then at least try the basic level for FREE!¬† Please know though that I use the Premium subscription and find it’s completely worth the yearly fee.

If you use this link (see affiliate disclosure below) as a new sign-up or to upgrade the subscription you already have, I will give you free access to a shared notebook in Evernote where I have compiled some note templates you may find useful as an independent music teacher including:

  1. Student Evaluation Form
  2. Student Information Forms
  3. What to Include in Your Newsletter
  4. Action Lists for Conferences and Board Meetings
  5. Grocery List and To-Do List

Please note that due to processing time, it may take up to a week to grant access to the notebook.


Affiliate Disclosure: Please note that Piano Pantry is part of the Evernote Community affiliate program which simply means I get a very small percentage from Evernote sign-ups (or upgrades) that come via my website (at no extra cost to you). Since I provide free content, this small amount means a lot. Thank you for your support!

Logo Disclosure:  The Evernote logo is used under the Evernote Community Leader license from Evernote Corporation.

Recital Preparation Timeline and Checklist

It’s that time of year for many when preparations for year-end recitals are in full-force. The first year I had a recital in my studio, I kept detailed records of what needed to be done when, food needs and amounts, and more. I’ve continued to do so every year and this habit has turned out to be a planning life-saver.

This Recital Preparation Timeline and Checklist keeps me sane, saves money (by tracking food purchases vs. actual usage), and saves time by not having to think through every little detail again from year to year.

I hope this checklist will show you how to keep good records of your recitals and make planning a breeze.

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Conference “Management” 101 

Tips for using Evernote plus a free resource

It was the year 2000. While the world was rejoicing in making it successfully through Y2K without disaster, I was excited and rejoicing in the world Рmy new world, that is, as a budding music educator. In January 2000 I would have attended my first ever professional music educator conference as a freshman in college.

Yeah, I took piano lessons since the age of seven. Yeah, I had been both a band and a choir kid at one time or the other since 5th grade. Yeah, I played piano for my church ever since I was a kid  (despite running off the stage in tears the first time after messing up). Yeah, I helped teach parts in high school choir (because I could play piano) and student taught as a senior. That was all good, but my new role of learning to teach music rather than just do it myself was what I was focused on as I attended my first M.E.N.C. (Music Educators National Conference) at the turn of the millennia.

Conferences. Are. Awesome. I love every minute – I¬†really do, and that’s what I want to talk about today.

Later this week I’ll be headed to the 2017 Music¬†Teachers National Association Conference in Baltimore, MD, so the topic is fresh on my mind.

There are three things I want to cover with you today.

  1. Why you should attend a conference (especially in person).
  2. How I manage the wealth of knowledge¬†I gain at conferences, so I don’t wake up three months later realizing I’ve not applied what I learned as much as I should.
  3. I have a free download of 22 Professional Development Resources including online and live conferences, workshops, courses, and webinars that an independent music teacher like myself might want to check out.

 

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