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!

Tidy Teacher Tips

End-of-Semester Reset

As we roll into the end of a semester of teaching, students and teachers alike are itching for a much-needed break from the past months. It’s time to breathe and reset our mind, body, and spirit by walking away from our day to day tasks and celebrating the season with friends and family.

Part of my daily routine in our home is that every evening before we go to bed, the dishes are done, the dishwasher is running, coffee is made, and lunches are packed so the morning goes smoothly.

I prep and reset the house for a clean and easy start to the day.

After the morning gets moving and my husband is off to work, I clean up breakfast dishes, tidy up blankets and such from the night before, make the bed, and prep dinner so when we arrive home from work the evening goes smoothly.

I prep and reset the house for a clean and easy end to the day.

When we go on vacation we like to make sure the house is clean and picked up, trash is taken out, dishes are completely done and put away, the refrigerator is as empty as possible, and there’s something frozen in the freezer to eat if needed when we return.

We prep and reset the house for a welcome and relaxing return.

Before you close the door to your studio to reset the teacher in you, I would like to encourage you to take a little time to reset your workspace so when you return, you can hit the ground running in a fresh environment. It feels so good!

Here are a few areas to pay attention to before you hang up your teacher hat.

 

Tidy Up Your Teaching area

  • Put everything back in its place. You may even play around with rearranging items to see if you can find a better workflow.
  • Take inventory of and order stickers, post-its, refills of pens, pencils, erasers, etc.
  • Sharpen up any pencils you have, be sure all the pens are closed.
  • Close all piano lids and push in the benches.
  • Download new assignment sheets or update your old ones for the new semester. Have a fresh set printed and ready to go. (I find using new sheets each semester refreshing. There are plenty to pick from on Assignment Sheet Central!)

 

BEFORE – AFTER
    

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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!


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.

 

 

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 “Games.”  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 “keyboard 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.

 

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.


Did you find this post helpful? Consider subscribing to the Piano Pantry email list where 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, favorite Instagram posts, and other fun things like that. 

Sound good?! Subscribe here.


 

Digital Photo Organization

What’s the one digital item you find trickiest to keep organized?

For me, it’s photos.

A lot of readers have asked about this and when a friend asked the same question just the other day, that was my clue it was time to share.

I have a confession though – I wouldn’t call my way anything special, it’s just what I do for now. I love seeing ideas of how others organize, even if I don’t end up doing it that way, so hopefully, you can find some inspiration to clean up your photo files and share any great tips you have with me! Continue reading

Evernote Community Leader

By now many of you are aware that I am a huge Evernote fan. I can’t help it! Nothing else has been able to match this productivity workhorse in regards to the way I work and capture information.

I have been using it for 5 years and every year I continually improve and streamline how I use it on a daily basis not only in my professional life but in my personal life as well. The first time I shared with you how I use it as an independent teacher was in December 2016 in the post/video Evernote: An Independent Music Teacher’s Handbook.

That initial post was followed up with:

Evernote Part 2 [Web Clipper]
Evernote Part 3 [Account Features, Tagging, and More]
Using Evernote for Student Evaluations

I am super excited to announce that in January 2017, after completing a training course, I was accepted into the Evernote Community Leader (ECL) program! Continue reading

Writing Student Evaluations Using Evernote

Change.

I thrive on it. I love the seasons, re-arranging my studio annually, and re-doing my student schedule each summer and fall. The latter of course takes time but for me, the idea of never changing my lesson schedule is suffocating! LOL.

Clear start and endpoints to me, give a sense of relief and rest and in a way, a mental break. When I used to be a choral director I would frequently get sick the week following school being out as my body was letting go of the stress!

The end of the school year for many independent studios is the time take a step back and celebrate the culmination of student’s work and progress through recitals. Not only that, but it’s the perfect time to turn our heads and reflect on the last 30 to 40 lessons and 4,000 plus hours of practice. Did we use our time wisely? Did the student make progress? Did they participate in studio events? Does the student feel they put in their best effort? There are so many questions that can be pondered and progress assessed, that conducting student evaluations has become a part of my annual schedule.

My recital is always the Sunday before Memorial Day. It does get a little crazy having it that time of year, but I love the feeling of having that culminating event where the whole studio comes together to celebrate and make music. The week following the recital, students and parents come to the student’s normal lesson time, but there is no formal lesson. We sit down and hash out the past and the future of the student’s piano studies together. (The last week of May my studio is closed for a semester break then we return for summer lessons the first week of June).

My part of that meeting time is giving the student a formal evaluation and the parent and student’s part is filling out questionnaires I give to them ahead of time. Today we’re focusing on the former.

Many teachers, after seeing my extensive tutorial on how Evernote can help you organize your studio, got a peek at my evaluation form, and have been asking if I would be willing to share. Not only am I going to share the form, but I’m going to explain in detail how I use Evernote to organize and track evaluations from year to year.

Seeing how far we’ve come is only possible if we remember where we started!

Continue reading

Evernote: An Independent Music Teacher’s Handbook 

Part 3 – Account Features, Tagging & More! [Video]

I’m back for my third and final installment on how to implement Evernote into your daily life as an independent music teacher.

While I say this is the “final” video in the series, I’m sure there will be much more on Evernote to come here on Piano Pantry as it’s a program for which I’m quite passionate. Can you tell?

This 3-part video series together is less than 40 minutes. If you’re like me, you listen to single podcasts that are longer than that! Most of us likely spend 30-40 minutes each evening watching a show or video to chill-out. I wouldn’t be surprised if most of us also spend that much time daily reading blogs or posts on Facebook piano teacher groups.

I can promise that if you give those 30-40 minutes just one day to watching the series, it could potentially change the way you handle and organize your studio forever. A strong statement, I know, but I believe it with my whole heart, and well, if you know me, you know that for the most part, I say what I feel!

Check out part ONE on using Evernote to organize your studio.

Check out part TWO a short 3-minute video here on the powerful web clipper.

 

Part 3: Account Features, Tagging & More!

The following is a breakdown of what you will see in part 3.

1:10
A brief explanation of the available desktop client, web client, and app.

1:55
How I use Evernote compared to Notepad, Dropbox, iCloud, and Google Drive.

2:55
Features and demonstration of the three account levels and key features I use the most including forwarding emails directly into Evernote, the powerful PDF, and office search functionality, and presentation mode.

7:55
Integrated Apps: Skitch, Scannable, Web Clipper, and Penultimate including short iPhone and iPad demonstrations.

12:05
Three reasons and a demonstration of why I believe using tags to organize Evernote is better than using individual Notebooks.

14:40
Layout options, creating shortcuts, and sequential ordering of notes using symbols, numbers, and letters.

 

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.


 

Evernote: An Independent Music Teacher’s Handbook 

Part 2 – Web Clipper [Video]

Helloooooo, 2017!

There are three times each year that the seasons give me a chance to feel refreshed and invigorated.

  1. The last week of May after the school year lesson schedule comes to an end and I’m preparing for a lighter summer schedule.
  2. The middle of August gearing up for Fall lessons to resume (this is the time I feel most refreshed and in order).
  3. NOW. The turn of the year when I have a chance to reflect and re-consider goals, organization, and life in general.

Many of us, during at least one of these three points in the year, realize it’s time to refresh and reorganize our studios.

January is one of my slower months of the year. It’s cold; there are no holidays, conferences, festivals, or recitals.

It’s the perfect time to rethink how you work including organizing your studio physically and digitally.

Evernote is the perfect program to help independent music teachers in this area. Today I’m going to walk you through the perfect little tool that will be your best friend on the internet and your mobile device for capturing and organizing life – the Evernote Web-Clipper.

Affiliate Disclaimer: 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. Since I provide free content, this small amount means a lot. Thank you for your support!

Continue reading

Evernote: An Independent Music Teacher’s Handbook 

Part 1 – Studio Organization [Video]

When I first started teaching piano as an independent music teacher, I learned quickly there was more to the profession than being a pianist and pedagogue. I was managing a business and, in a way, people. Tasks like tracking student information, lesson plans, overall student progress, music to be ordered, recital participation and repertoire lists, became a big part of the job.

Before Evernote…

I would find myself unable to recall materials I needed to purchase when I happened by the music store unplanned.

Oodles of information and ideas in which I intently made notes during sessions at local, state, or national conferences found themselves in paper stacks, with never a second glance.

Valuable and detailed advice regarding iPad to midi capabilities I read in a Facebook thread were later fuzzy in my mind when I needed it most. When I tried to find it, the conversation found itself lost in a sea of never-ending social-media posts.

If you’re like me, you long for anything that will streamline the business side of what you do. While today’s digital world offers many tools and applications to help us manage and organize the tasks we juggle on a daily basis, there’s one that stands out: Evernote.

Continue reading

File Fever

Organizing Student Files

I have a fever, a fever that never breaks. It’s a sickness really.

It’s called organizational fever; more specifically to this post – file fever – and I don’t know how to stop! Being organized is fuel to my body. It gives me clarity and peace of mind.

My studio gets organized and reorganized every few months and rearranged to some degree once to twice a year. I’m getting to the point where I’ve nearly perfected the arrangement, but rearranging and organizing to me are like a breath of fresh air. I’m a better teacher when everything is in its place. I have my moments – we all do – but I strive to keep my studio and workspace continually tidy for mine and my student’s sake!

In this post, I’m going to share how I organize my (physical) student files.

(To see how I organize student information using Evernote, see the post Evernote: An Independent Music Teacher’s Handbook.)

First, a quick note on what inspired me to improve my organization even more.

 

Getting Things Done

Ever since reading the book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David AllenI have been working to streamline the way I work. Some of the topics he covers include cleaning up the space you work in, setting up the right tools, corralling your “stuff”, and keeping things fresh and functional.

One of the first things I did was purchase a label maker. After several months of using it, I wondered how I’ve gotten by as a supposedly “organized” person without a label maker my whole life. I’ve been label-making like crazy!

 

Student Files

My file drawer is one place where my label maker has been put to work. I love 4-drawer lateral files. All my student files are kept in one drawer. Every student gets a hanging folder. Monday student’s names are labeled, and the label situated in the slot clear to the left. Tuesday students are in the second space, Wednesday students in the third space and well, I think you get the idea. I love seeing the files laid out this way!

 

(In case you’re wondering, I used the app “Blur it” to blur out the last names in this photo.) 
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