Favorite Quotes Desktop Backgrounds (Free Download)

Thanks to summer, I finally had a chance to sit down and put together a little creative project I’ve had on my mind for a while!

I’m always looking for fresh, uncluttered, and visually appealing images to use on my computer desktop background or wallpaper.

Years ago, one of the food websites I was following offered a new set each year. Unfortunately, she no longer does this and ever since I’ve never really put any effort into finding something new – I just rotate through her old ones along with a few others.


If you’re interested, she has a live set you can still get your hands on. Visit the blog post: Free Backgrounds for Food Enthusiasts from Chocolate and Zucchini.


Back in those days I would have had no idea how to create my own but it occurred to me last year I could easily do so with Canva (which I swear I use almost every day! LOL).

So, I’ve created a set of 12 images featuring 12 of my favorite quotes (one for each month of the year – which is about how often I try to rotate). I tried using a combination of both educational quotes, life quotes, and productivity quotes. I hope you find the choices well-balanced and inspiring.

My goal was to keep it simple and visually appealing. I think the Piano Pantry dark blue color looks amazing as a desktop background and makes for a really sleek and clean feel.

Here is a slideshow preview. Click on the arrows on the bottom left or hoover along the right or left sides to go forward or back.

 

When coaching teachers on digital organization, it’s always my recommendation to keep your desktop free of shortcuts and to use your taskbar to pin quick links to your most used programs. This allows your screen to be clutter-free and more aesthetically pleasing.

For any links you do keep on the desktop background, try and relegate them to the side as much as possible. As you scroll through the images you will notice I tried to keep the quotes especially free of the left margin which is my preferred location for anything on the desktop.

 

Download

Sign up here to get the download delivered to your inbox. It will send you a link and when you click on the link, you will receive access to a ZIP file. From there you will want to download the file to your computer and extract the file.

Be sure and save it in a location you will remember to access. Dare I say perhaps just link to the folder from your desktop? 🙂 LOL


If you really do want to do that, right-click on the folder, then select “send>desktop(create shortcut)”.


 

One Last Tip

While I think it’s fun to change my desktop background each month, I would never remember if it didn’t place a recurring reminder/task in my calendar. For more tips like this, listen in on episode #006 of The Piano Pantry Podcast –  Tasks: They’re Not All Created Equal

Enjoy!

If you would like to see more of these in the future, let me know in the comments!

 

 

Preschool Piano Classes

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 absolutely LOVED reading your most recent post offering your reflections on what you’ve learned as you celebrate your teaching milestone. So much of it truly spoke to me!

I am gearing up to launch a preschool piano class this fall and was wondering if you’d share with me how you structured your class – number of weeks, length of class, number of students, lesson plan structure, etc.

(I am currently thinking 8-week sessions, 45-minute classes, 3-4 students, ages 4-6.)

I’ve been learning a lot about MLT, audiation, and MMfP, but I feel like I’m stalling the preschool class launch because I am still so new at all of it. I have been teaching using Piano Safari, as well as several other methods for several years now, and recently ordered the new Piano Safari Friends materials. I also have several years of experience teaching the Music Together program (early childhood family music classes). However, I have felt like until I could teach as an MLT “purist,” I should wait.

Your thoughts on combining methods and doing what works for you and your students has encouraged me to consider another way without worrying about doing it “wrong.” I’d love to hear more about your experience with this age group and the bird and bolts of how you structure your classes!

Marissa L.

 


Hi, Marissa!

Thank you so much for your kind words about the blog post. It is SO NICE to hear directly from people impacted! So thank YOU! 🙂

As far as the preschool piano class goes, your email made me realize that the photo I shared in the blog post was perhaps deceiving! The photo I posted was from a free one-off summer class I did with our local parks department for a few years. I used that photo because I was pulling from a multitude of curriculums with those kiddos.

I have yet to run a full preschool piano class. While I offer the group class, it seems I’ve never had enough students timed just right for it to be a go. I’ve only ended up doing private preschool lessons. Here’s how I advertise my preschool lessons though:

“Lessons are paid for and attended in 8-week sessions. Students come once a week for a private lesson or group class of 2-3 students (depending on availability). Private lessons will be 30 minutes and group classes 40 minutes”

So, whether it was a private lesson or a group class, parents were only committed for a short period.

I think what you’re planning as far as length, time, and students are perfect!

As far as curriculum goes, for the most part, I now pretty well use Music Moves Keyboard Games books 100% for this age. I’ll tell you what I’ve done in the past though (as far as combining resources) that worked well for quite a while:

I didn’t necessarily use all of these at once but did combine many of them at one point.

As far as the Music Moves for Piano series goes, let me say this: just do it – don’t feel like you have to know or understand it all to try using it! Keep pressing on and learning a little more at a time.

The Keyboard Games Books are in my opinion the absolute best piano book for preschoolers out there as the songs are short, encourage exploration all over the piano, and especially support the audition of basic rhythm patterns in duple and triple meters.

It’s worth it!

Good luck and I would love to hear how things pan out!

 

~Amy

 

Teaching Anniversaries: An Important but Hard Celebration

In a series of posts this month, we’re talking about marking time by acknowledging, reflecting on, and celebrating special teaching anniversaries/milestones.

In the first post, I shared how I used social media to celebrate special moments and students of the past.

Today’s post is a guest post by a teacher friend of mine who really inspired me with her perspective on celebrating teaching anniversaries as well as what she did for her own celebration.

Janelle Bracken is a collaborative pianist and owner of Studio J, an independent piano studio in Indianapolis since 1991. 

She believes that music is transformative and treasures the long-term relationships she develops with her families. 

In the third post, I’ll share seven ways my teaching and studio have evolved over the past decade and encourage you to find new ways to continue evolving your own teaching and studios.

In the final and shortest post, I’ll reveal how I’m starting a new decade in my studio with new branding. That is, a new logo!

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What Do You Use After Piano Safari 3?

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’m really enjoying your posts, especially Friday Finds!

Regarding method books, my question is: what do you use after Piano Safari, level 3? Or do you design your own curriculum?

Many thanks, as always for your help.

Warmly,

-MJP

 

Hi, MJP!

As far as method books go, I am definitely a zigzagger. Rarely do I put a student in one method book series covering books 1-2-3 back-to-back.

Sometimes that works just fine and can certainly give the student a feeling of progress by “moving to the next level.”

I find many students, however, transition better through levels if I either supplement between each one for a few weeks (or months) or even cover the same “level” in two different book series. For example, I might have a student finish Piano Safari Level 1 and then do Piano Adventures Level 1 before moving into Piano Safari Level 2.

One thing to keep in mind is that (with the Piano Adventures series in particular), I’m not one to give students both the Lesson and Performance books. I usually just do one or the other, especially if I’m weaving it between levels of another series.

In answering your more specific question on what I would do after Piano Safari 3, I often go to Piano Adventures 3B or into a repertoire series such as Celebration Series Repertoire Level 2.

(The authors of Piano Safari say that book 3 transitions nicely into Celebration Series Repertoire Level 3 but I always find doing a little in C.S. book 2 first a nice transition.)

Piano Safari 3 covers Major and Minor keys and technical skills in the keys of C/Am, G/Em, and F/Dm. Piano Adventures 3B focus on the minor keys only.

Here’s an example scenario.

  1. Piano Safari 2 (5-finger patterns)
  2. Piano Adventures 2B (Chords)
  3. Piano Adventures 3A (One-Octave major scales/keys of C, G, F)
  4. Piano Safari 3 (Two-Octave scales/keys of C/Am, G/Em, F/Dm)
  5. Piano Adventures 3B (Two-Octave scales/keys of Am, Em, Dm)

This may be a little excessive example overlapping however, something like this might work for a student who is professing a little slower. Also, as I said previously, keep in mind this would just include one book in the P.A. series (such as a lesson or performance)

I hope this gives you some ideas. Good luck!

~Amy

 


Reader friends, do you have any suggestions?

MJP and I would love to hear where you take your students when they finish Piano Safari Level 3. Please share in the comments!

Summer Lessons and Curriculum

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.

 


What curriculum do you teach in the summer?  Do you keep the student going in their regular curriculum or do you use something different to give them a break?

I love your idea of 6 lessons in 7 weeks and I would love more info on how you set it up.

Thanks,

PM

 

Dear P,

Those are some great questions and I would be happy to share a little more info!

I don’t have a set curriculum I teach in the Summer. For the most part, I just keep going with whatever students are working on but it’s always quite relaxed and there is no Classical repertoire involved unless the student specifically wants it.

Usually, I try to do a lot of pop tunes, Disney, chord charts, really anything the student is interested in. For several years I held a studio-wide outdoor picnic performance and it was fun to play that kind of music in that environment.

The 6 lessons in 7 weeks have worked perfectly for me ever since I’ve opened my studio. Depending on how my late July looks, I’ve even done 6 lessons over 8 weeks or 7 lessons over 8 weeks.

It’s nice to give flexibility to families in the Summer and I prefer to have a lighter schedule myself. Because of my preference for a light summer, I also do not require students to take summer lessons. I strongly recommend it for the first 3 years but don’t require it.

If they opt not to take summer lessons, however, I have a $30 non-refundable holding fee to keep their spot for fall lessons. I can’t replace my income for those two months if they don’t take lessons because I can’t take on new students for which I don’t have space in the fall. This is a great way to still have a little extra income while maintaining a lighter summer schedule.

The summer tuition fee is paid for in one payment (due by the first lesson) however, on occasion, if a family requests, I will let them make it in two payments. My fee is the same “per lesson” rate as the school term although I don’t advertise “per lesson” rates – that’s just how I calculate my fees.

My rates are listed as an annual tuition rate. More specifically, a school year rate and then a separate summer rate. From there, they have payment options of annual, semester, or monthly. I think it’s good to keep the focus on the big picture fee rather than on a per month (and especially not a per lesson) fee.

I hope this helps and let me know if you have any more questions!

 

~Amy

 

Happy Birthday By Ear: The Ultimate Teaching Resource

Can you think of any moments when, as a young piano student, you were
put on the spot or caught off guard being asked to play something for people and feeling the heat rise to your face because you weren’t able to do so “because you didn’t have any “music”?

I myself have had many experiences in this situation – sadly, even into my early adult years. Often, the request was a simple one – “Happy Birthday” – and yet to me, it was crippling and made me feel ashamed.

These people know me as THE pianist in their life. That’s what I’m known for! Why can’t I just sit down and play this simple tune without music?

Without a doubt, life experiences make up who we are today.

As a teacher, I’m now determined to help my students feel
ENABLED and CONFIDENT that, as pianists, they can sit down and play something anywhere and at any time – starting with the tune “Happy Birthday.”

Today I am excited to release the ultimate teaching resource for playing “Happy Birthday” by ear and am confident this is the only download you will ever need!

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One Registration Question Not to be Missed!

A month or two leading up to the turn of a calendar year, school term, or school year is always the height of new student inquiries.

Before that time comes, we as teachers should always take a moment to make sure our registration process is updated, refreshed, and ready to go. I’m always making tiny tweaks and improvements!

Today I want to share one question you don’t want to miss asking on your registration form.

This question is my absolute FAVORITE to read and I know will become yours as well.

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A Simple Incentive Program and Prize Box Items Students Love!

On March 12, 2020, I wrote a post called Implementing Incentives: The Struggle Is Was Real where I shared my struggle with implementing incentive programs in my studio.

I had intended to follow up that post immediately with a second one sharing what I had ultimately found as a super simple and successful solution to implementing an incentive, more specifics on the program, a list of popular prize box items, and some free downloads from my own programs.

Then COVID-19 hit.

Suddenly, all we could think about was how to transform our studios overnight to online instruction.

The need for hearing about an in-person incentive program and physical prize boxes suddenly felt completely useless at the time, so I decided to put the post on hold in order to do my part to help which included these posts:

A Simple (and Free) Video Supplement to Support Your Online Teaching

Musings on Keeping a Positive Perspective During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Save Time and Money Taking Online Payments with Coinhop

10 Products to Make Your Online Teaching More Comfortable

Healthy Snacks for Long Teaching Days

I haven’t forgotten you though, and so here I am, back on the topic of incentives in the studio!

Each of our situations looks quite different at the moment in our studios with some remaining online, others going back to in-person or some version thereof, and some having to close down their businesses (our hearts go out to you!)

Before we dive in if you didn’t catch the first post, be sure and read it first!


Implementing Incentives: The Struggle Is Was Real


 

My “Winning” Incentive Program

All in all, my struggles with implementing an incentive program helped me realize what I really needed out of a program. It had to be:

  1. Simple
  2. Flexible
  3. Consistent
  4. Easy to implement
  5. Work for all ages

Not only that, but the program I ultimately landed on also gives students a bonus life skill.

What is it?

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Sheet Music Piano Solos: 9 lessons-learned from a 1-year project

This year marks the start of my 10th year of full-time piano teaching. While I’ve been teaching for 20 years, the first 10 were part-time (alongside other careers) with generally no more than 6-10 students at a time.

Ever since I started teaching full time, I’ve found myself focusing on one or two major things each year (not always intentionally, but quite recognizably in hind-sight).

Examples include learning to use a new program, improving my teaching in a particular way or area, trying a new method with as many students as possible at once, and so forth.


Last year I suddenly felt inspired to explore and become better acquainted with the gamut of sheet music solos.


 

Clueless and Curious

If you ever attend an MTNA National Conference or NCKP (The Piano Conference, you know that these single sheets (priced at $2-$3) are often handed out in exchange for submitting “coupons” with contact information in the exhibit halls.

Like many teachers, I’ve never used them continuously with students. Not only are they more expensive than a book, but their intent is more to supplement than supply a student’s repertoire.


Even though I’ve been teaching for 20 years, infrequent use of sheet music solos meant I was feeling a little clueless as to what was really out there and what my favorites were.


So, last year I vowed to use them more frequently. Basically, (almost) every student had one sheet music solo in progress at all times (almost). 🙂

In future posts, I’ll be highlighting some of my favorites but first, I want to share with you 9 things I learned from this project along the way.

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10 Products to Make Your Online Teaching More Comfortable

If you’re not already teaching lessons online, many of us will be this week following Spring Break.

I think we can all agree that online teaching can take a little bit (or even a lot) more energy than in-person. Hopefully, the more we do it, the easier it will get!

To help you along the way, here are 10 products I love that can help make your next few weeks feel a little less stressful and a little more comfortable.

Remember, it’s the small things that can bring us joy in stressful times!

Here’s a quick reference guide – descriptions follow!

 

#1-4 Hydrate and Moisturize

Staying well-hydrated is always important for good health, but we may need to be even more conscious of it now. If we’re not intentionally conscious of it, we may tend to find ourselves talking a little louder than normal which leads to dry mouth and dehydration.

Consider keeping an electric kettle next to you for cups of tea or even warm lemon water. Chef’s Choice Electric Glass Kettle is good quality and well-priced.

 

One of my favorite teas is The Republic of Tea’s Spring Cherry Green Tea

 

The individual bags are convenient for on-the-go teaching.

Excess talking can also easily dry out the lips. Don’t forget a stash of chapstick! SW Basics Organic Beeswax Lip Balm

 

With everyone being more conscious of handwashing perhaps longer and more frequently than before, the skin on your hands may be suffering.

Keep this lovely-smelling EO Body Lotion, Coconut and Vanilla on your desk to enjoy after each hand-washing.

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