A 5-Point Countdown of the Best of 2021

Do you often find yourself wondering what happened to the last 12 months.? Life can move so quickly!

While it may feel a bit cliche at times, the clear distinction in time as the end of the year approaches really does make for a wonderful opportunity for reflection.

Every year when I start this process I go into it thinking that I’ve not accomplished as much as I wanted. Making the effort to look back puts me in my place every time because there is so much we can easily forget!

Whether you’re going through blog posts like I am or scrolling through photos on your phone, take a moment to feel gratitude for what life brought in 2021. I won’t pretend life is always warm fuzzies but we made it. We’re here and life is moving forward.

Here is a 5-point countdown to some of the best from me to you here on Piano Pantry in the past year. This year I also celebrated 5 years of this blog! Wahoo!

 

5 New Products

Happy Birthday By Ear: The Ultimate Teaching Resources

Enable your students to always be prepared to play Happy Birthday at request – without music.

Flexible for students of all levels, this step-by-step guide boost the confidence of both teacher and student on playing the piece by ear

A Big One-Minute Club Update and Two Free (Landmark Note) Downloads

The One-Minute Club is a great studio-wide note-naming challenge. One of my teacher friends told me the free landmark download is the prettiest they’ve ever seen! 🙂

A Sequenced Assignment Series for At-Home Practice with Note Rush

This product was a result of wanting to give all my students well-sequenced, note-naming assignments to do at home each week that focused on small groups of notes at a time with lots of repetitions. Rather than creating these assignments manually for every student every week, I sat down and designed an entire well-sequenced set all at once.

Teachers will find it especially useful when using it in conjunction with any kind of online assignment tools such as email, Google Docs, or Tonara.

Consulting Sessions with Amy

Would you love to “pick the brain” of a fellow savvy IMT on something you’re struggling with? Fresh inspiration and helpful feedback are right at your fingertips. I’m really excited to now be offering consulting sessions!

The Most Versatile Christmas Book You’ll Ever Own

This unique and versatile Christmas book is a format like no other.

Students will walk through the process of what they hear in 8 famous Christmas tunes, learn to play from a chord chart, and create a variety of variations.

 

4 food-focused Posts

Food Prep and the Studio Schedule – Three of my best food prep tips for keeping your meal-time work efficient and organized so when you walk in the door late at night, you can breathe easy knowing dinner will be ready in a jiffy!

Music Teacher Eats: A Week of Easy, Healthy Meals (Fall Edition) – A new series designed to ease the burden of meal planning as a studio music teacher!

My Trader Joe’s Shopping List – Any other TJ fans out there? If so, here is my go-to list of items when I am lucky enough to make the trek to my favorite grocer!

My Perfect Homemade Student Christmas Gifts: Homemade Hot Cocoa – Soooo easy and students are always delighted.

 

3 Big Organization Tips

Sync Student Birthdays to your Calendar with My Music Staff

Purging Old College Notes and Professional Magazines

Organizing Your Hardcopy Music Books

 

2 Discontinued Resources

It was a sad day for many when we discovered that Piano Explorer Magazine and the RCM Theory Apps were both discontinued!

 

1 New Assignment Sheet

A Star Wars-Themed Assignment Sheet

 


Do you have any particular resources that were a huge win for you this year? Share in the comments!

Thank you for a great year, my friends and I look forward to what 2022 has to bring!

~Amy


WRAP-UP POSTS FROM PREVIOUS YEARS

2020 Top-10  Countdown

The Fabulous Five: Top Posts from 2019

Top Posts from 2018: The Best of the Best

Top Posts from 2017: Your Favorite Topics All in One Place

Piano Pantry’s Best of 2016

 

2020 Top-10 Countdown

Bye-bye, 2020!

Here is a countdown of the top 10 posts from the “year of the pandemic”.

Your favorites were definitely a recap of what life was like and what we needed as teachers!

After this quick list, you’ll also find:

  • Top 5 Friday Finds of 2020
  • Top posts of all-time on Piano Pantry

Enjoy!

 



2020



#10

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

#9

Top Tools and Resources: Four Tools I Can’t Live Without

#8

Save Time and Money Taking Online Payments with Coinhop

#7

The One-Minute Club Goes Virtual

#6

My Top 6 “Buy It Again” Office Products from Amazon

#5

Favorite Sheet Music Piano Solos for Halloween

#4

Help Your Students “Enable Original Sound” on Zoom with this
Email Template

#3

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

#2

10 products to Make Your Online Teaching More Comfortable

#1

9 Lessons-Learned From My First Zoom Recital

 

 

 



Friday Finds of 2020



#5

Friday Finds #173: Health, Care, and Comfort
This included a big heart-to-heart on my near-breakdown when online teaching first started.

#4

Friday Finds #189: Condolences and Congratulations

#3

Friday Finds #171: Spring Goodness

#2

Friday Finds #168: Clean up what? Your contacts!

#1

Friday Finds #175: Best-Of (and a Giveaway!)
It’s almost a given that the top one is one of the big recaps with a giveaway! 🙂

 

 

 



all-Time



#10

One-Minute Club Note-Naming Challenge

#9

Favorite Hymn and Praise Piano Books (and a Church Music Recital)

#8

Lesson Planning: A King-Size Master Spreadsheet

#7

Trusty Christmas Favorites: Repertoire I Return to Year After Year

#6

A Visual Guide for Formula Pattern Scales

#5

Assignment Sheet Addiction

#4

147 Tunes to Harmonize: Traditional, Popular, and Christmas

#3

Evernote: An Independent Music Teacher’s Handbook (Part 1)

#2

Piano Safari Stuffed Animal Shopping Guide

#1

Candy Jar Contest Printable

Candy Jar Contest Printable Blog Post

P.S. Can I say that I think it’s hilarious that this is the #1 post on this website? Really? LOL.

 



WRAP-UP POSTS FROM PREVIOUS YEARS



The Fabulous Five: Top Posts from 2019

Top Posts from 2018: The Best of the Best

Top Posts from 2017: Your Favorite Topics All in One Place

Piano Pantry’s Best of 2016

 

Favorite Sheet Music Piano Solos for Halloween

This is the first of three posts highlighting some of my favorite sheet music piano solos for students.

These favorites lists are the result of a year-long focus in my studio, exploring the wide range of sheet music solos in publication. If you would like to read about the 9 things I learned from that project, check out this post.

Since I have quite a few to mention, I decided to divide the list into three posts. Today I’ll be sharing favorite Halloween-themed sheet music piano solos including the reason I love it and a link where you can purchase. I’m doing it first because Halloween will be here before we know it!

(Stay tuned for two more posts. The first will include favorite pieces at the Early Elementary, Elementary, and Late Elementary levels and the second post on Early Intermediate, Intermediate, and Later Intermediate pieces.)


Please note I am an affiliate in the Sheet Music Plus Easy Rebates program which simply means if you purchase any of these pieces using the links I provide, I will get a small percentage back without it costing you any extra.


P.S. I just saw that if you’re a member of MTNA, you can get an additional 10% off your order at Sheet Music Plus on top of their 8% Easy Rebates program!


 

Early Elementary

Halloween Costumes by Tom Gerou

Why I love it: The piece includes both the leading tone and subtonic in Am (G and G#) giving it a little more interesting flair.

Buy it at Sheet Music Plus  

 

Zoom, Zoom, Witch’s Broom by Nancy Faber

Why I love it: Its fast-moving tempo is a nice challenge for students. The piece also gives them a chance to experience the fermata, pedal, octave leaps.

Buy it at Sheet Music Plus

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My Top 6 “Buy It Again” Office Products from Amazon

As the years go on, the number of items I purchase on Amazon has slowly increased. With the current times, for many, it has increased exponentially.

If you’ve never done so, it’s kind of fun to go back through your Amazon order history and see how it grows and evolves from year to year and even decade to decade!

My first Amazon purchase was one item in December 2003. After that, it’s quite fascinating to see how it would stay consistent for several years but increased quickly.

2005 – 2012:  8-10 orders per year
2013 – 2014:  20-25 orders per year
2015 – 2018:  30-40 orders per year
2019:  60 orders
2020: 41 orders (thus far = by August)

Amazon is really good about not only letting you know how often you’ve purchased a product…

…they also make it really easy to “Buy It Again” directly from your order history page.

Today I want to share with you six items I’ve found myself buying for my piano studio again and again on Amazon.

Perhaps not surprisingly, they are all consumable office supplies!

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9 Lessons-Learned From My First Zoom Recital

Well, this is a post I never expected to see myself writing! LOL.

Over the past two months, studio teachers from all over the world have taken the plunge into unknown territory

Here are  7 things that I learned from our first Zoom recital. I hope this will make your recital a little easier!

 

#1 Do a practice run

For our in-person recitals, we always do a rehearsal the day before. I’m glad I didn’t let the online format change this norm.

Holding a practice recital the week prior gives students, parents, and ourselves a chance to know what to expect. Even more importantly, it allows you to practice “managing” the recital online.

Definitely plan on requiring a parent to attend the rehearsal so they can practice holding the device and we could pick the best location. This will avoid you having to give instructions during the recital like “move a little further back”, or “turn your camera sideways” or “no, no, that’s too close – we want to see their hands!”

The practice run will make everyone feel much more relaxed going into it recital day!

 

#2 Send an Invitation Email

Send families an email at least a week ahead of time that is specifically for them to forward on to family and friends. Here is mine. Feel free to use it or any portion of it as needed.

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Help Your Students “Enable Original Sound” on Zoom With This Email Template

You know how sometimes in life you’re told about something that you know you should do but at the moment, you just can’t bring yourself to mentally mess with it?

That’s how I was when we started using Zoom for our online lessons.

Teachers in Facebook groups were mentioning the importance of the “Enable Original Sound” setting to help with sound quality but I was just trying to wrap my head around getting myself set up online to pay it any mind.

Then two or three weeks of lessons went by and I was DONE with the garble. It was time to upgrade our sound.

Do I kick myself a little for not dealing with this sooner? Yep. But, oh, well, I’m over it now.

Through all of this, I have to say one thing all my studio families have been mentioning in our evaluation meetings this week, was the quality of my communication throughout this whole process. They felt the instructions were incredibly helpful and easy to follow.

That’s part of our job! Quality communication.

To spell things out as clear and easy as possible, I gave my step-by-step instructions using screenshots. It doesn’t get easier than that!

Teachers: You have my permission to copy and paste this entire email and use these images to send to your studio families (if you don’t mind having my mug shot! LOL).

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The One-Minute Club Goes Virtual

One of the top posts here on Piano Pantry is the One-Minute Club Note-Naming Challenge.

Here we are, four years from the first time we talked about this studio-wide challenge, and every teacher around the world has suddenly been thrown into online teaching like we never expected.

So, today, let’s talk about three different ways we can adapt this challenge to online lessons including the pros and cons of each format!

If you haven’t read the original post yet, you’ll definitely want to check it out to have a better understanding of how the challenge works!

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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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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.


Please note that Piano Pantry is enrolled in the Referral Program with Coinhop which simply means that if you sign-up, I will get a small commission without it costing you any extra.


Sign up for Coinhop now!


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

Is you Inbox overloaded with emails titled “Person/company name’s response to COVID-19″?

Are you feeling a little bit like you’re in the Twilight Zone?

Do you just want to make it all go away and get back to normal?

Is one side of you glad to know that “we’re all in this together,” and another part of you tired of hearing the phrase already?

Yeah, me too.

 

Strong Declarations

Over the past week as posts on Facebook have ramped up regarding online lessons, we’re seeing success, generosity, and encouragement, but also escalating anxiety and even negativity.

Several posts popped up of people expressing their frustration with online lessons and in the heat of those frustrations, they declared them to be “worthless.”

Really?, I wondered…

Worthless? Continue reading