The Fabulous Five

Top Posts from 2019

Here we are with the close of 2019 in our sight. The act of hitting pause and taking a moment to look back and reflect on the past 365 days has always proven to be a life-giving exercise.

I’ve been doing this since I started Piano Pantry and it always proves to be a lesson in gratitude – not just for what’s been “accomplished” – but for what life has given. Opportunity and the freedom to do what we love can easily be taken for granted in today’s world.

Thank you for being here, for connecting with me whether it be through Facebook comments, email replies to my newsletter, or comments on blog posts.

I hope that my little slice of pie in the online piano teacher content world proves to be, for you, not just useful, but inspiring, invigorating, and more than anything…inviting.

In today’s post, I’ll share:

  1. Five posts from 2019 that you deemed that most “fabulous” (by visiting them, of course ūüôā ).
  2. The top five posts of all time since Piano Pantry started in March 2016.
  3. A month-by-month run-down of the posts from 2019.
  4. A few fun stats.

I’m looking forward to what 2020 has in store!

 

Top Posts From 2019

#1 |  A Visual Guide for Formula Pattern Scales

A free and easy-to-use visual guide for introducing students to formula-pattern scales. Students enjoy playing this pattern once they get the hang of it!

#2 | 147 Tunes to Harmonize: Traditional, Popular, and Christmas

Get the free download of 147 tunes to harmonize using a little as the tonic chord or as much as four chords. Tips for teaching students to harmonize.

#3 | The Piece My Students and I Can’t Stop Playing

My students and I haven’t been able to stop playing this piece of music. Hear why they love it!

#4 | Instagram for Piano Teachers: 5 Fun Accounts to Follow

If you’re on Instagram and you’re a piano teacher, then you should be following these five fun accounts. A little piano, a little personal, a LOT of fun.

#5 | Christmas Gift Round-Up

An important tip for your studio gift-giving, a new gift idea from my studio, and a big ‘ole round-up of all the student gift ideas you could ever want!

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More Than 100 Videos for Your Music Lab

For years, I’ve been collecting videos from all over the internet for my student’s music lab time.

This has resulted in two major sets of videos:

Music Theory Videos

Fun Music Videos

Access to both of these video series is FREE for Piano Pantry readers!

 

Music Theory Videos

The Music Theory Videos series is a culmination of the best videos I’ve found online that teach music theory concepts.

I wasn’t looking to use these videos as a way to teach concepts. That should, of course, be done in the lesson. It was nice, however, to use them as a way to reinforce what we have already learned.¬†

Comprised of 48 videos, they have been divided into four sets based on a rough/general order in which concepts are introduced in most piano methods. The order may not line up exactly, but you can simply assign videos based on what the student has already been taught in their lesson time.

From my own experience, I find it doesn’t work well to assign just one video at a time. Switching between multiple lab assignments/programs during the lab is not ideal.

It’s much easier to save up until they can spend an entire lab time on just the music theory video assignments. Thus, they might only do this lab every six months as they progress through new concepts.

Please know that the list of videos is in no way exhaustive. That is, there may not necessarily be a video available for every music theory concept students learn in music lessons.

All videos can be found here.

 

Corresponding Music Lab Sheet

Since students weren’t doing this lab on a weekly basis, I needed a way to track which videos they had watched. Thus, was born the corresponding music lab sheet.

The lab sheet includes directions to the student, a place for teachers to assign individuals for students to watch, the video name, who it is from, its length (so they know if they have enough time during their lab to complete it), and a space for the student to check that they watched it.

Add this lab to your cart now, or find it (along with other music labs in the shop)

 

 

Fun Music Videos

When I started including music lab time in my student’s weekly lesson experience, one thing I found is that while there are a lot of apps and programs out there, sometimes you simply run out of things for them to do!

There were two main reasons I found this happening on occasion.

The first was simply because, when you have 30-minute lab time, students can get through quite a bit and thus they move through their assignments quickly.

The second reason was more specifically with younger students. There are only so many lab assignments you can give when they are beginners. Not only are they limited in the musical concepts they can play games for, but any assignment with too much reading and writing is just too difficult for kindergarten, first, and even second graders to do on their own.

Thus, was born the Fun Music Videos lab series.

Comprised of more than 60 videos, the series is organized into eight “theme” sets:¬†

  1. Classical Music Fun
  2. Inspirational
  3. Musical Humor
  4. Unique Instruments
  5. Playing with Popular Tunes 1
  6. Playing with Popular Tunes 2
  7. Music History
  8. The Evolution of the Piano

The great part is that I’ve made all of these videos available to you for FREE!

You could even use these videos for a little fun way to end a group class or even play one to start a group class as students are entering!

 

Corresponding Music Lab Sheet

My students were enjoying these videos a lot, but I needed a way to track which ones they had watched. I wasn’t necessarily assigning the lab week after week until they finished the entire lab, I was only assigning it every once in a while and using it as a “filler”.

Thus, was born the corresponding music lab sheet.

The goal was to keep it simple.

Yes, I was using it as a “filler” lab assignment, but I also didn’t want it to just feel like “busy work”. Not only that, but it had to be something I could assign to students of all ages – especially younger students. As I stated earlier, any assignment with too much reading and writing is just too difficult for kindergarten, first, and even second graders to do on their own.

Thus, the lab sheet includes directions to the student, the “set” name, the video name, the length of the video (so they know if they have enough time during their lab to complete it), and areas to rate the video and openly reflect/comment on their thoughts.

While I would love for it to include more background information and reflection questions (maybe someday I’ll create a more in-depth version for older students), my main goal was an easy lab that students of any age could use and enjoy.

Be aware that students have been known to continually go back and watch some of their favorite videos several times when they‚Äôre supposed to be watching new videos. Don’t say I didn’t warn you! ūüėČ

Add this lab to your cart now, or find it (along with other music labs in the shop)

 

 

If you’re curious for even more details on how I run my music labs, I’ve created a 15-page eBook that is chock full of all kinds of “pro tips.”

We’ll talk about how I schedule, set-up, and organize labs. (You all know “organizing” is my favorite topic! ūüôā )

Laid out in an easy to read and understand format, this book will answer all your questions regarding music lab time!

 

Give Me More!

Would you like to learn more in-depth details on the programs that I have created labs for?

Check out these posts:

1) My Favorite Computer-Based Program for Music Lab Time

2) Finally! A Music Lab/Assignment Sheet for Piano Explorer Magazine

3) Two High-Quality iPad Theory Apps

4) Favorite iPad Apps for Music Lab

 

Ready to Purchase?

Do you just want to just straight to getting your product?

Shop the entire Music Lab Series now!

 

Creating a Studio Legacy with Student Photo Boards

A Canva Tutorial [Video]

This is my current student photo board.

Students are not displayed from oldest to youngest, but by how long they’ve been studying with me – moving from left to right and top to bottom.

Every photo includes the student’s picture, their first name, and the month and year they started taking piano lessons at Studio 88.

The white spaces are inspiring quotes.¬†I could have filled them all up individually if I had included my adults, but I assumed they would want anonymity. (After one of them asked why they weren’t on the photo board, I realized next time I should just ask if I could include them rather than assume!)

Today I want to show you how you can create a photo board like this using an online design studio called Canva.

First, I want to briefly share what got me started on having a student photo board.

 

Who’s the Team?

One of the hottest series here on Piano Pantry is called the Varsity Musician’s Playbook. Written by a good friend of mine, the series focuses on how we can develop thriving studios and students who are deeply committed using principles from team sports.

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One-Click Calendar

Your Annual Studio Calendar Simplified [Video]

Simplicity. We can all use a little more of it, wouldn’t you agree?!

Well, today I have a tutorial video that will make the creation of your studio calendar from year to year as simple as one keystroke and…

Voila! Your new calendar will be created.

I’m not exaggerating. No, seriously. It’s true.

 

The Calendar

Before I turn your studio management world upside down, let me show you the calendar we’re about to create.

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Lesson Planning

A king-size master spreadsheet

When I started teaching piano full time, one of the biggest challenges for me personally was finding a method for lesson planning, tracking student progress, and materials.

The latter item I’ve mastered using Evernote (see Evernote Part 1: Studio Management), but the first two I struggled with for several years (I’ll avoid sharing the details of my failed attempts!)

We all know the best way to learn is to make mistakes and find a better way on our own, and that’s what I did.

One thing I’ve learned about myself is I’m a very visual person. I don’t do well simply making a note or two here or there for items I need to remember for students for their next lesson. I need to see the big picture. For one semester I even tried somewhat “winging it,” without writing down anything before the lesson and I¬†felt kind of out of control and disorganized.

Finally, in 2014 I was inspired by an article in the September/October 2014 Issue of Clavier Companion written by Arlene Steffen, Stephen Hughes, and Craig Sale called “Lesson Plans: A teaching essential?” (I would highly recommend you read it!)

Thanks to their detailed article, my king spreadsheet was born. 

Because a spreadsheet like this will be completely customized to your teaching style (and studio calendar), it doesn’t do me any good to give you a copy of mine. So, in this post, not only do I walk you through the details of what I include, but I’ve also created a video showing you through how to create your version. ¬†I’ll show you tips and tricks for using Excel like a pro! 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!

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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.

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Joy and Amy on Music Learning Theory

I know many of you are eager to find out more about my recent¬†training on Music Learning Theory with the Gordon Institute for Music Learning and Music Moves for Piano.¬†We’re going to start out light.

Being the¬†music nerds we self-admittedly are,¬†as part of our nightly¬†study routine, Joy and I thought it would be beneficial to take turns reading out loud every term in the glossary¬†of our text Learning Sequences in Music. We wanted to be sure we understood the meaning of all the new words thrown at us.¬†You may be laughing, but it was quite helpful,¬†especially for this first video you’re about to see!

A 16-hour car ride at some point in time requires a car game. Thus, on our way back from Boston, was born the Alphabet Game MLT Style. (I realize for many of you some of the terms will be meaningless, but I thought you would still get a kick out of it.) ūüôā

If you want a bit more substance than our alphabet game, a few days after we returned, we recorded a video summary video for you!

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