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10 apps I use daily as an independent music teacher, working professional, and human being.
Hey there! Amy here, I don’t know if you’ve heard but I am currently running an eight session series on digital management to help you, my teacher friends get your digital work landscape in order before the school year kicks off!
While the first session has already happened, it’s not too late to join as there’s a replay available of the first session! I am telling, I know you – I have been working with teachers for more than 10 years and I hear day after day how frustrated you get because of things like your email inbox being out of control, your digital files not having a consistent state of organization, and all the cool ideas you come across not having a consistent way of being saved in a useful manner.
You have great intentions of getting yourself together, but let’s face it, it’s not always that fun. Plus, from experience, I know it can be a lot trying to figure out how to keep your vast digital world in order. It’s taken me years of off and on experimentation to nail down some of these things in a useful way way myself, so… I get it!
I’m here to tell you it it is doable to get entire work landscape organized and order. The good news is you don’t have to do it alone – I’m here to help.
This 8 session power-hour series will break down 8 different categories including things like email, digital files, daily capture and save, social media, and more. If you do anything for yourself this summer professionally, do this. I promise, you will not regret it! Check the show notes for more info.
Now, on to episode #26!
Today, I thought I would share some of the apps I use on a daily basis both in my independent music studio and as a working professional and human being.
This episode was actually inspired by the first power hour session I hosted this past week. In our time together, we tackled cleaning up and organizing our devices – that is, our smart phones and tablets. As I was sharing my iPhone screen and walking them through some organizational tips, some of the apps I had on my device caught their eye. Come to think of it, getting to look at someone else’s device is kind of like getting to snoop around in their kitchen pantry or inside their refrigerator. It’s always fun seeing what other people use!
Welcome to the Piano Pantry Podcast where together we live life as independent music teachers. I’m your host, Amy Chaplin. In this space we talk about all things teacher-life related from organizing our studios to getting dinner on the table and all that comes between. You’ll get loads of easily-actionable tips on organizing and managing your studio while balancing life and home.
All right, so my list includes apps and are really in no particular order. I did try to make sure I included ones I really do use every single day and not just almost every day. Also, even though I use them every day, I excluded social media apps.
So here we go. Number one. Since this is a podcast, let’s start with the podcast app! Believe it or not, I do not use the Apple podcast app. I used it years ago when I first started my podcast addiction. I don’t know exactly what update version it was but at one point there was an update that took the app into a more more complicated format or layout. It just suddenly felt quite unnecessarily complicated. Now, I realize the app may have changed since then as I’m guessing this was 5-7 years ago, but that was my reason for moving. The app I landed on and have loved is Overcast. The interface is very clean and simple. While I could use Spotify which is my favorite app for music, I personally like segmenting things as much as possible. So, Overcast is dedicated to Podcasts and my Spotify App to Music.
The second app I use every day is the Dark Sky weather app. I’ll just tell you now you’re going to hear me often say that I like some thing because it is simple and has a clean interface and that’s exactly why I love this app. It can be hard to pinpoint visual aesthetics much more beyond that but that is the main reason I remember moving to Dark Sky.
The third app I use every day is Tonara. This is an app for student assignments. I started using it one year before the pandemic which made me super happy that when the time came for everything to go online, that was one less thing I had to learn.
Now, you may or may not be surprised to hear this because if there’s one thing I was known for when the Piano Pantry blog started back in 2016, it was for all the free custom assignment sheets I made over the years. While those are still available and popular, I don’t use written assignment sheets myself anymore. I’ll pop a link for you in the show notes though to those assignment sheets if you’re interested.
There are two big reasons I particularly like Tonara for my student assignments. The first is that I can create a database of frequently used repertoire so with one click I can assign a piece without having to enter details multiple times. Inside of each assignment you can attach a sound file, internet link, or PDF.
The second reason I like Tonara is it’s an easy way for students to communicate directly with me rather than me having to convey a message via parent text. For example, I might have a student message me because they noticed I had one of their assignments listed incorrectly, or a student messaging me and asking me if I can find them a particular piece, or they might send me a photo from their music and ask for help on a particular segment.
The fourth app I use every day is a language learning app. Back in episode number three, the fun fact I shared was that I’ve been brushing up on my French in preparation for an upcoming month-long trip to Europe for our 20th anniversary this fall. At that time, I was trying out three different apps, Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, and Babel. At that particular moment, I was super loving Babbel but right now am mostly using Duolingo. Even though I don’t use them all regularly, I kind of like the variety of language apps as their formats are slightly different, creating variety in the learning process.
The fifth app I use every day is paprika. This is a recipe app that is a lifesaver if you like saving a lot of recipes off-line. There’s a browser extension that with one click, you can download a recipe from the browser into the app. It also has a built-in browser so you can navigate inside the app and its own browser and download recipes directly from there. You can edit the recipes you download as much as you like for your own safekeeping including editing ingredients or instructions, adding categories, rating, and even changing out the photo. Additional features include a meal planner (which I don’t personally use), and a built-in grocery list where you can add needed ingredients from each recipe into the shopping list. You can even add your own personal recipes. This is something else that’s important to me – the fact you can both add new recipes of your own as well as save recipes from the web.
The next three apps are all things Google. My husband and I are PC, not mac people, so while we have iPhones, I’ve never felt tied to Apple products – as you may have noticed from some of my app recommendations already! They include Google Calendar, Google Photos, and the Gmail app.
Calendar apps are funny. The thing that’s most important when it comes to a calendar app is being able to see the entire month in one glimpse. I found it incredibly frustrating on the native Apple calendar app that you can only view days and not the month as a whole. Google Calendar is wonderful to use, and is as always, sleek and visually appealing.
Google Photos has been great to use especially for my music studio because you can easily create photo albums for each student. The facial recognition features means that every time you take a photo of a student, the app will automatically add that photo into their photo album so you don’t have to do it manually. There are lots of other reasons to love it but that is one of the biggest. The link I posted in the show notes goes to a blog post I wrote about Google Photos that will give you more details if you want to check it out further. I will forever give kuddos to fellow teacher Daniel Light for getting me on board with this app.
Google’s mail client is “Gmail”. For the longest time I used the native Mail app on the iPhone because I had multiple email address I was managing and it was easy to manage multiple emails there. Once I discovered I can setup Gmail to view more than one email address, I started just using the Gmail app directly and the Gmail website from my browser when working from my laptop.
The final two apps I use on a daily basis are somewhat of a 2 for 1 – Evernote and Notion. It’s not that they’re related in any way but I use them both for what I “daily capture and save.” While I’ve been a huge advocate for Evernote over the years and still love the program, about a year ago, my friend Joy Morin introduced me to Notion. I have found it’s layout to be even more visually appealing – there it is again – than Evernote. I’ve slowly been moving some of my daily organizational items from Evernote into Notion but I still prefer to use Evernote as kind of my my “dumping grounds” if you will for clipping favorite articles, conferences notes, and such. The search function is so powerful, you can save everything in one Notebook and simply use the search bar to find anything note quickly.
For a quick recap, the 10 apps I use on a daily basis include:
- Overcast (podcast app)
- Dark Sky (weather app)
- Tonara (lesson assignment app)
- Duolingo (language app)
- Paprika (recipe app)
- Google Calendar
- Google Photos
- Evernote and Notion (daily capture and save)
You’ll find links to each of these items in the show notes. I hope you found one that is new or interesting that will help you in your daily digital work-scape life.
Did you know that if you have any questions from today’s episode, you can always send me a voicemail right here? Find a link at the bottom of the show notes.
If you found this episode helpful, would you do me a little favor and jump over to apple podcasts and leave a rating and review.
Thanks for being here and I’ll look forward to seeing you online. You can find me on Facebook at piano Pantry or on Instagram at amychaplinpiano. Let me save you some time and say you won’t find me on Tik Toc, Snapchat, or Twitter. For now.
Today’s fun fact is that my husband and I lived Down Under in Melbourne Australia for 3 years. This was back in 2006-2009 long before I started teaching piano full time. While we were there for my husbands work, I worked with Adecco Australia, a temp agency and taught piano one night a week. One fun gig I had was working in the customer service department of Nintendo Australia for 6 months. Even back then, digital organization came easily to me and they had me completely redo their customer service department guide. They wanted to keep me on but troubleshooting Nintendo products was not a career path I was interested in – not even close. The digital document cleanup side. Well, those skills still come in handy.
See you next week!