Piano Pantry’s Top Posts of 2017: Your Favorite Topics All in One Place

The older we get it seems life tends to move more quickly every year. When you’re young it feels like life will go on forever. The next thing you know, you realize your high school graduation was 20 years ago (or 30-40 for that matter).

As I understand more and more how fast life passes by, I’ve come to appreciate the importance of reflection. We’re always working to do more, learn more, and be better. The result though is that it’s easy to forget where we’ve come from, hard to see all we’ve accomplished, and not realize all life has given us.

This yearly re-cap post is about putting all of your favorite topics from the past year (and from all-time) in one place. It’s also a chance for me to reflect on all that’s happened in my own life as a piano teacher at Studio 88 and blogger at Piano Pantry.

Before I wrote this post, I loved reading the recap post from last year. Here is Piano Pantry’s Best of 2016 recap.

In this post you will find:

  • A Month-by-Month Recap of 2017
  • The All-Time Top 5 Posts/Pages
  • The Top 5 Posts/Pages from 2017
  • The Top Friday Finds Post from 2017
  • My Personal Favorite Posts from 2017


Month-by-Month Recap of 2017

  • The 3-part Evernote video series went live (the first was posted in late December 2016).
  • Became an Evernote Community Leader (although I didn’t announce it officially on Piano Pantry until April)
  • We celebrated the one year anniversary of Piano Pantry with 5-days of giveaways.
  • Attended the MTNA Conference in Baltimore where many of you attended the first Piano Pantry Readers Dinner; Visited and observed a piano teacher who uses Music Moves for Piano in D.C. after the conference with my traveling buddy Joy Morin.
  • Had my first online judging experience with the students of teacher and blogger Lauren Lewandowski from Piano with Lauren.
  • We broke ground on our new home/future studio.
  • Got my serious accompanying fingers moving again accompanying for the 2-person show The Last Five Years at our local arts center.
  • Attended my first MTNA Leadership Summit in Cincinnati, Ohio as President-Elect for Indiana.
  • Started teaching the first beginner Ukulele class in my studio.
  • Presented Teaching the Way We Learn: First Applications of Gordon’s Music Learning Theory at Indiana MTA Conference with co-presenter Joy Morin.
  • Published the Evernote page on Piano Pantry pulling together all the Evernote resources for studio music teachers in one place.
  • Spoke to the Ball State University piano pedagogy class on Studio Management.
  • Presented Teaching the Way We Learn: First Applications of Gordon’s Music Learning Theory and a lightning session Evernote for the Independent Music Teacher at the Kentucky MTA Conference with co-presenter Joy Morin.


All-Time Top 5 Posts / Pages

#1 Assignment Sheet CentralYour one-stop assignment sheet shop. I create new assignment sheets in my studio nearly every semester to help things feel fresh. Choose from over 15 different sheets covering all ages, private and group. More to come.

#2 Piano Safari: A Stuffed Animal Shopping Guide. I spent a long time trying to find just the right animals – not too big and not too small – to use along with the Piano Safari method. Save time by using my shopping guide to find the perfect animals. Your students will go crazy for the addition of these furry friends to your lessons.

#3 Evernote: An Independent Music Teachers Handbook Part 1 – Studio Organization. The one app/tool in both my studio and personal life that I could not live without. Using this tool will change the way you organize your studio and track student progress. Don’t shortchange yourself on learning its full capabilities. Watch the short videos on parts 2 and part 3 as well. I promise it’s worth it.

#4 Assignment Sheet Addition. True confessions of a piano teacher addicted to creating the perfect assignment sheet and what I discovered in the process.

#5 One Minute Club: Note Naming Challenge. How I conduct our annual studio-wide note-naming challenge every April.


Top Friday Finds Post from 2017

Friday Finds: Have You Taught #3 (February 17, 2017).


Top Posts / Pages from 2017

#1 Organizing Piano Games with Evernote. This guest post will show you one more way that Evernote can help keep all those games organized. Learn how you can track the origin of the game, organize by concepts, concepts, and see previews of all the games.

#2 Lesson Planning: A King Size Master Spreadsheet. An in-depth look at how I track the lessons of every student in my studio for an entire year in one document. This spreadsheet allows me to have a clear picture of not only what’s happening in current lessons, but see where students have come from in the past weeks and years.

#3 The Varsity Musician’s Playbook Part 1: Studio Interdependence. While I don’t do a lot of guest posts on Piano Pantry, the ones I do are because they are the best and can’t-be-missed. This 3-part series by my friend Christina Whitlock has been making its way around the Facebook groups like crazy. Inspired by a 2015 MTNA presentation she gave, The Varsity Musician’s Playbook is what impacted my studio environment the most in 2016 and finally gave me the push to go all-in on Instagram. We all have a tendency to cover part 1 of any series, but like the Evernote series, don’t cut yourself short. Be sure and cover part 2 (Studio “Locker Room”) and part 3 (Community Presence).

#4 Resources Page. New in 2017, I’m not surprised that the resources page was popular! I personally love looking at items that people I follow online recommend and it seems you’re the same way! Products are grouped into several categories: Top All-Around Favorites, Studio Marketing and Social Media, Software and Apps, Hardware, Studio Communication, Podcasts, Website/Hosting/Blogging, Recording Equipment, Food/Kitchen, and Books.

#5 Trusty Christmas Favorites: Repertoire I Return to Year After Year. In this post, I outline the repertoire books that, after years and years, seem to have the best sticking power in my studio. Keep in mind the Christmas books I cover in this post are only those with what I call good-ole “basic” arrangments. I don’t include specialty-themed Christmas books or Christmas books in a particular style like “jazzed-up” or Romantic-style, etc. just basic nice arrangments.


My Personal Favorite Posts From 2017

#1 Conference “Management” 101: Tips for Using Evernote Plus a Free ResourceConferences, whether 2, 3 or 4 days long, don’t have to be overwhelming. Check out my tips for how I “manage” the information I take in at conferences and put it to work in the weeks and months following using Evernote.

#2 A Picture Number is Worth a Thousand Words: Studio Retention-Rate Marketing. A simple concept and easy-to figure number that can make a big impact on how you market your studio.

#3 Personal Teaching Tweaks. Just a few little changes I was trying to make to my teaching. Sometimes it’s the little things that make the most impact.

#4 Tips for Presenting: Tools, Resources, and a Pep-Talk. Do you have some presentations lined up for the upcoming year? Be sure and check out some of my tips for giving a session teachers will walk away talking about.

#5 Tidy Teacher Tips: End-of-Semester Reset. I’m excited to start this new series on Piano Pantry. Tips for resetting your studio at the end of each semester so you can return to a fresh teaching area focused on the students and not the mess.

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