Announcements

Check out Amy’s Podcast for a Deep-Dive on Evernote vs. Notion

Just a brief note from me today — I wanted to point you a Piano Pantry podcast episode that just dropped from my pal, Amy Chaplin. In this episode, Amy goes on a deep-dive comparing the two productivity apps, Evernote and Notion.

If you know Amy at all, you know that organization is a strength and passion of hers. She’s been a longtime user of Evernote as a tool to capture notes, ideas, and documents. As she describes in her podcast episode, when Notion came on her radar, however, she moved the majority of her Evernote content over to the Notion. In this episode, she also points out the main differences between Evernote and Notion and WHY she decided to make the switch. She also lists examples of how she uses Notion in her daily life.

Take a listen to Amy’s Evernote vs Notion episode (or read the transcript) HERE. And feel free to check out more episodes from her Piano Pantry podcast HERE.

Have a great weekend, friends!

PS: In case you missed it — I published my in-depth Introduction to Notion blog post last week. And Amy and I are working hard right now to prepare a special event: a two-day, online workshop where we help you build your own centralized digital workspace in Notion as a piano teacher. It’ll be held Friday, March 8 and Saturday, March 9, 2024, from 10:30am to 1:30pm Eastern each day. We are planning an AWESOME event with lots of bonus materials and Notion templates that you won’t want to miss. Please mark your calendar, and stay tuned for registration info soon!

Performances

NEW: Printables for Your Silent Film Recital

As promised in my recent blog post about organizing a Silent Film Recital for your piano students, today I’m sharing a few printables/templates I created for my Silent Film Recital.

Here’s what I’ll share:

  1. A silent film recital program AND a multiple choice quiz featuring facts about Buster Keaton and silent films
  2. The “welcome” image I showed on the TV/projector screen before the recital started
  3. The recital invitation I created for students to invite their friends and family to the event.

Before I get into it, I should let you know that these templates were all created using Canva.com — my favorite resource for creating graphics or documents (e.g., worksheets, images for blog/social media, and much more). To access the templates linked below and edit them for your own use, you will need to create a free account with Canva.

If you haven’t used Canva before, you might be thanking me later for introducing you to it. It’s a fantastic resource for creating attractive documents and images for whatever purpose you might have in mind. Many of the graphic elements at your fingertips in Canva are free to use, but you can also purchase premium elements very affordably (think, ~$1 each) if you want to. (BTW, if you use my referral link to set up your free Canva account, you’ll earn a Canva Credit to get one premium item for free!)

Without further ado, let’s get into it!

1. Recital Program & Quiz for Your Silent Film Recital

First up, here is the recital program I designed for my student’s Silent Film Recital. The movie camera graphics you see here were available in Canva — I just changed the colors and arranged the elements the way I wanted at the top of the page.

As you can see, I included a short blurb summarizing the silent film at the top. Then, I create a table that showed the various “chapters” or scenes from the film, the name of the performing student, and the titles of the pieces they played.

At the bottom of the recital program, I listed a few solo pieces my students performed after the silent film showing. Feel free to edit any and all of these program elements to suit your own recital plans!

If you scroll down while viewing this template in Canva, you’ll also find the silent film quiz I made using fun facts about Buster Keaton and silent films in general. During my recital, I had the audience work in groups by family to complete this quiz while my students played their solos as background music. After about 15 minutes or so, we went through the correct answers and I awarded a prize (movie gift card, microwave popcorn, candy, etc.) to the family who guessed the most correct answers. This worked even better than I envisioned and was a lot of fun!

When we took our Silent Film Recital on the road and performed it again at a local retirement center, I wanted attendees to be able to take the quiz sheet back to their room to complete on their own time. So, there are actually THREE versions of the quiz provided in my template: one has no answers, one has has the correct answers circled (an answer sheet), and one has the answers provided upside-down in the margin. Version 1 is suitable for an event where you wish to lead everyone through the answers verbally at the end. Version 2 is an answer sheet for you to use in that same setting. Version 3 is a version with answers provided for attendees to complete on their own time just for fun.

After making your edits to this template, click the menu option Share > Download > PDF download. From there, the PDF should download to your computer. You can then print out whichever pages you wish to use.

>>> Get the Silent Film Recital Program & Quiz template here.

2. Welcome Screen Slide for Silent Film Recital

Next up, I created this simple welcome image to put on the TV/projector screen as a way to greet folks as they arrived to the event.

Just open the template in Canva, edit the details for your own recital event, and then hit the menu options Share > Download to download it as a JPG or PNG image. View the image in full screen mode on your computer while connected to the TV or projector via an HDMI cable, and voila — it will show on the screen.

>>> Get the Welcome Screen Slide template here.

3. Invitation for Silent Film Recital

Finally, here is the template for some simple invitations I created for my students’ Silent Film Recital.

Edit this template in Canva to fill in your own information, and then hit Share > Download > PDF. After printing out the PDF, cut the invitations apart and give them to your students to give out to their families and friends.

>>> Get the Silent Film Recital Invitations template here.


If you are planning your own Silent Film Recital, I hope you’ll find these templates useful!

Announcements

Announcing: Keys at Play, Book 1: 88 Progressive Pieces for Pianists of All Ages

Hello friends,

I have an announcement to share today — one that’s been a long time coming. I won’t beat around the bush. I wrote a book! It’s called Keys at Play, Book 1: 88 Progressive Pieces for Pianists of All Ages. And it’s available for order now, across the world, in hardcopy form.

Continue reading “Announcing: Keys at Play, Book 1: 88 Progressive Pieces for Pianists of All Ages”
Retreat

Recap: My 2023 Piano Teacher Retreat

The last two weekends, I hosted a piano teacher retreat at my home in southeast Michigan with two groups of teachers. I’m still reeling from all the fun we had and memories made! It’s been a full and rewarding couple of weeks to be sure.

In this post, I’ll share some photos and highlights from this year’s retreat, along with a quick bit of backstory behind these events.

Continue reading “Recap: My 2023 Piano Teacher Retreat”
Reviews

Music Notation Software Recommendations for Teachers and Students

I’ve recently had two questions from fellow piano teachers come through my “Ask Me Anything” form asking for advice regarding music notation software. Thinking there might be others of you out there wondering about the same thing, I thought I would publish my answer in today’s blog post!

Introduction

Once upon a time, the two main options for music notation software were Finale and Sibelius — plus a free open-source software called Musescore. Nowadays, we also have online-based software as well as apps for phones/tablets to consider.

While I can’t claim to be familiar with ALL of the options available today (especially the variety of apps out there), I am happy to share my experience and personal recommendations below. If you have additional recommendations, I hope you’ll share them with us in the comment section of this blog post!

Let’s get into it. I’ll start by recommending what I consider to be good starting points for students or teachers who are newly interested in composition and/or music notation software. Then, I’ll get into what I recommend for serious or experienced composers who wish to invest in professional-grade software.

Continue reading “Music Notation Software Recommendations for Teachers and Students”
Words of Wisdom

Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom

“But children are not railroad trains. They don’t learn at an even rate. They learn in spurts, and the more interested they are in what they are learning, the faster these spurts are likely to be.”

John Holt, in How Children Learn

Food for thought: Have you observed students’ learning occur in spurts rather than at an even rate? How do YOU foster interest and motivation in what students are learning?

Conferences

NCKP 2021 has begun!

A few months ago, I mentioned this summer’s 2021 National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy (NCKP) virtual conference. The pre-conference sessions officially began TODAY (yay!). I’ve been happily enjoying some wonderful virtual sessions already this afternoon, and am so excited about the programming over the next few weeks. The NCKP planners have chosen a wonderful app that allows for connecting with other attendees while enjoying the virtual presentations. It’s the next best thing besides being in-person with my teacher friends and colleagues.

In this year’s NCKP, I am involved with two different sessions. The first is a presentation about a personal project with my young daughter, Aria, and our first year of Early Childhood Music sessions at home together. (I’ve been putting my ECM certification through the Gordon Institute for Music Learning (see GIML.org) to good use recently!) This session will take place during the pre-conference this Friday the 16th from 1:05-2:00pm EDT. Here’s the full description:

Continue reading “NCKP 2021 has begun!”
Studio Business, Teaching Piano

Transitioning Back to In-Person Lessons During/After the Covid-19 Pandemic

[Just for fun…here’s a selfie taken after chopping off 12 inches of pandemic-time hair and donating it to Wigs 4 Kids!]

Hello readers!

I hope you all are well. Here in Michigan, we are in the midst of BEAUTIFUL summer weather and it feels as if the worst of the pandemic is behind us (which I would certainly like to believe is true!). The current full vaccination rate in the state of Michigan is 46%, which is also the current rate in the U.S. as a whole (as of June 2021). In my local county, the full vaccination rate is even higher at 60% and the rate of reported Covid-19 cases per day is down to low single digits.

With these facts in mind, I have started transitioning a few of my students from online lessons to in-person lessons at my home studio. (You might recall — 75% of my students are in Ohio from before I moved and they will remain online.) I am taking a number of precautions, because I would much prefer to err on the side of caution and keep everyone healthy if I can help it!

In case you happen to be in the same position and might find this useful, below is the wording I used to communicate my precautions and expectations to parents via email.

Continue reading “Transitioning Back to In-Person Lessons During/After the Covid-19 Pandemic”
Conferences

MTNA and NCKP: Two Virtual Conferences You Won’t Want to Miss in 2021!

After getting my first taste of a national conference as a college student, I made a commitment early on in my career to always ensure I was making enough income to be able to afford professional development opportunities like these. There’s nothing like investing in yourself — you’re your greatest asset! Experiences like conferences can reap long-lasting benefits for improving your teaching, improving your business, and keeping yourself fresh and motivated in your career as a piano teacher.

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic might still be putting a “pause” in larges in-person events, but we can still connect virtually! I am pretty excited about TWO upcoming music teacher conferences that are going virtual for 2021.

Continue reading “MTNA and NCKP: Two Virtual Conferences You Won’t Want to Miss in 2021!”
Teaching Piano

Teaching Piano During the COVID-19 Pandemic

At the time of this publishing, the world is in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here in the U.S., the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is recommending no gatherings of 50 people or more for the next eight weeks, so most events are being canceled. Many of us (depending on which state you live) are experiencing canceled school classes, university classes, and work. The local grocery stores keep running out of basic staples, because everyone is stocking up. The pandemic’s effect is deep and wide, and our response is important. The recommendations call for us to regularly wash our hands and practice “social distancing” to avoid possible spread or exposure to the virus. The goal is to slow the spread of the outbreak (i.e., “flatten the curve“) to avoid overwhelming the medical facilities in this country for the sake of those of us who will require medical care when the virus is contracted. This is a time for us to pull together and be community-minded.

What does this mean for our piano teaching? For me, as it so happens, I’ve been on maternity leave from teaching for the past six weeks. My student base is currently comprised of a handful (due to having recently relocated here) of students in Ann Arbor, Michigan and a day’s worth of students back in Northwest Ohio — an hour’s drive commute to the studio where I rent a room. I had planned to resume lessons soon, but due to the pandemic situation I’ve put all in-person lessons on hold.

Instead, I’ve reached out to my students and suggested that we continue lessons via FaceTime/Skype/Zoom. School may be canceled, but there’s no reason piano can’t continue! Perhaps for us and our students, continuing piano practice and lessons with us all feel a small bit of stability and normalcy during these intense times. And certainly, for many piano teachers there is a natural concern about finding a way to maintain a level of income during these difficult times.

And so, many of us are moving our piano lessons online. In this blog post, I’d like to share some tips and advice for doing so — things I’ve learned from experience teaching online lessons occasionally over the past few years.

Continue reading “Teaching Piano During the COVID-19 Pandemic”
Professional Development

What We Can Learn From Considering One’s Ideal Piano Teacher Life

Last week, I asked: If you could somehow magically have the life of your dreams, what would your piano teacher life look like?

(Read the entire prompt here.)

Thank you for the responses you posted, both here on the blog as well as on facebook. I enjoyed reading them.

I pondered the questions myself, and even did a little bit of journaling on the topic. I found it very beneficial, and want to share some of my realizations with you. If you found it fun to ponder the previous set of questions, I’d like to invite you to join me in exploring the additional questions below.


As I journaled about my ideal piano teacher life, I realized I’m already doing many of the things that I would consider part of my dream life as a piano teacher. What a wonderful reminder: I’m already living the dream! At times, I need reminders to count my blessings and take nothing for granted.

As you consider your own ideal piano teacher life, ask yourself: Which of these things am I already doing? 

I’m happy with my current teaching schedule. There isn’t much I’d want to change about my teaching space. I’m happy to have a career I enjoy so much. I have much to be thankful for.


As you recall, the original prompt encouraged us to think big: If you could somehow magically have the piano teacher life of your dream, what would it look like?

I hope you journaled at least one thing that was completely outrageous. 🙂 Continue reading “What We Can Learn From Considering One’s Ideal Piano Teacher Life”

Retreat

2017 Retreat: Schedule Now Posted

Just a quick post today to let you know that the Retreat at Piano Manor schedule has been posted on the retreat website here.

By the way: From now on, I’ll be sending registration information to the separate retreat email list instead of here on the blog. So, if you plan to attend, please be sure to join that email list!

If you can’t attend the retreat in person, don’t worry. Here on the blog, I will still be sharing plenty about the retreat so that you can experience it vicariously with us. Stay tuned!