Favorite Tools of the Trade

Favorite piano teaching resources at MelodyPayne.com

Whether you are a new piano teacher just getting started, or seasoned piano teacher wanting to up your game, you can find a variety of helpful tools and resources right here.

These are the products I use regularly to run a successful multi-pronged music business, and they have made a wonderful impact on my productivity, studio organization, student learning, and more.

Some of these links are affiliate links, which means that I receive a very small commission if you purchase something by clicking one of those links, at absolutely no cost to you. This helps keep my site running and allows me to continue offering relevant and helpful new ideas to you. For more information, please read the disclosure statement.


 

Online Lessons & Other Equipment

  • Apple iPad Pro: I’ve used my 2013 iPad for 7 years, and it’s still going strong! But when I made the switch to 100% online teaching, I needed the screen to be larger so I wouldn’t have so much eye fatigue at the end of the day. The 12.9″ iPad Pro 4th Generation has been fabulous.
  • MacBook Pro: I’m still using my mid-2012 MacBook Pro for teaching online piano lessons! I increased the RAM by following a YouTube tutorial, and it runs perfectly for teaching online piano lessons. 
  • Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920: My favorite webcam for online piano lessons, webinars, interviews, and other video conference appointments. 
  • Blue Microphones Yeti USB Microphone: My favorite microphone for online piano lessons, webinars, interviews, and other video conference appointments. 
  • Ring Light: This light is perfect for lighting our faces when we’re teaching online lessons! Well worth the money, because our students can see us so much better.
  • Small Ring Light: I bought this one to clip onto my laptop, and it’s fantastic! I love this little ring light! 
  • Vankyo Projector: This one is small and affordable, and it’s fantastic for projecting my online students during recitals. Click here to see a photo from our recital. This was a daytime recital and the lights were on, so you can tell the projector does a really good job.
  • Portable Bose bluetooth speaker: Perfect for amplifying the sound of my online students during lessons and recitals.
  • Headphone jack adapters: These are great when you want to use headphones with your digital piano.
  • Skype Call Recorder for Mac: I use this to record portions of Skype lessons from time to time. Very convenient for sending portions of the lesson to parents & students for review during the week (new concepts, technique, tricky fingering, etc.). 
  • Ethernet cable: Hardwiring to the internet using an ethernet cable will give you a better connection that Wi-Fi when teaching online lessons. 
  • Tripod Boom Microphone Stand: I use this all the time in lessons. I have the Scosche smartphone holder that attaches my iPhone to the mic stand so I can video student performances without having to hold the phone, and it works great for recording myself or taking photos of my students and myself. 
  • Adapter for Microphone Stand: I use this adapter to attach my Logitech C920 webcam to my microphone stand so I can use it as a 2nd camera and provide my students with an overhead view of the piano keys during online piano lessons.
  • Ball Adapter for Microphone Stand: This is my new adapter that I’m using to connect my Logitech C920 webcam to my microphone stand. The ball gives it a much broader range of motion, and I’m able to put my mic stand to the side of the piano by my laptop instead of behind the piano bench.
  • iPad mount: I use this very affordable iPad mount to attach my iPad to my mic stand for online lessons when I teach on my iPad, and it’s great.
  • Click here to read my full blog post with additional equipment and technology!

 

Payment for Online Lessons


 

Sheet music, reading aids, & awards

  • My First Piano Adventure: This is my favorite series for young beginners ages 4 or 5 through 6 or 7, depending on the child.
  • Piano Adventures: One of my favorites for slightly older beginners ages 7 or 8 and up, and the follow-up course to My First Piano Adventure.
  • Alfred’s Premier Piano Course: Another favorite for slightly older beginners, or a terrific course to follow My First Piano Adventure.
  • Piano Pronto: My students love the accessibility and sequencing of the terrific arrangements and original compositions, and they love playing the familiar tunes in this series.
  • Masterwork Classics: This is my favorite series for incorporating classical music into lessons outside of lesson books. The accompanying Practice & Performance guides are excellent.
  • Prima Music: One of my favorite websites for ordering sheet music. They also have Instant Print music available for immediate download.
  • Sheet Music Plus: My favorite website for purchasing and downloading digital sheet music.
  • Sheet Music Direct: Another favorite website for digital and print sheet music.
  • Praise Charts: A great place to find praise & worship music.
  • Worship Chords: A great source for praise & worship charts.

 

  • Crown AwardsMy absolute favorite place to order trophies, medals, plaques, and other awards. They ship quickly, the awards are really nice, and my students and their parents love them.

 

Piano Bench, Pedal Extender, & Piano Maintenance

  • Adjustable artist duet piano bench: I absolutely love this bench! I’ve had mine for several years now, and it still looks and feels brand new. I take it with me to recital venues for our duet recitals. It’s a fantastic bench. You can see it in the photo at the top of this page.
  • Piano pedal extender/foot rest: I have this glossy black one, and it’s very durable and perfect for kids. They love being able to reach the pedals from the very beginning, and it’s perfect for a foot rest.
  • Wiggle seat: I’ve found a terrific way to use this cushion is to put it on the foot rest under my students’ feet. They can wiggle their toes and feel the stimulation of the cushion, and we can continue the piano lesson with minimal interruption.
  • Cory super high-gloss piano polish: I use this polish to clean my baby grand and it’s fabulous for removing every last fingerprint. It keeps my piano looking brand new.
  • Polishing cloth: I dust my piano with one of these, and also use it with the piano polish to really make my piano sparkle.
  • Dampp-Chaser Piano Humidifier Treatment: Helps reduce mineral buildup in your Dampp-Chaser piano humidifier system, and prolongs the life of the humidifier pads .

 

Off-Bench Activities

  • Vinyl floor staff: I purchased this floor staff from TheoryTime.com, and we use it for everything from music note twister, to spelling scales & chords, introducing new notes, and more.
  • Music-Go-Rounds Alphadots: You’ll see these in quite a few of my Instagram photos, along with the floor staff above. They’re silicone, sturdy, and very fun! We use them for composing, the music alphabet, learning new notes, and more!
  • Jogging trampoline: We use this as a “brain break” when students start to zone out during lessons, or when they start to get tired or overwhelmed, or after they’ve worked really hard and need a quick break.
  • Boomwhackers: We love to compose and practice rhythms with them.
  • Classroom percussion instruments: Perfect for practicing rhythms, playing tricky rhythms, and more.
  • Dry erase music staff lap board: My students love using this board for composing quick pieces, and you can see pictures I’ve shared on Instagram from time to time.
  • Dry erase markers: Good quality markers.
  • Dry erase cleaning wipes: When you use a dry erase board, you must have good dry erase cleaning wipes!

 

Apps

  • Decide Now: We love using this for piano twister, scales, assignments, who goes next in an activity, and so much more! Customize the spinners for whatever you need.
  • Note Rush: Definitely a studio favorite for reviewing notes on the staff. Customizable for any number of notes.
  • Flash Note Derby: Another favorite. My students love trying to win the race!
  • Tenuto: This app is great for note reading, learning chords & intervals, and so much more, without the bells and whistles. Perfect for adults and kids who don’t like “game-y” apps.
  • iReal Pro: Terrific for accompanying lead sheets.
  • ForScore: Fantastic for storing and organizing music on iOS devices. Carry your music library with you wherever you go!
  • AnyTune Pro: Awesome for lead sheet & chord sheet play-alongs, and can change tempo and pitch of songs in your music library. My students and I love this app!

 

Blogging Tools

  • Stock Photos for Blog Posts: Deposit Photos is my favorite site for stock images, and you can save $10 on a pack of images when you use my link!
  • Canva: Great for designing blog images, pins for Pinterest, Instagram images, and more!
  • HP external monitor: I connect my iMac to my HP 25es external monitor and now I don’t have any neck pain when working at my desk. It’s been a phenomenal addition to my workspace!
  • Another HP external monitor: My husband uses this monitor when he works from home, and it has been an incredible improvement for his workspace, and his neck pain.
  • Computer monitor stand: I love this stand. It raises my external monitor to the exact height that I need and helps me sit with much better posture when I’m working at my desk. Eliminates shoulder slump!
  • Apple Magic Trackpad 2: I love using this trackpad. Prior to purchasing this one, I was using the built-in trackpad on my MacBook Pro. However, I was experiencing shoulder pain from using the laptop’s trackpad. The magic trackpad has completely eliminated my shoulder issues! I now use it with my iMac, and it’s perfect. 
  • Apple Magic Keyboard: I use this with my iPad and it’s great!
  • iMac: I recently purchased the 27″, and it has literally been life-changing. My productivity has skyrocketed because of the lightning-speed processor, and my eyes are not fatigued at all, even after being in front of the screen for hours at a time because of the large beautiful display.
  • Ergonomic Split Keyboard: This is a wonderful ergonomic solution for preventing wrist and shoulder pain. My husband uses this one and it has been a game-changer for him!
  • Ring Light: This light has made a world of difference in the overall look of product photos for my store and my Instagram product photos. They are now very brightly-lit and look so much better! Well worth the money, if having awesome photos is part of your business model.
  • Backgrounds for photos: I love using contact paper attached to foam board. It makes a pretty background that’s really easy to store. Here are some of my favorites:
  • Vera Bradley laptop backpack: I carry my laptop everywhere in my Vera Bradley backpack. It holds my 15″ MacBook Pro, binder, and 2-3 piano books and has room to spare. I love it!
  • iPad case: This is my current case, and it’s so beautiful. However, if you allow your students to use the iPad, I would highly recommend protecting it with Otterbox. I’ve used one in the past, and it’s terrific.
  • Rain Design mStand laptop stand: I love this laptop stand.
  • Astrobrights paper and Astrobrights card stock: I print some of my products on this paper for shop photos. The colors are vibrant and look fantastic!
  • HP Instant Ink: This program is absolutely wonderful for teachers! For a low monthly fee, you can print up to 300 pages (depending on which plan you select), in full color if you like, and before you run out of ink, a fresh cartridge is shipped to your door. This has saved me so many headaches, and I highly recommend it! Sign up through my link and get a month free.
  • Later: This is a free online social media scheduler that I love! You can schedule up to 30 posts per social profile per month for free. I’m currently using it to schedule my Instagram and Facebook posts. That way, I can batch schedule and save so much time! Sign up through this link and get an additional 10 posts per month free.

 

Studio Organization

  • My Music Staff: I’ve been using this studio management system for a few years and love the functionality and affordability. It really makes things easy at income tax time. Sign up using my link and we’ll both get a free month!
  • Dropbox: I don’t know what I would do without Dropbox. Use this link to sign up for Dropbox and get 500 MB of storage for free. 
  • Ikea Fjälla magazine file boxes: I use them for piano book storage: They’re so beautiful and functional, and they keep everything tucked away neatly. You can see several of them behind me in the photo above.
  • Storage baskets: I love using square and rectangle storage baskets to hold extra piano books and other materials on my bookshelves. You can see one in the photo above. It is storing new piano books I have purchased to have on hand for students. Functional + pretty = perfect.
  • Flash Card & Game Storage: This is the best way I have found to store flash cards and games! I absolutely love this storage box! Everything is easily within reach, and it’s quick and easy to put away at the end of the day.

 

Worksheets, Decor, & More


 

Music Notation Software

  • Noteflight is my absolute favorite! There’s a free version that is great, and I subscribe to the paid version. It’s affordable and easy to use. Web-based.
  • Musescore is another great option that I often use as well. Free download.

 

Memberships, Subscriptions, Conferences

  • Music Teachers National Association (MTNA): There are tons of perks for being a member of this organization, and I joined years ago when I was an undergraduate. There is a conference each year, and you receive a magazine subscription to American Music Teacher Magazine with your membership to MTNA. I am a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music in Piano (NCTM) through MTNA, and I reached permanent professional certification status in 2017.
  • National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy (NCKP): I have attended this conference a number of times and always come away refreshed with tons of new ideas to explore, and I presented research poster sessions a few times as well during graduate school and my first few years as a professor. Such a terrific experience!
  • The Piano Magazine (formerly Clavier Companion & Keyboard Companion): There’s something for everyone in this publication, including interviews, teaching beginners, teaching adults, technique, composition, business, wellness, and more.

 

Books


 

Office Supplies


 

Comfortable shoes for teaching & recitals

  • B.O.C. sandals: These are my go-to shoes for teaching. They’re really comfortable and have great support.
  • Chaco women’s Ecotread sandals: These are amazing for supporting my high arches. Super comfortable, and one of my favorite go-to shoes for teaching.
  • Arch supports: Dr. Scholl’s are my favorite. They’re in every pair of shoes I own, except for my sandals!
  • Protalus insoles: If you have severe plantar fasciitis like I do from time to time and are desperately looking for supportive insoles that relieve the pain, these are the best ones I’ve found, and to me they were worth every penny. I have the T100 in my hiking shoes, and they are fantastic! My feet have improved dramatically since using these insoles. Having pain-free feet is extremely important when teaching, hiking, and living life!
  • Clarks Adriel Viola pumps: I have the dusty pink and they are SO comfortable. The color is perfect for a gorgeous nude/neutral shoe.
  • Naturalizer Celina pumps: These are so beautiful and another comfortable dress pump. I have them in black. 

 

So now you know all my favorite things!
Enjoy this list of tools? Thanks for pinning!

Piano teacher