Piano Teacher Favorites:

Christina Whitlock at the Piano

My ULTIMATE GUIDE to must-have tools for a TeacherLife worth living.

*This page may contain affiliate links, which earn me a small commission. Rest assured, all recommendations are made in the absence of any icky, ulterior sales motives.

Teacher-Specific Favorites

A collection of things I CAN'T - or, at least, WON'T - run my studio without:

Magazine Files

THIS is my solution for organizing and storing my endless-supply of music books. A robust library of materials is pretty high on my list of studio teacher priorities, and these make it easy to group like materials together in an affordable manner.

These specific files have stood the test of time for me (several years running with little signs of wear!), and are affordable enough to replace when that day comes.

Dry Erase Staff Boards

I use these in nearly every lesson I teach, and give them away to every pedagogy student I work with. They are essential to how I teach students to read notation... not to mention aural skills, rhythmic relationships, and so much more.

This board is sturdy and stands up to heavy use from my group classes.

Adjustable Hand

"The Hand"

I purchased one of these from IKEA years ago, and it's become our unofficial studio mascot, of sorts. I love the physical manipulation of the top finger joint, so students can practice putting the nail joint at the correct angle for playing piano (not collapsing backwards, but also not *over* flexing).

Beyond that, students LOVE leaving the hand in different configurations as they leave. It's one of the silliest fixtures in my studio, but we all have a good time with it.

2000 Plus Interchangeable Stamps: Teacher Edition

I quit stickers cold-turkey many years ago, though I've absolutely LOVED keeping reusable stamps from 2000Plus around for when inspiration strikes.

The happy face and thumbs-up stamps come in endlessly handy, and students go CRAZY for the opportunity to stamp their own page.

Goodbye messy stickers!

Marble Mesh Toys

Marble Mesh Fidget Toys

Fidget toys are having a real "moment" in recent years, but if you are looking to curb students' habits of playing while you are talking, THIS is what you need.

Sometimes students just need something to do with their fingers, and the piano keys are their most obvious solution. Without saying a word, I will often pass a fidgety student one of these marble mesh toys.

They are quiet, require no brain power, yet provide that physical stimulus many anxious students need.

PS: You will also often find one of these in MY hand while I'm teaching online (since confining my movements to a small screen often leaves me feeling fidgety).

Magnifying Glass

Magnifying Glasses

I love to use magnifying glasses to make score analysis more fun with my littles. I also use them to "hunt" for proper hand position and so much more.

Lollipop Drum

I have a lot of supplementary percussion instruments, but this one is a favorite. Its timbre is pleasant and the slim profile allows for easy storage. If a student is having a challenging moment, I can hold the handle myself (which means I can take it away anytime I need!). My students sometimes use it in place of the key cover for "tabletop practice" because of the helpful resonance.

Bongo Drums

...speaking of percussion instruments... this is a sturdy set that works on your lap, on the table, or under your arm. I like having two sizes of drumheads; perfect for drilling rhythms in each hand, or letting the larger drum represent the macrobeat (while the smaller allows for the microbeat).

Craft Keeper

I have to give credit to Melody Payne for introducing Piano Teacher World to this amazing organization tool for all our music card games, manipulatives, and more.

You can purchase this in more subdued color schemes, but I'm partial to the bright colors in this set.

Iwako Erasers

If you know.... you know. I feel the greatest thrill over finding new, everyday items to fit on my piano keys. These are the perfect manipulatives for learning white key names, building scales, chords, etc. etc. etc. The possibilities are endless. I call my (extensive!) collection my "piano pets" and students love seeing who makes an appearance next.

Not all puzzle erasers are created equal. It is increasingly-difficult to find quality packs, with selections that actually sit upright on piano keys. This bunch is good. The hedgehogs are my absolute favorite.

Pro tip: I superglue all pieces together so they don't go missing (and it keeps students from fixating on tearing them apart).

Collapsing Giraffe Finger Puppets

...I thank the great Diane Hidy for introducing me to these! I gift these to all pedagogy students (like the dry erase boards). They serve as my reminder that words are not always the answer when we're teaching. I don't have to tell my students to correct their slouch. Instead, all I have to do is grab our trusty studio giraffe and let him collapse. Students instantly correct their posture.

Foil Sticky Tabs

Listen, friends: NOT ALL STICKY TABS ARE CREATED EQUAL. I don't pay more for vanity often, but these make me happy enough to justify spending a bit more. I find Post-It brand sticky tabs to be THE best, and the attractive colors and sheen of these make me happy to pop them in my students' books so they know just where to practice.

Automatic Three-Hole Punch

My manual three-hole punch was one of those things that caused me an irrational amount of frustration. My mother-in-law gifted me this for Christmas and I can't imagine going back. Now, I smile every time I pop worksheets or printed music into my students' binders.

Transparent Sticky Notes

Transparent Sticky Notes

So many sizes, so many uses! I've enjoyed finding unique purposes for each of the several varieties included in this set. Plus, students LOVE earning the "privilege" of removing stickies once they've made corrections.

Hand-Shaped Sticky Notes

A studio family gifted me these and I am obessed with the possibilities. They are small and sure to be a conversation starter with each student.

SPECIAL Sticky Notes

I love the bonus-level enthusiasm that comes with this set.

More sticky notes!

I appreciate how this set contains lined post-its but also different sizes of blank notes. (Can you tell I may be post-it obsessed?)

And - again - I love dollar store finds and all, but NOTHING beats the stickiness of actual Post-It brand sticky notes. They stand the test of time in a way the others just don't.

My Favorite Graduation Gift

This is my go-to present when I attend graduation Open Houses. I write more about it here.

Rolling Laptop Stand

I purchased this laptop stand 3 years ago and it's still going strong. It's a little stiff to roll around the room, but I never need to move it far. This cart allows me to take lesson notes while I'm teaching (I'm a stand-up teacher, not a sitter!), and it also gives me terrific flexibility when it comes to needing different angles for online teaching. I purchased this one because I liked having a place for my drink, as well as the (small, but functional) lower shelves. It's been a terrific purchase.

(PS: They also sell them in discounted 2-packs, in case you are looking for a multi-teacher studio!)

iRig Blue Turn Pedal

As recommended by my pal, Amy Chaplin, this wireless pedal has been the perfect companion to my iPad+ForScore app. I know there are lots of options out there, but I appreciate the simplicity of this device.

Hidrau Piano Bench

Okay: Truth be told, I don't own this yet. BUT I WILL.

After purchasing my four Kawai KDP75's, I've sworn off big studio purchases until I meet some other financial goals. But when the opportunity arises, this baby is coming to my house. I've done my research. I know it's what I want.

If you get yours before I do, go ahead: make me jealous. I promise to be happy for you.


Kawai KDP-75

SPEAKING OF my Kawai KDP75's, I spent MANY hours trying digital pianos in the summer of 2021, trying to find just the right instruments to add to my studio. I have been quite satisfied with this choice.

I added four of these to my studio and began offering multi-level group classes in an effort to downsize my working hours. It's been a great move.

Teacher-Specific BOOKS

My most-recommended teacher reads, including all the selections from my 2023 Summer Bookshelf Tour

Atomic Habits: James Clear

The instant-classic on how we become who we are.

Intelligent Music Teaching: Robert Duke

My go-to recommendation for studio music teachers looking to challenge the status-quo

The Gifts of Imperfection: Brene Brown

I re-read this book every January because it centers me in my work with others, and in better understanding myself.

We had an EXCELLENT book story via the Patreon Community in January 2024. Access to video discussions is still available to members of the "Learning Together" Patreon tier.

The Mindful Musician: Vanessa Cornett

If you know anything about Vanessa Cornett, you know she is sincere and thorough in her search for wellness.

I consider this book to be THE definitive source of mindfulness practices for musicians, packed with research and anecdotes to help us as teachers, performers, and human beings.

Vanessa's writing style is authoritative-yet-accessible, making it an easy read (though full of deep ponders).

Big Magic: Elizabeth Gilbert

Big Magic is a favorite amongst Creatives, and with good reason. It's packed with food-for-thought and encouragement to put those insecurities aside and DO THE THING.

The Ways Children Learn Music: Eric Bluestine

This book is widely-regarded at the best starting point for Music Learning Theory (MLT), developed by Dr. Edwin Gordon.

Under Pressure: Lisa Damour

A focused look into the everyday stressors of young women - with the bulk of the applications relevant to any gender.

Burnout: Emily and Amelia Nagoski

The premise of "unlocking the stress cycle" is pretty game-changing. This is an easy read, full of applicable suggestions to combat the physical manifestations of stress that can, indeed, lead to that nasty phenomenon of burnout.

Questions and Answers: Frances Clark

A compilation of (the QUEEN!) Frances Clark's published columns from Clavier magazine. Because there truly is nothing new under the sun, this advice holds true today, more than ever.

The Artist's Joy: Merideth Hite-Estevez

A beautiful, ACTIONABLE collection of reflections to help you connect with your true Artist Self.

Every Good Boy Does Fine: Jeremy Denk

When it comes to memoir, this one is absolute perfection. I find myself savoring every word.

Other Favorite Things

Things I love "just because" and want to share with you!

Owala Bottles

OKAY, this is for real: I know everyone loves their Stanley Cups, but hear me out: THIS WATER BOTTLE makes drinking water more fun. It just does. The combination of being able to sip AND chug is out-of-this-world satisfying. These keep my drinks cold throughout long teaching stretches. I'm responsible for getting MANY friends and family members addicted to their Owala bottles and I hope you join the club.

PS: The 24-ounce will fit in most car cupholders. Any bigger and you're going to have trouble.

I like the sleekness of this black version, but they also come in LOTS of fun colors.

I've gifted these to teachers, friends, and family over and over again. They're THAT good.

Say Yes: Scott Erickson

My very favorite kick-in-the-pants book for Creatives. This read is for everyone needing a reminder to let your light shine. Lots of (non-denominational) spirituality here, FYI.

Joyful: Ingrid Fetell Lee

A scientific examination of the objects in life that spark universal joy. This book changes the way you see the world (for the better).

Sweet and Spicy Tea from Good Earth

Another Amy Chaplin find, this tea is just delicious. My dark-as-night-coffee-loving-self sometimes struggles to find tea I love, but this is a consistently-satisfying alternative.

Happy Light

Happy Light

My husband bought me this light in 2022 and I am always singing its praises. This little buddy of mine truly does help me feel better, especially during the dreary winter months.

Logitech Brio Webcam

This webcam helps my online lessons (and teacher meetups!) looking and sounding fantastic. I am no tech-master, so I appreciate how easy this camera has made everything for me.

Cheers to anything that gives the appearance that I know what I'm doing!

BeeKind Food Wraps

We all have silly things that make us disproportionately happy, and these are one of mine.

I don't buy pre-shredded cheese, so these have been THE PERFECT SOLUTION to the opened blocks of cheese I have in my refrigerator. There are countless other uses for these wraps, but that's primarily mine.

They wrap around anything, are not wasteful like plastic wrap, etc., and are also SO PRETTY to look at.

LED Candles

I have an embarrassing number of these throughout my house. They operate on a daily timer, so I am pleasantly-surprised each evening when my home instantly becomes a little more magical, without any effort on my part. It's the little things in life, right?


Ninja Foodi

I try to be relatively minimalist when it comes to appliances, but after years of trying to "make do" with a too-small-for-us air fryer, I finally upgraded to this sanity-saving model.

It's large, but flips up for more convenient storage.

I count air fryers as ENDLESSLY more helpful for assisting in teacher-dinner chaos than the Instant-Pot.