Using OneNote as a Tool for Tuning and Teaching

When I first got my laptop for college, there was a widget that allowed you to put virtual sticky notes on your desktop screen. I LOVED that widget and used it all the time. Now it is 8 years later, and with Windows 8, that isn't an option. However, Microsoft does have a new tool that way surpasses those little sticky notes: OneNote. 

With Microsoft OneNote you can write yourself notes, turn them into to-do lists with little check boxes, and neatly organize data or lists. You can also draw on your lists (which is more helpful if you have a touch screen). OneNote will sync with any device you have, and you can share your notebooks with other people. (That's just a quick description. If you want more info, check out this link: The best part that I love about it is that you can open up a new page, click to write anywhere, and then move your text boxes around with ease. It's just like using little sticky notes, but now you can have tons of them, archive them, and see them anywhere (as long as your devices are synced)!

OneNote has seriously changed my note taking system, and makes life easier on a daily basis. I use it to keep track of my tuning clients and tuning history, to write down to-do lists so I get things done, to keep track of where my students have been and where they are going, to plan out meals (and then I open up my list at the grocery store and just cross things off), to sync to-do lists with my husband, to plan out blogs..

More specifically, here's how I use it for Tuning and Teaching.


My tuning course said to use cards for each piano and take these with me. This system is seriously outdated and was not working for me. Now I have a "notebook" for all my business related things. In that notebook, I have a section called "Tuning". In each section you can have different pages. I have a calendar page first, and then a page for each client. On the calendar page I list out every month and list clients under the specific months I tuned their pianos so I can see it at a glance. This tells me the months I don't have many clients, when to call people to remind them about upcoming tunings, who missed a tuning, etc.   

For the client pages, I list the piano make and serial number. Then I list the first time I tuned their piano. After that I write my notes for each tuning, and the date of each tuning. I add each new tuning at the top of the page so I can see the most recent one first. I then organize the pages alphabetically (I wish OneNote would do this for me, but the drag and drop feature isn't too hard). These notes sync with my phone, so when I go to a client's house, I can simply pull up their page and add any new notes. 

As I write this, I realized I don't have a page for my piano! So, here's what a page looks like, using my piano as an example. I haven't transferred over all my notes from my note card yet. I'm not even sure I still have it. I don't remember when I first gave my piano a proper tuning, but I just recently tuned it again. It's had too many practice tuning to even count! 


I use OneNote similarly for my teaching. I keep a purchase lists section with notes of books I need for the future so I can snag them when they are on sale. 

I also have a section called "Piano Planning" which I use for planning out studio events. I used this extensively when I was planning for the 40 piece challenge , since I needed to keep track of a huge list of books and pieces for each student!  I actually wound up changing how I structured my challenge from my original idea, but you can see the planning process here:

Finally, I keep notes on each student I teach. It is hard to keep extensive notes on everything they've learned so  I try to keep it as a quick review. I list:

  • Books they are currently using
  • Current struggles I need to remember to work on
  •  Books completed (so I can know where they've been)
  • Concepts learned (this one is really hard to keep up with!)
  • When they began lessons
  • Future music ideas

I got this idea of at-a-glance student notes from Joy Morin at Color In My Piano.  I do keep week to week lesson plan records, especially for my beginners, in my teaching binder. Those eventually get thrown out, but these digital notes help me keep long-term goals in mind.  


Disclaimer: Microsoft OneNote doesn't even know I wrote this post. This is just what I think, and an attempt to help you learn about the technology options out there for your business.