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I use a calendar to keep track of my daily music practice, similar to the Seinfeld productivity method (http://lifehacker.com/281626/jerry-seinfelds-productivity-secret). This has been extremely helpful, as I practice every single day, even when I go out of town (having a Traveler brand guitar has also helped here). When I first started playing, I did not do this, and it showed.

For those of you who are/know/have music students, do they find practice journals useful? I'm wondering if it would be helpful to keep track of more details on what I am practicing (songs, scales, techniques), or if I should just shut up and play/practice.

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I think a schedule similar to this would be useful to you. theguitarsuite.com/Guitar-Practice/Practice-Schedule.html –  DRL Jun 28 '11 at 21:06
    
interesting approach, to play every day! Seinfeld is a genius. Also, @DRL, as interesting this guitar practice shedule is, I wouldn't want to go in that direction. Having a motivator to help you to play every day is a good idea, but I think this goes to far for my taste. I wouldn't want a plan, which tells me what to practice, even if I was the one who made it. Because on one day I want to play only for 5 minutes and the other day it's 5 hours. I don't want it to be like lessons, where I NEED to do something. I want to practice what I want, when I want it. That's impossible to shedule. –  Markus Schwalbe Jun 29 '11 at 9:52

4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

It is especially valuable for the tutor, who may have many students - a quick look at the journal at the start of a lesson can help you remember exactly where the student is in the syllabus.

You can track how long it is likely to take to reach specific goals.

It is also valuable if you get them used to noting where they have problems or difficulties, so you can tweak your training.

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For a student, especially a beginner, it can help you make sure you are practicing the right things - it is all too easy to get your practice wrong when it is all new, so checking the journal can help a lot.

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My experience is that practice journals are very helpful. They're a great organizational tool and make the practice time more focused and effective.

Here's a link to great journals (that I created) that are especially designed for music students. There are two versions, one for young students and another for older (over 10). They get you organized in color - and most kids prefer a colorful life. :) Both teachers and students (as well as parents) love these.

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I find it an essential part of the well-run school music program. When you're just dealing with individual private students it's less vital, but when you have a curriculum to run with a hundred student instrumentalists, it's actually more important to the teacher. Students in this situation are often less motivated than private self-learners, so it's hard to say if the students themselves find it useful for their growth as musicians. What I can say is that studies have shown students are more likely to practice when they have a practice chart to fill out to meet a stated requirement each week than students with no requirement or log.

From the teacher's perspective, this is also the place where you can write down weekly goals or things to work on, as well as assignments. If you just tell a student "practice number 12 while paying attention to articulation markings and work on your D major scale" at the end of a lesson, good luck having them remember all of that unless they write it down.

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I am a big fan of practice journals, and think any serious music student should have one. As a professional musician I have a ton of music that I have to work on at all times to be ready for the various rehearsals and performances I have going on. My practice journal helps me stay organized and avoid getting overwhelmed.

On top of the organizational aspect, which is enough reason by itself, there's also a ton of scientific research coming out these days that shows a real impact on learning from reflecting on what you've just learned. In music practice, this means let's say I practice a passage from a piece, then take just a few moments to think about what I did, what I figured out, what worked, what didn't, etc. and write that in my journal. Just the act of thinking about things in this way helps your retention of new information. Writing it down helps even more. Then if you look at your journal the next time you practice, you get another boost to your retention.

I've actually gotten so enamoured with practice journals that I've created my own online journal system, which I call my Structured Practice Method. I use it myself, and with all my college level students. It's really made a big difference for me. Check out the link to it in my profile.

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Mark - This seems like a useful answer, but be aware we are quite strict on self promotion. Remember, you can have a description links to your product/service in your profile, so I'll edit this post just to point there. –  Dr Mayhem Mar 5 at 8:15
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Whoops, sorry, I wasn't aware. Thanks for the edit and the heads-up!! –  mvftrumpet Mar 5 at 14:32

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