Practice log: app? Notebook? Etc.
How do you track your practice goals and results? Notebook? App? Spreadsheet? Trying to set up a system for myself and looking for ideas. Thanks!
Hi Katie! I think a notebook is really great way to track your goals, practice sessions, and also notes from your lessons. You can also use your practice notebook for other things like schedules, to do lists, etc. Sometimes notebooks can be bulky so something slender and not too big that fits in your case is the best. Anyway if you're not very into notebooks I guess you could always use notes on your phone. Hope this helps!
Audio and video recordings for me. I've got notes on the music as well but it's recordings give me the real clear feedback on how I'm progressing, or not.
Usually for any kind of study/training/practice the most effective is not to write what you do after practice, but to write the plan for each day in the upcoming week/fortnight and try to stick to it and comment later on the side of each.
I think the big question is, "What do you hope to accomplish by use of a practice journal?"
Thanks, guys. I'm trying to sort out what I need and what would help motivate me to be more consistent.
Yixi, do you make recordings with your phone?
I use an app that has unfortunately not been updated for the current iOS. I actually keep my iPad on the old iOS so that it still works: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/music-journal-pro-practice-metronome-app-to-log-time-and-bpm/id325759857?mt=8
Katie, for audio recording, on weekly basis in my practice room as well as during lessons and performances, I use my zoom and then upload it on my PC. Occasionally, I use my cell phone to video record myself to check my movements as an alternative to a mirror, which I use daily.
I use a notebook. There's this thing called The Practice Journal - I've found it a great way to set up my writing about my playing. I didn't buy it, but I got the free sample and used the same layout in the journal I use.
‘Thanks, guys. I'm trying to sort out what I need and what would help motivate me to be more consistent.’
Roman that's an interesting viewpoint and I'm glad you took the time to articulate it. I think for a lot of folks, motivation ebbs and flows, and the "motivational tools" (practice charts and such) help rectify the low points. I have to say, personally, that if one needs a chart to keep track of what one is practicing, at least for me this would be a sign that I am working on too many things in parallel. Then again, some people just like to feel ultra-organized about everything, tracking every different area of their lives with a different iPhone app, so organizing their violin practice in that way is just part of what makes life enjoyable for them. Finally there is the significant issue of wanting to measure progress when progress is slow and the error in measurement large. For this I recommend periodically (say, every couple of weeks) taking out a piece that you "finished" a year or two ago and playing through it ... if you're making progress you'll find you can play it better (or with less effort or stress) than you could before. That's extremely motivating for me because that's where I can see real change, even if the gradient is measured in months or years rather than days or weeks. And use a different piece every time because why not review and maintain your prior repertoire anyway.
Roman, that's an interesting perspective, and it's probably reasonable for youngsters like yourself who are figuring out whether or not you want to make violin a profession.
Motivation... That's a millenial thing, isn't it?
I don't think motivation is a "millenial thing." Practice charts certainly aren't. But struggles with motivation is exactly the kind of thing that people would have kept to themselves in previous generations whereas millenial are more apt to wear it on their sleeves (or their facebook pages or their twitter feeds).
Motivation might be a new thing and a cultural thing too. When I grew up in China during the 60s, we never talked about motivation or what we wanted. It was all about what the family, the country needed and what we should do. And it worked to a large degree to cultivate grit among other things in people from such cultures. Don't laugh if I tell you the truth about that it took me a long time after I immigrated to Canada to get used to the idea that what "I want" was important. I believed that wanting or expecting was something counter-factual because the world was not built to fit our desires but the other way around. Of course, now I'm all about doing what I want.
Ha! Motivation is for everyone. And the older one gets, the harder can be to have a "growth mindset" or to believe that one can change/improve. I'm hardly a millennial. But I do have a fairly complicated life with a lot of different commitments that I'm juggling. Violin, like exercise, is a commitment to myself--the easiest kind to forego, especially if I'm tired after a long day. I also have a political appointment in our local government that requires late night meetings and a lot of due diligence, a job, a child with special needs and activities of his own, a house, a husband, a church choir, and other hobbies. I've never been good at focusing on one thing and, left to my own devices, "practice" can quickly devolve in one of two directions: messing around with music that I'll never perform, or fretting over some extremely micro element of my technique that I'm convinced is holding me back, and then abandoning my instrument in frustration. When I was a bike racer, I had a training plan: 2 hour easy ride one day, intervals the next, endurance ride or weights after that. And I had a coach that checked in with me weekly, looked at my training data (miles, speed, heart rate, time up benchmark climbs) and advised and adjusted accordingly. It worked. And more importantly, I gained a confidence in my ability to systematically improve at something that I was already good at, and to see the results. I crave that experience with violin as well, but I stopped taking regular lessons when I graduated from high school 25 years ago. And I'm at a point in life where I'm ready for guidance and routine. The sheer number of decisions I have to make in a given day about how to spend my time is frankly exhausting. So...now you know more about me than you did before. ;-) (and yes, I'm also looking for a teacher. It hasn't been an easy quest.)
Yixi, of course it’s a matter of habit. And of course there are highs and lows but I’m talking about a larger picture kind of commitment, one that goes beyond motivation.
The idea that feeling motivated to do something is novel or restricted to a certain geography is odd. So is the idea that motivation and discipline are in a somewhat contradictory, rather than complementary, relation.
I use the paid version of MyTractice app for Android. It's not specifically designed for violin so a bit clunky because you have to re-enter instrument, excersizes etc for each section of practice time. But as i got used to it, I've actually found the forced pause and thought in the selection helpful to create a short break between the specific things I'm working on and think through the best progression. It includes a timer, saved tagging (scales, key, specific songs etc.), A section for notes and allows you to record in app for later playback.
I found Trello useful
I feel so old school; I use a notebook and a pen. I always have, since I was a kid. Though my notes to myself have gotten briefer over the years. I have so much stuff on my music stand (I actually have two stands, side by side) that it's easy for me to forget what I'm working on unless I write it down. I make notes on my music, of course, but if I'm working up nine bars in the middle of a development passage, practicing a tricky bit in rhythms or whatever, I don't want to note that in the music but I do want a note somewhere.
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