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Practice Journal

Hi Everybody!

It's been a while since I've posted, I've been very busy with teaching and driving all over creation for symphony/chamber ensembles.

A quick post today, about keeping a practice journal.

This is something that I encourage every student to do. Knowing what and how to practice is a skill that is every bit as important as knowing the fundamentals of how to hold the instrument. It isn't only the mechanics of instrument you are learning, you are also learning how to learn music on your instrument.

I do it myself to stay organized and to make my practice sessions as efficient as possible. A lot of the time I have so much music to learn that it's more time efficient for me to work on things piecemeal, so that tricky passages get the most time. When my schedule is more reasonable, I keep track of technical aspects of playing that I want to work on, tweak, or keep solid.

What I encourage you to do is write down your repertoire for the week, and what you want to accomplish with it. Each day, figure out what you want to do with your practice session, write it down, and stick to it. After your practice session, take a few moments to write down any observations you have regarding the repertoire and your playing. If something is going awry technically, or there's a passage that you just can't nail, take a moment to think of a few possible ways to solve the problem. Sometimes identifying and articulating the problem is enough to solve it. Write it down, and in your next practice session try and implement those problem solving strategies. They may or may not be effective, and finding that out is important too! Knowing what doesn't work is at least as important as knowing what works.

What keeping a journal does, aside from keeping your practice sessions organized, is facilitate efficient, mindful practicing. It's often too easy to repeat a (usually first )section of a piece of music over and over again, often somewhat mindlessly. That's not hugely helpful for making progress.

You'll make more progress in less time if you think about the music, what you want to accomplish daily, analyze your technical problems and think of ways to solve them and then implement those problem solving strategies.

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