Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Keeping a Practice Journal

Starting New  Year's Day, I intend to begin keeping a practice journal and update it every day during 2013.  I'll use it to keep track of exactly what I played or worked on that day.  Warm-up exercises, what the recurring theme or main focus was, what I was thinking or feeling during the practice, how I divided up the practice session, what my goal was and whether or not I met it, what I could have done better, what my stopping point was, what I want to remember for next time...stuff like that. I'll also include any technical information, tips, pointers or other insights I've come across or learned recently.

In addition I'll list things I want to work on the next day, next week, next month, and even longer term goals.  I'll jot down specific concepts I want to focus on, such as tunes to learn, exercises and drills, ear-training, ornamentation, increasing speed, timing, rhythm, arpeggios, scales, improvisation, analyzing the shape of a tune, books I want to look at or read, research I want to do.  Basically planning so I know exactly what I need to do next time.  This will help me have a well-rounded practice regimen.

I also want to write in the journal immediately following a session or jam.  How it went, how I felt, what I played, what I couldn't play, what I didn't understand, what my physical and emotional state was, what tunes I liked or didn't like, what was frustrating, where I had  light bulb moments, and so on.  I currently attend 6 to 8 jams a month (20 hours per month) and it's easier to identify weaknesses and deficiencies immediately after playing in such an environment.

Ultimately, by keeping a practice journal I hope to have a feeling of accomplishment as I look back and see my progress over time.  It will keep me honest about what I really need to be working on and will challenge me to continue to push myself further than I was the day before.

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