Using a Practice Journal for More Effective Practicing

There are a couple of things that really help me achieve noticeable progress at the piano: getting to the piano consistently for ten minutes a day and keeping a practice journal.

Ten minutes is not a lot of time, but it is an easy way “in.” I can always make time for ten minutes at the piano, and if I get there for ten, inevitably it turns into more!

A practice journal can help me get focused right away, especially if I have a limited amount of time to practice. I use a practice journal in three ways:

  1. Write down what I accomplish in each piece as well as where to start the next time I sit down at the keyboard.
  2. Track big picture goals, like pieces for a recital.
  3. Analyze parts of pieces to aid in memory, noting themes and when they recur with slight variations.

Take a look at the inside of my journal here:

This can be an effective tool for student practice, too. Students would benefit from more structure than a blank journal, however, and The Music Student's Practice Journal is just such a resource! Suitable for intermediate or advanced students, this journal has pages for setting big-picture goals, incremental memorization goals, and weekly practice goals. It would be a great tool to try out in the summer months, when there is more time for reflection, and then implement it more fully during the school year. 

Do you use a Practice Journal? Tell me how you use it to focus your practice!

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