Thursday, August 6, 2009

Keeping a Practice Log...

The other day I posted on keeping a gig log book...a simple list of mistakes you made during performances to refer to when you sit down and practice. Just as much as you need to keep a running list of items you need to work on, you need to keep a similar list of items you've MASTERED. Something that you can look back on and track your progress...or lack thereof.

All to often when I'm talking to students or other musicans I'm playing with, they complain about not making progress in their playing despite regular practice sessions. They just don't feel like they're getting any better. That's an easy fix with just pull out the past lesson plans and emphasize where they started when they began lessons with you and where they are now. We shouldn't have to rely on teachers to do this FOR us's easy to do for yourself.

Again, it doesn't have to be anything fancy, another spiral notebook will do (or you can get a 3 subject notebook and keep them altogether.) You can also keep a running file on your iphone or computer, just be sure to save a backup.

Here's a list of what should be in it:

1) The date

2) How long you plan on practicing

3) Items you plan on practicing with a timeframe in minutes beside it to let you know when to move on to the next item. Also include a BPM goal to work towards.

4) How long you actually got to practice

5) Notes on practice session.

Pretty's what one might look like...


Planned Practice Time: 2 hours

Things to Work on:

Ratamacue: 20 minutes: goal BPM: 110
"New Breed" system 3, pp.14-17: 40 minutes: goal BPM: 120
Up tempo swing: 20 minutes: goal BPM: 190
Using Ratamacue around the drumkit: 30 minutes: goal BPM: 110
Jamming: 10 minutes: goal BPM: None

Actual Practice Time: 2 hours 15 minutes

Ratamacue: Work on LH lead. Got it up to 100bpm
"New Breed" system 3: finished pp.14-15, 16-17 need more work: pp.14-15:120bpm, pp.16-17: 106bpm
Up tempo swing: Work on endurance and comping with LH, 176bpm
Using Ratamacue around drumkit: Work on fluidity between cymbals and snare, toms to snare sounds good, 102bpm.
Jammed 25 minutes and came up with new groove using the Ratamacue.

You can get as detailed as you want with this...the more you are detailed the better! As you conquer certain things, make a note of it in your practice log...that way when you go back and look you'll see the improvement.

Alot of times we just FEEL like we're not improving. If you look at it on paper though, you'll see that you're making sufficient progress...or maybe you'll see that you're not. At least then you'll know and knowing is half the battle (Yo Joe!...Sorry, regressed into childhood for a second...).

This takes mere minutes to do and it's what separates the dedicated from the others, so please take the time.


Christian said...

This has helped me focus more when I practice. I use one of this to log ideas, make notes and to direct my practice.

Audiyo said...

@ Christian...Thanks for the link! Moleskin notebooks are fantastic...they're durable, portable, and sleek lookin to boot. I honestly didn't know they made one with staff paper...kudos, I really appreciate the link, as I'm sure everyone else does too!

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