Keep a Practice Log
Not the type to keep a journal? Get over it! Keeping a log for achieving your efficiency goals will help you.
Once your goal is selected (step 1) you are on our way. However, it is often the case that you do not fully understand the process of achieving said goal (unless you’ve done it before and even then there is a lot to learn) so keeping a journal of your daily progress helps sort through the clutter and find those things that help us time and time again. Working towards a goal is exciting and at times scary and confusing. By keeping a log of your goals, the steps you take towards them and what you are thinking and feeling during the process you learn a lot about your psychology, what it takes to learn, and how to gain serious leverage in improving your chops!
Logs Help us Psychologically
The traditional “log” function of a practice journal is fairly obvious. You write down the things you practiced, in what keys, and at what tempos. There will be days that open the door to doubt and frustration and this is a natural part of the learning process. By being able to look back 6 months and say, “Well hey, turns out I am better than I was before,” you keep morale high. This helps you trek forward when you hit the proverbial brick wall.
Practice journals are also a cheap form of therapy. Sometimes you need someone to talk to while working out the psychological aspects of long-term growth. You won’t always have an understanding friend around (or they may not want to listen to you go on and on about your chops) but you can always write down what’s going on inside you. Sometimes you need to relieve the dam so-to-speak and writing can help you keep yourself sane.
Logs Help Chop Management
By noting how you feel about trumpet playing every day you will learn very valuable lessons about fatigue management. This will help you make more intelligent decisions on the intensity of what you practice or if a guilt-free day off is in order. Without a record it is very difficult to judge this over the long-term. For example; how did your chops feel 2 weeks ago? What events led up to that? What was going on psychologically? By keeping a log it makes it easier for you to devise a system to best manage your practice time and energy.
(Trumpetworks Note: You probably need much less than you think, especially in areas of fatigue. The “tear it down and heal” approach may not be your best bet)
You may also find that you avoid certain areas in practice (weaknesses, anyone?) and perhaps more importantly why you avoid them. Figure out your head game and the chops are the easy part.
Logs Help us Focus
You may want to time how long it takes you on average to accomplish certain tasks. This, along with finding what time of day you think most effectively is the basis of good time management. You can then plan your practice session the night before (by noting what needed extra work TODAY) and guarantee positive steps toward your goal in the shortest time possible (you will get very good at this). This keeps us focused so we aren’t “shooting in the dark.”
Logs Help us Shape Our Thinking
By writing what you do, think, and feel you become more aware of your internal dialogue. Recognizing your habitual thinking patterns puts you in position to reconstruct them. You will also begin to notice which ideas and focal points continue to work over the long-haul. These are your “fall-back” patterns for when you become confused or get butterflies on the gig.
There will be great insights, trials, and tribulations. Having a laid out account of everything you have worked through will lead to a greater understanding of the learning process, the confidence to pursue your goals, an attitude to help others, and yes – great chops!
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