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#1996571 - 12/08/12 08:50 PM Use of practice journal  
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Overexposed Offline
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I'm wondering whether to give a practice journal to each student this year. The problem with doing so is that I have a feeling kids won't record their practice.

Do your students record their practice?

I think a journal is very helpful to me in my own progress. But I'm wondering if it's realistic to expect kids to record their progress (or parents record kids practice).

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#1996583 - 12/08/12 09:25 PM Re: Use of practice journal [Re: Overexposed]  
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Michael_99 Offline
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Well, it is not whether it is a teacher or a student, an adult or a kid, it is that some people keep written records and some people don't keep written records. Some people keep pictures and stories of their vacations and others would tend not to. Also playing the piano is quite sedentary sitting on the bench for long periods of time and sedentary people would love nothing better than spending even more time keeping written records as opposed to those that are more active types who bolt for the door after they had done their requried practice/study.

#1996600 - 12/08/12 10:06 PM Re: Use of practice journal [Re: Overexposed]  
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MaggieGirl Offline
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My daughter has a notebook that her teacher writes her thoughts in as well as what she is supposed to practice. But I don't think my daughter would write in it. She doesn't even like to keep a journal so I got her a smashbook instead. She loves the smashbook but that isn;t for piano! laugh

#1996601 - 12/08/12 10:14 PM Re: Use of practice journal [Re: Overexposed]  
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Thank you both for the feedback. I have given my adult student a journal. He doesn't write in it or practice much, but I find it helps me keep track of where we are with scales especially. For most assignments I use removable stickers to mark pages in books.

If I give them each a little journal, it may only serve to help me keep track regarding scales. It would be an improvement. I make notes as it is, but not weekly.

OTOH, lessons are short. Not sure whether to make time for this or not. I may just ask each kid whether they would like to have a practice journal. And only get one for those who are interested. I already know what one 5th grader will say: "You're the teacher. You decide." He has said this before to me when I give him choices.


#1996685 - 12/09/12 01:50 AM Re: Use of practice journal [Re: Overexposed]  
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Nannerl Mozart Offline
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I Ann, I have kept practice journals but I have never shown them to my teacher. Having said that, we did go through a phase where I wasn't convinced that I was progressing at all, so I suggested logging my practice time and showing him how much and how hard I actually practiced. This worked. I continue to write up what I will practice and cross things off my list as I accomplish the tasks.

With my younger students I normally get them to write down what they have practiced and give them suggestions to how they can practice more efficiently, if they practice well for the week, the get rewarded with a sticker.

#1996689 - 12/09/12 02:14 AM Re: Use of practice journal [Re: Nannerl Mozart]  
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MaggieGirl Offline
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The teacher writes a paragraph each lesson so in a way it does track progress. She can look back to when she started.

For example:
sonatina - correct fingering, rests, non legato, legato
etude 20 passed on
etude 21 homework
new song - 2 lines
recital piece.
theory review pgs 27/28

The only time my daughter has written in it was to leave a note - finger pain - she forgot to mention it so she wrote it in the book and then the teacher could talk to her about it.

It is very helpful for her to look back and work on what the teacher has pointed out.

#1996742 - 12/09/12 05:58 AM Re: Use of practice journal [Re: Overexposed]  
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My thoughts:

I keep notes of my lessons - my homework, things to focus on, which pieces are in progress - but I can't be bothered to keep a practice log.
I play every day, run through my scales, a few older pieces to keep them fresh, my assigned pieces and some sight reading.

Keeping a log over and above the lesson notes just seems like a chore to me, and unnecessary.


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#1996791 - 12/09/12 09:11 AM Re: Use of practice journal [Re: Overexposed]  
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I keep my student's lesson assignments on my laptop. At the end of the lesson I print out the sheet and give it to them, keeping a copy on my computer. Each sheet has space for students to write down what was practiced each day, although most of them will usually just write down how long they practiced for. Sometimes it takes a bit of cajoling to get them to actually use it, but when they do it really helps troubleshoot.


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#1996845 - 12/09/12 11:11 AM Re: Use of practice journal [Re: Overexposed]  
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Thanks for all the comments. I've scrapped the idea of giving practice journals.

#1996857 - 12/09/12 11:40 AM Re: Use of practice journal [Re: Morodiene]  
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I love stuff like this, but I think it depends on the person. My teacher asked me in the first lesson to buy a notebook for her to write in. So I have a pretty notebook (because, hey, stationery makes me happy) and each week she writes down what I've worked on and what to do for homework. I then tick them off and write comments about how they've gone or any issues - I'm not sure that was supposed to be the case, I think it was originally meant to be just for her to write in, but I am the kind of person who writes things down. I get great joy from this book as sometimes my teacher writes amusing comments and sometimes I draw diagrams and stick in post-it notes.

And because I REALLY like to write things down, I have a separate practice diary, in which I write down the times and total amount of hours each day that I spend practising. This is mostly for me though and I don't always show that to my teacher, usually only when I've had a bad week and I'm like "look I should have done so much more".

I've gone off track though as none of this really helps with what you asked. I guess, yes, practice journals are a great idea and some will really love keeping one, but you may need to evaluate the kind of student who will and the kind who won't.



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'Play Piano' Book 2 - finished
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#1996859 - 12/09/12 11:45 AM Re: Use of practice journal [Re: Overexposed]  
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Originally Posted by Ann in Kentucky
Thanks for all the comments. I've scrapped the idea of giving practice journals.


Oh, just read that and realised it makes my above enthusiasm for practice journals redundant!



Complete Beginner August 2012
'Play Piano' Book 1 - finished
'Play Piano' Book 2 - finished
Grade 1 Sight Reading - finished
Grade 1 Exam Pieces
Grade 1 Scales
The Easy Piano Collection Classical Gold
Yamaha U3
#1997005 - 12/09/12 05:43 PM Re: Use of practice journal [Re: Overexposed]  
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Yes, I think a notebook will do. I want to be careful to encourage practice, but not nag kids about it. And if they come in with practice journals with nothing written in them that will just discourage me. So for now, I'm not going to pursue that idea.

Edit: I had been considering the kind that have a box for each day of the week to record practice (along with staff and space for assignments).

Last edited by Ann in Kentucky; 12/09/12 05:45 PM.
#1997028 - 12/09/12 06:52 PM Re: Use of practice journal [Re: Overexposed]  
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I sometimes use what I call a "practice agenda" with some of my younger students who struggle with practicing effectively. I made up the format where under the date of the lesson there are several lines for me to write in specific tasks, with little boxes under each task line to check off each time the task is completed. For example... I might write "beat 1 of 3rd measure through beat 2 of 4th measure - rh only, 5-10 times" for task 1, then "beat 1 of 3rd measure through beat 2 of 4th measure - lh only, 5-10 times" for task 2, "measures 1-8 both hands with metronome 3-5 times" for the 3rd task etc. I can be as specific or as general as necessary, but it seems to help kids get used to the idea of prioritizing and organizing their practice. And they don't have to write anything themselves, just check a box knowing that I expect to see a certain amount of checks the next lesson. Over time, I start to include them in the process of designing the tasks so they start to learn how to guide themselves when practicing and gain the ability to make adjustments to their practice during the week.

I guess this is probably nothing new, but I find it helpful for certain students. smile

#1997254 - 12/10/12 08:12 AM Re: Use of practice journal [Re: Overexposed]  
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Ann, I reward my students with a sticker if they practice well. Practice logs aren't always a chore!

#1997273 - 12/10/12 09:18 AM Re: Use of practice journal [Re: Overexposed]  
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With certain students I will also do a reward system. If they dont' write down their practice times, they don't get credit for practicing that day, and the sticker/prize all depends on how many days they practiced, if they counted out loud, did their theory, and practiced their scales and/or technique exercises.

If they get 4 stickers in a row, they get to pick a prize (a pencil, eraser, music clip, etc). With some kids this works really well, as they love getting the sticker and the prizes, and it's helped to get some kids going in a practice routine.


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#1997280 - 12/10/12 09:33 AM Re: Use of practice journal [Re: Morodiene]  
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
With certain students I will also do a reward system. If they dont' write down their practice times, they don't get credit for practicing that day, and the sticker/prize all depends on how many days they practiced, if they counted out loud, did their theory, and practiced their scales and/or technique exercises.

If they get 4 stickers in a row, they get to pick a prize (a pencil, eraser, music clip, etc). With some kids this works really well, as they love getting the sticker and the prizes, and it's helped to get some kids going in a practice routine.


That sounds great. I'm nearly 30 and god I would still love that.


Complete Beginner August 2012
'Play Piano' Book 1 - finished
'Play Piano' Book 2 - finished
Grade 1 Sight Reading - finished
Grade 1 Exam Pieces
Grade 1 Scales
The Easy Piano Collection Classical Gold
Yamaha U3
#1997283 - 12/10/12 09:43 AM Re: Use of practice journal [Re: Toastie]  
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Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted by Toastie
Originally Posted by Morodiene
With certain students I will also do a reward system. If they dont' write down their practice times, they don't get credit for practicing that day, and the sticker/prize all depends on how many days they practiced, if they counted out loud, did their theory, and practiced their scales and/or technique exercises.

If they get 4 stickers in a row, they get to pick a prize (a pencil, eraser, music clip, etc). With some kids this works really well, as they love getting the sticker and the prizes, and it's helped to get some kids going in a practice routine.


That sounds great. I'm nearly 30 and god I would still love that.


LOL! I've never thought of using it with my adults thumb


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#1997298 - 12/10/12 10:30 AM Re: Use of practice journal [Re: Overexposed]  
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I am always a bit embarrassed by how long it takes me to get things right. Every now and then, my teacher will ask, "How long did this take you?" I never have a proper answer, first because I don't keep track, but I do practice at least an hour every morning and then almost always at least a bit in the afternoon.


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#1997346 - 12/10/12 01:07 PM Re: Use of practice journal [Re: malkin]  
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Originally Posted by malkin
I am always a bit embarrassed by how long it takes me to get things right. Every now and then, my teacher will ask, "How long did this take you?" I never have a proper answer, first because I don't keep track, but I do practice at least an hour every morning and then almost always at least a bit in the afternoon.


Oh malkin, that happens to me too and I always proudly say "X amount of hours" and it's only now I realise that my teacher probably means it in the sense of "this took you HOW LONG?!"



Complete Beginner August 2012
'Play Piano' Book 1 - finished
'Play Piano' Book 2 - finished
Grade 1 Sight Reading - finished
Grade 1 Exam Pieces
Grade 1 Scales
The Easy Piano Collection Classical Gold
Yamaha U3
#1997371 - 12/10/12 02:19 PM Re: Use of practice journal [Re: Overexposed]  
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Personally, I would never use a practice journal. I find it just one more thing to do in an already busy schedule. I like the idea of it, but in practice, I know I would never do it.


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#1997387 - 12/10/12 03:20 PM Re: Use of practice journal [Re: Morodiene]  
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
With certain students I will also do a reward system. If they dont' write down their practice times, they don't get credit for practicing that day, and the sticker/prize all depends on how many days they practiced, if they counted out loud, did their theory, and practiced their scales and/or technique exercises.

If they get 4 stickers in a row, they get to pick a prize (a pencil, eraser, music clip, etc). With some kids this works really well, as they love getting the sticker and the prizes, and it's helped to get some kids going in a practice routine.


Do you give your students any long term practice goals? Something like practicing every day for a month?


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