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Talão Offline OP
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Do you use any kind of log to keep track of your scale/arpeggio practice? If so, how do you do it?

My teacher said it's OK if I accelerate the bpm on scales/arpeggios that become easier, and take my time on the harder ones. As I've been practicing 24 different scales (12 major and 12 harmonic minor) that could potentially mean keeping track of several different speeds. Too much to remember by heart. Therefore, I created log sheets to organize this information (plus add any relevant notes, like "look left"; some scales are easier to play HT if I look at my left hand, while others work better if I look at my right hand). In case someone else may find these sheets useful, I have made the PDFs available here:

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1sAJGNuuiAkdKShy7Lq4QUQdc1GbGl_57?usp=sharing

The sheets also include the typical fingering for all scales and arpeggios. "npb" stands for notes per beat. This is explained in the footnotes.

Here's an example of how I use them:

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I think that's really smart...particularly your notes like "look L."

I'm keeping track too, but it's not as elegant as your spreadsheet. smile


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I used to track minutes but I never got to this level of granularity. I grouped everything high level: Song, Technique, Lessons, Assigned Work. After a few months of logging minutes I found I didn't get much value out of it. I think it's great if you like it and it motivates you, it just wasn't for me. There is an app called Modacity you might like too if you like tracking items and logging progress and minutes. You can make sessions too it's a great app. You can use it for songs, scales, really anything you want to track. You sheet does looks great too!

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If you like it and you feel it helps you, why not. But i dont think it really gives you much value to track it down at that level of detail. Especially that it seems your scales are all at 85 HS and HT. Which btw is rather curious because typically one goes faster hands separate than together. I think that taking a measurement once or twice per month is good enough. Essentially whether you are at 85 or 87 or even 90, does not make that big of a difference.

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Originally Posted by JB_PW
I think that's really smart...particularly your notes like "look L."

Thanks!

Originally Posted by Sebs
There is an app called Modacity you might like too if you like tracking items and logging progress and minutes. You can make sessions too it's a great app. You can use it for songs, scales, really anything you want to track. You sheet does looks great too!

Thank you for the app suggestion. I'll look into it.

Originally Posted by Sidokar
If you like it and you feel it helps you, why not. But i dont think it really gives you much value to track it down at that level of detail. Especially that it seems your scales are all at 85 HS and HT.

I had been with everything at 70 for a while because I thought I should only speed up when I was able to speed all 24 scales up at the same time (don't ask me why; weird, I know). Then I asked my teacher and he said it was OK to advance just the ones that felt easier. So I tried jumping all to 85 (it hasn't been that long). The photo doesn't show, but there's more speed variety (especially in the minor ones). Some I had to decrease to 75, and others are almost ready to bump up a bit.


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No I don't. For me, the point is not if I have practised something a certain amount of times - the point is if I can do it. Thus I would need to practise Bm much more than C major.


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Originally Posted by Talão
I had been with everything at 70 for a while because I thought I should only speed up when I was able to speed all 24 scales up at the same time (don't ask me why; weird, I know). Then I asked my teacher and he said it was OK to advance just the ones that felt easier. So I tried jumping all to 85 (it hasn't been that long). The photo doesn't show, but there's more speed variety (especially in the minor ones). Some I had to decrease to 75, and others are almost ready to bump up a bit.

You can continue to practice those that are slower to be more comfortable with the black keys. For speed it is easier to work on the melodic minor. But i am not a strong believer in small increments. After you have reached a plateau that is roughly consistent, you have to see with your teacher what it would take to get to the next level working on one scale to start with (and for many reasons, C major is a practical choice). For example 120bpm. And then bring the others to that level. But that is of course your teacher strategy choice.

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Originally Posted by Animisha
No I don't. For me, the point is not if I have practised something a certain amount of times - the point is if I can do it. Thus I would need to practise Bm much more than C major.

Agree. I'm collecting this info to then focus on playing more often the ones that give me more trouble until I can equalize them.

Originally Posted by Sidokar
You can continue to practice those that are slower to be more comfortable with the black keys. For speed it is easier to work on the melodic minor. But i am not a strong believer in small increments. After you have reached a plateau that is roughly consistent, you have to see with your teacher what it would take to get to the next level working on one scale to start with (and for many reasons, C major is a practical choice). For example 120bpm. And then bring the others to that level. But that is of course your teacher strategy choice.

If I understand correctly, there's a certain speed beyond which one needs to change the technique because playing true legato becomes impossible, as explained in this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ew4PUlVJuGc

I'm not doing this yet because I'm still slow enough for the "regular" playing style to work. But at some point I'll have to switch to the "poco legato" approach described in the video. Is this the usual progression? Or do people work on the "poco legato" approach even at slower speeds?


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I used to have a similar dense spreadsheet for practice, but it got complicated - which defeated the purpose of it.

The one I use now is simpler, these are the columns:
[Task] [# of sessions] [Notes] [Last Date] [Category]

# sessions is important for me as a benchmark. I find it this puts less pressure on daily practice which makes it more fun. I also found it’s more effective in the long run for recall and fluency.

In my case, it also helps manage the skill learning from all the mini-technical exercises I make from my repertoire.


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Originally Posted by Talão
If I understand correctly, there's a certain speed beyond which one needs to change the technique because playing true legato becomes impossible, as explained in this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ew4PUlVJuGc

I'm not doing this yet because I'm still slow enough for the "regular" playing style to work. But at some point I'll have to switch to the "poco legato" approach described in the video. Is this the usual progression? Or do people work on the "poco legato" approach even at slower speeds?

The purpose of doing scales, besides the fact that you learn the scale itself, is that you learn to control your fingers and play evenly (as a start point, after which you can vary different effects, staccato, dynamic alternance, ....). So certainly if you are not quite there yet, you should continue to practice at the speed you are comfortable with.

Going faster will require that you adjust the technique, but that is sort of always the case. There isnt really a kind of clear breaking point, it is more of a continuum between the 2 anyway. My point was just that when you have mastered your scales at a moderate speed, there is not much value waisting time in increasing the speed by small increments. Playing the scale at 80 or 85 bpm is pretty much the same. In terms of performance, in most cases, straight scales in 2 or more octaves when they appear in a real piece of music will be played rather fast.

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I think log sheets are fine as long as they don't become the tail wagging the dog. I keep a very short log, using my own "shorthand" for most of what I write down. Writing in the log takes all of about two minutes out of two hours of practice. I never record how much time I spend practicing something, as I don't think that gives me a lot of actionable information. In the same way, I don't think recording the number of times a scale/arp has been practiced gives you much actionable information. Some scales will just take longer than others.

Your log sheets for scales and arps look like they would take relatively little time to record a day's practice, but I think the most useful information you have recorded on those sheets is what you've written in the margin.


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Thank you Goove On, Sidokar, and Stubbie for the input and feedback!


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I've tried sheets like that but they don't seem to cover all the ways to hit scales and to put that on a log sheet would just be too much on one sheet. Like legato, staccato, piano, forte, piano->forte, slow practice and fast practice, eights, tripletts, etc. Plus all the different scales and modes that come in and out of practice.

Only one sheet I've seen that kind a works for me has checkboxes for all twelves keys then place to name the scale/mode, then a blank area to write whatever details I choose to track that day. Even that go to be a bit too much and now back to just buy journal/composition books at office supply store and keep notes.

Practicing is an living thing that changes constantly so to me practice sheets can be limiting the thought process. I just to keep notes to look back on now and then.

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Originally Posted by MrShed
I've tried sheets like that but they don't seem to cover all the ways to hit scales and to put that on a log sheet would just be too much on one sheet. Like legato, staccato, piano, forte, piano->forte, slow practice and fast practice, eights, tripletts, etc. Plus all the different scales and modes that come in and out of practice.

Only one sheet I've seen that kind a works for me has checkboxes for all twelves keys then place to name the scale/mode, then a blank area to write whatever details I choose to track that day. Even that go to be a bit too much and now back to just buy journal/composition books at office supply store and keep notes.

Practicing is an living thing that changes constantly so to me practice sheets can be limiting the thought process. I just to keep notes to look back on now and then.

I agree it's impossible to capture all the details. Like you, there are many things I do that aren't on the sheet (like, legato, staccato, thirds, crescendo/decrescendo, etc.) My main goal for these was mainly to keep track of my current speed to make sure I'm always working on the edge of my abilities and keep progressing.

Maybe part of my motivation was the fact that I enjoy both making sheets like these and using them :-)

I showed these to my teacher and his response was: I think these are great for the kind of student you are, who likes to track things. But I don't think my other students would use them. :-)


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