Using A Guitar Practice Journal

About 14 years ago I noticed that one of my students was making spectacular progress. They were progressing at a rate far faster than some of my other students. I was curious about how they were getting the results. So I asked them exactly how they approached their practice sessions.

 
I won't bore you with all the details, but I will say that I found out a couple of interesting things. Firstly, they were practicing at least three hours a day. I thought that this was an impressive amount considering they had a fulltime job. The second thing I found out was that they were keeping a practice journal.
 
I must admit that at the time I didn't use a practice journal myself. So I asked them to bring their journal to the next lesson.
 
So the next week my student brought their practice journal, and I took a look at it. I was impressed! In fact, I was so impressed, I started to keep one myself. And the process of keeping a practice journal really made something abundantly clear to me…
 
What we measure and document tends to improve. (More on this in another article…)
 
But wait a second. I just realized that I need to explain what a practice journal is…
 
 
What Is A Guitar Practice Journal?
 
Simply put, it is a book where you can…
  • Write down your musical goals and aspirations. (This would include both long-term and short-term things).
  • Document what you practice every day. This would include things like…
    • What items you practiced.
    • How long you practiced them for.
    • What metronome speeds you used.
    • How you felt at the end of the practice session.
  • Write down any questions you need to ask your teacher at the next lesson.
  • Write down any challenges, concerns or difficulties you are experiencing.
  • Write down your musical successes and other things that you feel proud of.
  • Write down any ideas that you think of relevant to achieving your musical goals.
 
We're All Individuals
 
I don't believe that there is any one right way to keep a guitar practice journal. What works for me, may not work for you. Some people thrive on recording all the microscopic details of their practice, while other people would hate doing this! (They would need to use a less-detailed approach). Use a practice journal in a way that you feel would suit your personality type.
 
 
Testing
 
I'm a big believer in testing things. Rather than intellectually trying to decide whether or not something will work, you just do it for a period of time and notice the effects of doing it. At the end of the trial period you can then decide to continue or stop.
 
A while back I read an article by Steve Pavlina called 30 Days To Success. In that article he talks about the concept of using a 30-day trial. I feel that this can be effectively applied to keeping a guitar practice journal. So here's my challenge to you…
 
Use a guitar practice journal daily for the next 30 days.
 
At the end of the 30 days, write down what you noticed by doing it. Then decide whether or not it would be valuable to keep using a practice journal. (In a future article I'll be uncovering the benefits that I noticed. But until then, test it for yourself).

Until next time…have fun and practice hard!


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