In this Article I will outline the different ways teachers and students can use the Practice Diary.
The most important thing to remember is that the Diary is a flexible resource and that you can, and should, improve upon it so that it serves you in the best possible way.
The main purpose of the Diary is to teach students how to practice music so that when the time comes for them to be independent from a teacher they know how to keep pursuing learning and playing by themselves.
The most important aspects of the Diary are that of reflective learning and making sure all aspects of music are getting the right amount of attention.
You will find that some students love using the Diary and they fill it in religiously while others barely look at it.
Whether your student fills in the Diary or not, it is still a useful resource in the lesson and just by keeping track of exercises and writing in it, your students will eventually come to see how it can support their learning… the information you give is better absorbed because they are hearing it and seeing it.
For some students, that’s all they need and they will remember what has been covered and find a rhythm in their practice that suits them.
What is important is that you use the Practice Diary to keep track of your students’ progress.
If they are reluctant to do the reflective work, spend the first part of the lesson discussing similar questions to the following:
- How do you feel about what you have or haven’t achieved?
- Are you excited about learning? Do you feel demotivated? Do you feel you are moving at a steady pace?
- What activities did you enjoy most this week?
- Which exercises were difficult or frustrating?
- Do you have any questions for your teacher regarding these?
- Are you experiencing any barriers toward playing music?
- If so, are they environmental or emotional or do they have something to do with your timetable?
- What could you do to overcome these barriers?
and simply write a paragraph for them in the space provided. When you revise these reflections at the end of the Diary, they will see the benefit doing regular reflective work.
Another tactic is to get them to write in the reflective space, spending 5 – 10 minutes of the first part of the lesson doing this.
Just be sensitive to the literacy level of your student and always offer to help them.
It can be quite embarrassing for adults to have literacy problems, many do and many don’t admit it, so please bear this in mind when using the Diary with your students and support them as much as you can.
If your student simply doesn’t want to use the Diary, you use it to keep track of what you are currently doing in your lessons with them.
Circle exercises and write down comments during the lesson, so that in the next lesson it is easy to pick up where you left off.
This saves a lot of time trying to recall where you are with a certain student and if you have many students, using the Diary really makes teaching a lot easier and efficient.
Explain to your students that the more information they can provide for you (i.e. how much time they spent on exercises, how often they practiced, what they practiced, reflective work etc) the more you can guide and help them and the faster they will be able to learn and the more value-for-money they get.
This may encourage them to use the Diary.
You can also experiment with pre-planned practice schedules or discuss with them ideas they think would work best for them and keep track of these in the Diary.
Don’t be disheartened if this resource doesn’t get used the way you intend it to be. Everyone is different and everyone has their own way of doing things.
Use the Diary to illustrate how each of your students learn and help them to realise what works best for them.
That way, they will have a lot more chance of success.
I am a list kind of person, so the Diary works well for me. I have used it for about five years now and will probably always use it because it helps me to:
- Understand how I best learn music.
- Keep track of ideas, practice times and pages of books or scales I am up to.
- Calculate how much time I have spent on my own music during the week.
- Problem solve.
- Reflect upon my progress and much more.
I know that a lot of people are not “list” people and never will be and that’s fine.
You can use the Diary any way you wish and it’s just really helpful for your teacher and you to work together using this resource, writing down goals, achievements and keeping track of what you are focusing on.
Just remember the more you guide your own learning, through reflective practice, the better your relationship to music and your teacher will be and the easier it will be for you to eventually become and independent learner.
The Diary isn’t meant to be a resource you have to use forever.
By using the Practice Diary for a period of time you will eventually develop the mindset you need to ensure your future learning encompasses all the aspects of music necessary for you to succeed.
Many people fail to continue with music because they don’t understand their own processes and have false expectations of themselves and the learning process.
This is why I developed the Diary.
- It tracks your motivation levels,
- Teaches you how you learn, and
- Gives you a realistic picture of what is happening for you in terms of your goals and what needs further work.
Don’t worry if the Diary in its current format doesn’t work for you, instead, think about what will help you to learn and try to put that into a useful format.
You may come up with a more brilliant version than what has been offered!
Remember, if you have any questions, please leave your comment below.
Comments don’t automatically go onto the blog, so if you are worried about confidentiality, you can just let me know that you would like me to answer your query personally.