Practice Record Thoughts

Should you use a practice record? 

I have found that practice logs can be very useful depending on how they’re used. I use mine (currently the iPhone app GoalKeep) to see patterns and how im doing keeping up with practicing.

I have tried many different types of logs including standard weekly grids, excel spreadsheets, and plain composition notebooks. It doesn’t matter what tool you use, just that it works for you and is meaningful. It must contribute to your playing somehow, otherwise, why bother?

Being a techie kind of person, I’m always looking to try use my computer or handheld organizer for tasks such as this. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. There’s nothing better than pencil and paper for brainstorming and jotting down ideas. My excel template took too much time to enter in the data and then wasn’t helpful afterwards. My paper notebook was better but difficult to quickly see trends. However, I did find a teacher’s plan book useful. It has 15 boxes arranged 3 across and 5 down.

On my iPhone I use GoalKeep. It has a monthly calendar view where you can place a check on each day that you practice. You can add some notes – I record my time.


Much of this depends where you are in your musical journey. If you are still planning what to practice each day, I recommend a notebook or practice journal where you can record more information quickly and easily. If you are more experienced perhaps something simpler is in order.


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  • I’m beginning to think that a practice log is necessary to keep track of what you’ve covered and what still needs work. It definitely helped me back in 4th grade when I was learning the instrument so I’d imagine it’d be just as useful now.

    When I start practicing regularly in a month or so, I’m going to try a notebook method with categories because it’s easy to jot stuff in and I don’t always practice near a computer. (Don’t have a fancy iPhone yet, but I’m hoping for one soon!) If you’re involved in a number of different ensembles or just have a lot of material you want to cover, a practice log is definitely a must.

  • Great points, Dan!

  • Thanks for the post Peter. I agree it is important to keep records – the main benefit I think is for those tough times when you don’t seem to be improving. You can look back several months in your journal at the stuff you used to practice and see that you have made progress.

    One question though. Why do you track time? For me the amount of time practised is irrelevant. Surely much more important is what you learned/achieved? I would rather know what improvements I had made than how much time I played for.

    Interested to hear your thoughts on that one.

  • Seeing progress is a benefit of the practice record but sometimes it can be hard to see – I’ve continually work on Beethoven 5….

    Why do I track time…Sort of out of habit… Sort of for my students so they can see it.. And it can become a game for me to try to practice longer than the previous session.

    I whole-heartedly agree that progress is much more important that just time. Always go for improvement!

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