One important reason to use a practice notebook is to remember every item you’re supposed to be learning.  If you don’t write down your practice  to-do list, it will be extremely difficult to know how to start your practice sessions.

Here is what tends to happen to musicians who do not keep a list of practice items in writing:

–They will work on only one item, which will generally be their favorite thing to play.

–Over time, certain skills won’t develop as rapidly as others.  By neglecting technical exercises, musicians are unable to move on to more advanced music.

–Frustration will set in.  Practicing can be pretty boring when you play the same thing over and over.  Switching among items on your practice list gives you more variety when you practice.

A written list that gives a complete rundown of items to practice for the week will help you keep your practice sessions balanced.  You’ll push yourself to absorb new music and relax into playing what’s already comfortable.  Part of the time you will be highly concentrated and focused.  At other times you’ll be able to flow easily through music you already know.

I usually recommend saving your favorite item on your practice list to do last.  Before you get to your favorite music, go through a warmup phase and play exercises that will build skills, musical knowledge, and dexterity.  Then, work on new, uncomfortable material.  Finally, move on to the music you like playing the most.  You’ll feel like you’re getting dessert, and your practice session will be like a well-balanced meal that’s both nutritious and tasty.

It’s nearly impossible to put together a practice session like this if you don’t have your practice priorities written down.  In your Musician’s Practice Planner, there is a lot of space to clearly list everything you need to work on.

Make sure you’re playing items from every category whenever you practice.  Stay balanced, keep your practice sessions interesting, and improve all aspects of your playing!

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