Keep a Journal for Your Violin Practice
I’ve talked about this for the longest time. I’ve done it off and on. But not until this became a daily practice, did I realize how much better it made my practice time.
Why journal, when you really just want to practice? In the moment it often feels like a waste of time and a distraction from the task at hand. But… when enough of these journaling moments are strung together you begin to realize the following:
- How much time you lost/wasted because you left out journaling
- How much more efficient (faster) you become at getting from point A to B.
- How much clarity you gain from the act of seeing your efforts on paper.
I won’t belabor the reasons to journal. If the above three points aren’t compelling for you, you are just dabbling in the violin. Whether pro or amateur, a real violinist shows up regularly, and brings crystal clear focus to her work. It is the difference between a wonderful lifelong journey with our magnificent instrument and simply being the owner of a violin shaped object that will ultimately end up collecting dust in the corner of a closet.
A violin journal can/should be structured according to your particular needs. Here I will share what I keep track of in my journal:
- Current musical and technical goals, updated regularly. Include performance opportunities and dates.
- A “setlist” of my practice time, the pieces, etudes and scales that I incorporate in my session
- Notes alongside the setlist that remind what/how I did last and what’s next for each setlist entry
- Audio and Video entries that help me self-assess and track my progress over time.
- For performance pieces, an annotated extra copy of the sheet music with free form ideas, sketches, descriptions, etc. that encapsulate my ideas about the piece.
- Notes from your teacher/coach
If you have ambitious performance goals, spend more time on journaling. If you’re on a basic course of study, the journal can be quite simple.
Bottom line: if you care, keep a journal. Keep it fresh. Make it real and make it useful. And enjoy your violin journey!
About the Author
Bill Alpert is a performer, teacher and author with a unique focus on personal development and mindfulness viewed through the lens of violin study. Mr. Alpert's resume includes recordings, performances and film scores with artists such as The Moody Blues, Pepe Romero, Tina Turner and Johnny Mathis. The co-founder of the award winning Alpert Studio of Voice and Violin in California, he is professionally active in the American String Teachers Association and the Suzuki Association of America.