When choosing a new notebook you’d like something that is engaging, interesting, something you can take ownership of and something that will help you get better. This lesson diary gets there better than most.
The book begins in positive fashion with space for goals, though rather nicely they are referred to as ‘highlights’, ‘wish lists’ and ‘tackle and win music list’. There’s is then a further 2 pages to note down goals which are not as successful. Space on the first of these is very limited. The second has a ‘what I will achieve’ section with lines for ‘today’, ‘this week’, ‘this month’ etc. These would need to be completed in pencil and changed often. Which means rubbing out, after a year this could become very untidy.
Spaced between lessons are several practice tips with some real gems of information and advice. I particularly liked the ‘High 5’s’. The concept is that you play tricky sections 5 times on 5 days between lessons to get them cracked.
Lesson pages cover a double page spread. The tops of pages have space for this lesson/next lesson date and time, though these don’t always correspond to the content below. There is space for notes on pieces, issues, parents comments, a rating and manuscript staves. I do have a couple of minor criticisms of these pages. Firstly the ‘finger movers’ section is aimed squarely at pianists and perhaps some keyed wind instruments. This is too specific and could exclude other instruments. Secondly there is a section to enter the amount of time practised each day. Regular readers will know that I am not a fan of time as a measure of practice effectiveness or success. On the whole though these pages work quite well.
Throughout the book are small illustrations and cartoons, neatly placed at the bottom of the page so as not to distract too much from the main purpose of the book. There are also numerous quotes about music and practice to inspire.
The book ends with the usual notes pages, lesson register and an exam program. Finally we have a page of tips for parents.
On the whole I really like this lesson diary, it has lots of excellent points and takes in my opinion the right approach. However alongside these high points there are some lows which prevent this from being truly excellent. The issue of time as a measure and some of the tips for parents are for me an issue. Then there is the production quality. It feels a little ‘homemade’, almost a collection of photocopied pages. A little more attention here would not go amiss.
Practice was a dirty word – Music Journal by Ruth Bonetti, (2007, Words and Music, ISBN: 978-0957886128) is available from:[amazon asin=0957886128&template=htp price]