As a major international examining body the ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music) has a major role in the way that many teachers and pupils develop in the early stages of learning music. Their syllabuses provide very structured learning paths and the graded exams, if used in the right way, can provide effective motivation.
It is therefore very good to see an organisation with this influence provide a new practice notebook which goes beyond the traditional very basic format. It has to be said that this recent volume bears a remarkable similarity, certainly in terms of content, to our own earlier published Practice Diary.
This notebook is a good size, neither too big to carry around or too small so as to get lost. Whilst the cover is bright and colourful this is not continued inside. I imagine that for cost reasons the internal pages were made black and white. The are several humorous images throughout the notebook which come across well despite this.
In terms of content this volume has everything you would expect. A lesson timetable is followed by a shopping list for music and then some tips for practising (hooray!!). There are only ten of them but they do cover the basics and it”s very refreshing to see a notebook include these. A sample lesson is then followed by the lessons – enough for a whole year. After the lessons is a space where students can note when they practised during the holiday. Finally the notebook has some exam tips and a space for both written and musical notes.
Each lesson is spread across two pages with space for lesson notes and a score between one and five for effort and achievement. For the pupil is space to note when they practised and to write some comments, there”s also room for parents to add their own thoughts. A nice touch is the inclusion of quotes from famous musicians on each lesson page.
There is much about this diary to commend. The content and layout are among the best I have seen. Unlike other practice notebooks I have reviewed I would on the whole recommend this one. The nice touches like practice tips, tips from the top and exam preparation tips make it even more useful. I still believe that our own practice diary fills some gaps that this volume leaves and in a more attractive and colourful way. That said, I would be pleased to see more people use this type of practice notebook.
The ABRSM Practice Notebook, (2008, ABRSM Publishing, ISBN: 978-1860969305) is available from:[amazon asin=1860969305&template=htp price]