Did you know it’s also a good idea to document your practice? Alas, few of us carry notebooks around with us all time, nor watch the clock go round and round so we can track all of this. In this digital age, there’s got to be a better way… cue the App Store.
Practice makes perfect. We all know the importance of consistent practice and establishing a good routine, and are willing to put in the discipline, tenacity and commitment that is required to practice effectively. Writing down your goals, tracking your time, and recording your sessions are all good ways to measure progress. Professional musicians know this, and many have been keeping written journals ever since they began playing. This process of measuring your practice time not only helps you see how far you’ve come since you began, but it is a good way to hold yourself accountable. If you promised yourself you’d practice 5 days a week, for two hours a day, you should have 10 hours of practice time logged at the end of the week… pretty simple, right?
So with that in mind, let’s see if there’s a good practice tracking journal out there. As of this writing, I was able to identify five potential apps on the market (if you know of others, please let us know). Here they are in no particular order:
1) Music Journal Free – Practice + metronome app
This app helps you enter and view detailed practice times for each song or group of songs. Simply create a new practice log, hit the “play” button, and the timer starts rolling. Press stop when you’re done. This is primarily a time tracker, but the graphs are pretty nice and the share/download feature makes it easy to send to your teacher or mentor, or just to save a record for your own measurement. It also includes a built-in metronome, which is nice so you don’t have to open a separate app for that. There’s a free version and a paid version (7.99) for more features… I’d say download the free version first to give it a try, and if you like it then go for the upgrade.
2) Practice Nag for Musicians
This app ($1.99) lets you schedule practice time in advance and set reminders (hence the “nag” title). It allows you to plan out your practice time and prioritize the things you need to practice the most. The difference of this app is its focus on completing tasks and accomplishing goals, and allows you to check off what you’ve done and note progress of everything you’ve finished. It’s not concerned with measuring how much time you spent (and there is no time tracker), only on results.
3) Sound Practicing – Music Practice Motivator
This app takes your basic time tracking function and gives it a twist — it only counts time when it hears you playing. When you stop, the time stops. The concept is to give you an accurate to-the-second time count of your practice time. The “share” feature allows you to report your progress and a calendar feature helps keep a historical record. It’ll cost you a few bucks ($9.99) but might be worth it for those unique features.
4) Liszt Practice Assistant
This app has to be one of the most beautiful stylized app available for tracking your practice. A designer was definitely let loose on this one! The functionality is pretty basic, but has all the essentials in one place – your journal log with practice timer, a list of previous practice sessions, a built-in metronome — and a unique feature of adding a category to note what key a tune is in as well as your major/minor tunes. This app is free, so worth downloading to try so you can see for yourself if it’s something you might want to use.
5) My Music Practice
If you’re goal is to get a simple interface that’s primary mission is to get rid of pencil and paper, then ‘My Music Practice’ is all you need. For less than a buck (.99), you can log all your practice events in one place. Give it a title, set the date, time/quantity and that’s all she wrote; you’re done. The one unique feature that separates this from the rest is that it can be localized to nine other languages: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, French, Russian, Portuguese, Italian and German.
So there you go, five quick apps that can get you started in tracking your practice time.
Have you tried any of them? Or know of any others? If so, let us know in the comments section below.