Bullet Journaling

20170702_073628Has anyone seen the new craze called bullet journaling? I started a personal bullet journal last September to keep track of my life, streamline my goals, accomplish my daily tasks, and record events and thoughts.

The system has worked so well that I decided to start a bullet journal for the studio. While I already have a notebook to keep track of thoughts and things I need to do (e.g. buy books, make flashcards, call so and so, etc.), I wanted a journal for tracking festival and recital preparation, noting books and repertoire commonly used, and keeping track of goals.

I know the bullet journal can get really in-depth, and some people thrive with a detailed journal, but I have chosen to keep my journal quite simple. Here are three ways I used the bullet journal in the studio:

Tracking Festival and Recital Preparation

20170718_130550The bullet journal helped to prepare students for Achievement Day. I used a separate page for each student and tracked the pieces they performed, the technique learned (including scales, arpeggios, chords), the tests they took and any extra options in which they participated. This will be so helpful next year when we prepare for Achievement Day once again and I can easily look back at what was accomplished previously (no searching for old judging forms or computer files!).

Noting Commonly Used Books and Repertoire

At the beginning of the repertoire section I have an index of composers, genres, publishers…any way I file it in my brain is how I filed it in the index. On the pages relating to the index is where I fleshed out the specific pieces used in recitals or festivals. For instance, my Vandall page is categorized by the name of the books, pieces from those books and names of students who have studied those pieces.

Although I also have computer files to keep track of commonly used repertoire, I have found a tangible notebook works better for me. I can easily flip through the pages to quickly reference pieces I am searching for.

Keeping Track of Goals

In the journal I have a section devoted to the “Happies” that happen in lessons. I write down comments or situations that make me smile. In my daily non-professional life, I do this in my personal bullet journal as well, and am a strong believer in the power of looking for the positive. It can change your entire outlook on life and teaching.

I also track the pieces I am learning, ideas for blog posts, summer goals, etc. It is a microcosm of some of the thoughts I scribble in my ongoing work notebook mentioned above, but in a much more organized manner.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you keep a journal? What works best for your organizational process?

Keyboard Stamp

20160201_112643See that little keyboard stamp in the picture above? That stamp ranks as one of the hardest working tools in my studio. I first bought the stamp as a tool to help a dyslexic student, but it soon expanded to be used across the board for beginning and elementary students.

So – a little background here – I used to be much more purist in my teaching style. I would never (!) give away starting hand positions without a student figuring it out for himself first. I was afraid of the student being bound to hand position placements and not able to navigate the entire keyboard and staff. I was also wanted the student to know how to figure out hand positions for themselves. 20160201_112722Well, of course I’ve been teaching for a few years now (about 22) and have realized that sometimes you just need things to work. You need for a kid to be able to play the piece at home and not have anxiety about where to put his hands. We all have students that have practiced a piece for an entire week in a completely wrong place on the piano (I just call it an exercise in transposing and move on – haha). 20160201_112733Once I started using the stamp more, I realized that students (and parents) were much more confident in beginning new pieces. They actually did not become reliant on the stamp to tell them where to start, but rather it supported their ability to navigate the staff and keyboard on their own. I do not use the stamp on every piece, but I definitely use it now when I can tell a student may have trouble at home.

My purist attitude has gone by the wayside in favor of the more pragmatic attitude of “let’s get this done!”