Keeping Track of your Practice Sessions with Numbers

When I first started the bassoon, there wasn’t much of a need for practice sheets. It was all I could do to remember the fingerings.

Once I got to the point that I had a lot of different pieces, etudes, and excerpts to practice on, I started printing off an Excel Document so that I could keep track of what I was working on and how I was improving. Now that I have an iPad, I don’t print this sheet anymore. I also don’t use Excel anymore since I have access to Numbers. The digital version of my practice sheet is a little more festive even if I don’t get to use bright colored paper anymore. (Bright colors make me happy so…) Also, I don’t have to try and hunt a piece of paper down if I want to see the last way that I practiced something.

Numbers on the iPad in portrait.

Numbers on the iPad in portrait.

One of the nice things is that you can look back on what you’ve been working on for the last month…or year and see how much you’ve accomplished.

Data Entry in the iPad version of Numbers

Data Entry in the iPad version of Numbers

I like to break my practice up into different sections.

  • There are the basics. Double-Tonguing, tuning, note starts, etc. I work on pushing the envelope for these every time that I practice.
  • The jazz section is for fun but also something to take me out of my comfort zone.
  • Sections for études and solos.
  • If I have an audition or a recital, that will get pushed to the top since they’ll be must practice items
  • Lastly, a section at the bottom of each day for notes.

I know that there are apps specifically for tracking the time that you practiced but I think that what you concentrate on is much more important than trying to hit a specific number of minutes practiced. Some great sites for more information on music and mastery include: Musician’s Way , Bulletproof Musician , and The Talent Code. And here’s a very good article on practicing.

I don’t want to get too comfortable so I switch the way that I’m working on scales every week. This week is currently Oubradous but I also use scales studies from Kim Walker and Herzberg. I put a text box of what I want to concentrate on (You can see it off to the right side in the portrait picture above. I am currently reviewing centering.) I may add more text boxes if I’ve listened to a recording of myself and an issue really stood out to me. The reminder tab is a place to put notes on different ways to practice and general things to think about. Some I make up myself, some I get from others. (The notes on the Klickstein are there because I haven’t completely assimilated these exercises in practice yet so I know that I can refer to his book if I need it.)

iPad version of Numbers in Landscape

iPad version of Numbers in Landscape

One of the very nice things about Numbers is that you can sync through iCloud and have your information on your other devices. But be aware, actually editing on an iPhone or iPod Touch is sincerely uncomfortable. (This picture is zoomed in. I know it looks great but trust me…uncomfortable.)

Numbers on the iPhone

Numbers on the iPhone

I usually make or adjust the form on the iPad.
One last issue, I had to come up with a short hand to notate any rhythms that I used for practicing. There are no music note fonts available on iOS devices outside of notation apps. You could take a picture and insert it if you wanted to but that is a extra work and I’d rather use that time to practice.

Numbers is from Apple’s productivity suite, iWork.
It is $9.99 for the iOS version.
This is a plus version so it will work on all of your iOS devices.
Minimum requirements are iPhone 3GS, iPod touch 3rd generation. Any of the current iPads will work but you must have at least iOS 5.1.

Numbers is also available for your Mac for $19.99.
You don’t have to have the Mac version though it can make the initial spreadsheet creating easier. Please be aware that not everything from the desktop version will transfer over to the iOS version.


2 thoughts on “Keeping Track of your Practice Sessions with Numbers

  1. I’ve just started using Music Journal for iPad to track my practice and I love it. It lets you put different things in folders, and then it shows you reports so you can see how much time you’re spending in each folder (category, really). At $7.99, it’s cheaper than Numbers and better suited to musicians.

    • I have seen this app before but two reasons why Numbers works better for my own needs: I can do other things with Numbers as well. and I do not believe that how much time you practice should be the first consideration. What you practice with your time should be. Not a problem for older students but it might be with younger ones.

      Glad that you’ve found something that works well for you though!

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