When in class with your teacher it is important to take notes in our little notebook that we have kept especially for the piano lessons. We need note-taking because quite often important things that have been said or thought in class can slip from our minds by the time we practice again later. Thus, the more detailed our notes are the more they will be of help when practising later.
At the same time, keep your music score as less cluttered as possible in order to continue enjoying reading from it for a longer time. Try not to write comments and remarks on it, because you might have to change them later, thus creating a mess; keep comments for your notebook only. Also, writing and rubbing out often can create a mess and can be distractive. However, you can try and draw beautiful dynamic marks (preferably with pencil), expression marks and other musical symbols that are meant to stay in the piece permanently (or for a longer time).
Other things to add to your notebook could be, for instance, new suggestions from your teacher, his or her quotes or anything that you think needs to be improved or thought through later at home.
Keeping notes is also useful when we want to track our progress of our pieces. We can later consult many interesting details, such as how long did it take to learn a piece or improve a certain passage. We can also understand the patterns of our learning. Music being a creative expression, can be described not only with notes and musical symbols but also with shapes, colors and thoughts so try to be creative and use your own imaginative symbols to describe feedback from your lesson.
Some teachers like to write the notes for you while you are playing your pieces. This is also helpful but cannot defeat your own interpretation of your teacher’s feedback. So, when you write your own notes:
- Start by writing the date at the top of the page, then the title of the piece, preferably underlined, and then your notes. There are only so many things that you can write, but be as laconic as possible when in class.
- Use abbreviations to speed up the writing process. Here are some examples: Instead of writing ”left hand” in whole words, you can simply write L.H. Or, for instance, If you needed to say that from bar 73 to bar 78 I need to do crescendo, you could simply write ”b.73-78=cresc.”.
- Give your own meaning to single words. For instance, the word ”again” could mean that you had to practice this passage again at home with extra care, and repeat what your instructor suggested last time. When at home you can tick-off the already practiced bits and you can add comments next to them for later reference. Abbreviate along those lines so you don’t consume valuable time from your lesson.
- Lastly, improvise. Find your own note-taking-language and use it to record the wisdom of your instructor….
- At the end of the lesson give a score to yourself from 1 to 10. How well did you score on that particular lesson?