September 4, 2014

Put it in writing

I have never been interested in keeping a journal. I always thought it would be a pointless narcissistic exercise.  But now I’m not so sure.  Journaling can be very useful to your development as a musician if you are willing to take the time.  Here are five ways journaling can help you as a musician:

  1. Write regularly – be sure to capture your thoughts frequently and regularly.  This will provide you with a great deal of your own thinking, over time, across various situations.  It will allow you to look at your playing in a new way, with a compression of time that will make some patterns visible so you can then change them (or reinforce them!).
  2. Focus on the topic not on yourself – the point of writing in a journal is not to see yourself talk but rather to capture the chatter in your mind and allow you to sift through it to find the gems that are buried in there.  You can use the collection of chatter as a means to gain clarity.
  3. Review the journal as a tool rather than as an end unto itself – the point of journaling isn’t to write in a journal but to capture those ephemeral thoughts that arise when you’re practicing (or when you’re nowhere near your harp) and review and refine them later.
  4. Use the development to track your goals – you can capture your goals in your journal but you can also capture your progress.  And keeping those two things near each other like that might help improve that progress no matter what your goals are.
  5. Carry your journal – you never know when inspiration might hit (or what it might hit you with!) so carry your journal to capture your thoughts away from the harp as well.
The journal is for you – use it as you see fit.  I capture my musical thoughts and ideas.  My journal has pockets to collect napkins (I write on a lot of napkins), as well as things that push those thoughts into being (like cool bits and bobs that spark my imagination along the way).  Then I have all the elements in one place when I work to generate new music.  Give it a try – don’t just have the thoughts – put them in writing!

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