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Are you a paper and pencil teacher?

Do you prefer to write things down on paper like I do? I tried to migrate to all digital, but my iPad is too big and heavy (I got the big size because I’m super near-sighted), and my thumb-typing isn’t fast enough in the moment.

I’m famous for asking my students “What do you need to write down as a reminder about what we just talked about?” and I try to help them take actionable notes that can be useful later on.

Every time I meet a new student, I notice that many of them are hesitant to write in their parts. They make the same mistake over and over again! When we finally write a note in the part, they play it correctly, and something seems to click.

I’ve been working with a student this summer who has a very casual attitude. In his July lessons, he took no notes unless I specifically dictated something to him, and he barely turned in his homework. But last week at his lesson, he said “Hold on, I need to write that down”, and at each weekly lesson, he improves by leaps and bounds.

I think that taking notes is an important step for students to learn the information we’re giving. I also think that students need to take ownership of their notes to learn effectively. In the example of my summer student - when we first started working together, he could barely get through a one-octave Bb major scale. Now he’s able to play that scale in two octaves, mostly memorized, using Left F accurately and appropriately. The difference is in the note-taking, and when students realize that their notes are a tool they can use in their practice time.

Do you encourage note-taking in class? Do you ask students to write practice reminders for themselves? I’d love to hear how you incorporate note-taking into your ensembles, and if you swear by it as much as I do.

Until next week,



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1 comentario

Dane Carlson
Dane Carlson
20 ene 2023

I require all my students to bring a blank manuscript book to lessons, like the one linked to below. I write their assignment for the week plus drills I design specifically to address the student's weaknesses, notes about key signatures and scales, altissimo fingerings, Italian musical terms, etc., so that they have it to refer to in the future and so I can recall exactly what their assignments are from week to week.


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