Technique Graph – tracking progress and improvement

It’s really important to keep track of your progress and improvement. There are a variety of ways to do that and you have to find the one that works best for you. I’m going to share with you what I do:

KEEP A SPREADSHEET: I recently downloaded Numbers on my iPad (previously, I had used Excel on my computer, but I find myself practicing away from home a lot, so portability was a factor for me) and use that for my technique grids. I have one for each of the instruments that I practice and they all vary slightly depending on my goals.

ORGANIZE: I have the scale name on the left side listed by half step. The numbers at the top are metronome markings. In my case, the numbers are quarter note beats and I practice my scales in 16th notes full range. (Obviously you have to set realistic numbers, that are true for all scales. If you can play C Major really quickly and accurately, but can’t even make it through F# Major then you’ll have to start much slower. That’s ok, we all have to start somewhere.) Rather than keeping one long list, I also broke up the different tonalities into different sheets – Major, Harmonic Minor (HM), Ascending Melodic Minor (JAZZ MM), Superlocrian (7th mode of MM, lots of names), Diminished and WT, Pentatonics (Major and Minor), and Blues.

Moni Technique Grid Example

SET GOALS: It’s important that you have an end in sight. My goal for this grid is to get all of those scales up to 100. When I reach that goal, I’ll alter the grid so it reflects a new goal. Make sure that your goal is S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Motivating, Achievable, Reasonable, and Trackable).

PLAN: Each practice session I try to update something on the technique grid. Sometimes I’ll set weekly goals that involve a certain aspect. Say I’m focusing on alter dominants in a tune I’m learning, then I’ll try to work on technique that reinforces that. I try to always practice with a specific purpose.

BE FLEXIBLE: The technique graph is a “living thing” and so it’s merely a representation of what I can do at any specific moment. So boxes get filled in and erased as needed. If something on it’s not working, I change it. There’s no ego. I’m just trying to keep track of progress and improvement – and that’s never-ending. 🙂


How do you keep track of your progress and improvement? Share in the comments below!

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