This week I started the outline and implementation of a project that I’m calling #rhythm. (Or ‘Hashtag Rhythm’ for those of you who might be unfamiliar with the currently fashionable pronunciation of this ‘#’ symbol.)
One of the most important things that a musician can do is develop a rhythmic vocabulary. The best way to do that is to spend a part of your practice time each day playing rhythms on your instrument. To make that a bit easier to do for myself (and others) I’m starting a ‘rhythm collection’. Here’s what I’ve done so far:
- I created a template in Sibelius and Illustrator to make it easier for me to put the rhythms that I gather in my daily practice into a readable format.
- I input 24 rhythms into Sibelius and Illustrator and output those as .jpgs.
- I began posting rhythms to my BoneFu Instagram account.
I definitely see potential for expanding this project down the road. Here are places that it could go:
- Regularly post rhythms to the BoneFu Instagram. (I feel pretty confident that I’ll do this. I just haven’t decided on a release schedule.)
- Create ‘Rhythm of the Day’ videos and release them on my BoneFu YouTube channel
- Create a slideshow of the rhythms and include them on the BoneFu website
- Create an app that delivers these rhythms to the user
I’ll update this post if I decide to work on other parts to this project in the future.
I’ve experimented with a variety of methods of tracking my practice over the years, but unfortunately none of those methods ended up being sustainable. I think that I may have found something that is dirt simple, and gives me the ‘am I practicing enough’ data that I need.
It’s based on a way of tracking push-ups created by Robert McDonald. (You’ll find an excellent explanation of the technique here.)
In a nutshell:
“Draw a grid. Fill in the grid with the amount of time you practice each session.”
My initial grids were hand drawn. Every day I’d draw a 2×4 grid on a piece of paper. I set my practice timer for 10 minutes and when the bell went off I’d write ’10’ in a square. I kept going until all or most of the squares were filled up.
Here’s a quick shot of what Sunday looked like:
At the end of the week I created a template in Illustrator and went back and filled in all of my numbers.
Here’s my trombone practice for this week:
I think that this method collect just enough data to keep me motivated. I like the open nature of it. I can choose to fill the squares in with any multiple of time that I choose, and I can double up and put two sessions into a square if I need more room. If I ever want the ego boost, I can add up the amount of time I’m practicing each day. But honestly, the most import thing is that I get visual feedback that tells me how consistently I’m practicing. If I begin to see a bunch of empty squares I know that I need to get back into a practice groove.