Practice Routine App?

How do you track what you should practice on a given day?

I’m struggling with keeping track of what I should be practicing each day. I didn’t have an issue in the beginning because I used the Justin App and just practiced whatever was suggested, but as I’ve advanced and needing to create my own routine, I’m struggling a little and have just been winging it which is not working.

I have tried a spreadsheet and it just isn’t doing it for me as it’s a little tedious to maintain. I just recently discovered the Practice portion of the website (since I’ve always used the app I’ve never really looked at the web site). It may do the trick but I need to spend some more time with it.

I tend to like apps and briefly tried Modacity which has some nice features but it seems more geared towards logging and recording your practice which is not what I’m looking for. I am a big fan of Spaced Learning, but all of the apps I have found for that are geared towards flashcards and not a great fit.

So back to the question at the top of the post. What do you use to create your practice routine?

Don’t no where ur at in JustinGuitar, but I found that when I went back & watched his practicing with his left hand guitar that it really helped me get into a routine that I wasn’t exactly doing prior to that.
I’m at the Beginner 2 level but added Justins Beginner 1 routine to the beginning of each of my Beginner 2 practices. I’ll add his Beginner 2 after I finish following his Beginner 1.
It’s a thought & works for me!

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I create a practice routine by dividing up my practice time into several “blocks.”

  • Technique
  • Repertoire
  • Theory & Ear Training
  • Composition/Arranging/Transcription

It’s not always a perfect “25% each” approach. These days I tend to spend more time on repertoire and composition than on theory and technique, but you can adjust the ratios to fit your need.

I keep track of practice using plain text files that I store on my computer, but sync to “the cloud” with Dropbox (although any similar service would work just as well). I like this better than a dedicated app, for multiple (possibly related) reasons:

  • Plain text data is ubiquitous. You’re not locked into using a specific app or a specific platform. You can work with it from your desktop computer, you can work with it from your phone, you can work with it from your laptop. You can use different apps or applications on each platform to work with the same data, if you desire.
  • Plain text data is “future proof.” Sixty years from now if you (or someone else) wants to look at your plain text data it’s very likely that it will be simple to do so. But if you stored everything in some decades old app that ran on a decades old operating system the chances of easily accessing that data are much less.
  • Plain text data gives you a lot of freedom to structure the data however you like. You’re not locked into someone else’s idea of a practice routine, or what types of information are stored in a practice routine. You can organize your entries however you like.
  • Plain text data is easily convertible to alternate presentations. For example, I write down my plain text practice information in Markdown format, which means it I can view it as an HTML web page if I want to, or view it as the original (human readable) text file.
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I use the practice assistant on the website. It’s definitely not the most convenient to set up or edit, but once I have it set, it works for me. I just use one, long monster routine and have an a-la-carte approach to practice. I’m not too fussy about it though - many of my practice items are generic (scales, chord perfect, chord changes) and I use the slot for whatever my current focus is for the category. I enter the items manually, as opposed to using the button at the end of the module.

  • 5 min song revision
  • Several 2-3 minute technique items (ex. scale practice, palm muting, power chord “jumping,” power chord “sliding,” assigned riff for the module, chord perfect for new chords, etc)
  • 1 min chord change - generic (which I use and repeat for whatever one(s) I’m working on, if any)
  • 5 min strumming practice (used intermittently for new patterns and general rhythm work)
  • Several 5 min blocks for different songs I’m working on (I have about 7 right now, in various stages of development). I usually only practice 2-3 of them per session, often with repeats of the one I’m really focusing on.
  • 5 min of song play-alongs in the app (just a fun thing to finish on, and an opportunity to sort of sight-read, and trial different songs I maybe want to learn properly)

As I move through modules/lessons, or become proficient and/or bored with practice, I just edit the monster routine with new practice items and songs. I’m reasonably good about ‘eating my vegetables’ most of the time and doing the majority of the technique blocks on an almost-daily basis - my a-la-carte approach may not work as well if you’re not so inclined.

I also don’t really look at the stats tab, so having generic practice items doesn’t bother me or get in the way of analytics. I just look at my total time at the end of the month and ignore the rest.


@moose408 Another fan of spaced repetition here. There are some interesting studies out there on using this approach for motor skills. I’m not familiar with software that would manage this type of spaced repetition when the focus is not the memorisation/recall of data? The degrees of competency are so much finer than the categories of ‘remember/fuzzy/can’t remember’ that algorithms would depend on for flash cards. Agreed though, it would be interesting to learn of any alternative approaches for managing custom practice routines and charting progress. For now I use a text file in Evernote - it’s clunky but allows me to reflect on what is/is not going well and what I’d like to focus on next time for each exercise.

@J.W.C That’s a good prompt on data portability - for now all my notes are ‘trapped’ in Evernote. I’ve not reached composition/arranging/transcription in the course yet but have found that blocking time for freeform playing on a looper or jamming keeps a good balance between learning v creativity. Being able to to let loose a little helps keep an eye on the light at the end of the tunnel!

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