Pipehacker Tip: Create Your Bagpipe Practice Infographic

Do you know what it is you spend your time on? Previously, I’ve talked about treating your bagpiping like finance and money and taking stock of your intangible assets. Well, also like finance, you also must take stock of your spending if you are to see where your money goes.

Like money, time is an asset that must be budgeted and managed. How are you spending your practice time? It stands to reason that the things you work on the most will be the things that improve the quickest. Likewise, you might be frustrated by how slowly some things develop or improve, if they do at all. Small bits of time spent on the right things pertaining to your music can add up and pay off big. Likewise, time NOT spent on the areas you need to improve also adds up and becomes a deficit that is more difficult to overcome.

The objective is to discover how you spend your bagpipe practice time in order to strengthen the musical areas in need of most improvement while maintaining stronger areas that are already going well. But how do you figure that out? Sometimes a picture tells the whole story.

The Tip

Keep track of your practice time this week and document in detail how much of it was spent and on what specifically. Create an infographic—that is, a handy chart or picture or table—that clearly illustrates the time spent. Create a clever system of images to depict the amount of time you spend on individual aspects of your playing. For example, you can use images of chanter reeds to illustrate the amount of time spent with a chanter reed for every minute or five minutes spent on an area of music. You can change the size of the image to reflect either a large amount of time or small amount of time, whatever works. Mark down the thing you worked on and use an image to illustrate how much time you spent on it. (Some suggestions are posted below. Feel free to download and use.) In a week’s time, you will have a clear idea of where you are spending most of your time, and where the deficits lay. Once it is all illustrated, it should become clear where time can be gathered and added or moved around to other aspects of your bagpiping. Your immediate goals for your bagpiping should also suddenly become very clear.

We all have a tendency to gravitate toward the things that are comfortable and easy. In our bagpiping, we might not realize that we are spending less time on the hard stuff simply because it feels better to spend time on the things that come a bit easier. But to have truly productive practice will require a focussed approach to specific aspects of your music. Improvement will come with deliberate effort and a clear illustration of your progress, something you can follow and track. I know a great book that is perfect for documenting such progress.

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