Sunday, March 6, 2016


This afternoon I've released two great new updates to the Structured Practice Method:
  • Containers/Rotations
  • Streamlined practice options
Details after the break!


Containers and rotations are something we use all the time in our daily practicing. Here's an example from my own music stand: I have a practice item in my "Top Level" list called "Fundamentals." Below it, I have several sub-items... Multi-Tonguing, Clarke Studies, Schlossberg, etc. I only want to practice a few of these on any given day.

In the past, I could set the sub-items up so that they came up every three days, for example, and manually cycle through them. But if I missed a day for whatever reason, the next few days I would get the wrong items on my list and would have to manually go through and re-organize them. YUCK!!!

Now, when creating or editing a practice items, there are some new options. You can set the minimum and maximum number of sub-items you would like to see each day. During its nightly background operations, SPM will make sure the correct number of items show up in your list the next day. If you miss a day, or practice extra, it won't mess up your routine!

The "Container/Rotation" switch is for items that you never directly practice, but instead only contain other items that you do practice. If the switch is in the ON position, when you finish all of the container's sub-items for the day, it will automatically be removed from your list, and you won't have to manually mark it as completed for the day.

Streamlined Practice Options

If you've used the SPM over the past year, you'll recognize this picture.

While the above options worked just fine, I've always felt the process was a little "clunky" to use, and a lot of screen space was being used up by options that are only used about 3% of the time. So, I've updated the way you finish up a practice segment, with new options and buttons:

Now, instead of selecting the option and then pressing the "Submit" button, there is a drop-down menu you can use if you'd like to either continue or delay the current item. There is also a separate button to push if you simply want to skip practice the item for today.

And finally, a new option: "Log Time." 

While typing thoughtful notes about what we do is one of the central core missions of the Structured Practice Method, I recognize that sometimes there really isn't anything particular to say. For example, my morning warm-up almost always gets the same note: "Normal warm-up." Sometimes I have more to say, like "Chops are feeling mushy today" or some such, but usually not.

I've heard from several users over the past year that they'd like this option as well, so here it is. I truly hope you will use it very sparingly. SPM's purpose is not to be just another time-logger, but to help facilitate thoughtful, structured, EFFECTIVE practice habits.

Please let me know what you think of these new updates! As always, you can either leave a comment below, or fill out the contact form from the menu above. I really do appreciate hearing from users of the SPM, and I LISTEN to what you say and take it into consideration when making updates and adding new features. Let your voice be heard!!

Until next time,
I'll see you in the practice room!
-Dr. Mark Flegg

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