Why You Should Take More Notes

Okay, fellow musicians: I’m going to try to convince you to take more notes.

At lessons, at concerts, and especially at masterclasses.

First, let me say that I’m not trying to put myself up there as someone who’s figured it all out. That is miles from the truth. Every now and then, though, I stumble into an idea that seems useful, and I share it with all of you. I’ve also killed a MacBook by spilling a beer all over the keyboard, though, so believe me: I’m totally cherry-picking here.

It’s been five and a half years since that incredible conference, nearly a week of the best players in the world talking about how to do what they have done. Off the top of my head, here’s what I remember:

One thing Allan Dean said about the importance of timing in lip slurs.

Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to take notes during the conference. Nine pages, to be exact. When I review these notes, I’m amazed at the information I’ve forgotten from that conference and how lucky I am to be able to go back in time at any moment to get additional value from it.

For example, here’s a quote in my notes from John Marchiando (probably paraphrased a bit):

It’s kind of like being hungry and having an entire pizza sitting in front of you. If you don’t take notes, it’s like eating three slices and throwing the rest away because you’re full now.

That’s crazy talk, of course. You’ll be hungry again tomorrow, and most of the pizza’s value isn’t available to you immediately. You have to spread it out over time. Besides, everyone knows that pizza is better left over.

Information works the same way. We can’t eat an entire pizza in one sitting (hopefully), and our brains can’t immediately take in everything contained in an hour-long masterclass. We have do one of two things:

A: decide to be okay with forgetting most of what we’re about to hear, or

B: record the information for later review

I don’t know about you, but when I choose A, I usually end up wishing I’d chosen B.

Try taking notes at your next lesson or masterclass. You won’t be sorry you did.