I have been using 2 practice journals for about 2 months now and I would like to chronicle and write about the benefits. The first journal is specifically for new repertoire that I'm working on. In this journal, I document the date I'm starting on a piece, the title, the composer, the time period of the piece, the tempo, the time and key signatures. I write about what areas gave me trouble and how I fixed them. This journal has been beneficial for me because:
1. It helps organize my practice. Instead of randomly going from song to song and practice a piece here, a piece there, I can focus on learning a few key pieces that I really love and want to learn.
2. It helps me keep track of how many pieces I'm learning for myself and how long it's taking for me to "master" that piece.
3. I use it as a reference of seeing what specifically may be giving me trouble. For example, if I notice that I'm having trouble playing chords with grace notes, that's a musicianship skill that I need to focus on and practice accordingly.
4. It also has been fun to see how many pieces I can add to my rep.
The second journal that I'm using is specifically for musicianship skills improvement. For the past couple of months, I decided that the skill I want to work on is my sight reading skills. I'm weak in sight reading so that's why I chose this to focus on. In this journal, I write the goal on the first page, which for me is increasing my speed and accuracy in my sight reading skills. On the corresponding pages, I write the dates I practice my sight reading along with the title of the pieces I sight read and the composers. I use apps like Musescore.com to play random pieces. I also use old music books that I have and play pieces in them that I have never played before. Since this has been my area of concentration for the past couple of months, I definitely have noticed some improvement. The fact that I'm writing it down, makes me more accountable so I do it more. And of course, the more I do it, the better I get.
With this type of journal, I think this is where you could get a bit more creative. Whatever skill/skills you want to improve on, make that be your focus. It could be anything from memorizing scales to playing arpeggios quicker. Also, think of your goals, maybe you want to be an accompanist or a music teacher or a professional musician, or even play Christmas Carols for your family, a journal like this could help guide you on specific things you might want to concentrate on. I remember when I worked as an accompanist, I would focus some of my practice time on executing quick "page turning" because as an accompanist, you have to keep a steady beat/tempo for the dancers and you can't allow anything to mess that up, not even turning a page. So having a journal like this would have been very beneficial for me. All in all, I would recommend adding practice journals to your musician's tool kit.