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#2169273 - 10/21/13 07:12 AM Calculating practice time
sydnal Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/20/13
Posts: 126
So, the 10.000 hour threads intrigued me, I want to keep track of the time I spend practicing and I wonder if there are people out there who already do this. Also what methods they use..

Of course one can always use a simple timer but it's prone to error. (Forget starting/stopping etc.) I am looking for more automatic methods. Such as a digital piano keeping track of the hours it was open or a software piano that does the same, do these exist? Or any other external software that can do this by listening to midi signals?
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#2169286 - 10/21/13 07:48 AM Re: Calculating practice time [Re: sydnal]
Rerun Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/28/07
Posts: 575
Loc: Louisiana
Put a time clock by the door into the piano room with your card in the rack ... just kidding. laugh

By hour # 100, one may begin to notice it's more about the fun, not the clock.
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#2169289 - 10/21/13 07:53 AM Re: Calculating practice time [Re: sydnal]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11410
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
The 10,000 hour thing isn't worth keeping track of. That post or one similar shows up about every couple of months. It's not a guarantee. If you practice poor habits without any guidance for 10,000, you will play poorly - really well.

Instead, if you wish to play piano well, get a good teacher. Track your practicing, but instead of time, practice what you do. Adjust that as necessary and as you become a more accomplished pianist. Start out simple and gradually advance to more complicated music as your skills improve. You will make progress and play beautiful music along the way, and that is where the real enjoyment lies. smile
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#2169297 - 10/21/13 08:03 AM Re: Calculating practice time [Re: sydnal]
sydnal Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/20/13
Posts: 126
@Morodiene I guess mentioning the 10.000 hours rule in OP was a mistake, I hope this does not turn into a thread about it laugh

So let me restate the question omitting that part, let's say I just want to keep track of the time I spend practicing, regardless of that practice being good or bad, for statistical reasons.
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#2169299 - 10/21/13 08:06 AM Re: Calculating practice time [Re: sydnal]
adultpianist Offline
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Registered: 12/01/12
Posts: 540
I dont keep track of my practice time. I simply practice and never note how long I take on a day to day basis. It is not something that I feel necessary to do.

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#2169307 - 10/21/13 08:14 AM Re: Calculating practice time [Re: sydnal]
Morodiene Online   content
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Registered: 04/06/07
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Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: sydnal
@Morodiene I guess mentioning the 10.000 hours rule in OP was a mistake, I hope this does not turn into a thread about it laugh

So let me restate the question omitting that part, let's say I just want to keep track of the time I spend practicing, regardless of that practice being good or bad, for statistical reasons.
LOL OK, it's just a pet peeve of mine smile

Still, I recommend more keeping track of tasks accomplished when you practice, and not time. Unless you are talking about scheduling your practice time, but I get the sense that's not what you mean.

I think there are a few online practice logs you can use. Here's one, but it doesn't seem to be very detailed (but it's free): http://www.onlinepracticerecord.com/

edited to add: Looks like there's one PW offers: http://www.pcsincnet.com/PW_Practice_Club/


Edited by Morodiene (10/21/13 08:23 AM)
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#2169310 - 10/21/13 08:15 AM Re: Calculating practice time [Re: sydnal]
scorpio Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/30/12
Posts: 494
Loc: Connecticut, USA
Quality over quantity is something I strive to achieve. At the very beginning I was tracking practice hours. But it became too tedious since I often practice in multiple sessions in a day.

I do keep a practice log. I use the log to reflect on practice sessions, where I highlight accomplishments and identify issues that need to be addressed. The log has improved how I practice and what I practice. Sometimes I just write reminders like, "SLOW DOWN", or "SLOWER", or "LIKE I MEAN REALLY SLOW." In any case, I find the practice log to be a great tool.

I have been thinking of purchasing The Musician's Way: A Guide to Practice, Performance and Wellness. If you go to the book's website, there is a page of downloadable practice charts and other tools that might be of interest: http://musiciansway.com/downloads.shtml
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    #2169326 - 10/21/13 08:37 AM Re: Calculating practice time [Re: sydnal]
    Morodiene Online   content
    Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

    Registered: 04/06/07
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    Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
    Found another here http://www.compoundtime.com/

    You can't enter a lot of info at first, but once you start the timer you can edit and put in more detailed info. I'm also guessing you can add this stuff in after you're done. If you start the timer and click edit, you can also Override minutes and manually enter them so it can be a timer or a log. There's also a section to enter measures which is nice and more details about what you did.

    edited to add: I just discovered you can even put in a goal - so if you want to put your 10,000 hours in there as the goal it will track your progress LOL


    Edited by Morodiene (10/21/13 08:40 AM)
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    #2169343 - 10/21/13 09:16 AM Re: Calculating practice time [Re: sydnal]
    sydnal Offline
    Full Member

    Registered: 06/20/13
    Posts: 126
    Ok I made some Google searches and surprisingly I did not find much. Here is one possible software idea: A program that listens to midi events from the midi inputs of a PC and starts keeping time intelligently (e.g. starts automatically, if there is inactivity for a duration of t stops automatically). Because doing it manually is tedious and error prone..

    The main problems here:
    - Only useful for people who use software pianos (Pianoteq, Ivory etc.) Ok for me..
    - Should wake up automatically upon receiving a midi event. (Is this even possible in Windows? Maybe starting when Windows boots is a better way)
    - I have no idea whether you can transparently listen to midi events without disturbing the software piano that processes them. (Again is this even possible?)

    Anyway; I will make some further searches on this topic and who knows, if it turns out possible and easy I may even try writing one program like that myself. Meanwhile bumping the thread for other possible solutions.
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    #2169457 - 10/21/13 12:09 PM Re: Calculating practice time [Re: sydnal]
    Derulux Offline
    5000 Post Club Member

    Registered: 06/06/05
    Posts: 5279
    Loc: Philadelphia
    Excel spreadsheet. One column for the date. One column each for starting, stopping, and total time.
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    #2169460 - 10/21/13 12:12 PM Re: Calculating practice time [Re: Derulux]
    malkin Offline
    2000 Post Club Member

    Registered: 04/18/09
    Posts: 2408
    Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
    I would rather practice than keep track of practice.
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    #2169462 - 10/21/13 12:14 PM Re: Calculating practice time [Re: sydnal]
    Michael_99 Offline
    500 Post Club Member

    Registered: 07/28/12
    Posts: 935
    Loc: Canada Alberta
    sydnal, I have read your post, here:

    subject: Calculating practice time

    So, the 10.000 hour threads intrigued me, I want to keep track of the time I spend practicing and I wonder if there are people out there who already do this. Also what methods they use..

    Of course one can always use a simple timer but it's prone to error. (Forget starting/stopping etc.) I am looking for more automatic methods. Such as a digital piano keeping track of the hours it was open or a software piano that does the same, do these exist? Or any other external software that can do this by listening to midi signals?

    __________

    Great post, sydnal.

    Yes, you can certainly log all your piano time. But the difficulty is that everything you do and everything you learn is dependant on your ability and inability. So some pieces that you learn up to a performance level may take you 6 months, a similar piece may take you half as long because your previous experience in the previous piece helped you you learn it in less time.

    If it takes the average person 10 years to be pretty good if they worked very hard, it is such a long stretch of time and what people do in a decade from being well, being depressed, only play the piano everyday or dating a new person, have having a family, everything do we affects everything so it could be difficult to understand what your logs actually mean. Remember, that each and every piece you learn and play makes a difference as to your outcome. Your choices may hurt your goal or your choices may very much benefit your goal.

    I think you get the idea.

    What you may be interesting in is that if you studied piano for 10 years and at the end of the 10 years you were rich, famous and the best piano play on the plant, that may be quite meaningfull to you and your loved ones.

    If in 10 years you were not rich, not famous and not the best piano player on the planet, you could still be extremely happy playing the piano - BUT it could be that in 10 years that the person was rich, famous and the best piano player on the planet and they could be very, very, very unhappy because they felt they had sacrificed that 10 years and it was too big a price for the reward they got in their mind!

    cheers,

    3B21SAC


    Edited by Michael_99 (10/21/13 12:21 PM)

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    #2169539 - 10/21/13 02:28 PM Re: Calculating practice time [Re: malkin]
    griffin2417 Offline

    Silver Supporter until Dec 29 2012


    Registered: 12/12/10
    Posts: 2409
    Loc: Minneapolis, MN
    Originally Posted By: malkin
    I would rather practice than keep track of practice.


    I feel the same way at times. Sometimes logging takes time away from practicing.
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    #2169626 - 10/21/13 04:45 PM Re: Calculating practice time [Re: sydnal]
    rnaple Offline

    Silver Supporter until April 24 2014


    Registered: 12/23/10
    Posts: 1975
    Loc: Rocky Mountains
    The...uh.... midi events timer?... How about when the cat starts walking back and forth on the keyboard?

    I try to keep each session down to 15 minutes. Not doing too good. Other morning an hour went by before I checked the timer.

    Best suggestion I have is to estimate. Can even base the estimate on how well you play. For me... I've been at this for months....how well I play?... I'd estimate a grand total practice time of ... two hours. smile

    The 10K rule has been applied to many things. It's not worth worrying about. Your play is worth worrying about.
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    Your brain is a sponge. Keep it wet. Mary Gae George
    The focus of your personal practice is discipline. Not numbers. Scott Sonnon

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    #2169646 - 10/21/13 05:15 PM Re: Calculating practice time [Re: sydnal]
    malkin Offline
    2000 Post Club Member

    Registered: 04/18/09
    Posts: 2408
    Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
    Worry?
    Not for me.
    Focus, concentration, attention, thought,
    but not worry.

    Maybe Alfred E. Neuman had it right after all.
    _________________________
    A good student is one who makes the teacher feel like a good teacher.

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    #2169667 - 10/21/13 05:41 PM Re: Calculating practice time [Re: sydnal]
    Morodiene Online   content
    Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

    Registered: 04/06/07
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    Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
    Now I definitely think there is value in recording practice times and tasks. This can help tremendously when there is a lack of progress on a particular piece - you can figure out what you've done already or what you've not done, if you need to increase your time or your efficiency, things like that. It can also be a way to hold yourself accountable for your practice time if you are not quite as diligent with that.

    It's not for everyone, but I think it can be helpful and not a waste of time, as long as time isn't what you're obsessing about.
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    #2169676 - 10/21/13 05:50 PM Re: Calculating practice time [Re: sydnal]
    Sam S Offline
    1000 Post Club Member

    Registered: 12/12/07
    Posts: 1406
    Loc: Georgia, USA
    I keep track of mine, but it is pretty simple - pencil and paper. I have a notebook - the same one that my teacher writes her instructions in - she uses the front, I use the back.

    I just write down the date, then the time I start a particular task, and the time I stop. It only takes a second to do.

    Last summer, when I was playing a particularly difficult piece (for me, anyway), I actually went back and added up the minutes I had spent on it. By hand (well, I used a calculator). 40 hours of practice to get Schumann's Arabeske playable.

    But I don't add things up very often.

    If I had to use a spreadsheet I probably wouldn't do it. I've already got the notebook there, and the pencil, so it's become a habit now.

    And my teacher almost never writes anything in my notebook anymore. When I first started with her, I think she was unsure about how to approach my lessons. Since then she has learned that I am a self-motivator - no need to assign me anything.

    Sam

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    #2169684 - 10/21/13 06:04 PM Re: Calculating practice time [Re: sydnal]
    keystring Online   content
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    Registered: 12/11/07
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    Loc: Canada
    How you practice is paramount. That means you are doing the right things in a focused manner. If you practice the wrong things then you have engrained something that will take three times as long to undo. That is not to say the "perfection" is needed either - this brings about its own anxiety. I fell into all kinds of holes with the first instrument that I studied with a teacher as an adult. Later on I learned to do things, where in a week I'd get further than in 6 months (because how I had been working before was that ineffective). There are lots of discussions on that idea in this forum.

    I do not keep track of my time. I keep track of what I'm working on, how it's going, whether it seems to be going the right direction - things like that.

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    #2169692 - 10/21/13 06:26 PM Re: Calculating practice time [Re: sydnal]
    tangleweeds Offline

    Silver Supporter until Jan 11 2012


    Registered: 12/21/08
    Posts: 1269
    Loc: Portlandia
    There are any number of free or inexpensive client billing computer apps. And then you pretend your piano is a client.

    Fancier ones contain project management or can link to, or be parts of project management apps. So you can track time spent doing projects for your piano-client, like sight reading practice; scales, arpeggios and cadences (I group those three together), repertoire maintenance, polishing current pieces, learning a new piece, etc etc etc. And it calculates, pie charts, or otherwise keeps track of (if you're compulsive enough to consistently use the thing), how much time you're spending on different areas of practice.

    I've played around with this, and go through phases. Sometimes it fulfills my inner OCD, and other times my practice is waaaaay more freeform. If nothing else, it helps me diversify my practice, and keep track of where I am within different learning resources.
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    #2169708 - 10/21/13 06:53 PM Re: Calculating practice time [Re: sydnal]
    jotur Offline
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    Registered: 09/16/06
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    Loc: Santa Fe, NM
    I'm with Sam - pencil and paper. I have a loose-leaf notebook with a page (or pages) for each piece I'm working on where I write down what I've worked on and how it went, and then a log page in the front that's just how much time I practised and which pieces each session. Works for me.

    Cathy
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    #2169760 - 10/21/13 09:16 PM Re: Calculating practice time [Re: sydnal]
    findingnemo2010 Offline
    1000 Post Club Member

    Registered: 12/17/09
    Posts: 1491
    I was doing this for awhile. Just in my notebook I would jog down how many hours or hour I practiced that day. I would check the time then check it when I was done to count them. After awhile when you sit there all day it doesn't even matter anymore, at least to me. Any time there is good time I would hope to believe. grin
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    #2169768 - 10/21/13 09:38 PM Re: Calculating practice time [Re: sydnal]
    DinaP Offline
    Full Member

    Registered: 08/31/12
    Posts: 149
    Like others, I start with a spread sheet -- some of the items I practice are done every day, others on odd days and others on even days.

    I use this timer. I've used other types and finally settled on this one because I just have to flip it. I usually practice any piece in 5 minute intervals. The 5 minute sub-divisions make me take that pause and figure out if I need to adjust what I have been doing -- should I focus on the measure that is tricky now or just keep trying to play the whole first page as I had been?? -- or whatever -- you get the picture. This keeps the practice focused and useful.

    Also like others here, I have a loose leaf notebook with separate pages for each song, scale, etc. I quickly record the practice time as I go along (5+5, etc.) as I work on each item.

    When I am through messing with any particular piece, exercise, scale, whatever I write down where I should begin the next time -- what to focus on first, what to add to that next -- allows me to quickly get up to speed the next time I sit at the piano to work with the item. Again, this minimizes wasted time and keeps my practice focused.

    At the end of any day I can record the total time I spent on each item on the spreadsheet.

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    #2169792 - 10/21/13 10:33 PM Re: Calculating practice time [Re: DinaP]
    Sand Tiger Offline
    500 Post Club Member

    Registered: 03/25/12
    Posts: 990
    Loc: Southern California
    Pencil and paper, a spreadsheet are all good and simple suggestions. Automatically logging is clever but of little real value to my mind. Some folks spend as much time on logging and tracking their practice as they do on the bench. To me, all that tracking seems like a waste of time. Keep it simple. As an aside, some folks seem to spend way more time on the forum or other piano sites, than at the bench too, and that is another interesting choice.

    If a person insists on software or an app, I suggest searching for running, or bicycling programs. There are tons of them, with so many data obsessed participants in both activities. Some fields might not make much sense for piano practice. However, a person can use them to suit their own purposes. For example, instead of entering a distance in a runners log, a person could use a code 1, 2, or 3 depending on the type of piano practice.
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    #2169809 - 10/21/13 11:21 PM Re: Calculating practice time [Re: sydnal]
    tangleweeds Offline

    Silver Supporter until Jan 11 2012


    Registered: 12/21/08
    Posts: 1269
    Loc: Portlandia
    I do find that tracking with a computer app is more effective when I am doing practice that already involves the computer.

    I have a number of what, in my music nerdydorky way, I consider "computer games". These are just about any program that takes MIDI input from my computer, stuff like PrestoKeys, Practica Musica, and Home Concert Xtreme. So it's pretty easy to timeclock in/out of one thing or another, when i'm on the computer already.

    But right now, in my new house and different DP setup, I haven't quite figured out a convenient way to rig a shelf above my piano for the computer, so no "computer games" for a while. I'm not missing them much, but now I haven't been tracking my practice very effectively either.
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    #2169813 - 10/21/13 11:33 PM Re: Calculating practice time [Re: DinaP]
    tangleweeds Offline

    Silver Supporter until Jan 11 2012


    Registered: 12/21/08
    Posts: 1269
    Loc: Portlandia
    Originally Posted By: DinaP
    I use this timer. I've used other types and finally settled on this one because I just have to flip it.

    Ha! I just got one of those for just the very same purpose (but I got the green one). I like your idea of keeping track of 5 + 5 + 5... I hadn't quite gotten that far with my plan. I just finished up a big project this weekend, and wanted to start using my cube this week, so this is all very timely.

    If we have just inspired anyone else to try one of cubes, do note that different colors of cube have different time denominations. My green one has 1, 5, 10, & 15 minute timers on it.
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    #2169835 - 10/22/13 12:47 AM Re: Calculating practice time [Re: sydnal]
    sinophilia Offline

    Gold Supporter until Sept. 05 2014


    Registered: 06/26/12
    Posts: 942
    Loc: Italy
    I usually just write the starting date on the music, and then add comments and tempo, until I can write the end date and put the piece away. Then I have a simple spreadsheet where I enter the pieces with a few details, so I can see if I'm practicing as planned, but I don't calculate the actual minutes and hours, just the days spent on the piece, including days when I didn't practice at all.

    But the Compound Time site and app mentioned by Morodiene is neat. I practiced for 53 minutes yesterday!
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    #2169848 - 10/22/13 01:16 AM Re: Calculating practice time [Re: Morodiene]
    HalfStep Offline
    Full Member

    Registered: 02/25/11
    Posts: 201
    Loc: Boston, MA
    Originally Posted By: Morodiene
    The 10,000 hour thing isn't worth keeping track of. That post or one similar shows up about every couple of months. It's not a guarantee. If you practice poor habits without any guidance for 10,000, you will play poorly - really well.

    Instead, if you wish to play piano well, get a good teacher. Track your practicing, but instead of time, practice what you do. Adjust that as necessary and as you become a more accomplished pianist. Start out simple and gradually advance to more complicated music as your skills improve. You will make progress and play beautiful music along the way, and that is where the real enjoyment lies. smile


    This is a brilliant perspective. Please realize I am speaking from a pedagogical perspective, not as an inherent educator of music. It reminds me of the old adage, work smarter, not harder.

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    #2169854 - 10/22/13 01:26 AM Re: Calculating practice time [Re: sydnal]
    HalfStep Offline
    Full Member

    Registered: 02/25/11
    Posts: 201
    Loc: Boston, MA
    Track benchmarks not time. It's a performance (not musical performance) based approach. My analogy is school. There may be 25 students in a tenth grade class, all of whom studied for the same amount of time. Some high achievers study extensively, others barely study. Only you know the extent to which repetition is warranted.

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    #2169911 - 10/22/13 07:50 AM Re: Calculating practice time [Re: sinophilia]
    Morodiene Online   content
    Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

    Registered: 04/06/07
    Posts: 11410
    Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
    Originally Posted By: sinophilia


    But the Compound Time site and app mentioned by Morodiene is neat. I practiced for 53 minutes yesterday!
    I starting using this yesterday as well. What I like about it is that it's a timer, so not a lot of time involved in switching pieces except at the beginning to add the name of your piece. Then it's just a matter of typing when you're done what you did. It would be nice to add some more features to it like being able to have an alarm when you reach a certain time, and make it a bit easier to see what you did (at least what measures you worked on) at a glance. Right now you have to edit the entry to see that info.
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    #2169936 - 10/22/13 09:01 AM Re: Calculating practice time [Re: sydnal]
    sydnal Offline
    Full Member

    Registered: 06/20/13
    Posts: 126
    Well; I wasn't expecting so many people to have strong opinions against this so I'm a little bit surprised.. But I am not convinced smile For example, let's take the argument that it's not hours spent practicing but the efficiency of the practice. Of course I can't argue with that, but how do you define efficient practice? Isn't efficiency in the case of piano practice calculated by the proficiency achieved vs the time & effort spent? So how do you know or estimate if you are practicing efficiently without knowing one of those variables?

    Time since starting piano study is not a reliable metric. Some people spend several hours daily and some just play half an hour a few times a week. That students in tenth grade analogy assumes that all students had the same amount of courses, what if you knew some attended only half of the courses? Would you not logically expect those students to perform worse, without even thinking whether their studies were more efficient or not? So time spent is one of the primary variables. Maybe not linearly proportional to proficiency and affected greatly by other multipliers but it's there. That's why I think it's important to be able to keep track of this.

    As for the people stating its tediousness or that they would prefer practicing rather then keeping practice time, that's why I started this thread in the first place, I am searching for an automatic method. What if it was calculated without any effort on your part, would you still not want it?

    Anyway, I have sort of improved my idea. I have decided listening to midi events is not the way to go since it only targets digital piano owners, who also have to use it connected to the computer all the time. A proximity sensor facing your piano stool (wall mounted, maybe mounted on a little pole), with some lightweight hardware for recording data would be much better I think..
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