Plan with Me: The Importance of a Paper Planner

I am not that much of a planner blog. Meaning: I don’t really blog about how I plan, but I do believe that it is important to write things down in a physical planner. Don’t get me wrong, I love the calendar app on my phone, but some things are just better to see written down on paper. Last May, I got my very first Erin Condren Life Planner. I was a little skeptical of how great this planner system could be, but I really love it. Like, a lot. I used to think, “Oh, I don’t need a paper planner, my phone is just fine.” I still think that electronic calendars work, but there is something about writing down what you need to do. Plus, for me, it has become a hobby. I love using colored pens and washi tape and stickers to decorate my week. You can’t do that with a calendar app, or at least, not with the apps I’ve heard of.

This past Christmas, I was very lucky to have received my second Life Planner from my parents. The thing about Christmas is it happens right before you need a new planner!*
*Side Note: Even though I am in college and it might seem like a planner for me should start in August, I prefer going by the calendar year. I usually take summer classes, so I don’t see the value in getting a new planner in August. Also, since I will be done with my degree in a couple of years, it won’t make sense for me to use a planner based on the academic year.
Back to the post, I have been loving the vertical layout of these planners, although, now you can get one in a horizontal layout or in a vertical layout with the hours pre-printed. I did put my planner on my Christmas list, and I decided to go with the vertical layout. That design was part of why I tried the planner out in the first place. The other was that I got it when they were on sale. I prefer the vertical layout to the horizontal layout, because it is more representative of how the week looks and how it flows.
If you have read my post on the 2015 Erin Condren planner, you might have noticed that I didn’t show much of the inside of the planner, but in this post, I want to break down how I plan out my week. This week is not a typical week, because I don’t have classes yet. I have decided to play around with the way I plan out my week, and I will try to post an update on how I like or don’t like my new system. The 2015 planners had Morning, Day, and Night preprinted on the little boxes on each day.
In the new planners, you still get three boxes per day, but it is up to each person to decide how they want to use them. I have settled on the categories: Classes, Blog/Work, and Music, with the space below that being for personal things (these things usually come up fairly last minute as I barely have a social life. These may change as I experiment with my planner (I actually switched the Blog/Work and Music sections starting this week). Also, my Saturdays and Sundays will probably have something instead of Classes. I’m deciding between To-Do List and Next Week.
My method last year was to write in the times that I had a class, and if anything special was happening or was due, I would add that below the class. I used blue for my music lectures (music history, theory, etc.), purple was performances/rehearsals, red was my one non-music class, pink was personal, and green was health.
Since I will be putting classes into a different section than personal, I will still use a similar system. Blue, purple, and pink will stay the same. Green will become blog/income related things, and red will become health-related topics. Here is a picture of my set up from last week.

Erin Condren Life Planner | Plan With Me Blog Post


I recently purchased the Erin Condren Do-It-All Dots to use in my planner. I have wanted to incorporate stickers into my planner, and they are a great way to do that. I really like the stickers, because they add something that can’t be done with just using pen. You can see how I utilized some of the stickers in my weekly layout last week.
For this week, my last week of winter break (insert sad face), I don’t have much going on, just a few appointments. I might do a plan with me when I am in school so that you can see how I organize my life during the normal semester. Also, in this post, you will see that I only have one day filled out for this week. When I have school, it is a lot easier for me to plan out the week all in advance, but since I don’t have that luxury right now, I just plan day by day.

Erin Condren Life Planner | January 11-17

On the left side of the page, there is a place to write a “Thankful Thought” followed by a place to write down goals and to-dos for the week. I like to write a short little quote in there that reminds me to be thankful for everything that I have. I also make sure to fill out the column on the left with my to do list or goals for the week. I try to keep things consistent by using the same color coding system. When I finish something on that list, I cross it off with black ink. On the bottom of that column, I also track my business and blog expenses. This past week, I purchased a domain name for my blog, and I also launched and Etsy shop and listed three items. Those expenses, of course go in green. I have not made any money yet, but I know that I will be tracking income in my planner, too. I like to separate the weekend from the week using thin washi tape. I got a pack of 8 for eight dollars (woot woot!).
So, that is an overview of how I use my planner, during school breaks at least. I will probably do another plan with me during the semester here in a couple months, so be on the look out for that!
Thanks for reading!

Blogging on the Go: How I Do It

We live in a very On-The-Go society. Everyone always has somewhere to be, and we are rarely in the same place for a full day. That is why many people have come to love their smartphone and tablets, because they allow us to stay connected to others no matter where we are. Whether we are on opposite sides of the room or opposite sides of the world, we are able to keep in touch. This is important since group projects are becoming more popular. I, Hannah Haefele, am the sole owner of this blog, but I love being able to write something and post it for the world to see. I love being a part of the world of social media. But since I don’t really have a central office where I do all of my work, I love my iPad and iPhone, especially for using the Internet. For this post, I want to tell you all about how I use my iPad and iPhone to keep up with not only my blog, but all of my social media outlets from blogging, to Twitter to my sheet music website through a site called MusicaNeo.

IPAD
I love using my iPad Mini to work on my blog. When I am writing a post, I use the Blogger app (free on the App Store, probably free on Google Play). The app has a nice, simple layout. The compose screen in the app is very simple and clean. You just have the option for Bold or Italics, a camera button, and the “Done” button, and the onscreen keyboard unless you decide to use an external keyboard. I, personally have never felt the need for one. This post was drafted in Blogger.
If I need to put the final touches on a post, I use the Blogger website on either Safari or another browser called Puffin. The app costed me about four US dollars, and I have had the app for quite a long time, so I am not sure of the price now, but for me, the cost is totally worth it. With Puffin, you are able to bypass the “mobile” restrictions found in Safari. It even has the option of enabling an onscreen mouse/trackpad within the app. I use Safari to check my MusicaNeo site, and I use Puffin via Dropbox if I need to upload a new piece of music on the go.
For other forms of social media, like Facebook and Twitter, I use their native apps.
 
IPHONE
If I happen to not have my iPad with me, which is rare since it fits in a small purse, I will use my iPhone to do anything quick when it comes to my blog. I usually won’t write full posts on my iPhone, but I might edit them or schedule a post to go up. If I do anything with my blog on my iPhone, I will use that same apps and websites as on my iPad. I prefer my iPhone to my iPad for checking Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I like viewing them on a smaller screen for some reason.
 
As I said before, we live in a very connected world. We all have places to be, and we don’t always have the time to sit down for a long period of time at a desk and write a blog post or do whatever type of work it is that you do. Tablets and smartphones are a great way to help us get things done. I hope you enjoyed reading about how I manage my blog and social media.
Thanks for reading!

You can download the apps I mentioned here, all are free unless otherwise stated:
iOS:
Blogger
Puffin Browser Pro ($3.99)
Puffin Web Browser

Google Play:
Blogger
Puffin Web Browser

 

How Much Should I Practice Music?

There is the age old question that a lot of music students face: how much should I practice my instrument each day? I have been struggling with finding the answer to this question myself, and I am going to try and break it down by section and give you a general guide for how much you should practice.

As a disclaimer, your needs might vary from what I say here. The amounts of time I list will (obviously) be different for different types of instruments, and if you practice more, that’s great. If you feel like you can make steady progress by practicing less than what I say, that’s great, too. These are purely generalizations to help figure out what works for you as an individual. Also, this post will be more focused on practicing music because it is what you want to do with your life, and it will be more catered to people who play woodwinds, since that is what I know the most about. If you are interested in what you should do for your specific instrument, I suggest doing a deeper search to find what you are looking for. If you are just playing music for fun, you don’t have to practice as much since it is not going to be your career.

I think before you take my advice or the advice of anyone on the internet, you should consult with an expert on your instrument, preferably your private teacher or maybe someone who plays your instrument and is doing with it what you want to do someday. Now for the actual practice amounts.

FLUTE
I once heard that you must practice two hours a day to maintain your level of skills and more than that if you wish to improve. I think that is a good goal, but the specific amount that you practice should be dictated by how much music you have to work on and how fast you need to master those pieces. If you get new music two weeks before a performance, you should probably dedicate more time to making them the best they can be. If you have the music for two months, then you should work on it, but you don’t have to be so involved in mastering them as quickly, unless you are required to for some other reason.
If you are working on piccolo, which you should if you want a career playing flute, you should also factor in time for that in addition to your time spent on flute.

SINGLE REEDS
If you are playing clarinet or saxophone, you need to practice quite a bit, especially if you are working on the auxiliaries, too. Each instrument takes time, and like I said with flute, you need to spend the time to play your music and sound your very best. You might not be able to practice as much at a time as a flute player, though, because your embouchure might need more of a break than 30 seconds from the reed/mouthpiece combination.

DOUBLE REEDS
If you play oboe or bassoon, odds are you can only play for a certain amount of time before your lips give out. This amount of time will increase with your time playing the instrument and skill on it. You may not be able to play for hours at a time, but that’s okay. You gotta find some way to get your reed making in!

BRASS
I think that brass instruments are similar to double reeds in that you need to give your chops a break every so often. If you can go for hours and hours of practicing, that’s awesome, but you don’t want to over work your lips to the point of where you cannot play for a show.

PERCUSSION
I don’t know much about percussion, so I won’t say much, but you should probably dedicate enough time to all of the various percussion instruments: mallets, drums, etc. Each one needs focused practice, so you might need to spend multiple hours a day playing your instruments.

STRINGS/KEYBOARD
I grouped these two together, because they can both be played for many hours at a time. You don’t have to worry about your lips giving out, but you should still take frequent breaks to avoid cramping up and developing a musician’s injury.

VOICE
I am not a singer, but I know that if  am singing along to songs on the radio for a long time, my voice will start to give out. It will start to squeak, and my throat feels closed up. Consult a voice teacher and find what works for you in terms of how long you should practice.

So that was my thoughts on how much you should practice. I avoided giving numbers, because I am not an expert on all of these instruments. You need to experiment with different lengths of practice sessions and find what works for you. Don’t practice too much-because it is possible-and don’t forget the importance of practicing enough. How much do you practice? Have you ever felt like you were not practicing enough or were practicing too much? Let me know in the comments!
Thanks for reading and be sure to check out my new Etsy shop!

Choosing to Choose

Welcome to 2016 everybody! I can’t believe it’s the start of a new year! To go along with the new years’ theme of “new year, new me”, I am going to tell you a little story of 13-year-old me and how I made a decision that improved my daily life tremendously. Read on for more.
What was your school experience like? Did you have a lot of friends? Were your teachers good or bad? I have always loved learning, but middle school became a house of horrors. I knew something had to change.

 

I grew up in a fairly well off area, my school district was one of the richest in my state, so I had quite a few snobby rich kids for classmates. This was not a huge problem in elementary school. The school environment was smaller, and the community was more tight-knit, less hoity-toity. When I got to middle school, I became a target for some of the kids. I am by no means athletic, and my personal outfit of choice for the school day was a zippered jacket, sweat pants, and slip-on tennis shoes. I cringe looking back at that, but twelve-year-old Hannah had never liked denim jeans, and she had not heard of jeggings. She also never thought to give ballet flats a try. In reality, my wardrobe choices were not the only thing that made me an outsider. I just was not the outgoing, athletic, popular girl that was the epitome of all the “normal ” girls at that school.

So, in November of my eighth grade year, after receiving a postcard from a private school, I decided to explore my options. I looked at a couple different parochial schools as well as another Christian school. None really stuck out, but they all sound better than the 1600+ student public high school I was “supposed” to go to. In January, I took the High School Placement Test (HSPT) which was required by the parochial schools. The following week, my mom sent me an email about a school she read about in the local paper. It was a small independent private middle and high school that seemed like the perfect fit. I decided to have a shadow day at the school, and I loved it. Everyone was so welcoming and kind, and the teachers didn’t come off as being better than the students. Teachers go by first names, and the students know that they still should show respect, even if that is not always the case. I knew from that day that I had to go there. It was a school that was made for me.
I am still young, and I don’t have a lot of great stories to tell, but this is one of them. I could have survived public high school, but the school I went to was a much better fit. I realize that I am extremely lucky to have parents who are able to send me to MY best school, and I am forever grateful. If there is a change or a choice you want to make, don’t be afraid to take the first step. You never know what path you might take.
Thanks for reading!
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