Prevent Garbage In, Garbage Out: Take Notes 
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Last week I wrote about Charles Babbage and his Difference Engine.  Acknowledged as the father of the modern computer, Mr. Babbage lived from 1791–1879.  I suggested that parents create a Making a Difference Engine, or MDE.  I hope you have done so!  Remember the acronym GIGO means “Garbage in, garbage out” or what goes into the machine determines the outcome.  In this article I will suggest where to find the best input information for your child’s practice, aka MDE, and how to organize it.

The best place to find input for the MDE is at your child’s lessons.  This is where the note taking is important.  The purpose of notes is to help one to study more effectively, efficiently and quickly. Who doesn’t want this? Some research suggests that whether you take notes or not you will remember about 40% of what was said.  But, those who take notes remember important points; non-note takers remember a random assortment of things, many of which are not at all helpful. It is believed that the act of writing requires the brain to evaluate and order information and this is what fixes ideas firmly in our minds.  That’s a lot of good from paper, a pen and active listening!

Here are some note taking ideas:
  • Use a dedicated notebook.
  • Don’t trust yourself to remember anything.   
  • Actively listen to what is said.  Not everything is important, but if you are distracted you may miss important information.
  • Choose what is important to record.  Record as much as is necessary for you to remember the important parts.  Ask the teacher if you are unsure about what is important.
  • Use abbreviations, make up your own to you can write faster.
  • Listen to the teacher’s voice and watch any movements.  The tone and pitch, intensity and gestures are clues to what’s important in the lesson.
  • Organize your notes by piece, exercise, scale, etc.
  • Record how specific problems were handled so you can repeat the process at home.
  • Don’t merely write down the name of piece, and nothing else.  Be specific.
  • Write down what’s new to you and what is relevant.
  • Pay particular attention to:  definitions and new terms, exercises and why/where to do them, measures that need attention and how to approach them.
  • Note any questions you have, or things you don’t understand.  If you don’t get it at the lesson, you can’t help your child get it at home.
The amount of effort the parent puts into preparing the Making a Difference Engine, is directly related to the output from that engine.  Learn how to take excellent notes and then use them.
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