Experiences are stored in our long-term memory the moment we try to retrieve them.
Next to that, visualising ourselves performing complex (or simple!) movements with great focus will activate the very same parts of our brain that light up when we DO execute that movement.
I have found that creating notes AFTER I’ve taken a class – as opposed to during class, which for intense movement, dance or martial arts classes is virtually undoable anyhow (if you are lucky, you’ll need all your time, effort and concentration to take part in the class ‘live’ with full presence) – is a very useful, practical and simple way to deepen the learning process by combining both effects.
It can be a bit tricky at first, as you might not recall much of the class the first few times you try – but this is exactly why this note-generation exercise is so valuable.
It will motivate you to focus more deeply during the class, prime you to look for the ‘gold’, and any movement skills you practise will ‘stick’ more deeply.
On top of that, the act of recalling will in itself become a skill you practise, and each note creating session gives you a ‘replay’ of the class you took, essentially allowing you to live it twice, and perhaps even tweak the things that you would have liked to do differently.
The structure I use for my ‘after class notes’ is as follows:
1. Art form, weekday, date
2. Level, Teacher, Number of students
3. Time, Place, Spot
Note: Adding details like number of students and the spot you occupied in the room will help you visualise the environment in more detail, which might in turn help you remember more of the class content.
NOTES: This is the main part of the journal page. A place to jot down anything you can recall from the class, impressions, movements, challenges, experiences.
I try to include all the class exercises here that I can remember in chronological order (more or less) in short hand format, including the warmup exercises and cooldown stretches, even when those were performed independently.
Feedback: This, to me, is the most important part of the notes. Here I write the feedback I receive during class, as well as feedback that is given to other students, plus the feedback I might give to myself (Note: ALL the feedback we hear can usually be applied to ourselves :))
INSPI: I added a small ‘inspiration’ section to the notes page recently.
Here I write down whatever I have seen/heard/felt/noticed in class that inspired me.
It can be a beautiful port-de-bras performed by a fellow student, an amazing kick combo I see in class, or a simple, yet eye-wateringly beautiful technique demonstration by my Taekwondo (or Ballet!) teacher.
I am noticing this portion might be even more important than I expected, so in future notes pages I will reserve a bit more space for daily inspirations.
Not only does it give me warm fuzzy feelings to write down these inspirational moments, they help me to find something beautiful and uplifting in every class, even when I find myself struggling with the skills we practise.
And you? Do you take after-notes of your movement classes?
If not (yet), do try it out, and let me know how it goes!