Limbo-Log #3: Where did the week go?

This time I’m trying a different format for my ‘limbo-log’ post as it has proven tricky sometimes to remember to make a note of what I’ve been up to in the day/time format.

I’ve also been using Toggl to track my time. I first used this during the first year of my PhD, out of interest to see how my time spent on different tasks related to one another, but it’s proven more interesting to track my current status of various different types of tasks. The following is from a one week period, and I’ll describe my categories as we go (and mention things I DIDN’T track).

MUSIC PRACTICE (7 hours, 7 minutes) – this was a pretty decent amount of practice for the week. I almost always track my time spent on violin practice as it can sometimes be a motivating factor. Having said that, when I’m not doing too well, it can also be disheartening! I didn’t include in this the time I spent playing the keyboard with my brother to teach him how to read bass clef.

TUTORING (5 hours, 50 minutes) – this is the time spent only in the actual sessions. As it’s summer this fluctuates a lot, and this week I taught 3 different postgraduate psychology students.

DOG WALKING (4 hours, 15 minutes) – I don’t get paid for this, but I walk someone else’s dog to give me a bit of motivation to get out of the house and do some exercise.

WORK APPLICATIONS (3 hours, 30 minutes) – I include the time spent looking for things I’d like to apply to, as well as actually writing applications. A large chunk of this week’s time was interview prep, as I had to put together a session plan and a ‘micro-teach’ to deliver as part of the interview [I spent many hours on this in total and didn’t get the job].

FAMILY (3 hours) – Most of the family were away but I went to have lunch at my grandparents’ house.

OTHER MUSIC (2 hours, 11 minutes) – looking up music theory stuff, doing practice aural exercises, reading about music history, etc. I also made a separate category for ‘attempts at composition’ but didn’t do any this week.

TUTORING-RELATED (at least 1 hour, 58 minutes) – this is where I include all of the admin-type tasks such as responding to messages, managing bookings, and of course preparing content/exercises if required for sessions. I imagine this to take a lot more time (and mental energy) than recorded, as firstly, I often don’t record the few minutes here and there for replying to single emails etc, and secondly, I’m often thinking about these things in between other tasks.

RESOURCE MAKING (1 hour, 50 minutes) – separately to the resources I make for my tutoring students, I’ve also been working on making general resources over summer both for commonly-requested topics and to sell on TES.

MUSIC PSYCHOLOGY (48 minutes) – at the moment this is mainly reading and self-teaching activities.

PHD-RELATED (16 minutes) – this is where I include things that stem from my PhD work, such as the publications I’m working on with my supervisors. This week was just a quick discussion with one supervisor about a small section of a paper that’s nearly ready to be sent off for review. Things I maybe could have included here would be the long time I spent ordering guest tickets and academic attire for my graduation ceremony.

And what I didn’t log…

Food (eating, making, etc) – I often don’t spend long planning or cooking and it might be good in future to be able to mentally categorise these activities as productive!

A lot of the weekend time which was spent with my partner.

TV / youtube time.

Miscellaneous reading time – both fiction and non-fiction (which I’m trying to increase).

Things I want to learn (or wish I already knew)

MUSIC – I already take violin lessons and just completed my grade 8 theory exam…but I do have a fantasy of having some level of competency playing viola, piano, and maybe even cello (though my back would never stand for carrying a cello). Also composition…because I try but it doesn’t really happen.

HUMAN FACTORS – I’m interested in cognition and perception, but would like to know more about the applications of this. At some point during my undergraduate degree I got interested in aviation human factors (probably because half of the family are aviation engineers).

LANGUAGES – I took French GCSE, and learnt German in school too but couldn’t fit the GCSE into my timetable. I’d like to pick up with German again…but I’d also like to learn Latin…or Turkish…or Danish…or BSL. One preventative factor is my inability to pick one to focus on.

SCIENTIFIC DRAWING – I need more time to draw in general… 10 years have passed since I spent any considerable time and effort in drawing. But I love the kind of anatomical brain and bone diagrams…animals…plants…and would love to be able to draw some things like that.

COOKING – Not extensive cooking, but enough that I can easily make nice (but not too time-consuming) food that I’m actually enthusiastic about and enjoy.

PHYSICAL EXERCISE – Again, not extensive, but enough that I can get interested and motivated in leading a healthier life. I’d also like to sort out my posture.

CODING – Sometimes job applications would be easier if I had some kind of Matlab/Psychopy skills. I skipped a workshop where I could have learnt Psychopy once because anxiety. Ew.

DECISION MATHS – I studied A-level Maths and my class did Statistics and Mechanics for the two ‘applied’ modules…I always had a bit of curiosity about ‘Decision’ (and my younger brother taught me a little once when doing his A-level homework) but never delved into it in any proper sense.

The Path to Music Psychology

This summer marks the tenth year since I started studying Psychology – reading Psychology: The Science of Mind and Behaviour (Richard Gross) prior to starting the A-level course. At that time I had an intention of studying and working within Psychology, and very little experience with Music. The interest in music grew gradually, and I began to take violin lessons finally at the age of 23, progressing from beginner to grade 7 level…whilst knee-deep in a Psychology PhD focusing on cognitive neuroscience and visual perception.

One of my current aims is to build a path towards some academic research that bridges between the two areas of interest. I’ve built extensive experience within Psychology, and taken my nerdy obsession with Music Theory as far as possible in a three year period, but the combination is proving trickier.

Naturally, progressing from a long-standing interest in cognitive psychology, I’m particularly interested in the cognitive and perceptual aspects of music, and am currently looking into designing a paradigm to test whether/when people tend to over- or under- estimate pitch intervals between musical notes. It remains to be seen whether I would be able to conduct (and eventually possibly publish) some research in this area, given that I don’t currently have an institutional affiliation.

Specific Music Psychology jobs seem somewhat rare (and therefore presumably competitive), so I do feel the need to build up some experience in a demonstrable way – reading lots of books is not always considered ‘CV-worthy’ unfortunately! Another idea I’m working on is to create an online course, though this is proving tricky to plan, let alone actually record and build!

As well as the links between music theory and perception, I am also interested in music performance psychology, however, this is even further removed from my previous experiences. I did not have much success gathering interest to host a guest speaker even even when I had the association of a student union!

I would certainly be excited about potential collaborative projects associated with music and psychology, so if you are in a similar position to me or simply have an idea or interest you’d like to develop, I’d love to hear from you!