Sunday, January 2, 2011

Warming Up for Steno Practice or Tests

How appropriately titled this post is for the dead of winter... I also want to wish a happy New Year to everybody!

So to get down to the nitty gritty of it all, someone recently asked me on twitter what my process is for warming up. Any court reporting, CART, or captioning student or professional should warm up before a practice session on the steno machine or for speed tests. What I typically warm up with is the fingerspelled alphabet, numbers 1-100, pangrams such as "the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog," and then I usually jump in to the audio I was working on last from the day before, slowed down a little bit to start with.

Warming up is essential to prevent forearm muscle strain, like an athlete or musician starting slowly with stretches, and also to get the mind in sync with your fingers before starting on speedbuilding practice. Jumping into a too-fast dictation right away can sometimes be frustrating when you're not writing as fast as you thought you could, and this can lead to the steno blues.

A few months back, I posted a poll on this blog to find out what the magic length of time was for warming up for steno practice. I was pretty surprised to learn that the length of time people practiced was pretty much equally divided amongst all of the options I posted (0-10 minutes, 11-20 minutes, 21-30 minutes, 31-45 minutes, 45+ minutes, or something like that.). So there's no one right answer, in conclusion.

Experiment a little bit to find out what's the right length of warm-up time for you. Try erring on the shorter side before a round of speed tests so you don't tire out in the middle of the test, but don't skimp on the time either. When warming up before a practice session, you could probably err on the longer side. Any excess warm up can also be considered as accuracy practice before jumping into mind-blowing speedbuilding. Happy practicing, steno people!


simville02 said...

Do you use the stroke to invert your numbers when you warm up or simply stroke them all out?

I do something very similar for warm up as well as adding months and days of the week.

Court Reporter Bound said...

Oooh, I like the months and days of the week idea. Could even rotate in other things like car makes & models, common names, etc.

I've always been confused about what to do with my numbers. I've tried the asterisk to invert and it didn't stick. I could probably do a whole post on the subject... Hey, maybe I will!

simville02 said...

The captioners at my school invert numbers, but many of the court reporters do not for some reason.

We put I into the stroke. For example, 43 = 34I, 92 = 2I9, 60 = 0I6... you get the idea.

To write numbers such as 22, 55, and 88, you use E (2E, 5E, E8).

There's a lot that can be done with numbers!

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