What is your strategy for maximizing all the information and content from mirai live?

I’m curious what strategies are used for absorbing, comprehending and the applying the information and content we are getting from mirai live? I’ve tried taking notes using a notepad, creating word docs, excel spreadsheets to capture information to have it when I need it, but I still find myself in front of a tree thinking “crap, I know we’ve talked about this!”
As a beginner it’s tough sometimes taking the information and then knowing when/how/why to apply or tweak according to a given situation we are presented with. So I’m wondering what some strategies others have found to help them? (Haha I could just be a slow learner and the only one having this problem)


I treat it like a college course. I take notes through out on loose leaf. I then use a binder and organize everything by color. I break down the categories into tree types (broad), season,and technique. All of my notes are organized with time stamps and dates of the video to help me find it more quickly.

I’m going to end up needing an index or something which I was not expecting. There is so much good info.


I also keep notes for each video in a notebook, and make special notes of anything that really changes something I was doing. I make sure that the note is easily visible and time stamp it for easier reference. I then occasionally rewatch videos without taking notes to make sure I didn’t miss any technique or demo being given.


I am against taking notes. It is like a GPS, if you use it you’ll never stop and find yourself using it to go to the grocery store around the corner. You’ll always keep referring to your notes instead of thinking. Your knowledge will not evolve (the notes tend to be static) and you will not learn to think bonsai. When I first joined I went through the whole archive of streams in order and I am coming back up the archive of Q&A’s also in order. I re-watched some streams, I use the very helpful index of Q&A’s that @Kendall created. The most important thing to keep in mind is Don’t Panic. The most important issues repeat themselves over and over again in streams as well as in the Q&A’s so by sheer repetition you end up absorbing them: Balance of water and oxygen, considering the state of ‘energy’ of the tree before performing an action, fertilizing, repotting. Then there are the general guidelines for specific groups of species (single/multiple flush short/long needle pines, junipers, elongating species, deciduous) that are also repeated over and over in streams and Q&A’s but also depend on your location/situation. Lastly, you have species specific nuances and there, I tend to focus more on what I have/interests me and are part of my collection. My advise is Don’t Panic. Keep watching and re-watching streams and Q&A’s. When I watch Q&A’s live or archived, I try to guess Ryan’s answer, sort of like a test. My last advise is make sure you plan ahead of any work. In scuba diving the moto is ‘plan your dive and dive your plan’ when you don’t you have accidents. I think the same is true for bonsai. Plan your work and work your plan. Read/watch/research/ask in the forum what you want to do and stick to your plan. And again, don’t panic.


Generally, I re-watch the videos quite a bit, especially the ones that apply to the trees I have in my collection. I agree with rafi in that the important lessons are repeated so that they become ingrained in the way I think and approach bonsai. If I’m about to do some specific work, then I re-watch the applicable videos. I use the video menu and search function (ctrl+f on a PC) a lot. Once I feel like I have a solid plan, I proceed nice and slow with the work.


Begin by knowing what you want to know. What species or style interests you? What species do well, very well, in your area? Better yet, what species is natural to your area and is easily adaptable to bonsai?

This will give your notes more structure. If you’re taking notes on trees you’ll never grow, then you’re creating a lot of noise in your notes. Knowing what you want will also give you “dog whistle” moments where you suddenly sit up in your chair and pay closer attention.

Good notes will also come from massive exposures to bonsai in general. Showing up is the easiest way to begin. Go to local meetings. Take workshops. Buy “Silent Observer” spots at workshops. Read. Talk to others. Go to bonsai events, conventions, auctions. Search YouTube. Watch videos here there and everywhere.

Don’t take notes of everything unless you are going to open your own nursery or get a horticultural degree, or both. Take notes of the things that fit. Listen to everything else. You’ll hear many artists saying the same things. You’ll hear many artists disagreeing with each other. Soak it all in.

Or, you could just start a “Crazy Wall”.


This is something I think about all the time. As someone who has been present for almost every live stream and Q&A - I often also have the feeling of ‘I know we covered this’ and yet I’m not exactly sure where that information is stored. As the archive grows I think a more complicated indexing system will be necessary - or perhaps a reorganization of the structure of the archive.

I subscribe to some other online learning platforms myself that have a similar structure to Mirai Live and I find myself taking notes while watching the videos, with the name of the video - and scrubbing through the content when I need to refer back.

I hope that live stream resource index I have been building will assuage this issue in the interim- Live Stream Topic / Species Index


Job security, Madam Content Director :wink:


I keep feeling like I should be taking notes but I mostly watch the videos on my phone and taking notes at the same time is a bit harder (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it).

But I feel like watching (and rewatching) all the videos over the past year has built my base knowedge up to a point where I don’t necessarily need to take notes to refer to later. Though, there have been times when I wish I wrote down some of the species specific tidbits.

I just watched the BSOP spring fundamentals video again and I’m surprised at how much new information I picked up a second time around. I think I plan on watching the whole series again each month as they line up with last years initial airing.


I had suggested in the past that we get the people watching the stream or Q&A to add tags #watering, #fertilizing, #rockymountainjuniper,#rmj, etc… then all these are collected, with repetitions and synonyms and whatever the online audience chooses and maybe a few nasty words like #baddesign or #shot get removed and then this whole collection of tags can be put into a post like the index of the Q&A topics and be searchable. It will have enough tags to make itself useful. As a bonus, to add even more to this suggestion, in case the streams are not edited (I think they are) I don’t know if the chat has a time stamp option for the comments but you only need the time in the video of the first comment to translate all the timestamps into time during the video.


I watch the webcasts on my iPhone and periodically pause them to make a note in the iphone app called “Notes” . It is exquisitely Easy to capture screen shots from the videos and paste them into the Note . The notes are backed up to ICloud and will be with you for as long as ICloud exists.


I go for notes lately. Mainly cos this generaly helps memorizing information and also if you really need to go back to some specific bit it’s easier to find it in 2-4 pages of your notebook than search for one important sentence in 2 hour long streem.
This is however what I do lately. I can understand your frustration - took me few years and loosing at least branches if not whole trees to find the best way keeping all important knowledge in head or handy without spending hours of searching and researching everytime I wanted to do some work on a tree :slight_smile:

I use the same approach. Taking notes is tough because I don’t always know ahead of time what to note. I like to start working and if I hit a snag or can’t decide I’ll re-watch videos that apply to what I’m trying to accomplish.

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I take notes; then organize the notes in outline format to initiate the absorption of information. Importantly though, in my outline, I connect the title and date of the video with key words of bonsai activities/techniques to facilitate returning later. When it’s time to perform work on one of my trees, I re-watch the applicable videos and, shortly afterward, perform the work on the tree. If time permits, I’ll re-watch the video again after doing the work to see what I missed. Obviously, my learning style requires repetition as well as hands on problem solving. FYI - I also use a program that speeds up the videos. When repeating videos, I find I can watch them at 1.5 X - 2 X actual speed and still keep up. However, I don’t hesitate to slow down or stop the video when necessary. This entire process seems to really solidify the learning for me. Good luck!

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What program do you use to speed up the videos? Sounds useful.

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Sure. It’s called MySpeed by Enounce Incorporated. Not sure if it’s the best but it works for me using Firefox browser.


I am a full beginner to bonsai as I just started this year. I also use a notebook to write down notes during videos. I find it keeps me more engaged in the videos and helps me memorize information. Going back through my notes on a subject is also a good method of re-engaging my memory for certain subjects.

I also watch videos multiple times. Sometimes I’ll just leave them on in the background while I do other things, and while the information retention isn’t as great when I do this, it still helps in the end.


Looks like we all have different ways of absorbing and retaining information. I too am a note taker. Studies have shown the physical act of writing notes helps synthesis and retention. I know it works for me. ( I do need to get my noted better organized). Some people are more visual. Personally, I am a bit of both. I like that things are being archives, tagged ( thanks Kendall !), but I also need to interpret ( synthesize) what I am seeing and hearing, often making drawings as well. None the less, it’s good to hear other’s perspectives and strategies.


I personally think the best way to learn is through practice; repetition of techniques and putting the skills we learn to use is one of the most fundamental ways we can progress and learn. Of course, with bonsai, consistently applying what we learn can be difficult because of time. Waiting for trees to progress to the point where the next step can be executed does not only test our patience, but can prevent us from repetitive practice. One can always get more trees, but that’s not always practical. Whether it be limited space, time given to work, family, education, or for monetary reasons, not everyone can continually add trees to his or her collection to work on. Ryan has mentioned that during his time in Japan, outside of his apprenticeship he would still practice the techniques he learned. Whether wiring removed branches, or purchasing cheap trees to practice on, Ryan devoted his extra time to learning the art, and this was all in a very limited space. I’m finding myself in a similar situation regarding space (if anyone has any tips on overcoming this let me know), but it’s important, if one does want to get better at bonsai, to find the time and solve the problems that comes with being able to repeatedly practice the art. Taking notes, watching the archives, reading, all of these help, but in my experience (limited as it is), it doesn’t mean much if one cannot consistently apply those skills well. It is repetitive practice that allows one to progress in skill and knowledge.