Musical Resolutions for 2019: Effective Goal-Setting | Lessonface

Musical Resolutions for 2019: Effective Goal-Setting

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Leah Kruszewski
Musical Resolutions for 2019: Effective Goal-Setting

It's that time of year again!  As holiday festivities wind down and the new year approaches, it's a great time to step back and reflect on your progress in 2018.  Did you articulate some concrete musical objectives at the beginning of last year?  Which of them did you accomplish?  If you fell short of some goals, do you know why you didn't meet them?  Learn from both your successes and failures, and articulate some fresh aims for the new year.  Be sure to make your 2019 resolutions specific, measurable, and achievable: 

(1) Specific - Decide on specific pieces you want to learn, performances or workshops to participate in, and studies that address techniques that need improvement.   Watch out for vague wording such as 'get better at...' or 'improve...' -- make sure you fill in such objectives with a detailed plan on HOW you are going to improve in those areas.   If your goals are very technical such as increasing velocity or improving relaxation, it might help to set specific metronome goals or take videos of your current playing technique.  

(2) Measurable - Set goals that have something to show for themselves. Word your goals as simple statements such as 'Perform the Bach Prelude in D Major from memory in front of friends and family' or 'Learn, record, and share on YouTube my own arrangements three flamenco palos'.  There won't be any doubt you've achieved goals like these, because your friends and family will remember your performance, and you'll have already shared your flamenco pieces with the world.  

(3) Attainable - Wouldn't we all like to learn a concert program of our favorite classical guitar masterpieces, form a band and go on tour, or record an album of original compositions!   But setting goals that are impossible to achieve doesn't help us improve.  Set your 2019 goals with your teacher, who will know best what sort of progress to expect given your current level.  Some ideas may be more appropriate as five-year-goals rather than new years resolutions.


Veronica (Ronnie)

I tend to morph practice of specific skills/techniques with playing for fun and relaxation.  I need to be more specific of what I want to achieve when I sit down to practice, consult my plan, and be accountable to my teacher and to myself.

Tim Bischof

I find that no matter how much talent you are born with, it's all about perfect practice.

Perfect practice doesn't mean you can't make a mistake, it just simply means that you practice the spots where you are still making mistakes until you feel successful. I learned a long time ago, not everyone wants to practice 20+ hours playing Paganini's 24th Caprice perfectly note for note.  A favorite of Yngwie Malmsteen's.    

One must ask themself the following question. 

How can I have fun & still achieve my goal?

The answer is different for everyone.

I simply make sure I have 2 categories.

1 are songs I love & the other are songs that gain a certain skill.

For example, My student  could play Twist & Shout by the Beatles which  only require less than 5 chords which would be a fun song & great song for a beginner. For some of my intermediate to advanced students  we could take the Eagles & change the song to Hotel California & work on arpeggios specifically that are played throughout the solo.

Make sure to put this in writing, working on the difficult most challenging parts & skills to work on & BPM set for metronome etc. 

The main thing is making sure your student agrees to playing  a song that is fun for them & then giving them a skill song like flight of the bumblebee to work on a flurry of notes if that's the goal for your student. 

Above all have fun remember 

Music is all about the journey not the destination.

Leah Kruszewski

Tim, I really like the simplicity of your two categories, (1) songs that you love and (2) songs that improve a certain skill.  That's a great approach!  Basically, as long as you've got something in both of those categories going at a given time, you're going to have fun AND you're going to improve. 

Ronnie, I think that combining the 'fun' and 'technique' works can work!  As long as you're isolating the parts of your 'fun' song that give you trouble, and doing what you need to improve them, you're working on Tim's category #2. 

I also agree that accountability is more than 50% the battle.  Setting goals is easy and even fun... honestly checking in with your goals later on how you're doing takes more effort and discipline.   

Teri Wright

My goal was to pick up the guitar after a long hiatus of infrequent playing.  I met that goal by beginning lessons.  My current goal is to make time each day to play.  Even if I can only play for a few minutes, I want to make sure I play.  I begin by practicing the lesson for the week, then I allow several minutes to just play and have fun.   It is more about changing my mindset that says I don’t have time.  Once I am playing daily for a few months then I will develop some new goals.  At this point, I want to really focus on my technique, playing each note clear and crisp as well as technically correct. 

Leah Kruszewski

Hi Teri!  I just saw I failed to reply to this, and I had meant to.  These are great goals.  I especially relate to the goal of playing for at least a few minutes each day.   That's one of my goals, too.  I naturally play every day in lessons, accompanying classes, and rehearsals.  But it's important to take just a few minutes to play whatever I want -- not preparing for any rehearsal, lesson, or other project.  Those few minutes really help me feel connected and inspired. 

Also, it's pretty amazing what just a few minutes a day focused on a specific challenge can do.  In fact, that's the best way to approach most technical issues, just a few minutes daily of fresh, focused work.  Improving technique demands a really complete focus that is not easy to maintain for long stretches.  

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