New Year’s Resolutions for Music Students
Every new year, people tend to reevaluate and decide which areas of their lives need improvement. This can lead to a lengthy list of ambitious goals. The last thing I want to do is make your list of New Year’s Resolutions even longer, but as a musician and teacher, I have several recommendations for making realistic goals that can help you strengthen your musical talents.
I highly recommend discussing your goals with your music teacher and your family members. They can help you set goals and determine how you will achieve them. Also, if they know what your goals are, they can help you get there! Moral support from your teacher and family, and you feeling accountable to them, are excellent motivators.
1. Identify where you are.
What are you good at? Where do you need improvement? What’s your starting point? This is the “Before” picture in your Before&After photo shoot: afterward, you can see how far you’ve come. As musicians, a great way to do this is to record yourself. Whether you write down the pieces you are learning today or you video record yourself playing/singing (I recommend this), later you can look back and see your progress.
2. Choose something to work toward.
This is highly personal, so you’ll have to figure out what you want to work toward. Be sure to make it specific. Here are some ideas:
- Not practicing enough? Goal: practice daily or 6 days per week for # minutes/hours per day.
- Struggling with rhythm? Goal: Learn a rhythmically complex piece by X date.
- Bad at sight-reading? Goal: Sight-read new music once a week, 2-3 times a month, etc. all year long.
- Pitch issues? Goal: Be able to sing a scale perfectly in tune. Goal: Be able to sing, or at least identify by ear, each interval correctly every time you see/hear it.
- Got stage fright? Goal: Perform or audition for something on a specific date.
- Having difficulty feeling the music? Goal: Reconnect with music by learning that one piece you’ve always loved or you’ve always wanted to learn.
- Want to become a composer/arranger? Goal: Compose or arrange one new piece this year, or one per quarter, or one per month.
3. Decide how you will get there.
Whatever your goal, set a specific path for getting there. What will you do every day to accomplish your goal? What steps will you take? (Here is where your family and teacher are especially helpful resources.)
4. Celebrate your achievement!
Relish in your victory! Look at your “Before” self and enjoy the satisfaction of what you’ve accomplished. Reward yourself in whatever way you see fit.
5. Set new goals.
You should always be striving toward something even better. Set your sights higher and higher to keep progressing as a musician.
Always remember SMART goals:
- S = Specific
- M = Measurable
- A = Achievable
- R = Results-Oriented
- T = Time-Bound
Your goals should also all be meaningful, significant, and rewarding.
Happy New Year, everyone! Each year is what you make of it, so make 2017 great!