April 09, 2015
How To Master Any Instrument by Setting Music Goals
Setting music goals is one of the best ways to become a skilled musician. Whether the player is aiming for a professional music career or learning new songs, goal setting helps all musicians of all ages and experience levels.
There are several great strategies to help you stay on track and reach your goals. We encourage each player to experiment and figure out what works best for them. However, we believe the following techniques are the best for achieving your goals:
- Get inspired by favorite professional musicians
- Set long-term goals
- Set short-term goals
- Set goals for each practice session
- Make a realistic practice schedule
These techniques are useful for learning any instrument in any genre, from pop to classical and everything in between. Setting music goals are guaranteed to lead to music success.
Get Inspired by the Pros
For some, setting music goals can be intimidating. Players may not know what their goals are, or they may feel like setting specific goals takes the fun out of playing music. Goals are a powerful motivator, but they won’t work if they make music seem like a chore.
One way to set goals without feeling overwhelmed is to become inspired by professional musicians. Ask questions such as: who are your “music idols” and favorite performers? What do you want your playing to sound like? If you could play on stage with any performer or group, who would it be and why?
Even if the player doesn’t want a career in the music industry, this exercise helps them dream big and gain clarity about their musical goals. The player and their family members can then begin to research these pros for inspiration. Many popular musicians share practice tips, songwriting strategies, and other goal-oriented advice in interviews, videos, and on social media.
Set Long-Term Goals
Once players feel inspired, they should write down a list of long-term goals. We recommend a minimum of three long-term goals and a maximum of six. Setting too many goals can be overwhelming, but not enough goals can have the opposite effect and fail to motivate the player.
Write long-term goals on a large piece of paper or a whiteboard in the player’s practice area, or attach a list to the inside of the player’s instrument case. By seeing these goals each time they practice, the player can remain focused and excited. Players can also get creative and make a “vision board” for setting music goals.
Set Short-Term Goals
Long-term goals are important for music lessons. But how do you achieve these goals? The answer is to work toward big musical goals, one step at a time by setting smaller short-term goals.
There are many strategies for setting short-term goals for music lessons. Players can try different systems and see which one works best. Many prefer to set their short-term goals based on the calendar: i.e., monthly, weekly, and daily goals.
Others find success when they set smart goals. Rather than setting goals based on a time period, smart goals are focused on achieving specific results. For example, let’s say the player is learning a difficult piece for an upcoming recital. They could set smart goals by focusing on mastering specific sections of the piece, as opposed to simply practicing for a certain number of hours each day.
Set Goals for Each Practice Session
After setting long-term and short-term goals, players should set goals for each individual practice session. This is similar to the way a sports team might practice, with each session structured around a specific topic or theme, or an area where the player needs more improvement.
Schedule time for practicing, then break the time down into smaller chunks. If the player practices for an hour, consider dividing the time into four 15-minute sections, including warmups and “free time” to improvise on their instrument.
Setting music goals for each practice session will help players remain focused and encourage them to build good habits around playing. For younger players who may be reluctant to practice their instrument, structuring their practice sessions can also make the time pass faster.
Make a Realistic Practice Schedule
Finally, remember that setting music goals should never get in the way of the player’s love for music. Obviously, daily practice is ideal for meeting musical goals and become a good player. But don’t let music lessons or practicing become a chore.
To avoid this, set a realistic practice schedule. If players can only practice for 15 minutes a day, that’s much better than stressing out or losing sleep to fit an hour-long practice into a packed schedule.
For more tips about setting music goals, sign up for lessons today.