Music Study Successful Goal-Setting


in Methods

Map Your Plan for Music Accomplishment

Over the next several posts I’m going to look at elements that make up effective goals as specifically applied to music study and setting music goals.

Each of these posts will have look at an element for setting goals and discuss what it means, give an example and then ask you to take action in setting a goal with that element. You will be able to take a few days and or moments and work on each element, and then we’ll continue with the next one. Hopefully by the time we are done you will have created specific goals and learned to apply this knowledge every time you get stalled.

How It’s Done in the Music Theory Course

In the Music Theory Course (monthly program and lesson plan for the full course) I’ve mapped out the 24 lessons and a number of achievements for learning music principles from understanding the two primary functions of notes (pitch and time) to the full understanding harmonic system principles.

We’ve created a vision and path to provide the necessary foundation of reading, creating, and playing music. However, there are several steps that you as the student need to work out. That deals with your commitment and determination to implement what you learn.

In the course this is done through progress sheets that help you work through the exercises are scales or chord retention. That is all well and good, but you need to make goals of picking up these sheets and working the exercises.

These are particular near and medium term goals that will keep you going in the right direction, followed by concrete action steps you take right now to get moving.

To formulate your own specific goals you need to know good goal setting basics. Let’s begin.

The First Characteristic of Effective Goals

Find the Right Challenge:

Picking the right challenge is a balance of working within your capability and outside of your current accomplishment.

Don't take the challenging characteristic too far, make sure you can actually achieve what you're setting out to do. You need to push yourself out of your comfort zone, but not so far that you get too frustrated and quit the process.

If you’ve read the methods of learning section in the site you may remember that the objective was to set out a plausible goal (play a 5 minute pop song), Or if you’re playing these easily enough decide to take on a 10 to 15 minute classical piece. You break this challenge into smaller steps as we’ll discuss in a future post.

If you look at something and your first thought is I’ll never be able to do that, you may want to back off and find something that is more appealing to your mind. If you’re thinking I like this and it looks like something I can take on then you may be in the right place to work on it. If you take on what you already know it may just be an exercise in repetition.

I sometimes have a tendency to take on things that stretch my capabilities a little to far. When I discover this I then regroup and decide if this should be a longer term goal say 6 to 12 month project, or should I back up and take on something that’s a less demanding and work on it.

Challenge for Performance

Part of this finding the right challenge will be in your mind set for the moment. I have no problem taking on a 30 minute classical sonata if my one to two year goal is to perform for an audience that would appreciate it.

On the other hand I might want to choose a 70’s rock and roll or a jazz tune for the Holiday party coming up in a couple of months.

Challenge for Learning

Maybe your studying music theory and have just learned the major intervals (those associated with the major scale), then you might want to take on a challenge of picking another scale or just different notes and playing those intervals to see where the notes fall on your keyboard or guitar strings. Or playing them on your trumpet.

What if you’re studying harmonic minor scales? You might take on the challenge to work with a new key every day. We’ll talk about defining specific steps later, but this idea may be about making sure that you work through a dozen scales by playing one every day for the next two weeks.

It’s Your Turn

Your assignment for the next few days is to write down 3 to 4 music related challenges you would like to accomplish in the coming weeks, or months, or year.  Here’s some starters and you can fill in the blanks.

Learn to ____________

Work on (scale, chords, systems, song) to become (smooth, effortless, ___________)

Play the song _______________

Strum the song _____________

Emphasize the melody of ______________

Next write down a couple of things in your life that aren’t music related such as improving your business skill, organizing a party, anything that is related to your work.

Remember these are challenges at this point, the big things you’d like to accomplish. Up next we’ll talk about the achievability of the challenges you have identified



Tracy May 16, 2010 at 3:26 pm

Thanks for sharing – I have always been and will always be a HUGE advocate of goal setting and all its rewards – you give some solid tips here and I like how you have linked them back to your reader’s passion for music – being a drummer myself I can relate – THANKS!
Think Successfully & Take Action!
One of Today’s TOP Coaches & Author of Success Atlas Programs

Brad_C May 17, 2010 at 5:04 pm

Thanks Tracy. It’s one of those that we all think about, but rarely get the chance to implement in a meaningful way to our hobbies. I’m hoping to give enough tips over the next few posts to help the music students and musicians alike.

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