Specific Music Goals


in Methods

After the initial considerations of challenge and achievability of a new goal you need to get specific; the more specific the better.

In the achievability post I laid out an overall view of what it was going to take to learn a major piece of music. That was a start of a framework for getting very specific about learning this Rondo. The next step would be about examining the score and deciding a specific approach. So let’s talk about getting specific.

Be Specific in Your Goal:

Trying to “be better” is not a goal it’s a wish and it’s self defeating. Trying sets a parameter of failure is OK, you don’t want that. Be sure you are saying I am getting better at playing this rhythm, I did much better at expressing that phrase, or whatever you’re working on.  That’s a part of mind set to the point of being specific, it is a part of training your mind to believe you are accomplishing your goal.

You need to describe some specific, tangible, and measurable working-steps that tell you what your goal is in real-life terms. One of the best indications of a goal is how it will be measured, and this needs to be stated so you can look at your results so you monitor your progress.

Breaking a song into segments; such as verse 1, verse 2, and the chorus can help to get very specific about working up your goals. Then develop intermediate steps (play phrase 1 of the 5 phrases of the first verse, then the second, and so on) and then specific steps (analyze chords, block chords, play right hand, play left hand, play both hands, etc) to achieve the goal.

Notice that at the higher level there are a number of specific goals that will apply to each verse. It would look like this in a to-do list or spreadsheet:

Specific Music Goals Or Tasks

  1. Verse 1

1.1.   Phrase 1

1.1.1.      Tap Rhythm

1.1.2.      Analyze Chords and Progression

1.1.3.      Block Chords 10x

1.1.4.      Play Right Hand 10x

1.1.5.      Play Left Hand 10x

1.1.6.      Play Both Hand 10 x

1.1.7.      Connect Phrase 1 and 2 10x

1.2.   Phrase 2

1.2.1.      Tap Rhythm

1.2.2.      Analyze Chords and Progression

1.2.3.      Block Chords 10x

1.2.4.      Play Right Hand 10x

1.2.5.      Play Left Hand 10x

1.2.6.      Play Both Hand 10 x

1.2.7.      Connect Phrase 2 and 3 10x

1.3.   And so on

As you can see taking the time to break down your final objective is a process of working forward and backward. If you look at your end goal you can back up and say what is the one thing that has to be done before I get to this one.


Perform the song for an audience

Before that I must be able to play the song completely through with confidence.

Before that I must be able to play the song all the way through.

Before that I must be able to play each section of the song

Before that I need to explore the phrasing.

To play any one section I must know the chord progression and melody


Your Turn

Take your goals and see how many short duration steps or tasks you can break them into as we did above.

Take your goals and write all the steps you can think of to accomplish the end result. Work forward and backward.

Look at a task and determine if it will require repetition. Such as if you play a phrase you will do it 10 times in a row without a break to learn that phrase.






Some reference books for your consideration as well.




Featured Music Resources

Learn Guitar Online with Videos: JamPlay Guitar

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