Goal Setting for Musicians - Make the most of your lessons!

Goal Setting for Musicians - Make the most of your lessons!


The process of moving is a time consuming and challenging one. But in many ways, it can be greatly rewarding as well. As you pack up your things, you start to find old shoes, clothes, notebooks, and knick knacks of all sorts.

Recently, as my wife and I prepared to move our family, I found one of those long forgotten notebooks. It was an old journal that I used to keep track of my work outs for track and field. In addition to the work out journal, it had in the back of it some written goals for times in the 100m, 200m and distances for the long jump.

Finding this notebook reminded me of the importance of goal setting. Now, I've long hung up my track spikes and (re)traded them in for my trumpet. But the same principles apply. I want to take a moment to talk (er blog) about goal setting for musicians.

Sure goal setting is a specific activity that will differ for every individual, and the steps of goal setting will change from application to application. But for the sake of simplicity and time, I'll reduce musical goal setting to three main components. And you can easily take this approach and expand it to 4 or 5 or 6 components. But here goes...

Component #1 - Have an Objective
Your goals need to be objective. For example, you can't have an open ended, subjective goal like "I want to be a better player." Sure, it's good to want to be a better player, but to define what "better" means, you need to have a target in mind. Perhaps its a piece of music, or a chord progression at a certain tempo, or something of that nature.

Component #2 - Goal must be Time Sensitive
I believe it's important to put an "x" on the calendar and say to yourself "by this date, I'd like to be able to play..." Of course this goal needs to be realistic (and setting realistic goals can be a component in itself). I mean, your coach should be able to sit with you and say honestly and gently "nah, that ain't gonna happen in this timeline". But it is important to set an time sensitive goal for your musical objectives.

Component #3 - Develop a Plan of Action
Ever try to get to a new place without directions? It can be incredibly inefficient and frustrating. Trying to attain a playing or musical goal without a similar plan of action would likewise be inefficient and frustrating. That's why I'm a huge advocate of devising a plan of action once goals have been set. A good coach should be able to assess your current skills and abilities, and devise a step-by-step action plan from there. Along the path of the action plan should be some mini-goals set up to measure progress.

So in a nutshell, define a realistic, objective goal for what you'd like to play, set a reasonable timeline, and work up (with your coach) an action plan to guide you along the way.

Perhaps I should have written some packing goals when we were preparing for the move. Thanks to my wife though, it turned out well.

Happy playing!