how to set goals for the new year

Happy New Year! We’re proud of everything our students achieved in 2018. Some of you wrote your own songs, some of you performed for your first audience, and some of you took the bold step of picking up an instrument for the very first time.

Whether you’re a returning student or you just joined Musician Makers this year, the new year is a time for celebration and for setting new goals.

It can be difficult to set your own goals as a music student or as a parent. You know how far you’ve come, but you may not know what to strive for next. We want to help you be your best this year, so feel free to pick a few goals off of our list below. You can even print it out and stick it on your fridge or by your practice area as a daily reminder!

Goals for Music Students

  • Set “practice time”: To make the most of your lessons, you need to set a reasonable and consistent amount of “practice time” each week. Just 15 minutes of practice a day can really help. Find a chunk of time you can consistently devote to piano – maybe right before bed or first thing in the morning – and stick to it. If you know your weekends are always crazy, just practice during the week.

  • Go outside your comfort zone: Trying a new kind of music can be really fun, and it helps strengthen your technical skills. If you’re used to pop, try a more traditional, classical piece or writing your own song. If you know you want to try something new but you’re not sure how, ask your teacher to help you branch out.

  • Ask questions: Ask questions when your teacher introduces a new idea. Even if you think you understand everything they’re saying, you can ask questions to make sure that you’ve got it right. Some things in music just “are”—a C key or string will always be C, not any other letter—but it never hurts to ask “why?” either.

  • Think about what you want: Your teacher wants to see you get better, but it’s also very important to us that you’re enjoying music and having fun. Tell us when you have a song you really want to learn, or if there’s a musician you want to learn to play like, or if you just want to do something different.

  • Keep a practice journal: This could be as simple as making a list of your songs and checking them off each time you practice. You can also write down questions to ask your teacher later or take notes about your practice—like how you finally nailed that scale or riff you’ve been struggling with.

Goals for Parents

  • Ask for a concert: Encourage your kids to give you a concert and play what they’re working on. Some kids will be shy about playing songs for their parents while others will want to share everything they ever learn. Even if they’re too shy to play for you, they’ll appreciate that you asked and are staying involved.

  • Check-in with your kids’ music teacher: One of the best ways to support your child is to keep up with what they’re learning. Kids get a very limited amount of time with their teacher each week, and it’s easy to get confused or forgetful about practice. Talk to their teacher regularly and don’t be afraid to ask if there’s anything specific you should be watching for or reminding your student to do.

  • Ask questions: Ask what they’re learning and what they’re enjoying about music. It’s important to do this even if you’re checking in with the teacher as well. A kid that’s too shy to tell their teacher that they’re confused or that they would rather be working on a different song might open up to you, and then you can help them communicate better with their teacher.

  • Help kids make time: A lot of kids have to juggle music lessons with school, sports, clubs, family travel, church, or other obligations. If your kid has a packed schedule, they may struggle to carve out practice time on their own. Sit down with your student and help them make a plan for practicing. Make sure they pick a time to practice that’s not too hectic, and support them by keeping that time slot free every day.

  • Enjoy music together: Musician Makers teaches kids how to make music, but appreciating and listening to music is just as important. Share your favorite songs with your kids, sing along with them in the car, and help them learn about and listen to different genres. Getting them excited about music as an experience may encourage them to do their own song writing or inspire them to play more advanced songs.

It’s important to take a moment and think about what you really want out of an education in music. I hope these goals and any others you set on your own will inspire and guide your music practice through the new year.

- Kate Lewis


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