Happy New Year!!!

It’s that time of the year again, where everyone is reflecting on the past year and looking to make changes to better themselves.

Personally I love this time of the year because one can see the results from all their hard work and learn from the previous year’s mistakes to make significant changes and come closer to achieving those goals, no matter what the goals may be.

In this post I want to outline how one can plan and produce successful results and how easy it can be.

First of all grab a piece of paper and a pen or open a word processor.

Step 1 – What is your “Ultimate Goal”?

Find a quite place and close your eyes and concentrate on what your ultimate goal/ dream is, maybe you want to be able to play 1000 notes per second, write a hit song, play anything you hear in your head or be a well rounded musician.  Once you figure out your “Ultimate Goal”, write it down and be as specific as possible.

Step 2 – How do I achieve my “Ultimate Goal”?

In this step we are going to dissect our “Ultimate Goal” into different  categories , for example if our goal/ dream is to be a working musician, we need to focus on specific areas such as instrument technique, music theory, music business/ marketing, networking etc.

Step 3 – Further dissection

Once we’ve noted our categories we need to create sub categories which we will use to create long term goals. So going back to the example above, we can take “Instrumental technique” and separate it into different areas such as sight reading, improvisational concepts, rhythm, sound, ear training, technical exercises etc.

Once we’re happy with our sub categories we can work out short term goals so we have a map or a tree that looks like this in the end

Instrumental Technique (Head category)

–          Ear training (Sub category)

–          –  Mastering Intervals  ( Long term goal)

–          –  – Identifying major 3rds (Short term goal)

–          –  – –  Major 3rds ascending/ descending (Exercises)

Step 4 – Make and sign a contract

If you are like me and countless other musicians, self discipline does not come naturally or easily. Drawing up and signing a simple agreement with yourself can keep you focused, especially if you pin it up on the wall where you practice.  After a few weeks of sticking to your practice plan it will become a habit.

A few things to note are:

  • When setting  your “Ultimate goals” try to have a huge goal that almost seems unattainable
  • Focus on a few things at a time, trying to do too many things at once can be overwhelming and discouraging.
  • Select material that is challenging not overbearing.

This method can be used by anyone whether you are a hobbyist or a serious musician and you yourself can decide how specific you want be.

Ooh, One last thing! (Columbo moment) Everybody’s goals change all the time so it’s good idea to review your progress every 4-12 weeks to see if you need to update your plan.