Am I Getting Better?: Setting Musical Goals

I’ve always thought that athletics and music have more in common than you might think. Both require a passion for the subject and a dedication to developing your technique. And whether it’s training for an upcoming track meet or preparing for a local audition, you’ll need to show true commitment. In this blog post, I’ll provide an overview of how I set goals in music lessons and share some examples.

Understand your student’s intentions and establish a baseline

Playing walking bass lines from chord charts is a skill I worked on for years before I felt confident enough to do so in a performance!

My original baseline for improvising walking bass lines (pun intended) was nonexistent, so I could only go up from there!

Before you get started on setting specific musical goals for your students, it’s important to know where they’re starting and what they hope to achieve. Though they may not be able to pinpoint specific goals quite yet, getting to know your students’ intentions and dreams for their music-making can improve the connection between you and your student and the quality of your teaching.

Take the time, too, to observe your student’s playing. Where are they strong? Where is there room for growth? Just like a beginning runner who’s never run more than 30 seconds before or an experienced musician who’s auditioning for a new ensemble, everyone has room for improvement.

Keep track of where they started, select appropriate goals for your student, and use your baseline observations (i.e., their starting point) later to help you and your student better understand their progress.

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