How to Set Goals for Practicing Music

Do you struggle to make progress in the practice room? Consider how to set goals for your practice so that you can push past your plateau!

How to Set Goals for Practicing Music | Hannah B Flute

If you don’t know how to set goals for your practice, you can waste a lot of time. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Read on to learn more about how to set goals as a musician.

Keep Goals Realistic

One of the best things you can do when you set goals is to be realistic. If you don’t have fix extra hours in your day, aiming to practice for five hours isn’t going to work out.

Maybe you have an extra hour to practice music. Setting a goal to use that time to play will be much more achievable. Even if professors or the voices in your head are telling you to practice more, do what works for you.

We all have different schedules and needs. Keep those things in mind when setting practice goals and creating a practice schedule.

Work Backwards

If you don’t know where to start with setting a goal, work backwards. Think about where you want to end up and go from there. Maybe you want to give a recital, and you don’t know how to plan everything out.

The first step in how to set goals for a recital is to determine when and where it will happen. Consider how long the recital will be and how much music you’ll need.

Determine if you will have someone to play piano with you or if you’ll need to program unaccompanied works. Then, you can choose music you know if the recital will come up fast and you don’t have time to learn new stuff.

Break Down Your Tasks

Another thing you can do is break down your tasks. Learning an entire piece can be very overwhelming. However, learning a phrase is much less stressful, and it won’t take as long.

As you decide how to set goals for your practice, think about goals you can accomplish in one session. Then, you can spend the bulk of your practice working on a few hard sections of a new piece.

You won’t feel as nervous about practicing. And it will be easier to reach the goal you set for yourself that day.

Create a Schedule

You should also create a schedule that you can stick to. Maybe your goal is to practice for an hour a day. Between school, work, and other obligations, you have free time from 5 to 6 PM.

So instead of using that time to scroll on social media, you pick up your instrument to play. It can take a few days or weeks to get into this habit, but once you do, it will be easier to keep doing.

Over time, you may not even think twice about practicing. Just like work or school, practicing can become second nature. Then, you can make even more progress on your instrument.

Focus on Habits

Whether you create a schedule or not, make practicing a habit. Even if you need to practice at different times each day, you should do so regularly. You can set a variety of habits to help reach your goals.

Maybe you make a habit of listening to a new piece once per month. Or perhaps you join a group like Etude of the Week. You post a recording of yourself playing an etude each week to hold yourself accountable.

Start by building smaller habits that you can maintain more easily. Over time, you can start to build bigger habits and make larger changes to your practice routine.

Work With a Teacher

If you want to know how to set goals that will help you, consider taking private lessons on your instrument. A good teacher can work with you to learn about where you are now and where you want to be as a performer.

You can meet weekly or even every other week to discuss your progress. If you have trouble with something, your teacher can help you work through it. Then, you’ll be able to spend more time getting better.

Private lessons can also help if you want to learn more efficiently. You can teach yourself, but unless you’ve studied music for a while, you might not have those skills yet.

Give Yourself Grace

Another vital step in how to set goals is to be kind to yourself. You may luck out and reach your goal sooner than you thought. However, you might also not reach your goal when you expected to.

Both situations are okay, and you shouldn’t bag on yourself when nothing happens. Instead, take time to review the situation, and be honest with yourself. Maybe you chose a goal that wasn’t realistic, or something came up in your personal life.

You can always set the same goal the next day or month. Then, you can keep working towards that goal until you reach it.

Celebrate Your Wins

If you reach a big or even a small goal, celebrate that. Take a bit of time to be proud of what you’ve achieved. Maybe you learned a difficult section, and you can play it up to tempo.

Or perhaps you were able to give a successful recital. It doesn’t matter how big the goal is as long as you accomplished something.

You can celebrate with something as big as getting your favorite meal. Or you might keep it small and give yourself an extra five-minute break during your next practice session.

Make Each Goal Different

After you reach your goals, you can set new ones. It can be tempting to set the same goals over and over. You know you can reach them, so you shouldn’t have to worry about stressing yourself out.

However, try to make the goals a bit different. Maybe your prior goal was to perform four pieces on a recital. Your next goal could be to play five pieces on a concert.

Each goal should be a bit more difficult than the next. That way, you can keep pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone.

Reviewing How to Set Goals and Reach Them

Learning how to set goals can revolutionize how you practice music. Whether you want to set a small or large goal, the process is the same. Soon enough, you can reach goals you never thought were possible.

Do you need help setting and tracking goals? Download the SMART Goals Planner!

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