I love the start of a New Year. Perhaps it is because in the Southern Hemisphere we have our summer holidays over the Christmas/New Year period, so by the time the New Year rolls around we have already had a month of rest and have another month of holidays before school begins again. I always use the start of the New Year to reflect on my studio and teaching habits; making decisions on which parts of my teaching practice could be enhanced, and which areas might need to be revised. [···]
With only a few days of 2010 remaining, it is time to consider your goals for yourself in the New Year. I am very goal orientated when it comes to my students (preparing for a graded exam, polishing a piece for a recital or competition, mastering a particular technique), but I often forget to think through my own teaching goals. So what are your goals for this year?
It’s the start of another year, full of possibilities and exciting adventures in the studio. This year after a successful winter recital, my students are returning to the studio after break to plan their goals for the next semester and beyond. But how do you decide what resolutions to pursue, and what are some tips to ensure these resolutions don’t fizzle out by February?
- Be realistic by setting achievable goals. For example, if your student wants to be more consistent in their weekly practice, aim for practicing 5 days a week for a manageable amount of time.
- Describe the resolutions in specific terms. Instead of “I want to perform better” opt for “I want to work on sight reading each lesson” or “I will have 5 pieces performance ready by May.”
- Break down large goals into smaller ones. For instance, commit to improving practice time by scheduling a firm daily practice time, where no other activities can conflict, and asking parents to sign off on their practice time sheet.
- Write the goals down! I write each student’s goals (typically 2-3) on their studio note card on the piano. They also get a copy to keep in their binder to remind them. This way I can check up on their progress, and the fact that the goals are written down make them feel more permanent.
- Ask others to help the student meet their goal. For example, a parent may monitor a student’s practice time, students may meet up at lunch or after school in the music room to practice together, or you can develop a studio curriculum for specific goals, such as a bi-monthly sight reading class.
- Above all, aim for things that are truly important to the student. If they have goals for their own music making, by all means include them! The fact that they can attain those goals and improve their musicianship should be inspiring enough to set more goals in the future!