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SMART Goal Setting in Music Practice

Let your goals be SMART while practicing music!






Some practical examples for students learning music:

  • Specific:

No: I will practice my piece now

Yes: I will practice counting and clapping the rhythm for line 3.

No: I will make a piano arrangement of my favorite piece

Yes: I will work on the piano solo from 3:20-3:28 in the song. RH part.


Yes: I will listen to the piece thrice, and write down the structure/chord progressions.

  • Measurable:

Track your progress.

No: I will play through this Minuet 5 times, I will surely get better.

Yes: I will record myself playing bars 8-9, listen to it. Then practice it for 3 minutes. Record me again to see if I have improved.

No: I will play the F minor scale very fast!

Yes: I can play the F minor scale at 60 bpm easily. I will try gradually getting faster- 65, 70, and 75 for today.

  • Achievable:

Keep it simple and doable.

No: I can't play this. It's too difficult.

Yes: Let me start working on this piece. I will start with one of these things: listen to a recording on Spotify, look through the music + understand the structure, or start by getting notes for 2 bars- hands separately. This is very much manageable.

No: I just saw my friend playing his exam pieces. I want to be able to play fast like him. Let me try it as well. FAST!

Yes: My friend plays really well. I asked her how she practices. I also want to get better. Today, I will try to get the notes for the first line.

No: My teacher said I didn't practice enough this week. I will finish reading through the whole book today. That'll show him/her.

Yes: My teacher said I didn't practice much this week. Maybe they are right. Let me set a practice routine. I will check my homework and see what I need to do today.

  • Relevant:

Goals should be relevant to your current skill level and your long-term objectives.

No: I love the Moonlight Sonata. I will play it (checks out a YouTube video)

Yes: I love the Moonlight Sonata. Let me ask the teacher if I am ready for the piece, and if I can get an arrangement suitable for me.

No: I have a music exam next week. But I am bored of these pieces. Let me try this song by Imagine Dragons that I can play so well!

Yes: I have my music exam next week. But I am bored of these pieces. I will change things up a little- work on the exam material like scales, musical knowledge, or ear tests which will help me for the exam prep.

  • Time-bound:

Goals should have a specific time frame for completion.

No: I have to practice this exercise till it becomes perfect

Yes: I need to get better at this exercise. I will work on the rhythm for 5 minutes. Then move on to something else. I will revisit this piece later and work on the notes for 5 minutes. and so on.

I hope this helps you!

Read up about the origin of the concept. Click here

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