2013 is right around the corner, and you know what that means – New Year’s Resolutions! A fresh new year is the perfect time to consider what you’d like to work on, especially when it comes to music as a hobby or a career. Setting goals establishes the road map you need to truly progress and improve.
Fortunately, setting goals doesn’t need to be a difficult process. Think about it – what do you want to achieve in the next year? What songs or genres have you always wanted to play? What technique or skill makes you think, “Man, I wish I could do that!” Even better, try reflecting on your progress over the past year (or when you first started playing). Sometimes, it’s as simple as renewing that fresh attitude and excitement you felt when you first started taking music lessons. No matter what your goal is, big or small, write it down and get to work!
Need some help with that first step? Here are 50 ideas to get you thinking about your goals…
1. Compose an original song.
2. Learn a new song every week.
3. Branch out and try learning another instrument.
4. Learn a new style or genre, or explore improvisation.
5. Create a press kit for your band, or update your musical resume if you’re a soloist.
6. Every week, commit to doing something than inspires you musically.
7. Parents: Support your child by attending every concert and recital this year – or go the extra mile and sign up for lessons, too!
8. Plan and record a music video.
9. Create a practice schedule and stick with it.
10. Identify the excuses you typically use to avoid practicing, and brainstorm ways to combat them.
11. Try your hand at writing lyrics, even if you struggle at first. It takes practice!
12. Mark your calendar for routine instrument maintenance, such as changing your guitar strings, so you don’t forget.
13. Budget and save up for that awesome amp, ProTools software or new guitar that you’ve had your eye on.
14. Stimulate your creativity in other ways: attend concerts, meditate or get out in nature.
15. Collaborate with your teacher, community members or friends to plan the ultimate recital or talent show…
16. …and then make sure to perform in it, too!
17. Attend a music networking event – and don’t forget your demo, press kit or at least a business card!
18. Audition for something.
19. Improve a specific technique, such as violin vibrato, double-tonguing for woodwinds, or syncopation for drummers.
20. Learn a new warm-up exercise and add it to your practice sessions, to keep things fresh.
21. Memorize – and learn how to read – the Circle of Fifths.
22. Getting ready for college? Start researching competitions, grants and music scholarships available to you.
23. Identify a music career mentor (whether it’s your band teacher, private instructor or someone else in the industry) and meet with them monthly.
24. Learn how to transcribe your favorite song.
25. Record weekly videos of yourself (put them on YouTube if you’re comfortable!) so you can really see how you progress through the year.
26. Teach someone else to play a song.
27. Participate in outside music groups (check community boards, churches or MeetUp.com)
28. Spend a weekend busking.
29. Want an easy step to overcoming stage fright? Try karaoke! Organize a fun night out with friends, and sing your heart out!
30. Read up on the composer, artist or music era you’re studying to really understand the meaning behind the songs.
31. Watch a music documentary to get inspired and learn about famous musicians.
32. Purchase a season pass to your local symphony, and get cultured!
33. Craft an “elevator pitch” for your band – should a networking opportunity arise, how would you describe your band’s style and influences in 30 seconds or less?
34. Create a website and start building an email fan list, to assist with your marketing.
35. Reach out to local media, with an end-goal of being covered in a print or online publication.
36. Take care of your health by eating right and exercising. (Yes, this relates to your music – you can’t sing or play as well if you’re under the weather, right?)
37. Speak to your music teacher about increasing your lesson length – e.g. 30-minute lessons to 45-minute lessons.
38. How much money would you like to earn this year from playing gigs? Get specific and write it down.
39. Complete exercises every day for ear training – it’s an invaluable skill!
40. Set aside time to evaluate yourself after each time you practice. Did you stay focused? Did you truly listen to what you were playing?
41. Record yourself regularly, and listen back to really hear your progress.
42. Vow to take better care of your instrument – this means regular tune-ups for your piano, wiping down your guitar after each use, and drinking lots of water for vocalists!
43. Resolve to give yourself some credit this year, even when you’re frustrated.
44. Perform more. It’s as simple as that! Take advantage of open mic nights and smaller, non-paying gigs. Extra performance experience is always helpful.
45. Jam with friends, family members, your teacher… just get out there and start experimenting!
46. Find an events calendar for your area, and select a concert or live show to check out. Who knows, you may just find your new favorite band!
47. Don’t forget about the classics, also. Every popular artist today evolved from a bunch of influences, and those roots are definitely worth checking out.
48. High school musicians: get involved with music activities outside of school. Look into All-State Bands and Choirs, community groups, and local competitions.
49. Subscribe to the blog or bookmark it to stay up-to-date on all of our tips, tricks and advice from the experts!
And of course…
50. If you haven’t already… finally sign up for those music lessons you’ve been thinking about!
– Suzy S., TakeLessons staff member and blogger
Photo by rennes.i