Setting goals is an absolutely essential part of becoming a great musician. I discussed this subject in a previous post over the summer. Every professional musician I know sets goals for themselves. It is simply an imperative part of the job. I have found through the years that it is easy to get students to understand the importance of setting goals. The challenge is getting them to understand how to go about it. Lance LaDuke, the trombone/euphonium for Boston Brass, wrote a great post on the S.M.A.R.T. system of setting goals. He does a great job in that post of describing in detail exactly what you need to do to set goals effectively. As his colleague, I have seen him put this system to good use to improve both his playing and his other business ventures.
A fantastic blog post by Lauren Veronie really caught my attention this week and got me thinking about setting goals again. Lauren plays the euphonium in the US Army Field Band and is a wonderful player. She has a number of solo performances coming up in the near future for which she is currently preparing. In her recent blog post she discusses in detail the passages that she is practicing and exactly what she is trying to improve.
I am impressed with the specificity of her goals. She has identified the problem, stated a specific finish line and decided how she is going to get there. I think this is a great example for all students of how to set goals.
But be sure to keep something in mind: she's already got a gig! If you are in music school or taking auditions right now you must understand that it takes planning and goal setting like this to win a job.
If you aren't preparing with this kind of intensity someone is somewhere.