Do you have a goal to learn to play the piano or to improve your piano skills? Remember, the more specific you make your goal, the more likely you are to meet your goal.
Last week a friend of mine said their goal was to learn to play the piano. I thought to myself how many times I have heard that one and how many times I have seen that goal go unrealized year after year. What if the problem could be solved simply by being more specific?
Be careful of open-ended goals such as “I want to learn to play the piano” or “I want to improve my sight-reading”. While those are great goals, they are not very specific, which can lead to frustration and make it difficult to layout an effective plan to accomplish your goal.
Consider the difference between four versions of the following goal and notice how much easier it is to create a plan around the most specific version.
You can use SMART goals to help you create effective goals. Just ask yourself the following questions.
Specific: Is your goal specific enough to create a plan that will allow you the best chance of attaining your goal?
Measurable: Is there a way to measure whether you reached your goal? Is there a way to measure progress toward reaching your larger goals? For example (learn Part A by week 2 and Part B by week 4)
Achievable: Is your goal achievable yet difficult enough to challenge you?
Realistic: Is this goal realistic or attainable? You should challenge yourself, but it's also important to make sure it is in the realm of possibility. It is important that your goal be something you really want as well. Your reasons are your own and everybody is different, but “desire” is an important key to learning because it will give you the resolve to work when it gets hard.
Timely: Can you place a time frame on when you want to accomplish your goal? Your goals should be divided into smaller time frames in order to stay motivated and pace yourself.
Below are some examples of specific goals related to learning the piano that you can use as you are setting your goals:
You have heard the saying, “Failing to plan is planning to fail”. While that is true, not all plans are created equal. The better your plan is, the more effective you can be in meeting your goal.
Take a look at the examples below and see if you can determine which plans are better.
Goal #1: I want to get a 96% on Part 7 of Liszt’s “La Campanella” in 30 days
Plan 1 (Focus on each section)
Plan 2 (Focus on percentage completion)
Which plan is more effective, Plan 1 or Plan 2? This is a tricky one and sometimes the only way to learn is to experiment and learn by trying both methods and learning first hand what works best.
Goal #2: I want to improve my sight-reading by 100 points by the end of the year.
Which plan is more effective, Plan 1 or Plan 2? Plan 1 is open-ended and not very specific. Plan 1 is also more difficult to measure and when performance is measured, performance improves. Notice that Plan 2 is specific and measurable, simple and achievable, and easy to set in a time frame.