Game Plan: How To Set And Achieve Your Goals!
Music lessons are an incredible vehicle for learning how to make massive change through massive action. We cannot simply sign up to learn something and then expect our results. There is more to it. With the school year right around the corner, I thought it would be a good time to share how I game plan for myself and for students of SoundLife. Here are five steps to get motivated and stay on track towards your goals. In each title I have added a link to additional helpful content that support each of these steps.
In the very first lesson, I always ask students what they want to accomplish. Most students will look at me funny as if I must not know why I’m in their home. “Well, to learn how to play guitar, of course.” This answer is simply not enough. To achieve goals, we must first define them. Ask a few questions to help bring these goals to the surface. Why am I playing this instrument? What do I want to be able to do with this instrument? What kind of music do I like? What songs do I want to learn?” To be successful, we must be personally invested. Before the second lesson, students are asked to have a list of songs that they want to learn.
Once a student has their list of songs, we must analyze this music for the required skills necessary to learn each song. In this stage, we will define what chords, scales, and techniques need to be learned in order to achieve our goal. We will prioritize this list of songs by the level of difficulty and create an action plan for acquiring the tools with the end goal in mind. For example, Susie’s song has three sections: a verse, a chorus, and a bridge. Each section has four chords. In total there are eight different chords. Susie already knows four of them. Susie will need to learn four new chords. The song is at 120 beats-per-minute, so she will need to be able to move from one chord to the next in that amount of time. You can see where this is going. As a teacher, breaking this down is my job. I help create the action plan and give the student clear, achievable goals that will ensure their success.
We must be able to measure our progress or we will lose focus, get lost in the process, eventually lose interest, and ultimately shortchange ourselves of something truly rewarding. Do not make goals without specific instructions as to how the goal will be achieved. Within the action plan I design with students, I include very specific targets. Susie does not just need to learn “new” chords. She needs to have “G, C, D, and E minor memorized by next Thursday, August 3, 2017.” When the task has been accomplished, we make sure to acknowledge the victory before continuing on. In this way, we have measured the results and can have proof of our progress.
In the lesson, we have a few important ground rules. First of all, the word “can’t” and “cannot” have no place and are therefore forbidden. Language is a very powerful tool, and the quickest way to fail is to count yourself out before ever trying. The mantra needs to be: “Through clearly defined goals and consistent action, I can do anything.”
Built into our program at SoundLife are “reasons” to do things by specific given dates. Our Student Showcases and community events put participating students in a position to succeed by creating reasons to be consistent in action. If they do not do A, B, and C by this date, then they will not be prepared to perform in front of their parents and peers. Okay, that sounded more terrifying than it needed to. The point is that in this example, the reasons for working hard are plenty. Students want to feel confident, so they often over-prepare. They do not want to be embarrassed. They want to make their parents proud. They remember what they did in the previous performance and want to challenge themselves more. These are just a few “reasons.” When making an action plan, we need to know what our reasons for reaching our goals are. School performances, recitals, show and tell, personal expression...these are all very good reasons to get your butt in gear.
Lastly, never be afraid to recalibrate. On the path to achieving goals, we all lose our way from time to time. I will check back in with my students if I feel we’ve gotten off track, and we will reset the path. There is no limit to the number of times we can reset this path, just as long as we make sure we’re still headed in the right direction.