Friday, October 05, 2007

Goal Setting Part 2 of 3: Medium Term Goals

Yesterday we looked at ways of keeping your eyes on short-term goals in order to have your eyes on the next action on the road to performing excellence. Having your eyes on a prize that requires working over a slightly longer period of time can also can generate the desire to keep on practicing regularly.

What are some goals that you can work towards satisfying along a longer time line, say, three to six months?
  • Exams. One of the best ways to measure progress is by taking standardized examinations for an accredited organization such RCM Examinations (known as the National Music Certificate Program in the US). Preparing for these types of examinations requires you to play several pieces from different styles, studies, and technical exercises, as well as take ear training and sight reading tests. The effort required to build the skills to pass each level can provide a very real challenge, and can provide benchmarks for beginning, intermediate, and advanced students.
  • Festivals and competitions. Playing in classes specific to age and level at festivals sponsored by MTNA, NATS, Kiwanis, and Rotary clubs, can provide the challenge of competing against other musicians and receiving an adjudication from an authority in the field. This second opinion can often give you the reinforcement (or kick in the rump to keep you) moving along to the next level. And what can compare to the thrill of winning a class against stiff competition? Even if you don't win, the work you did in preparing for competing will have a lasting effect on your quality of playing.
  • Recitals. If you don't like competitive playing, I highly recommend playing in recitals. These include formal recitals organized by schools, teachers, and organizations, in addition to impromptu occasions for family, friends, etc. If you're learning an instrument, why not share your love of playing with others?
  • Auditions. If you're doing well, why not take it up a notch? Opportunities abound for honor bands, orchestras summer festivals, operas, and musicals. Prestigious programs such as the RCM's Young Artists Performance Academy or Juilliard's Pre-College Division are tough to get into, but offer a rewarding education for those able to pass the tough audition.
  • Personal milestones. Learning all the Grade 10-level technique, playing your first Beethoven Sonata, getting through your graduate recital from memory a month before the concert, hitting that high C with a solid vibrato, or playing through the concerto in public are all goals that depend not on other's acclamation, but on beating your own personal demons. Claude Debussy once said that "In art, one has more often to fight against oneself, and the victories one wins are perhaps the most beautiful."
Above all, create the challenge and chances are you just might find the way to fulfill it.

Tomorrow I'll be looking at long-term goals.

Next: Long Term Goals

1 comment:

  1. Oops! It looks like some of my short-term goals from the other day should really be medium-term goals.

    Definitely - exams, recitals and festivals are great medium-term goals to work towards. Not all my students take exams, but I do encourage them to prepare for exams and festivals for that reason (and also to dispel nerves, but that's another issue).

    Last school year, the Alberta Piano Teachers' Association added a teachers' category to their annual festival classes. It was fun and nerve wracking. Definitely worth trying again though because even we teachers need to keep our chops up!