Goal setting is an important part of studying a music instrument. I believe goals should be set not just by the teacher, but by the student and teacher collaboratively too. Take a listen to find out how.
- Skyrocket Student Retention with this Simple Goal Setting and Self-Evaluation Form
- Build Motivation and Momentum with Midyear Student Goal Setting
- How to Make Students Accountable with Piano Practice Targets and Goals
Click on any word to jump to that point in the audio. 🙂
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This is Episode 24 of the Vibrant music teaching podcast. I’m Nicola Cantan and in this episode we’re talking about setting goals with our music students
Pay teachers and welcome back to the vibrant music teaching podcast. If it’s your first time here make sure to subscribe so you get future episodes as soon as they go live and make sure to check out the previous episodes as well. This is Episode 24 so there’s plenty of other episodes for you to dive into and enjoy. Especially as we head towards Christmas. Maybe you’ll have a bit of time off. Maybe you’ll have a lot of cleaning and cooking to do and you can listen to a podcast in the background. Okay guys I want to let you in on a little bit of a secret. Before we get started with this goal setting topic we’re all friends here right. And I don’t normally talk about this a lot. I’m not someone who’s big on this but today is actually my birthday. So not that it is some big secret but I don’t generally broadcast my birthday I’m not someone who makes a huge deal out of it. It feels like a little bit too much attention for me generally but I’ve decided to let you guys know since this episode happens to come at exactly on my birthday and I will be officially extremely old today so I thought I’d ask you for a little bit of a birthday present if that’s all right. I would love it if you would hop over to iTunes or wherever you listen to this podcast and leave a review. Could you do that for me.
That would be a magnificent birthday present and I would truly really appreciate it. OK so we’re talking about goals today and goals are super important to set with our piano students or music students for so many reasons. The biggest reason as I see it is that it’s such a long journey. If you think about any other skill acquisition we really don’t spend as long learning very many other things that aren’t a core part of school right. It’s a really long time from starting to learn a music instrument. To quote unquote mastering it. I mean it’s basically a lifetime. But even to get to quite a decent level for most kids is years upon years and if you fully understand how kids brains are working you know talking about getting older time actually accelerates as we get older because our surroundings are more familiar and therefore more of the stuff is just part of the scenery as it were. So the younger you are the slower time feels like it’s moving. So for a child three years is an enormous investment just to get up to maybe early intermediate level of music that’s massive and they could be in your studio for much longer than that 13 years say 5 to age 18 13 years. That’s massive and because it’s such a long journey that we’re so used to we can see all the progress points along the way and the checkpoints. But students can’t really.
So one of the great things about setting goals with your students is that you get to really draw their attention to them and parents as well. And that allows you for these checkpoints and course correction. If it’s not actually aligned with what their goals are what you’re doing might be heading in the wrong direction because there’s so many different musical paths to take. So it’s really important to do this periodically and regularly so that students are staying on the right track towards the thing. The place where they actually want to be. So I think it’s important to set two kinds of goals. I mean multiple kinds. But two big kinds the goals we start with students and goals. We sat with students and too often I think especially in my past I’ve done only the latter. I’ve only set goals without my students. I had goals for them but they didn’t know what they were and they didn’t certainly didn’t have any input on them. But I think it’s important to set goals in both ways. So first of all with students how do we set goals with students. Well I have several sheets on my blog which is colourfulkeys.ie you search there for goal setting you’ll come up with them but you can also just visit the show notes for this episode. That’s simplest thing to do. So go to Episode 22 so this is vibrantmusicteaching.com/22 22 and there are live links to some of those goals setting sheets that you can use.
You can actually just download them for free. Use them with your students super handy and this gives you a process to work through some simple questions or you can set up your own questions and have your students think about where they want to be this time next year. What types of music want to learn what skills they want to improve upon. Some of their answers might surprise you. And I think it’s perfectly valid to spend say half a lesson doing this type of exercise maybe twice a year. It’s not a huge commitment. I know it’s so out of your lesson time but it is going to make the rest of your lesson time more efficient more focused and it’s going to make sure that your student is engaged with what they’re learning and onboard with where they’re headed with their studies. So I hope you’ll take the time to do that with your student. If you haven’t already and I think this kind of formal sheet or prepared list of questions can be really valuable much more than just chatting. Week to week. Although that should be part of your process as well. But having actual written down goals helps students to understand where they’re going. What it also helps them to learn about is goal setting. So this is actually a skill that I believe it’s a very valuable one that they can learn from music lessons.
How do we set goals that are achievable. How do we predict the future in terms of where we’re going to get to in a certain amount of time and make that you know move us forward and motivate us to continue towards those goals. And what do we do when we can’t reach them. How do we learn how to set better goals next time. I really think this affects their practice and how they think about learning their instrument overall. So those are goals with students. I hope you’ll try out setting some goals with your students. If you don’t do that already and after the goals with students so I still believe that it’s important for us to set our own goals for students as well and to do this a little bit more frequently and at different times than we set goals with students. These will be quite different because you have very clearly in your mind what the long term trajectory of your students studies looked like and if you’re brand new are listening to the show you’re probably thinking. No I don’t. I absolutely do not have a long term trajectory. I have no idea where to expect them to be in a year or three years. But I actually think that makes it even more important for you because if you set goals as you work with new students as your new teacher you start to learn how far people are getting.
You learn much faster than if you just go with the flow and it’ll help you to see where the gaps are in your knowledge which things you need to learn to teach better and also just adjust your expectations. I think it’s super important whether you’re an older teacher or a more experienced teacher rather or a new teacher to set these goals for your students. Periodically I do this in google doc which I share with piano parents so I set up a google doc at the start of each year and in it I put three primary goals and three secondary goals for each semester so I do new goals at the start of each semester. Three primary three secondary all I mean by bodies primary are my core goals. This is why I absolutely want to improve upon secondary either support the primary goals or they just are less of a priority it really could be either. So for example a primary goal might be to develop an understanding of key and then the secondary goal might be to learn the scales up to two flats and two sharps or whatever. That’s actually the order scales but you get the idea that supporting one of the primary goals but it’s not the reason that I’m doing it right I’m not doing it just so that they learn scales so the primary goal is really about the musical objective and what I want to develop with my students the actual skills and then the secondary goals support those or they’re just secondary they’re just not quite as important.
So I set those at the start of a new semester. And I then shared the doc with the parents as I said and this is also the doc where I put information about their student and how they’re going their child rather and how they’re going. So I put just the date and then where they’ve gotten up to. And it helps me to have those goals at the top of the dock so that I can quickly reference. OK are we on track to achieve that or not a comment on that towards the parent but it also helps me. So it kind of does a double duty there and that helps me save time obviously than if I was making my own notes. I think it’s useful as a way to keep parents updated. And if I worded in the right way it can do both jobs equally well. So it has the goals at the top. Then I have links for the parents in this doc as well so they have everything in one place and then just casual updates so these are like the updates that I do are just bullet points. I don’t write formal language it’s not some lengthy report. It’s just bullet point it just says the date and there about every 10 weeks. So it’ll say the date and then how they’re going and specifically in reference to some of those goals or anything else that’s come up with them.
So going through this goal setting process is extremely valuable for you as a teacher. It helps keep parents in the loop and it helps you to learn as a teacher it helps you to learn your process and make sure that you are aligned to what the student wanted to learn. If a student came to you especially an older student wanting to learn the Beatles and you’re setting goals for them that have absolutely nothing to do with that it actually are designed around preparing a student for Barack repertoire that is useless to that student. They never want to learn. It depends on the age of the student and how specific they are about their goals. But you need to make sure that everything is aligned and having it down on paper or on screen as it were really makes a huge difference in how focused you are keeping everything aligned with your goals and your students goals and how things are trucking along. It also helps with the lesson planning and the gains and the more nitty gritty week to week stuff. If you keep checking in with those goals you’re able to lesson plan more easily more effectively and build lesson plans around specific objectives that include things like games things like improvisation activities so that they are actually directed towards something they’re not just brain breaks. And I strongly believe that games are not brain breaks neither is creativity improvisation composing they’re not just motivational or fun they’re not just a way to spend time off the piano bench.
They are those things but there’s so much more than that and they can really do a job. If you have specific goals and you know where you’re going at every step of the way I hope that is INSIGHT into goals was useful. I would absolutely love to hear your thoughts about goals. So jump on over to Vibrantmusicteaching.com/22. That’s the numbers digits rather 22 vibrantmusicteaching.com/22 and leave a comment there. Let me know whether you do goal setting totally no shame if you don’t whether you’re thinking about starting it or you do it in a completely different way to mine. But you think it’s far superior. I would totally love to hear about that. I’m always open to new ideas and as that little birthday present I would love it if you left me a review. So before you forget please jump over to iTunes or wherever you are listening to this currently and just leave a little review let me know what you think of the podcast so far or 22 episodes in and I would love to know. Yeah how are you getting on with it. Hopefully 5 stars but if there’s something I can improve just let me know about that too.
All right guys. I’ll chat to you soon. Bye for now. If you enjoyed this podcast. My approach to lesson planning goal setting and integrating games and creativity into specific measurable goals and working towards musical skill acquisition. Then you have to become a vibrant music teaching member. If you’re not already. Hop over to VMT.ninja today to find out more and become a member.
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