As 2010 comes to a close, I think it is time to look back and evaluate your goals for 2010 and set new goals for 2011. Did you take the time to write down specific goals? Did you accomplish everything you wanted to in 2010? If not, what got in your way of accomplishing your goals? How did you measure your success or failure? These are all important questions to ask as you set goals for the coming year. It is my hope that after you read this post, you will take some time to sit down and jot down your goals for 2011. I would encourage everyone to post your goals in the comment section. I think it is important to be accountable for the goals. We will periodically check in and see how you are doing throughout the year.

At the beginning of each semester, I ask my students to write down their goals for the semester. I think it is important to write down your goals so you can look back on them throughout the semester and re-evaluate your progress. Once their goals are written down, we talk about the three levels of goal setting and assign their goals into one of the following categories:

Short-Term Goals – These goals can be accomplished in 1 to 2 weeks. These goals could include learning a portion of a solo (Letter A to B of your marimba solo) or an etude from a method book. If it takes longer than a week or two to accomplish this goal, then next time, you should assign it as a mid-term goal.

Mid-Term Goals – These goals can be accomplished in 4 to 6 weeks. These goals could include learning all of the notes of a solo or preparing all of your ensemble music for the upcoming concert.

Long-Term Goals – These goals will take a significant amount of time to complete. This time period could be a semester or longer. These goals could include preparing your music for your recital or your repertoire for an upcoming audition.

As you set your goals for 2011, remember that you may not always be able to complete your goals in the “assigned time.” It is important to reevaluate your goals periodically. I prefer to reevaluate my goals on a weekly basis, generally at the beginning of the week. It takes time and practice to set-up goals and if this is the first time you have written down your goals, don’t be frustrated if you don’t accomplish everything you set out to do. You must evaluate your goals and determine why you succeed and why you failed. If you were able to complete a short term goal in a couple of days, it was probably too easy of a task and conversely, if it took a month, it was probably too ambitious. Learning how to set-up your goals is just as important as writing down your goals. It will take some time and practice, but the more you do it, the easier it gets. Trust me, the accomplishment you feel from reaching your goals will be infectious!!

The second thing to remember when setting up goals is to make sure you can measure your success (or failure). Try and set-up specific goals. For example, when learning a new marimba solo, I generally look through the music for a couple of days to determine the difficulty of the piece. At that point, I write in dates at specific points in the music so my goals are visible as I learn the piece. Instead of setting a goal that you want to be a better marimba player, set a specific goal of learning a new repertoire piece each month.

To learn more about measuring your goals, check out the Goal Setting Guide. Author Arina Nikitina introduces the SMART Goal Setting system. The acronym SMART stands for:

S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Attainable
R = Realistic
T = Timely

As we continue to grow as performers and teachers, we need to learn how to set-up effective goals. Take some time and write down your goals for 2011. Once you have these goals, talk to your teacher or post them in the Chattr Section and determine if these are realistic goals. Be accountable to your goals. If you were not able to reach your goal in a specific time period, try to determine what you could do differently next time. Do not get frustrated. It takes time and practice to learn how to set obtainable goals and I am confident that over time anyone can do it. Make it your “goal” to set-up goals for 2011.

We always love your comments and feedback. Leave your thoughts (and hopefully a list of your goals) in the comments.

Have a safe and productive New Year!

Originally posted on DrumChattr on December 31, 2010 by Dave Gerhart.


The photo in this post is used under the Creative Commons License: Attribution – NonCommercial – No Derivs 2.0 by Aleksandr Osipov on

Dave Gerhart
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