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New Year’s Resolutions Guide for Music Students

New Year’s Resolutions Guide for Music Students

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a New Year’s resolution as, “a promise to do something differently in the new year.”

New Year’s resolutions tend to be associated with:

  1. Starting to do something good, regularly.

  2. Accomplishing a goal.

  3. Changing an undesirable trait or behaviour.

Let’s see how this applies to music students.

Start To Do Something Good, Regularly (Forming Good Habits)

Example 1. A piano student commits to practicing scales and triads every day.

“Small changes often appear to make no difference until you cross a critical threshold. The most powerful outcomes of any compounding process are delayed. You need to be patient.”

In the book, Atomic Habits by James Clear, the author makes the point that even the smallest improvements, done daily, make a large impact over a long period of time. He compares it to the effect of compound interest on investments over an extended time period.

A piano student who practices scales and triads won’t notice significant improvements on a day-to-day basis but the impact is noticeable when viewed month-to-month and year-to-year. The student “suddenly” discovers that chord-heavy pieces are easier to sight-read and play. Or the student has a “breakthrough” in finger control and is able to play notes faster while maintaining note clarity. These breakthroughs are a result of small changes made over a long period of time.

Example 2. A vocal student commits to warming up their vocal cords at the start of every practice session.

“The most effective way to change your habits is to focus not on what you want to achieve, but on who you wish to become.”

James Clear establishes that the best way to create intrinsic motivation is to tie the habit to one’s identity. Someone who identifies as a jogger is more likely to jog daily.

If a student identifies themself as a serious vocalist, the student will likely put in the effort to warm up their vocal cords, versus someone who views themself only as “a person who likes to sing for fun.”

Example 3. A violin student commits to 30 minutes of daily practice.

“As you master the art of showing up, the first two minutes simply become a ritual at the beginning of a larger routine.”

The author believes that we are more likely to follow habits if we make them small enough that they are easily achievable. He calls this the Two-Minute Rule. Anything can be broken down into smaller tasks. The idea is that the person starts a gateway habit or a daily ritual. Once the daily ritual or habit is established, the person can build or improve on it.

30 minutes of daily practice might seem unachievable but starting with 2 minutes of daily violin practice is doable. 2 minutes of violin practice becomes 5 minutes. 5 minutes of practice becomes 10 minutes daily. This continues until the student can practice the violin for 30 minutes every day.

Accomplish a Goal

It is recommended that goals should be SMART. This is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely goals.

Examples of goals set by our music students include:

We encourage our music students to discuss their goals with their music teacher in order to set realistic goals with proper timeframes.

Change an Undesirable Trait or Behaviour

Lack of focus, procrastination, and bad posture are examples that music students want to improve. Actions need to be deliberate and cannot be done half-heartedly because these behaviours are hard to unlearn.

If a music student is easily distracted, distractions need to be removed before practice begins. If procrastination is the problem, incorporate the Two-Minute Rule in order to start a gateway habit. Bad posture can only be improved if a student has self-awareness and is purposeful about correcting posture.

The key to successfully fulfilling a New Year’s resolution is ensuring that it is sustainable and that the music student is intentional and excited about doing it. There is a greater chance of success if the music student has someone to hold them accountable, such as a music teacher, parent, or friend. We can’t wait to see what is in store for our music students in 2022 and hope that they will continue moving forward with the momentum they developed last year.


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