Do you set goals for your playing?

Posted by: rocket88

Do you set goals for your playing? - 01/13/09 02:43 PM

Do you, (or your teacher) set goals for your playing?

This could be, "I am going to finish Alfred's book #1 by such and such a time".

Or, without the time-line, "I am going to finish Alfred's book #1."

The reason I ask is because goals are a proven strategy to achieve results. If a student is in school, there are built-in time-line goals via the semester, etc.

And many piano teachers use the yearly recital as a goal for finishing a piece.

However, the flip side has several points:

First, beginning students do not know how long it will take, as they are brand new, so setting a time-line goal can be just a guess.

Second, many adult students are studying piano for pleasure, with no performance expectations. So a time-line goal could be seen as the opposite of pleasure.

I have noticed that if there is no time-line goal for learning a piece, the learning of that piece seems to go slower than if I say, "How do you feel about having this piece finished by next lesson?"

Yet with other students, that would seem an intrusion into the pleasure aspect of learning.

Any thoughts, pro or con? Thanks in advance.
Posted by: quiescen

Re: Do you set goals for your playing? - 01/13/09 02:48 PM

I used to set goals. Now I'm looking for a good fantasy. Seriously though, I used to be a big goal setter. And setting goals can get you where you want to go.

My problem has always been differentiating between ego goals and goals I really want to have.

------------------------------
Play New Age Piano
http://www.quiescencemusic.com
Posted by: Opus45

Re: Do you set goals for your playing? - 01/13/09 02:56 PM

My goal is to play La Campanella before I die. \:D
Posted by: ProdigalPianist

Re: Do you set goals for your playing? - 01/13/09 03:01 PM

Yes. Joining an adult amateur piano club, where people gather and play each month, has given me 'performance opportunities' that let me set both short and long-term goals.

ie - I want to play those 2 Bach pieces at next month's piano club...and...let's plan on the Beethoven for 2 months after that.

Because my goal is to play each piece memorized and what my teacher and I consider to be performance ready, I don't try to play something for every month.
Posted by: Monica K.

Re: Do you set goals for your playing? - 01/13/09 03:18 PM

I don't really set goals beyond the vague and long-term ones I'll list in a "piano new year's resolutions" thread (e.g., learn 6 new Einaudi pieces this year; record an annual CD; etc.). It's not like I need specific goals to motivate me to play, and because this is my hobby I'd rather just go with the flow and do/play whatever moves me at the moment.

Okay, so I'm coming across like a slacker, but that's okay by me. \:D I'm also not taking lessons. I think if I were, then setting more specific and short-term goals would be reasonable and helpful, if not essential.
Posted by: Mark...

Re: Do you set goals for your playing? - 01/13/09 03:22 PM

I set goals. I hope to close out Alfred book 3 during this next year. Have all my major and minor scales down cold with all the cords and inversions in them and get close to finishing all Hanon 60.

And stay on the MOYD list... \:D
Posted by: Kymber

Re: Do you set goals for your playing? - 01/13/09 03:29 PM

Hi Rocket88
I think there are good points to each approach.
Since I have been with my new teacher I am founding my weekly goals very helpful. She will give me specific things to work on and that makes practicing easier. However, I don't have goals other than that. For examply I am not saying I will be at x level by x time b/c some things I think your can't really put a time line on.

The carefree feeling of going at ones own pace without any assigned deadline can be nice too.

Before I had my teacher, I was very good at organizing my practice time, but I had a very hard time following it. I don't know why it's different with the teacher.

Maybe a good combination of the two is the way to go.
\:\)
Posted by: Rickster

Re: Do you set goals for your playing? - 01/13/09 03:29 PM

Interesting comments, Rocket88.

As a “just for pure fun/pleasure” adult learner, I will chose a tune/piece/song I like and start working on it. Any progress (although in bits and pieces) is rewarding and as the tune sounds better to me I tend to practice it more.

For example, I’m working on Carl Perkins’ “Blue Suede Shoes” and Sam Cook’s “Wonderful world” now. When I start playing “Blue Suede Shoes” I get so excited that all I can do is grin. I’m suddenly in another world and my problems are as distant as the east is from the west; talk about a stress reliever \:\) . I plan on recording the two tunes and uploading them on to YouTube within a couple of weeks or so.

I’ll have to tune my piano first because I’ve knocked it out of tune practicing “Blue Suede Shoes”. I can’t seem to get away from the bluesy, rock-n-roll/rock-a-billy tunes of the 1950’s and 60’s. For one, I like the music and secondly, it is not as difficult to play as other types of piano music. Not that I’m looking for the easy way out, but those chops do get your foot to tapping. \:D

Take care,

Rick
Posted by: ProdigalPianist

Re: Do you set goals for your playing? - 01/13/09 03:31 PM

I think it depends on the person. Because of my background in classical piano I come with some preconceived notions of the "right" way to do things ;\) (for myself, not to be used in judging others). And that involves expectations, goals and deadlines (which, by necessity, are flexible...not drop-dead deadlines...and without any real penalties for failing to meet them)

Also, without deadlines to go along with the goals (and the help of my teacher) I would dink around not accomplishing much of anything.
Posted by: tangleweeds

Re: Do you set goals for your playing? - 01/13/09 03:33 PM

I tend to feel that, as an adult, I should have some input into what my goals are, as well as the freedom to update the timeline for reaching them to reflect what's going on in my life. I appreciate a teacher assigning pieces to work on particular technical issues, but I also want to choose some of what I learn as well. And while I could see having a teacher suggest a goal for the next week, I would like to retain the autonomy to decide during the week whether that's a realistic goal given the other realities of my life.

I guess that what I'd ask of the teacher/student goal setting relationship is an expectation that I'd do my best over the next week given the limitations of my life, and that the teacher accept that I'm making a good faith effort in spite of obstacles or competing priorities. For me, that would involve health issues, particularly with my medications and how adversely they can affect my concentration, but for a different adult it could be family and/or work commitments and crises, etc.

I think that what's important for me is to set goals, but retain the flexibility to accept the realities of my other competing and conflicting life issues, so that I don't end up suffering under some burdensome sense of urgency or failure if I'm prevented from reaching my goals. Because learning to play music is something that I'm doing to bring pleasure and enrichment into my life, and the goal is definitely not to add another stressor to my life.

OTOH there are people (I used to be one of them) who need a sense of urgency and impending doom just to motivate themselves to get get going at all. But I can't live that way anymore... and fortunately, as I've matured, I've gotten much better at motivating myself without stressing myself out.
Posted by: OldFingers

Re: Do you set goals for your playing? - 01/13/09 03:35 PM

My first goal is to finish the Alfred Book 3 before the summer recess. Next fall I hope to gain access to my teacher's private material that he uses on his eight-year-olds. Then I want to do some stride piano, and finally go back to learning some "cocktail piano" whatever that is. But it's a race against time. In the meantime, it is great fun, the best retirement project I could ever have gotten involved in.

Mark, not that I need any more goals, but what is the MOYD list?
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Do you set goals for your playing? - 01/13/09 03:40 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Monica K.:
I don't really set goals beyond the vague and long-term ones I'll list in a "piano new year's resolutions" thread (e.g., learn 6 new Einaudi pieces this year; record an annual CD; etc.). It's not like I need specific goals to motivate me to play, and because this is my hobby I'd rather just go with the flow and do/play whatever moves me at the moment.

Okay, so I'm coming across like a slacker, but that's okay by me. \:D I'm also not taking lessons. I think if I were, then setting more specific and short-term goals would be reasonable and helpful, if not essential. [/b]
Monica, I wish all my students were "slackers" like you!
 Quote:
"...learn 6 new Einaudi pieces this year; record an annual CD;"
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Do you set goals for your playing? - 01/13/09 03:49 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by tangleweeds:
I tend to feel that, as an adult, I should have some input into what my goals are, as well as the freedom to update the timeline for reaching them to reflect what's going on in my life. I appreciate a teacher assigning pieces to work on particular technical issues, but I also want to choose some of what I learn as well. And while I could see having a teacher suggest a goal for the next week, I would like to retain the autonomy to decide during the week whether that's a realistic goal given the other realities of my life.

I guess that what I'd ask of the teacher/student goal setting relationship is an expectation that I'd do my best over the next week given the limitations of my life, and that the teacher accept that I'm making a good faith effort in spite of obstacles or competing priorities. For me, that would involve health issues, particularly with my medications and how adversely they can affect my concentration, but for a different adult it could be family and/or work commitments and crises, etc.

I think that what's important for me is to set goals, but retain the flexibility to accept the realities of my other competing and conflicting life issues, so that I don't end up suffering under some burdensome sense of urgency or failure if I'm prevented from reaching my goals. Because learning to play music is something that I'm doing to bring pleasure and enrichment into my life, and the goal is definitely not to add another stressor to my life.

OTOH there are people (I used to be one of them) who need a sense of urgency and impending doom just to motivate themselves to get get going at all. But I can't live that way anymore... and fortunately, as I've matured, I've gotten much better at motivating myself without stressing myself out. [/b]
Thank you for your insightful reply...I think you have struck the balance I am looking for.

I began this thread because I am trying to find a balance between being too strict with my adult students who are just studying piano for pleasure, compared with those who need the motivation that a goal can provide.

What I've found is that even those who are in it for pleasure seem to actually want a goal...its like they need it, and feel somewhat adrift without it.

I really appreciate all the input this thread has generated.
Posted by: disneymusicdreamer

Re: Do you set goals for your playing? - 01/13/09 04:06 PM

I talk with my instructor every 4 months about goals in the technique area. He lets me choose my pieces (with some gentle guidance), but I let him set the scales, drills and theory goals. I figure he knows what is best and what order to work on them in. It has been 5+ years and so far so good.
Posted by: Kymber

Re: Do you set goals for your playing? - 01/13/09 04:11 PM

 Quote:

What I've found is that even those who are in it for pleasure seem to actually want a goal...its like they need it, and feel somewhat adrift without it.[/b]
I agree with that. Even though I will swear up and down I hate schedules and structure and I want to be free of them, I sought out a teacher b/c I NEEDED it.
Posted by: KrisS

Re: Do you set goals for your playing? - 01/13/09 04:18 PM

Rocket88

What sort of goal should a newbie attempt to set?

I think you've seen my posts....I have the PX120 set up and have Alfred's Level 1....

Not sure what a realistic goal would be....

Looking for thoughts on that...
Posted by: knotty

Re: Do you set goals for your playing? - 01/13/09 04:30 PM

I set goals. They almost always include a recording of some sort.
Recording myself is the best tool I have found for that:
- It forces me to complete the task
- I end up with a recording, which I usually like
- I can come back to it a year later and compare the difference.

I don't set time lines. The goal is used as a focus point. Since I set small achievable goals, it usually gets completed.
Posted by: Mark...

Re: Do you set goals for your playing? - 01/13/09 04:39 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by OldFingers:
Mark, not that I need any more goals, but what is the MOYD list? [/b]
MOYD LIST
Posted by: Larisa

Re: Do you set goals for your playing? - 01/13/09 04:45 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Opus45:
My goal is to play La Campanella before I die. \:D [/b]
Me toooooooo.
Posted by: Mark...

Re: Do you set goals for your playing? - 01/13/09 04:53 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Larisa:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Opus45:
My goal is to play La Campanella before I die. \:D [/b]
Me toooooooo. [/b]
wow:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEnfZjqMSy0&feature=PlayList&p=7E5DC037BDB0B9B0&index=0&playnext=1
Posted by: AnthonyB

Re: Do you set goals for your playing? - 01/13/09 05:05 PM

Well, being at this for just over a year now when I can get something down without messing up too badly or butchering it I feel pretty good about myself.

I'll add that the ABF recitals have been very important in forcing me to pick one thing and focus on it and actually get it done. I have several half-completed pieces where I didn't feel like working on the harder bits but could play all the easy parts. The recitals actually force me to try and do the entire piece.

Of course, I would usually start those half-completed songs when in the middle of working on something harder so I wasn't going to jump right into the difficult parts of some other song. The easy parts of other songs were sort of an escape for the time being. On the bright side once I get a little better I could be in a position to finish up several songs in a very short period of time if I get motivated to get the tricky bits done.
Posted by: keystring

Re: Do you set goals for your playing? - 01/13/09 05:19 PM

Rocket, I set goals and when I am able to afford lessons again my teacher will set goals too, but they are not the kind of goals that you have listed. The goal might be to reach a certain level and work toward what that entails. Then pieces and studies which can be used to practice those.
When it comes week to week the piece being worked on has goals that change: have correct fingering and timing, then problem areas and whatever solution is used, then fleshing out phrasing and dynamics - that kind of thing. Do you also think in terms of those kinds of goals as a teacher, and if so, do you have students who would be open to them?
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Do you set goals for your playing? - 01/13/09 05:19 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by KrisS:
Rocket88

What sort of goal should a newbie attempt to set?

I think you've seen my posts....I have the PX120 set up and have Alfred's Level 1....

Not sure what a realistic goal would be....

Looking for thoughts on that... [/b]
Well, I am a piano teacher who has learned much of what I know from teachers, so my answer to a beginner just starting out is to get some sort of knowledgable leadership in your piano life so you can get started on the right foot, without you learning hard-to-undo bad habits.

That can be a full-time teacher, or a class at a local college, or a part-time teacher who will give you several lessons, and then monitor your growth by a lesson now and then.

I strongly believe that should be your first goal. I know there are people on these forums who would disagree with me....but I base that belief on the numerous self-taught students who have come to me for lessons bearing bad habits that they did not know they had, habits that could have been easily avoided, and that they struggled with, sometimes to no avail.

As far as a realistic goal on your own, I too am not sure what that would be...as I mentioned in my original post, there is really no way you can determine what your goals might be at this point, as you have no perspective to go on.

However, if you want to go the self-taught way, without knowing you, and not seeing how you are progressing after a few weeks, I really cannot answer your question. I have seen adults take two or three months to progress to a point in Alfred that other adults achieve in a few weeks...there are so many variables...talent, time, effective practice habits, to name a few.

Now I will contradict myself... If you are self-taught,in the Alfred Adult books there is "Jingle Bells" fairly early on...I do not have a copy here, but it is in the first 1/4 or so of the book. I would say that if you cannot play that so it sounds nice and smooth, without stumbles, after, say, 2 or 3 months, you might want to get a teacher to help you.

Sorry for being redundant...
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Do you set goals for your playing? - 01/13/09 05:24 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:
Rocket, I set goals and when I am able to afford lessons again my teacher will set goals too, but they are not the kind of goals that you have listed. The goal might be to reach a certain level and work toward what that entails. Then pieces and studies which can be used to practice those.
When it comes week to week the piece being worked on has goals that change: have correct fingering and timing, then problem areas and whatever solution is used, then fleshing out phrasing and dynamics - that kind of thing. Do you also think in terms of those kinds of goals as a teacher, and if so, do you have students who would be open to them? [/b]
The goals I listed of finishing a section of a book in such a such a time I used as an example to start this thread. And sure, I and the student adjust them as necessary.

Goals such as fleshing out the phrasing and dynamics of a piece are part and parcel of all my teaching from day one, with, for some, setting a time frame to finish the piece.

Determining how to set those goals, particularly whether or not to set a time frame, is the focus of this thread. Thanks for your clarification.
Posted by: keystring

Re: Do you set goals for your playing? - 01/13/09 05:35 PM

And thank you for yours, Rocket. This question interests me too. Some years ago my teacher gave me a whole pile of things to work on but they were things: studies, scales, pieces. I wondered if there were specific strengths or weaknesses like I just listed that he might want me to focus on. So I asked him, "What would you like me to work on?" He looked annoyed and said "Everything." We were not on the same page. He did not know that as a student I might be focussed on "improve your fingering" and such, and thought I was asking which of the studies, scales, pieces I should be working on. The definition of goals, and how students and teachers perceive goals was at the root of this. It took another year to figure this out.
Posted by: melwig

Re: Do you set goals for your playing? - 01/13/09 05:35 PM

Interesting thread and how timely considering I just recently stopped lessons after only six months mainly due to time pressures at home. My goal originally was to continue with the Alfred's series. However, I found myself a bit burned out on Alfred's. The music, for me is rather uninspiring. That goal seems to be evolving into building a repertoire and memorizing all of the pieces. I have a small stack of music that I want to learn (who doesn't?). Santa brought several David Nevue pieces plus I'm anxiously waiting for an Einaudi book that has been on back order forever (Santa, you're late!). I'm also working on learning scales and chords. My longer term goal that is probably a year or two down the road based upon my current technical level is to learn and memorize Chopin's Nocturne in C# minor. I'm not a great classical fan, but for some reason that nocturne is really moving for me. My most tangible short term goal-get on the piano everyday.
Posted by: KrisS

Re: Do you set goals for your playing? - 01/13/09 06:03 PM

Rocket88

Thanks for the truth... My goal is to find a teacher. I do believe I have found one in my area just need to work out our schedules.

I'm hoping with the piano lessons and whatever I'm directed too by the teacher and lots of faithful practice I'll be able to play something rather smoothly by summer time.

There you have my simple goal for now. Oh .... I DITTO the goal (by melwig) of getting on the piano daily...
Posted by: Euphonatrix

Re: Do you set goals for your playing? - 01/13/09 07:06 PM

Goals are essential for me, too.
Some are given by my teacher such as a date for a recital. Sometimes when I'm "almost there" with a piece but somehow stuck he will apply mild pressure and tell me to have it all polished and ready by next lesson.

Besides, I have my own long-term goals (improve control of 3rd and 4th finger) and micro-goals (e. g. learn four bars of new piece each day, learn piece up to bar XY till next lesson). The more work to do, the more important those goals become for me in order to keep me focused on effective practice.

Writing this I notice my goals tend to be quantitative rather than qualitative. Maybe I should also focus on micro-goals such as improving articulation of a certain passage etc.
Posted by: rocket88

Re: Do you set goals for your playing? - 01/13/09 07:26 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by KrisS:
Rocket88

Thanks for the truth... My goal is to find a teacher. I do believe I have found one in my area just need to work out our schedules.

I'm hoping with the piano lessons and whatever I'm directed too by the teacher and lots of faithful practice I'll be able to play something rather smoothly by summer time.

There you have my simple goal for now. Oh .... I DITTO the goal (by melwig) of getting on the piano daily... [/b]
Sounds like you will do just fine...Best wishes!