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#101 Goal-Getter's Guide: Awards and Goals in the Musical Journey

Updated: Nov 30, 2023

By Christy | the Practicing Pro

You can also Watch /Live HERE

As a parent do you find yourself struggling with your child's musical goals knowing what’s too small or too big?

Are you a teacher developing the creative minds of young musicians? As this year draws to a close, do you reflect on the challenges and triumphs of their musical journey so far and think about the year to come?

Parents, Are you eager to have daily music practices from a struggle into an unstressful effective routine with goals that motivate your child because they know they can achieve them?

If so, this blog/ live is your guide to not just surviving but thriving just a little more in your studio and home music practices because of the goals you have set.

Hello! I am Christy, the practicing pro from Halifax Nova Scotia Canada, and I am here to help you have effective, positive, and fun home music practices.

Today - Goals that are healthy and make a mark on your child’s musical journey

As we approach the end of another year and start getting Christmas music and decorations out, it's so important to celebrate not only the actual accomplishments we have made but also the process of growth and learning.

Today let's not only look at some effective strategies to make daily home music practices positive, effective, and fun, but let's also delve into a bit of the psychology of goal-setting. As parents and teachers, how can we make better goals for our children and students?

Setting Purposeful Goals:

Just like taking a walk with a destination in mind is more rewarding to start and end somewhere, children find practicing more engaging when they have a specific goal to achieve, be it a 100-day challenge, a concert, or an exam. These clear goals gives a clear path and endpoint, making the entire musical journey more enjoyable.

An example:
My daughter took dance lessons with a few teachers in our home studio without a goal and she got bored and didn't accomplish much after even a few lessons. As soon as a competition, concert or exam was a goal all of a sudden everything was easier giving both the teacher and her an end goal.

Another example:
At our Adult Community Arts Centre, adults come and take lessons. It's wonderful to be in a community all working together and learning together. Anytime there is even a casual end goal, collaboration or event, the attendance goes up and the commitment and excitement raises. It’s human nature to “work towards something”. It motivates us. You don't need it all the time but it gives a surge of motivation that lasts even after the event and of course, leading up to it that often sticks for a long time afterwards. Maybe it's less afterwards or maybe it's more!

A personal example:
When I went to Ireland I made a goal to learn 40 tunes the year before so that I could go to an Irish session and maybe know a few of the tunes. I did! I learned them all and every session I attended there were always a few tunes I knew. The goal to learn the tunes was to have an amazing time. I was motivated by that and I did have a wonderful experience there at sessions! After I got home I looked online for a local session. There were two I didn't even know about! I have now committed to attend one that meets weekly and I remain motivated since I attend the group each week to keep learning and keep playing.

The Art of Celebration:

Celebrating the completion of a goal is so important, but REMEMBER the nature of the celebration matters. Instead of material rewards, consider creating memories together. Plan a picnic, a pizza night with friends, or explore music-related gifts like a uniquely coloured violin bow or an intriguing new metronome. The goal is to make the celebration as valuable and memorable as the achievement itself. Also, make a big part of the celebration by talking and reviewing all the work that was done and the effort that was made instead of the accomplishment. Recognize other people who gave support and plan how to thank and appreciate them or involve them in the celebration.

An example: Whenever my daughter was in a musical - we would celebrate the end show by delivering cookies and a thank-you card with something specific each person contributed to the production to making the show amazing. It was a lot of work and we started weeks before but it made the celebration rich and meaningful on closing night.

Another example:
Whenever my daughter finished her exam we would stop on the way home at any restaurant of her choice in the big city (where the exam was) and get a special meal together. This was VERY exciting to her because we rarely ever went out to eat.

Engaging Practice Activities:

For younger musicians especially, incorporating enjoyable practice activities can make all the difference. From "pompom apples" to "music practice erasers" and "frogs and lily pads," these activities not only make practice more interesting but also strengthen the bond between parent and child. Completing a practice activity is a PERFECT way for a young child to develop the desire to have an activity and finish it then transfer that to making a bigger goal and to finish it (maybe with a few practicing activities along the way to make the bigger goal in smaller ones and feel easier and more fun!)

Realistic and Healthy Goals:

This is SUCH a big one. Avoid setting goals that may lead to feelings of inadequacy or unfulfillment. Instead of fixating on weight loss or prestigious schools, focus on realistic, attainable objectives that promote confidence and character development instead.

For example, joining a fitness class twice a week and attending every day before your wedding day to bring into your marriage self-confidence and healthy activity habits rather than “losing 30 pounds before your wedding day” is healthier and longer lasting. Also if you didn't lose the 30 pounds it's all you think of leading up to the special event and at the event you feel like you have fallen short. But if you exercise twice a week in a class with friends instead then on the wedding day you have more self-confidence and energy. One is healthy and the other not so much.

Another example:
Aiming to sing on Broadway someday. Instead, make goals that make you valuable to be in any professional show. What are the skills and qualities to make it in a professional company and be the MOST VALUABLE to them? Work away at that list one skill at a time. See how this is attainable and healthier? That way at the end of the goals they are the most confident and prepared for their lives in musical theater instead of “on Broadway successful or “I didn't make it” head space.

Diverse Definitions of Success:

Encourage a broad view of success by exposing children to as many different artistic paths as you can that all look as different as you can. Let them know that all parts are respected and valued. Share stories of fulfilled individuals in smaller communities who have built their own artistic niches, proving that success comes in many forms beyond grand stages or prestigious schools. This is a BIG one!

A personal example:
I owned a small home studio in a town, I also worked in a prestigious private school, in a professional program, I was in a successful conference band and made 3 CDs (recordings now you say), and was the director of children's performance groups twice in my life so far, now I run a big Suzuki school I built myself in a city, I teach an online course, I ran a program in Africa to bring music to children who wouldn't have it get the picture. I don't know what I'll be doing in 5 years. But this point is that success has come to me personally in so many different ways and none were better than the other. Performing, teaching, creating, recording, and humanitarian service….they are all successful. One thing or many things. Your children and students need to know it's not Broadway or bust. It's not Yale or Harvard or bust….The head of the show is as important as the costume designer, the scriptwriter, the lighting person and the scene builder. The show needs all of those people and without one it wouldn't work so they are ALL important.

Teaching Resilience and Adaptability:

Goals should not be rigid but flexible enough to allow for adjustments. If a 100-day challenge proves too ambitious, encourage resilience. Modify the goal, break it into smaller parts, and teach the invaluable lesson that setbacks are opportunities to learn and improve.

An example:
When approaching a 100-day challenge let's say you get to day 23 and miss. This is a crossroad for you as a parent. Stick to it and teach integrity and start over is the most important thing. Sneaking in well just do twice today teaches your child to bend the rules for them in secret, that they can really do it themselves etc… that is not a place to teach your child. Instead, say hmmm…we need a smaller goal first. We just learned we are not yet ready for 100 days so let's do 7 days first and make a celebration at the end. See the life lesson you just taught them? Honey, integrity and if something is too hard then make it smaller, don't cheat and don't quilt.

Questions for Goal-Setting:

- Is this goal achievable for this child and tailored to their abilities?
- Is the goal specific and do they know exactly what to do and how to do it?
- Is it clear the endpoint and what it looks like?
- Are you ready with ways to emphasize the joy of the journey, not just the destination?
- Have you planned how to celebrate the achievement with a meaningful experience to create a positive memory?
- How can you adapt this goal if there is a challenge you can't get over?
- If so how can you make it a positive life lesson of resilience and “Stick to it” and “modify when needed” experience that will serve them their whole life?


By creating these kinds of goals and this positive and supportive environment, parents and teachers can play a crucial role in shaping not just accomplished musicians but resilient, adaptable individuals who know how to find joy in the process of learning and growing instead of frustration and quitting.

As you set and achieve musical goals with your children and students, remember: it's not just about the music; it's about the lessons learned along the way. A great goal for ourselves is to learn and practice how to make better goals as a parent or teacher too :) by printing the Goal Questions infographic PDF, memorizing them and making new goals with both ourselves and our students in the new year using them.

Cheers to a year filled with beautiful melodies and successful goals both in the past and coming up again.

Check out my Free PDF download Checklist for a Successful Music Practice for teachers and practicing parents.

Your easy checklist for successful home music practices from Christy, the practicing pro. Whether you are a new or seasoned practice parent or music teacher, this checklist will help you organize before, during, and after practices for effective and fun practices.

INVITATION from Christy Hodder:

Speaking of amazing practices, let me tell you all about the digital course, the Practicing Pro Academy. This is for the serious practicing parents and music teachers and is an at-your-own-pace, step-by-step, online course to bring you more effective, positive, and fun home music practices. Registrants receive a special package in the mail from me, and I am with you in person with Q&As to answer all your questions.

Learn more about PPA and join the waitlist HERE for the next Practicing Pro Academy course. It's only offered once a year so you don't want to miss it. The registration will only open for a few weeks and I'll let everyone on the waitlist know immediately so that you can grab one of the spots.

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