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    Goal Setting: The Real Education

    Set practice goals
    Set practice goals

    Do sleepless “cram study sessions” sound familiar?  Have you ever slept beneath a piano after the security staff had long since locked the practice rooms for the night?  If you can relate to these frantic college antics, then permit me to share with you some lessons learned.  By getting organized you can successfully survive all that the quest for musical achievement can throw at you.

    Much of your success depends on setting goals:  short-term, mid-range, and long-term.  Goals give you purpose and clarity of direction from the moment your feet hit the floor in the morning. Once those goals are defined, then it is all about time management.  If you’ve ever frantically researched for a paper you just realized was on your syllabus — you have already taken note of this first point.  Every hour has a price, and in college there is literally no “free” time.  I personally am a huge fan of lists (and post-it notes).  Diagram each week one at a time and have your “to do” list on the same page.  Whether you diagram on your Blackberry, iPhone, laptop, or with pen and paper doesn’t matter, though electronic forms have their advantages.  Keep your calendar, commitments, and contacts in one place and be sure to back it up!

    There is a book entitled Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.  It’s a great principle, but as a musician — we absolutely must sweat the details, and it’s all small stuff.  Every seed of excellence is contained in the details — but don’t forget the big picture, either.  Be sure to periodically reevaluate the goals you have set for yourself.  Know what you do well and what you need to improve upon.   Write it down.  Do it.

    A terrific book is Beyond Talent: Creating a Successful Career in Music.  Just as relevant to my previous post, “Surviving as the 1%,” Beyond Talent covers many aspects of getting organized, goal setting, practicing, and portfolio development.  Other great resources of interest include The Perfect Wrong Note and The Inner Game of Music.

    Click here to view more resources for practice goal-setting.

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    Tiffany Woodshttp://jwpepper.com
    Holds the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Horn Performance with a concentration in Historical Performance Practice, Literature & Pedagogy from the University of North Carolina Greensboro. Her students have been consistent winners of ensemble auditions, solo competitions, all-state tryouts, and college auditions. She has most recently been invited to perform at the 2011 Northeast Horn Conference in New Hampshire on natural horn and is an active freelance musician, studio teacher and music education advocate. J.W. Pepper - Winston-Salem.

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