What Are Your Educational Goals? – Creating A Music Student’s School Schedule, Part 1

A young violinist playing his instrument outside while pondering his music education goals.

Part One: What Are Your Educational Goals?

BY MEGHAN VANCE • June 20, 2024

As students advance in their music education and in school, the two can come into conflict with each other. Regardless of whether the student wants to pursue a musical career, students can find it difficult to schedule time for both music and school. Trying to balance practice and homework loads may tempt a student to sacrifice sleep. A student’s required class may be scheduled at the same time as the music class they want to attend. If the student excels in many areas (as many music students do), they may find themselves overwhelmed with a multitude of adults, each pushing the student to go further in music, dance, theater, academics, or sports.

How can you help your student navigate all these conflicts as they create their school schedule?


The National Education Association posted a graph showing that when asked about the purpose of education, 45% of the public said they it is to prepare students academically, 26% say it is to prepare students to be good citizens, 25% say it is to prepare students for work, and 4% say they’re unsure. The Educational Policies Commission writes that “the central purpose of education today is the development of rational powers to create the freedom of mind necessary for dealing with traditional tasks as well as with recent changes.”

Both the choices listed for the public to choose from and the Commission’s stated purpose assume basic ideas. One assumes that education is preparation for the future, and doesn’t address how it serves the student now. One assumes that education is for developing rational powers, and doesn’t address experience or development of skills (such as interpersonal skills, job skills, financial skills), unless by vague implication that these are requirements for rational thought.

As a parent, you may have several purposes for educating your student, including forming strong friendships, learning to work with a wide variety of individuals, experiencing events (such as prom), learning life skills, preparing for college, and all of the reasons listed as choices above. Try to list all the educational goals you have for your student. Next, make a chart for each, showing different levels of competence. Think through where you’d like your student to be on the chart during each educational stage in their life. Finally, try to rank your goals. Are they all of equal importance?


    Perhaps you want your student to develop an appreciation for the arts. Perhaps you’ve read the studies showing music improves student academics. Maybe you want your student to have an outlet for their emotions, or a way to express their creativity. Maybe you want your student to develop determination, discipline, and self-confidence.

    Think through how music has helped your student so far. Your student may even have changed in ways you hadn’t anticipated when you first enrolled them in lessons. How do you expect music to help them in the future? Then, as you did with general education, make a list of your goals, chart levels of competence, and rank each goal. Knowing your goals will help you make music education decisions, such as how much your student should practice or what musical experiences to seek out in addition to lessons.

    A young violinist playing his instrument outside while pondering his music-specific goals.

    Once you’ve thought through your goals for your student, help them to do the same. With younger students, helping them determine their goals will often help them focus on their learning process and provoke their aspirations. It may also help you add to or adjust your own goals, based on your student’s self-perceived interests, strengths, and weaknesses. Older students may not need help writing their goals, but are likely to be more self-aware. You may be surprised to find that your student is bored by an academic subject they excel at, or is interested in something they’ve never had the opportunity or courage to pursue.

    With older students, a great next step is for you to share your goals for them. Before you do this, though, consider the personality of your student. Are they likely to feel overwhelmed or excited? Will they see all of the work you’ve done as a sign of how much you love them, or as an attempt to force them to be someone they don’t care to be? Determine how much information to share.

    Ask your student which of your goals they agree and disagree with. Would they rank them differently? Explain your reasoning, and allow your student to watch how you use your goals to make decisions. Even if they disagree, your student will better understand parent and teacher decisions, get more interested and involved in their own education, and develop their own decision-making skills. After all, TIME quotes the Educational Policies Commission as saying, “The purpose which runs through and strengthens all other educational purposes—the common thread of education—is the development of the ability to think.”