Why You Should Set Goals For Your Music

Wooden letter tiles spelling the word goal.

Achieve Your Desires, Be Motivated, Take Charge, & See Your Progress

BY MEGHAN VANCE • January 15, 2024

January is a great time for writing new years’ resolutions, including resolutions about your music. For many people, however, this is a difficult task. Dr. Jacob Kashiwagi, in a video for the Leadership Society Of Arizona, says that setting goals is not easy because students must try “to look into the future, to be able to tell the difference between where they’re at and what’s going to happen and what they’re capable of doing.” Inexperienced or young students often need help brainstorming, because those students lack the information or experience needed to make good predictions. Nevertheless, Kashiwagi states that goal-setting is a skill, and “The more a child does it, the better they’ll get at it.”


Dr. Kashiwagi makes a point to emphasize that goals should be both specific and measurable. The Army And Navy Academy states that “proper goal setting can break those larger, more intimidating aspirations down into achievable stepping stones.” Having specific, measurable goals allows you to have a clear idea of where you’re headed, what you need to do at any point along the way, and when you’ve reached your destination. It also enables teachers, parents, and friends to know how they can help you. For more ideas about how to write specific, measurable, stepping-stone goals, read our previous article.

A picture of Kristi Yamaguchi, Olympic Gold Medalist, who inspires students globally with her words about goals.

“I always try to start out with some type of goal.

Then I work backward and think of what I need to do to get there and give myself smaller goals that are more immediate.”

– Kristi Yamaguchi, Olympic Medalist

Image CC BY-SA 4.0 – Sebaceousother


Goals can motivate students to focus their time, effort, and resources toward a particular end. Chase Nordengren, for EdSource, writes “Students are most motivated by goals that are both attainable and relevant to them.” Students should be encouraged to write goals for themselves, rather than goals they think will please teachers, parents, or peers. Parents of very young students usually must provide extrinsic practice goals; once students are consistently writing and achieving their own musical goals, parents can gradually decrease extrinsic motivation. The Army And Navy Academy states that by referring to them, “you will gain motivation when you may lack motivation or simply want to give up.”


One reason to create a list of items you wish to achieve is to allow you to take charge of your progress. We often use the phrase take charge to mean take control, but according to the Oxford English Dictionary, “charge” could mean “a material load, burden, or weight,” “a task or duty laid upon one,” or “the duty or responsibility of taking care of a person or thing.” The Army And Navy Academy hints at this meaning when they write, “Establishing a goal creates a sense of clarity and correlation between the process of working hard and accomplishing something significant.”

When students set goals, they take on the charge of their own progress. They learn to discern what they want, set realistic expectations, work hard, and take responsibility for the outcome of their work, whether the outcome is disappointing or exciting.

“Each of you, as an individual, must pick your own goals.

Listen to others, but do not become a blind follower.”

– Thurgood Marshall, Supreme Court Judge

The official pictures of Thurgood Marshall, taken in 1976. Marshall's words about goals provide students with inspiration.

One reason many students get discouraged is because they can’t see their own progress. Students practicing without a goal eventually feel aimless and may grow to feel their practice is purposeless. Dr. Kashiwagi states the more students learn to both track and document progress towards their goals, “ the better this is going to be for them as they develop, because they’ll be able to actually learn how to set a plan, document their accomplishments in it, and to be able to actually see their accomplishment and understand their growth.” The Army And Navy Academy writes: “Goal setting will fuel your ambition and offer you a sense of pride when success finally arrives.”

Tom Hiddleston speaking at the 2017 San Diego Comic Con International as taken by Gage Skidmore. Hiddleston's words on goals can serve as an inspiration to students.

“You keep putting one foot in front of the other, and then one day you look back and you’ve climbed a mountain.”

– Tom Hiddleston, Actor

Image CC BY-SA 2.0Gage Skidmore

Setting a goal can itself seem like a daunting task, but just like music, the more you practice it, the better you get at it, the more you succeed at it, the more you enjoy it.

  • Try to set some goals for your music this January.
  • Ask your teacher for help in breaking them down into smaller steps.
  • Create a chart to keep track of your progress.

The Army And Navy Academy writes “…setting goals pushes young adults to articulate the things they want out of life, so they live more consciously.”