Musical Desires

To obtain your musical goals, it helps to have a very specific desire. There is probably something that’s drawing you to pursue music in the first place. If you can put this desire into words, you will be much closer to achieving your goal.

Many musicians, especially beginners, are vague about their goals. Without having something specific to achieve, they have a difficult time making any forward progress. It makes sense that you won’t make progress if you don’t know what you’re progressing toward!

But, once you clarify your goal, you can determine the best steps to make your goal a reality. Just defining the goal has a profound effect on how you spend your time.

For instance, if you want to play violin in an orchestra, then there is a specific set of skills you’ll need: reading difficult music, mastering advanced techniques, and being able to play very long pieces.

To play fiddle music, a very different skill set is needed: playing by ear, memorizing melodies, and improvising solos.

Both of these goals are worthwhile pursuits. Both can fill you with satisfaction, give you a wonderful way to spend your time, and introduce you to people who share your passion.

But, each of these goals leads you in a different direction in terms of how you spend your practice time.

I’m only using violin as an example. Every musician would benefit from having a specific reason for playing music.

Let’s compare these pairs of statements:

1. I want to play the guitar.
I want to play Stairway to Heaven on guitar.

2. I’d like to learn piano.
I’d like to learn the first movement of the Moonlight Sonata.

3. It would be fun to be a singer.
It would be fun to sing “All of Me” with a jazz trio.

In every one of these cases, the person making the first statement is likely to get frustrated often and perhaps will quit playing before feeling like they’ve accomplished anything. The musician with the more defined goal will be willing to put in the time and effort to see their desire come to life.

What is your musical desire? Put it in writing, tell other people about it, and remind yourself of this goal every day. This will keep you moving forward as you practice and master your instrument.

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