The earlier parts of this series on practice planning have talked very much in general terms about planning your major and medium term goals. This is a very important step but at some stage we need to start getting more focused and to have some plans that we can begin to execute on. Short term goals are those plans – we can begin to work on these now, today.
In the same way that your medium term goals feed into and are stepping stones for your major goals, so your short term goals feed into the medium term ones. Spend some time thinking about the steps you need to take to meet the medium term goals you have set for yourself.
Tangible near term events
At this level of planning you will find that many of the goals you will set for yourself are events that will occur in the next few months. These are real events in the calendar that have dates and deadlines against them. Examples of this type of event are exams, performances and concerts. If you have a medium term goal to gain entry to a music school then you will want to pass certain exams to reach the required standard. These would form some of your short term goals. If you want to play in a venue that holds 5000 people you’d better start with 500.
Another common short term goal for musicians is to acquire knowledge in a certain area. Having decided a major/medium term goal you may well find that you are lacking the knowledge needed to achieve it therefore a goal of knowledge acquisition is needed – something ideally suited to the short term.
As you consider your short term goals your thoughts will also most likely turn to your technique and the improvements you would like to make in this area. A word of warning here. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to improve technique for techniques sake – relate your technical development back to your other goals. These goals are the reason you want to improve your technique.
At this level it is even more important to get specific with your goals. Start to use note names and metronome marks to set targets for yourself and of course set dates, share your goals with family friends and teachers and visualise what it will feel like to be able to play in that way.
In the next part of this series we will look at how you can apply your goals to your daily practice. We will consider how you will do these tasks before moving on in the final part to looking at planning in a nutshell and some sample plans.