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Rethinking New Year's Resolutions for Music Students: A Guide to Real Progress

Understanding the Limitations of Traditional Resolutions

As the new year rolls in, it's common for music students to set ambitious resolutions, like perfecting a complex composition or increasing practice hours. However, these resolutions often don't yield the desired results. Why is this the case?

The main issue lies in their lofty nature. For instance, resolving to "master Chopin's Nocturnes in a month" is an overwhelming task, particularly for those at the beginning or intermediate stages of their musical journey. When such high expectations aren't met, it can lead to a quick loss of motivation.

Additionally, many resolutions are vague and lack a concrete plan. Goals like "improve my violin skills" are too general and don't provide a clear path to follow.

Lastly, the rigid nature of resolutions doesn't account for the dynamic lifestyle of a music student. Strict goals can become more of a hindrance than a help.

Adopting a More Effective Strategy: SMART Goals and Regular Practice

Shift the focus to setting SMART goals - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. For example, instead of a vague goal to "get better at the guitar," aim to "learn two new songs each month for the next quarter."

Incorporating small, daily habits can also be more beneficial than grand, sweeping resolutions. Consistent, shorter practice sessions can lead to steady progress and help avoid burnout.

Embracing Adaptability and Persistence

It's crucial to remain adaptable and patient in your musical journey. Progress can be uneven, and there will be challenging days. When you hit a rough patch, remember to adjust your goals as needed and recognize the value in each small step forward.

Leveraging Resources for Enhanced Learning

To further enhance your learning journey, consider turning to comprehensive resources. My book, "How Do We Learn," available here:, offers insightful guidance on the learning process, which can be incredibly beneficial for music students. It provides strategies for effective learning and practicing, helping you to make the most of your musical education.


While setting New Year's resolutions is done with good intentions, a more structured and flexible approach is often more effective for music students. By setting SMART goals, establishing regular practice routines, adapting to challenges, and utilizing resources like "How Do We Learn," you can achieve meaningful and sustainable progress in your musical endeavors. Remember, your musical journey is unique – embrace each step with patience and enthusiasm!

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