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New Year's Resolutions: A Musician's Guide to Self-Improvement

Liz Lambson

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Published: January 1, 2014 at 3:44 AM [UTC]

Happy New Year! (Photo by William Warby)

Happy New Year! (Photo by William Warby)

Making New Year’s resolutions is a social trend that has become more popular throughout the last century. Is becoming a better musician on your self-improvement checklist for 2014?

To help you in your quest to take your performance to a new level, here is a MUSICAL interpretation of some of the nation's most common New Year’s resolutions out there.

Get a better bod.

  • Improve your left and right hand technique.

  • Focus on posture. Stand up straight.

  • Develop muscle memory through repetition. (Think sets of pushups and situps.)

  • Exercise (i.e. practice) three or more times a week.

  • Warm up before you play.

  • Join a musical sports team: an orchestra, quartet, or other performance group.

  • Train for a marathon (i.e. a recital or concert).

Have a more positive attitude.

  • Refrain from throwing your instrument when frustrated.

  • Believe in your ability to achieve your performance goals.

  • Repeat encouraging mantras. (“I can do this.” “Never say never.” ““Success is not obtained overnight.” ? Israelmore Ayivor)

Make strides in your career.

Do well in school.

  • Take private lessons (if you don’t already).

  • Do your homework (i.e. practice).

  • Keep a practice journal.

  • Make sure you have the right school supplies (i.e. accessories).

Do something you’ve never done before.

  • Play a new piece.

  • Play with new people.

  • Practice outdoors.

  • Compose music.

  • Listen to new artists.

  • Try a new instrument.

  • Practice new techniques.

Get organized.

  • Prepare and decorate a comfortable practice space.

  • Keep your practice room, case, and music collection uncluttered.

Reduce stress.

  • Don’t take practice too seriously.

  • Take breaks.

  • Play more ballads.

  • Get back and shoulder massage to loosen your playing muscles.

  • Set reasonable goals.

  • Don’t expect too much of yourself.

  • Keep your love for music alive.

Improve time management.

  • Set aside time to practice.

  • Breakup practice time dedicated to specific pieces and exercises.

  • Be realistic with your schedule.

  • Keep a planner and mark your calendar with rehearsal times and events.

Read more books.

  • Expand your sheet music library.

  • Learn about composers.

  • Study music history.

  • Learn how to expand your creativity. (You might try The Artist’s Way).

Do more community service.

  • Perform at nursing homes and hospitals.

  • Do “show-and-tell” performances at preschools and elementary schools.

  • Support musical organizations that need funding.

  • Organize a concert to support a charity.

Find love.

  • Develop an intimate relationship with your instrument.

  • Get obsessed with a composer.

  • Ask someone out on a date to an orchestra concert.

Photo by Josh James

Music is good for the heart! (Photo by Josh James)


Need reminders to keep your goals? Print out this list and hang in your practice space. Best of luck as you strive to improve your musicianship!

Note: Don’t overwhelm yourself with unrealistic expectations. Keep in mind the value of patience, persistence, endurance, and a commitment to never give up on your dreams. Don’t be afraid to reevaluate and recommit to your artistic goals throughout the year. As Richelle E. Goodrich says in her book, Smile Anyway,

Do it again.

Play it again.

Sing it again.

Read it again.

Write it again.

Sketch it again.

Rehearse it again.

Run it again.

Try it again.

Because again is practice, and practice is improvement, and improvement only leads to perfection."


Happy New Year from all of us at Kennedy Violins!

Posted on January 1, 2014 at 8:30 PM
ive been trying to recall the name of a famous violinist... he was shown in a documentary about famous violinists, the film of him was black and white and barely salvaged, he had long black hair and played like a madman,playing alternately with the bow and plucking the strings, insane genius, i cant remember the movie title or the artist...
Posted on January 5, 2014 at 1:04 AM
Perhaps you are thinking of David Garrett playing Paganini's 24th Caprice - p.s.
Posted on January 6, 2014 at 2:41 AM
Great list of resolutions, pretty much spanning the entire gamut of things to do better. My own take on resolutions is that they work best when made as measurable plans rather than as aspirations. Like: Go through all the Gavinies etudes by June 1, or, Memorize the Bach g minor sonata. But the scope and unity of this broad list is also pretty inspiring. Thanks for posting.

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