At the beginning of every school year, Kirby and I sit down with each student, and their practice parent when applicable, and set a goal.
Occasionally, we’ll have a goal to reach a certain piece or graduate from a certain book, but those are never standalone goals because they’re not actually very good indicators of progress.
The best goals are usually intentions to concretely improve a specific aspect of playing technique:
“I want to play with a more bent bow thumb / curved bow pinky.”
“I want to play with a straighter violin / viola wrist.”
“I want to keep my violin / viola fingers on their thumb-side corners.”
“I want to keep my bow on the highway.”
“I want to play with a more relaxed bow arm for deeper tone.”
“I want to work on making my shifts more relaxed.”
“I want to develop 3 different varieties of vibrato.”
“I want to keep my violin / viola parallel to the floor while I play.”
That list could go on and on forever.
But sometimes it’s also good to set a goal for practicing in general:
“I’m going to practice every day for the rest of the summer.”
“I’m going to listen to my Suzuki CD / other recordings every day.”
“I’m going to increase my practice time by 15 minutes (or 30, or 60) of quality, focused practice time a day.”
“I’m going to memorize all my review pieces.”
“I’m going to work on practicing with a better attitude.”
“I’m going to get my practice done first thing every day, so that I can enjoy the rest of my day knowing that my work is done.”
And so on, and so forth.
So, as we reach the midway point of the Summer ’20 Semester, and of 2020 itself, let’s all take a moment to ask ourselves what one thing would benefit each of us the most to work on, to improve, to “fix.” And then let’s do it!