2a: to make a careful or detailed search for information
2b: to examine a subject in detail
At the beginning of each school year, Kirby and I set goals with and for each of our students, which we refer back to week by week to keep us on track, and update each semester, or sooner if things are progressing faster than expected. So, the first lesson of each school year usually involves some time spent asking the question of students, “What goal(s) do you have for yourself this year?” of parents, “What goals do you have for your child this year?” and of ourselves, “What goals do we have for this particular student (and their practice parent) this year?”
We will certainly spend some time in each of the first few weeks of the ’20-’21 school year reflecting on those questions together and honing in on the best possible answers, but I think it’s all the better if we start contemplating how we would answer those questions now, so that we come to the school year with a relatively clear picture of what we hope to accomplish in it and can get right to work making those goals a reality. Here’s some ideas to get you thinking:
- Maybe you know that your posture hasn’t been up to snuff – maybe it’s even causing you tension or pain in your playing – and it’s something that we need to solve. You know that you’ll need to focus on it in everything you do from scales, to review, to new and preview pieces, and especially playing in orchestra. But you’re willing to take it on!
- Maybe you know that although you’ve been able to keep learning pieces, your bow hold isn’t as balanced as it should be – maybe specifically your thumb doesn’t stay bent, your pinky doesn’t stay curved, or your middle and ring finger don’t “hug” the frog very well all the time. Once again, you know that this’ll take focus all the time while you’re practicing to improve, but you want to make it happen and are willing to work on it!
- Maybe even though we’ve been touching on review every week in lessons, you really haven’t kept your review pieces up to the level you should and you’d like to renew your focus on it and make review and solid, well-rounded repertoire a strong point of your playing.
- Maybe one of the core techniques that your repertoire demands hasn’t been progressing to the degree you’d like, and you know that improving the fundamentals of your shifting or your vibrato is an aspect of your playing that you’d really like to focus on this year. It’ll mean making sure that our lesson time and your practice time are both structured to prioritize them, but that’s something you’re willing to do to see improvement.
- Maybe practice time itself is a category in which like to set a new goal to reach or a higher standard to hold yourself to – whether in the frequency, the quality, or the volume of your practice. All of these would require a significant commitment of your time and energy on a daily basis, but are certainly worthy goals to pursue!
One thing that I’ve noticed this summer is that because we’ve had the opportunity to see almost all of our students with greater regularity than most summers, Kirby and I are much more attuned to exactly where each student is and exactly what they need to take the very next step in their playing, and then the step after that. Oftentimes, if we’ve been away or students have been away for large parts of the summer, there’s a bit of a re-acclamation that has to take place in the first few weeks of a new school year, but this year that won’t be the case. This year, more than ever, we’re ready to hit the ground running and be laser-focused right from Week 1, and we’re looking forward to it!
So, be thinking about your goals for yourself, because we’re thinking of ours for you!