How to Set and Achieve SMART Music Goals + FREE Worksheet

Are you ready to set SMART music goals for the year? Need some ideas or inspiration? Then read on to learn how to set and achieve SMART music goals and grab the free Music Goal Planner worksheet to write it all down. 


smart music goals


Don’t you love this time of year when everything seems possible? You have a whole new year in front of you, ready to be designed into whatever you wish! You can reinvent yourself, take up a new hobby, break a bad habit, improve certain skills, etc.


At the start of each year, I like to ask my piano and violin students what their goals are for the year. What pieces do they want to learn? What do they want to achieve? Having this conversation does two things: first, it reminds them why they’re learning their instrument and keeps them motivated, and second, it helps me stay on track with their goals during the weekly lessons.


So now, I’m asking you, my reader: what are YOUR music goals this year?


In this article, I’m going to walk you through the steps required to set music goals and achieve them by making sure the goals you set are SMART goals.


To help you out setting and achieving your music goals for the year, I have created a printable & editable Music Goal Planner worksheet which you can download for free by filling the form below:

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Music Goal Planner!

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    How to set music goals

    Step 1: Goal brainstorm

    The first step is to do a brainstorm or “braindump” and write down all the goal ideas you can think of. Don’t hold back. This is the time to dream big. Write down whatever comes to your mind.


    Here are some music goal ideas to help you get your creative juices flowing:

    Learn 40 pieces

    Memorise one piece every month

    Practise sight-reading every day for 15 mins

    Learn a new musical genre

    Work on [technique]

    Brush up on music theory

    Listen to recordings

    Go to live concerts

    Take a music exam

    Record an album



    Step 2: Narrow down to three music goals

    The next step is to look at the music goals you’ve written and circle the goals you feel most drawn to. The aim here is to narrow down the number of goals to an achievable number for the year, hence three goals. Choose a date by which to complete these goals.


    Step 3: Break down your music goals into small achievable steps

    Now that you have your three main goals for the year, make a list of all the steps you need to take to accomplish each goal and, whenever possible, write down a deadline or a timeframe for each step.


    For example, let’s say your goal is to perform a 40-min recital in December.

    Here are some of the steps you would need to take:

    • Decide on a program – by the end of January
    • Listen to recordings – January + February
    • Learn pieces – by September
    • Analyse & memorise pieces – September
    • Mock performances – October + November


    How to achieve your SMART music goals

    Now that you’ve set your music goals for the year, it’s time to think of the steps needed to achieve these goals. This part is the most important, so don’t skip it!


    To achieve your goals, you need to make sure that the goals are SMART goals.


    What are SMART goals?

    SMART goals are:







    As you write down each of your music goals, ask yourself the following questions:


    What specifically do I want to achieve?

    How will I know when I have reached my goal?

    Is it possible for me to reach this goal?

    How relevant is this goal for me? Does it correspond to my level?

    How much time do I allow myself to accomplish this goal? Is it a short-term or long-term goal?


    Here is an example of a SMART music goal:


    Learn the whole Chopin Etude Op.10 No.1 by the end of the year.


    It is specific (the whole of Chopin Etude Op.10 No.1), measurable (one Etude), by the end of the year (attainable and timely) and it is relevant because you like this piece and it is around your level.


    Here are other examples of SMART music goals:

    Practise sight-reading for 15 mins every day

    Memorise one piece every month

    Record an album by the end of June

    Learn all the major and minor scales in one month


    READ MORE >> How to Stay Motivated to Practise During the Holidays


    That’s it! Grab a copy of the Music Goal Planner and get planning because:


    A goal without a plan is just a wish.


    What are your music goals for this year? Comment below!


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    • Ralph C. May Jr. (Buddy) says:

      Happy New Year Manu! I like the idea of setting goals, and paving the road laid out to achieve them.
      As a Novice at piano, I have quite a few goals to achieve. I have about 6 months into training myself to play the piano. I am still working on the basics like becoming good at note ID, Scales, Chords, Arpeggios, Music Theory, Hand independence, Sight Reading, and the list goes on….. I attempt to study them all but maybe it is more prudent to work on a few to begin with. Any thoughts on which few you might suggest I begin with? I am certain I am not the only beginner
      faced with this decision. I am willing to apply two hours a day or more, if necessary, at study and practice.
      Much obliged for your assistance. I am very appreciative of your web instructions and enjoy your presentations. Thank You.

      • Thank you, Ralph. Happy new year to you too! That is a good question. All the things you’ve listed are useful but it is up to you to decide how long you want to spend on each of these things. Some things like music theory and note ID can be done away from the piano. It’s useful to spend about 10 minutes warming up with scales, chords and arpeggios. I personally don’t think you need to do ALL the major and minor keys every time you practise. For example, you could do up to 4 major and minor keys per day and alternate, or you could focus on the major keys one week, the minor keys the next. It really depends on what works for you. You could also just focus on the keys that you are not so good at. I would also do about 10-20 mins (or until you feel your focus waning) of sight-reading right after warming up when your mind is still fresh. And then spend the remainder of the time on pieces. Make sure you take some breaks too, every 30 mins or so.

    • Emmanuelle Fonsny

      Emmanuelle Fonsny

      Emmanuelle Fonsny, or Manu, is a piano and violin teacher, composer and accompanist based in Sydney, Australia. She is passionate about sharing her love of music and her sight-reading and practice tips to help other pianists become more confident sight-readers.



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