One of the most important questions I ask my students is this: “What are your goals for piano study?”
I ask this question to my students at their very first lesson. I find it very insightful to learn why students want to study piano and what they hope to learn in their lessons. Some students have a specific piece in mind that they have always wanted to play. Other students may want to play in a certain style, such as jazz or pop. Some students have no idea what their goals are, but can tell me what kinds of music they like to listen to.
There are many benefits to helping students set their own goals at the piano:
- Setting goals helps to prepare younger students for the “real world” challenges of problem solving and time management that they will face as adults.
- Students are more invested in their progress because they have selected a goal that is important to them.
- Students are more motivated to practice pieces they have selected themselves.
- Students feel a bigger sense of accomplishment when they complete a goal they have set for themselves.
- Seeing my students’ goals helps me as a teacher to know what motivates them, so I can better plan our path of study to take advantage of my students’ interests.
I encourage my students to keep a “wish list” in their notebooks of goal pieces and other general piano goals that we can refer to throughout the year. When we complete a goal piece, or when I see that a student is in need of a general pick-me-up, we refer to this wish list for ideas. These wish list pieces aren't always what I would choose for my students, but with a little creativity I can make sure my students learn something important from each and every one!
What do you think? Do you encourage your students to set their own goals for piano study?