3 New Year’s Resolutions for Passionate Musicians
A new year brings new opportunities as well as a chance for a renewed perspective. In thinking of New Year’s Resolutions, I’m reminded of three common threads of passionate musicians. These three areas of focus help students stay engaged in the learning process and remind them of the joy of music. To me, this is more than a list of resolutions. (Let’s be honest-resolutions usually don’t last very long.) This is a reminder of the characteristics inherent to passionate musicians. Students of any age and any level can find renewed interest in music by focusing on these areas.
Explore Personal Creativity
One of the best aspects of music is its unique ability to foster self-expression. However, sometimes musicians become hyper-focused on technical accuracy and they forget to listen to the music they are making. I call this the “autopilot mode.” In this mode, musicians play the notes, but are not listening to the notes or thinking about the music they are playing. Autopilot mode robs from personal creativity and the enjoyment of music. To help your young musician explore personal creativity, encourage him or her to truly listen to the music and think of different options for interpretation. Perhaps playing it louder in one part and softer in another spot. Perhaps he or she has an idea for how to arrange the piece in a different order. Exploring personal creativity allows students to gain ownership, self-expression, and enjoyment through playing.
Make Music with Other Musicians
There is something special about playing with other musicians. Sometimes it may be as simple as playing a duet with a sibling, parent, or teacher. Other times it might be participating in a string quartet, playing with a praise band, or jamming with a group of friends. It could be as simple as friends joining together to play “Happy Birthday” with different instruments. When musicians play together, they learn the importance of a steady beat, of listening to each other, and of using expression to make the music come alive.
Celebrate Musical Accomplishments
As musicians, there is always a new skill to learn. That’s part of the excitement of music! However, young musicians sometimes become frustrated or discouraged that there is a new challenge ahead of them. It’s important to remind musicians of their accomplishments. When they master a new concept, stop and celebrate. Encourage them to give a mini-concert to the family and make a video of how well they played. Remind them of how much progress they have made over the past few months. Sometimes, looking back at the lesson book to see how many pieces they have learned within the semester can be a reminder of their achievements.
If your young musician has become discouraged or bored with music, try focusing on one of the characteristics listed above. This new year, let’s be intentional about enjoying the gift of music!
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