Evan Tate's SaxTips eZine

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Practicing - How to do it with goals in mind.

This week we're going to deal with practicing. Not just in the common sense of the term but in a special way. This week we're going to go through a type of "Goal-Setting Workshop". What do I mean by that? Let me explain.

Why do we practice? To get better? (Whatever that may mean) To master our instrument? To learn new material? A new technique? Why? The answer is different for everyone. In order to achieve the purpose we set out for practicing we have to do decide what we are trying to achieve. This week's tip is geared to show you how to find that out.

1. Ask yourself "What do I want to achieve as a saxophonist?" - Do I want to be a concert soloist? A fabulous jazz musician? A master improvisor? A great all-round studio musician? Write down on a piece of paper right now what you wish to achieve as a saxophonist in your lifetime. Dream, and dream BIG!

2. Ask yourself "Why do I want to achieve this goal?" - Before we set out defining what we have to practice and how we think we can achieve our goal or goals, we have to get clear about WHY we want to achieve these goals. Only when you know why you're doing certain things are you assured in knowing what to do and how to do, and then eventually achieveing the goal. Write it all down. Think of as many "Why's" as possible. The more reasons you have, the better chances you have to reach your goals.

3. Now ask yourself "What do I have to do in order to reach this goal?" - Write down all the things you believe what must happen, performance and professionly-wise, along with what you think you'd have to practice and know (theoretically, musically, etc.) in order to reach these goals. If you're having a little trouble figuring this out, start with a picture in mind of the goal and work backwards. "What has to happen BEFORE I reach this goal?", "What has to happen before I reach THIS goal?" and so on. Keep asking yourself these questions and write it all down until to you arrive at the point of where you are right now. This generates "mini-goals", steps along the way that you'll have to take in order to reach your main goal.

4. Next to all these "mini-goals" write down a time frame in which you believe you can achieve this goal. Use a time frame of 20 years, 10 years, 5 years and 1 year or less.

5. Pick out the top 3 "1 year or less" goals from your list.

6. Write a paragraph under each goal describing why you ABSOLUTELY MUST achieve this goal in 1 year or less. Make it strong! Write as many reasons as you can think of.

7. For those goals pertaining to what you have to practice, write down what you think you'd have to practice or learn in order to achieve these goals. If  you're not sure on some points, ASK more advanced players, teachers or professional musicians for advice. Investigate books, articles and interviews.

Now, what you have here is a basic protype of your practicing session. Add whatever elements you deem as necessary to round it out. Success leaves clues for their attainment. Achieveing desired goals is not a matter of chance or luck, it is deeply though about, methodical planning. Every successful musician did certain things on a constant basis in order to achieve his/her goal and reap the benefits thereof.

Take the challenge!

Have fun!

Evan Tate is a freelance musician/instructor and the author of "Way to Mastery: Saxophone". He holds a BM of Music from the Manhattan School of Music under the tutelage of Dr. Joe Allard and has over 20 years of professional playing and teaching experience and has performed at various jazz festivals and radio broadcasts. Since 1993, He is an endorser for Julius Keilwerth saxophones.

http://www.evantate.de or mailto:evan@evantate.de


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