Are you looking to change things up in 2020?
Do you want to try new things, set new goals, and see progress in your musical journey?
One of the best ways to accomplish that is to make some New Year’s resolutions.
But where do you start? Here are ten ideas to help you get inspired.
10. Learn a New Piece Every Month
If you’re like me, you sometimes get stuck in a cycle of playing your favorite, most familiar pieces over and over again.
There’s nothing wrong with that if you enjoy it, but if you’d like to expand your repertoire a little bit, try learning a new piece every month in 2020.
You could even record the finished piece each month. By the end of the year, you’ll have a brand new playlist to show for it!
9. Polish Your Sight Reading Skills
Like any other skill, sight reading requires a ton of practice.
If you want to see improvement in that area this year, try setting a New Year’s resolution to keep yourself on track.
Maybe you’d like to spend five minutes out of every practice session working on sight reading. Or you could get a sight reading book (or several!) and work through them this year.
If you stick with your goal, you’ll be a much better sight reader by next December 31st!
8. Get Better Acquainted With Your Instrument
It’s easy to play our instruments without even really thinking about what’s happening while we do it.
But the more we learn about the parts of our instrument and their function, the more skillfully we will be able to play it. (YouTube is a fantastic resource for this, by the way).
I remember the first time I ever saw the inside of a piano and observed the dampers being lifted off the strings when the pedal was applied. It completely changed the way I thought about pedaling.
Whether you play with strings, hammers, valves, or keys, knowing more about the workings of your instrument will make you a better musician.
7. Brush Up on Your Music Theory
Music theory drives everything we do as musicians, whether we understand it or not. And the benefits of understanding it are numerous.
Playing becomes easier, improvisation feels possible, new chords and obscure keys are much less terrifying, you start to realize that those random accidentals are not actually random, and everything just makes a lot more sense.
If that sounds like something you want in on, then make 2020 your year of diving deep into the amazing world of music theory. You won’t regret it!
6. Try a New Style of Playing
If you feel stuck in a rut, you might consider branching out into a new style of playing this new year.
Pianists might be interested in jazz piano. If you play the violin, try fiddling on for size.
Maybe you’ve always been interested in Celtic styles or folk music, or maybe you’re ready to give hymn playing a try.
Have a blast exploring outside of your musical comfort zone this year!
5. Improve Your Scales
Whether you love them or hate them, scales are the foundation of so many things in music. What better way to improve your musicianship this coming year than to work towards playing them better?
There are a lot of ways to do that.
Work towards memorizing all the major and minor scales, then learning them in two or more octaves. Or try implementing different rhythms or experimenting with various tempos on the metronome.
If you play a keyboard instrument, you could attempt to learn how to play them all in contrary motion.
If you really want to shake things up, you could try learning something more exotic like whole-tone, pentatonic, or octatonic scales.
Whatever path you choose, it’s a surefire way to take your playing and your understanding of music to the next level.
4. Focus on Healthy Posture
Performing-arts related injuries are more common than most people realize.
In fact, an estimated 3 out of 4 performers will suffer an injury during their artistic career.
The good news is that many of these injuries can be presented with healthy posture and proper technique.
With more and more awareness being raised about this issue, there are ever-growing resources for musicians who want to stay healthy and injury-free.
This year, work towards being the healthiest musician you can be.
3. Choose a Composer of the Year
This is a great New Year’s resolution if you want to learn more about music history.
Pick a composer and spend 2020 studying his or her life and work.
Learn some of their pieces, make a playlist on Spotify, read a biography…the possibilities are endless.
2. Play for Fun
This is one of the New Year’s resolutions I’m working on.
I perform regularly, teach every week, work on a lot of duets, accompany a choir, and play for church services. I love doing all of those things and I wouldn’t change it, but I sometimes get so focused on the practicing I “have” to do that I forget to just sit down and play for fun.
Does that sound familiar to you?
If so, try taking just a few minutes here and there to pull out your favorite pieces from the past or play from that Disney songbook you used to love.
It’s therapeutic, and it’s a great way to rediscover your love for music.
1. Find a Way to Bless Others
There are a ton of ways to do this.
Almost all churches are in need of more musicians.
Maybe you could play for residents at a nursing home, or a hospital, or your local homeless shelter.
Or maybe you and some musical friends could put together a concert as a fundraiser for a cause you’re passionate about.
Whatever you choose, you’re sure to bless those around you. Music is a gift, and it’s meant to be shared!
Important Note: I would not advise you to try all of these resolutions at once! That would be pretty overwhelming. I find that when I try to improve, I do best by picking just one or two goals to work towards and focusing on that. The rest can be saved for future New Year’s resolutions, right?
What New Year’s resolutions are you working towards this year? Let me know in the comments!