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  • Brian Blume

Setting goals in percussion

Goals target

I recently had a discussion with the percussion studio at Southeastern University regarding goals. I am asking the students to set some goals for themselves and for the studio as a way to better understand their purpose and direction during their time at SEU -- where they're heading and why. Drifting aimlessly rarely provides any satisfaction in life, and one could argue it is a poor example of stewardship — not using well the gifts and opportunities that God has given us.

I also want to make sure that the students are taking ownership of what goes on in the percussion studio. It is not my percussion studio or music department; it’s theirs, and it will be what they choose to make it. As a way to ensure we are being intentional about our actions this semester and this school year, I am having my students think through and write down short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals, both individually and as a percussion studio. We will share some of our goals with each other, and I am encouraging them to keep their written goals visible as a constant reminder of what they are working toward.

Keep in mind that those who simply write down their goals are much more likely to accomplish those goals than those who have goals in their minds but do not write them down. Also, sharing your goals with a community who cares about you dramatically raises your chances of meeting them.

To provide a little guidance, I shared the following with them, and I offer it to you in case it is useful in setting your own goals as a percussionist or other type of musician.



S - Specific (detailed and not vague)

M - Measurable (must be able to tell if you accomplished it not)

A - Attainable (stretch and challenge you but are realistic)

R - Relevant (help motivate you and move you forward in the area you want to develop)

T - Time-bound (provide a deadline for when the goal will be accomplished)

Further reading on goals and goal setting can be found at the links below and by simply searching for additional resources:

Part 1: Individual goals which relate to your growth as a musician and percussionist.

  1. Long-term (5 years) — Write down 2-3 long-term goals which you plan to accomplish in about 5 years

  2. Mid-term (6-12 months) — Write down 2-3 mid-term goals which you plan to accomplish in the next 6-12 months.

  3. Short-term (1-2 months) — Write down 2-3 short-term goals which you plan to accomplish in the next month or two.

Part 2: SEU Percussion goals which provide direction for where we are heading as a studio/community.

  1. Long-term (5 years) — Write down 1-2 long-term goals which you hope our studio can accomplish in about 5 years, recognizing you will not be here at that time. Where do you think we should be in 5 years?

  2. Mid-term (6-12 months) — Write down 1-2 mid-term goals which you can help our studio accomplish in the next 6-12 months.

  3. Short-term (1-2 months) — Write down 1-2 short-term goals which you can help our studio accomplish in the next month or two.


Some ideas to consider while creating your goals may include the following (in no particular order):

  • individual technical skills (could include a plethora of skills relating to hands/technique)

  • music/sight reading abilities

  • specific pieces of music, etudes, or method books

  • scales, rudiments, fundamentals

  • various percussion instruments or categories of instruments (drumset, keyboard percussion, snare drum, orchestral percussion instruments, hand drums, etc.)

  • styles of music

  • joining PAS (Percussive Arts Society)

  • going to PASIC (Percussive Arts Society International Convention)

  • attending certain types of concerts/performances/events in order to grow as a musician

  • knowledge of established musicians, drummers, etc.

  • percussion ensemble repertoire (types of things we want to be able to play/accomplish musically)

  • being prepared for ensemble rehearsals

  • types of performance, venues, events we want to play at, individually or as an ensemble

  • ensembles, bands, etc. to get involved with

  • instruments, sticks/mallets, other gear (black towels!) to purchase

  • practical skills and knowledge to learn/develop, such as music and percussion terms, recording skills, computer music skills, drum tuning, maintenance, etc.

  • community development, relational skills among students at SEU

  • building your professional connections outside of SEU

  • web presence and marketing skills as a musician

  • financial literacy and habits

  • developing specific practice habits/skills

  • improvisation

  • stage presence and performance skills

  • reading more about percussion-related topics

  • not missing any lessons, not having excuses for lessons

  • recording yourself more often

  • number of practice hours per day/week

  • playing a certain number of times for studio class and/or Departmental Recital

  • composition skills

  • theory and aural theory skills

  • piano skills

  • integrating faith and art

  • and many more!


After writing your goals, you should start considering some small action steps that will help you reach your goals. Action steps are singular actions that move you one step closer to your goal. A short-term goal might take a couple actions steps to accomplish, while a longer-term goal will take many action steps. What is your action plan for reaching your goals?


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