New Year’s Resolutions for Musicians

I love hitting the refresh button every year on December 31st. There’s something invigorating about starting fresh on January 1, with a newfound reserve of motivation and determination.

Longtime Jenny Clarinet readers know that I love lists, and New Year’s resolutions are no exception. For the past few years, I’ve used NYE as an opportunity to evaluate all that I’ve done throughout the year and prepare myself for the year to come. A little bit of planning and organization now will help you save time and sanity later in the year. Plus, this is a cozy and productive way to stay inside on these cold winter days.

Here are some end-of-year steps I take to organize and evaluate my year:

  • Update your repertoire list. Go through programs and record any new pieces you’ve performed to your repertoire list. If you don’t have a repertoire list, now’s the time to make one! There’s nothing worse than having to put one together last minute for an application.
  • Update your resume. Add new jobs, skills, awards, grants, and anything else that you’ve accomplished this year. Proofread for any errors and tidy up the formatting.
  • Update your biography. Make sure that your bio is current – remove anything that’s old or outdated. Check carefully for errors.
  • Update your website and social media. After you’ve updated all of these documents, don’t forget to update any of these that you may have on your website or other social media.
  • Update your music library records. Update your spreadsheet or other music library records with any new music that you purchased during the year. It’s important to have a record of your music collection as it grows so you can easily plan repertoire and performances.

After you’ve spruced up your professional press kit, here are some other ways to start the new year on the right foot:

  • Order new reeds, cork grease, or other accessories. Take advantage of any end-of-year sales and stock up on any accessories you’ll need.
  • Clean out your case, music stand, and practice area. Get rid of anything that doesn’t belong in your case. Put away any pieces on your music stand that aren’t currently in your repertoire rotation. Tidy your practice area so you can focus on the music and not your surroundings.
  • Check to see if your instrument needs any repairs. Make sure that your instrument is in proper working order for all of the wonderful practicing you’ll be doing in the new year.
  • Order new music. After you’ve made some goals for yourself (see below), order any new music you’d like to learn this year.

Now it’s time for the fun part! After you’ve taken a look back at your year, plan some goals for the upcoming year:

  • Non-quantitative practice goals. Never vow to practice a specific amount each day – you’re only setting yourself up for failure. Instead, create smaller, more manageable goals. Examples: adding scales to your warm up, completing a new etude or fundamental studies book, structuring your practice routine so you don’t spend the entire time on one piece
  • Pieces you want to learn and perform. Make a repertoire bucket list and include anything that you’ve always wanted to play. There’s nothing more satisfying than moving a piece from the bucket list to the repertoire list!
  • Auditions and competitions to enter. Make a list of any upcoming competitions or auditions that you would like to take this year. Find out the requirements and start practicing!
  • Performance opportunities. Brainstorm ideas for recitals and other performance opportunities this year. Break each into smaller, manageable to-dos (contact venue, schedule date, plan program, find accompanist).
  • Prospective teachers. Make a list of any teachers that you’ve always wanted to meet and study with. Reach out and see if they teach privately or at any festivals.
  • New skills to learn. Circular breathing, double tonguing, slap tonguing, jazz, Klezmer, or anything else you’ve always wanted to do
  • Bad habits to break. Here’s where you have to be honest with yourself. What are those bad habits that you know you’re doing, but never seem to get around to addressing? Poor posture, stopping to check social media too frequently, not warming up properly, etc.
  • Music books you’d like to read. Here are my suggestions for books every musician and every clarinetist should read.

Here’s my 2018 Musician’s Goals Worksheet to help you get started with your resolutions and goals for the new year.

Leave a comment below with your musical goals and resolutions for 2018!

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