It’s start of a brand new year, and everyone makes new year resolution at the start of each year. Musicians do the same as well.

“I want to perform on stage this year!”
“I want to score distinction in my exam!”
“I want to become a better pianist!”

We are very excited when we set these new year resolutions in first week of January. However, by February, we will likely forget what we set, and most of us will just cruise by until the end of year, and realise nothing much has changed.

And we repeat the same new year resolutions year after year, with not much results.

Don’t Set New Year Resolutions! Do This Instead.

Don’t set new year resolutions which you only do once at the start of each year.

Instead, set SMART goals.

You may have heard of SMART goals, and there are some variations of it. But here’s the Happy Pianist Version of SMART goals, that will help you achieve your goals in music.

Our SMART goals are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-bound.

These characteristics are used to help define and clarify the goal, and to make it easier to understand and achieve. And you can set them any time, not just start of each year.


The goal should be clear and well-defined, so that you know exactly what you are working towards.

Bad example:
I want to play better.

Good example:
I want to perform a song from the start to the end, without stopping, in a recital in March.


The goal should be something that you can track and measure. State clearly how you will measure your progress.

Bad example:
I will practice hard for my recital.

Good example:
I will practice my performance piece, 3 times a day for 1 week until the actual recital day.


A goal should come along with a list of actions you’ll take because it gives you a clear and specific plan that you can follow to achieve it.

Bad example:
I want to do well for my exam.

Good example:
I aim to score distinction in my exam this year. To do this, I will practice my exam pieces every day, focus on the notes, dynamics, interpretation, and every little details that my teacher has indicated. I will also run through my scales 3 times a day, and play a new song each week to train my sight reading.


The goal should be realistic and achievable, given the resources and time you have. A goal that motivates you to work towards it, but not too far-fetch that seem impossible.

Bad example:
I just pass grade 3 practical. I can only practice 1 hour a week, and I want to complete my Grade 8 practical this year.

Good example:
I just pass grade 3 practical. I will increase my practice hours from 1 hour to 2 hours a day, and aim to complete grade 4 and 5 this year.


The goal needs to have a specific timeline, and it could be a specific date, or specific duration. With the element of time, you can track your progress and see how far, or how near to your goal. It also give you a sense of urgency and keep you motivated.

Bad example:
I want to improve my stage performance.

Good example:
I want to improve my stage performance, so I will aim to perform in at least 3 live performances by end of this year.


Do you want to increase the chance of you achieving your goals to 99%?!

Here’s 3 ways to motivate yourself to achieve that goal.

1. Incentive and Penalty:

State an incentive you will get if you achieve that goal, and a penalty if you didn’t. Humans will find ways to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Do this to give you some more motivation. Parents or teachers can play along by deciding the incentive or penalty.


If I achieve get distinction for my grade 5 practical this year, my parent will bring me to Universal Studios Singapore for a day for fun. If not, they will go with my siblings while I stay at home.

2. Have a strong reason WHY:

Having a strong why will give you a sense of purpose when pursuing your goal, and help you stay focused and committed when things get difficult along the way.


I want to achieve my Grade 8 practical by September this year because my parents have invested lessons in me for many years and I want to make them proud. 

3. Take the FIRST step in the next 24 hours: 

We all know action speaks louder than words. After all the brainstorming, planning, discussion, you have to take the first step in the next 24 hours. This will stop all procrastination and delay your progress. We humans love to justify and give ourselves more excuses the longer we start.  Don’t be the archer who just keep aiming and aiming, but don’t shoot the arrow. 


Want to lose weight? Get your gym attire ready, find a gym, start workout today/tomorrow.  

Want to start learning piano? Get a piano or keyboard, get a teacher for your child or yourself, and start lessons this week

Want to take exams? Get the exam pieces, and register for the next available grading exam

Want to gain performance experience? Register for a recital or a competition, and start preparing. 


Setting your goals right is the first step in achieving them.

We hope this SMART Goal Setting framework can help you set your goal right for this year, so you can achieve them by end of the year. 

We are also happy to assist you in any way possible. Let us know!

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