Do you really “wannabe”?
When my son, Fred, turned 10 years of age he was totally consumed with the idea of playing guitar. When he didn’t have homework or chores to do, you would find him sitting in front of the TV playing “air guitar” to music videos on YouTube.
A video caught his attention about how to build a box guitar. He got the instruction from Teaching Station, collected the cereal box, paper towel tube, rubber bands, and crayons, and went to work building his very first guitar.
I wondered just how long it would be before he was on to the next thing that caught his fancy. But, every day, after school, he disappeared into his room to work on his guitar.
Two days later, walking into the house and getting home from work, I heard a strange noise coming from Fred’s room. I very quietly opened the door. Fred sat on the side of his bed strumming his box guitar.
“Fred, you got it finished,” I said stepping into his room. “Congratulations.”
“Yeah, I got it, but it doesn’t sound as good as I had thought it would,” he said with a scowl on his face.
“You did it, that’s the important thing,” I said.
“But it doesn’t sound that good,” he whined, a tear in his eye.
“Don’t give up. Let’s start working on a plan. Okay?”
Fred wiped his eyes, “A plan?” he asked.
“There’s a lot of planning to be done before you actually get a real guitar. Are you willing to do the work?”
“Oh yes, Mom. I’m ready.. When can we start?” he asked running to give me a hug.
Preparing for your music journey
Many “wanna-be” guitarists think it looks easy, and they can learn on their own. And many do.
But, with a good guitar and good instruction, whether in person or online, you can develop good “guitar techniques” which will cut your learning time.
“Mom, some of my friends were talking about their guitar teacher. I got his number. Can we call him and set up an appointment? Please, Mom? He only has a couple of slots open. Please?”
“How would you practice? You don’t have a guitar.”
Before deciding who to take lessons from or which instrument you need to purchase, you need to know where you are going. Let’s answer these questions to get started.
Mom began reading questions to Fred to build “The Plan.”
- Do you want to play a musical instrument? What kind? Keyboard? Guitar?
- What type of guitar? Acoustic, Electric, or Bass?
Fred piped up, “Guitar. It has to be a guitar.”
“Write it down,” Mom said. “Describe the guitar. And write down the answers to these questions.”
Fred ran to get his notebook to begin the process.
- Why do you want to play?
- Do you want to play professionally or just for fun?
Fred sat quietly after writing down his guitar description. He described an acoustic model like the country singers play.
“Did you hear the questions?” she asked.
Fred continued to sit in deep thought. “Can’t I be a professional guitarist and play for fun also? Do I have to be one or the other? What do I have to do as a professional? Just play on stage?”
Mom laughed, “Of course, you can do both. Write it down. We’ll look up what a professional does. Playing on stages is part of it, but not the only thing.”
Mom got out her computer and Googled “Professional Guitarist.”
“Guitarists are skilled performers who also frequently write and record their own music. In addition to practicing and performing, they teach, handle tasks such as booking shows, and collaborate with other musicians. They perform live and play in studios for recording sessions. They practice regularly to learn new music, keep their skills sharp, and to keep in top-notch shape for gigs.” Careersinmusic.com/guitarist
Let’s map out your music journey
As with any journey, whether it’s cross-country, an international trip, or a trek into the wonderful world of music, you need to set your goals and then create a plan to achieve them.
You may think that planning just to play a musical instrument isn’t important, but it is. Benjamin Franklin said: “Failing to plan is planning to fail”.
If you want to play an acoustic guitar, you would not purchase a keyboard or sign up for drum lessons. So, let’s begin mapping out your journey so you can get the right instrument and the right lessons.
Set your goals
Fred sat at the kitchen table with his notebook and a pen. “Mom, I’m ready. How do we create a plan so I can get my guitar?”
I laughed, “You seem to be very excited about this.”
Create a music skills inventory list
The first step in setting goals is to create an inventory list of your skills and resources. Put them in your journal so you can check them frequently. Don’t have a journal? Start one.
If you are a complete “newbie” you probably won’t have any music skills, yet, but you might be surprised.
- Have you taken any music classes in school?
- Have you tried playing any instruments?
- Do you have a friend who has shown you a few chords on the guitar or keyboard?
- Write them down in your journal so you can add to them later.
Make Your Goals Achievable
We recommend using a SMART Goal Planner. The formula below will help you make your goals clear and help you reach them.
- “Specific (simple, sensible, significant).”
- What exactly do you want to do? Or what do you want to happen?
- Why do you want to do this? How important is it to you?
- Who else is involved: parents, teacher, spouse, etc?
- “Measurable (meaningful, motivating).”
- How much time do you have to practice?
- How will you know when you have found the right instrument and/or lessons?
- “Achievable (agreed, attainable)”
- How can you accomplish this goal? List out everything you will need, such as instrument, teacher, etc.
- How realistic is the goal? Will you have enough money to purchase your instrument and hire a teacher? Will you have enough time to practice?
- Break your goals down. This is especially important for big goals. Put it into small steps that are workable.
- “Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based). If this is a relevant or good goal you will be able to answer “yes” to every one of the following questions.”
- Is this the right time?
- Does this match your other efforts/needs, such as school, work, and/or family?
- Are you the right person to be a musician? A Professional Musician?
- “Time-bound (time-based, time-limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).”
- When will you have the time to practice?
- Will you have enough time?
- What can you achieve as a musician in six months from now? Six weeks from now?
- Answer the above questions in your journal – WRITE IT DOWN.
- Do you have the time and financial resources to meet this goal?
- Tell someone you trust. Telling someone you know and trust about your goals seems to increase the likelihood that you will stick to them.
- Review your goal regularly to see if you are meeting them.
- “Specific (simple, sensible, significant).”
Finishing up the planner
Fred, with his Mom’s help, worked through the Smart Goal Planner for kids for several days after school. He answered the questions above to come up with his plan. Mom drew a planner similar to the one below for him to put in his notebook.
“Mom,” Fred called. “I think I’m finished. Please see what you think.”
Keep going. Don’t quit no matter how hard it is.
Celebrate. And Repeat.
Side Note: if the student is a smaller child, you as a parent, will need to help with the goal setting and directing his/her progress.
by Dena Warfield