Tag Archives: networking

New Year’s Resolutions: A Musician’s Guide to Self-Improvement

Happy New Year! (Photo by William Warby)

Making New Year’s resolutions is a social trend that has become more popular throughout the last century. Is becoming a better musician on your self-improvement checklist for 2014?

To help you in your quest to take your performance to a new level, here is a MUSICAL interpretation of some of the nation’s most common New Year’s resolutions out there.

Get a better bod.

  • Improve your left and right hand technique.
  • Focus on posture. Stand up straight.
  • Develop muscle memory through repetition. (Think sets of pushups and situps.)
  • Exercise (i.e. practice) three or more times a week.
  • Warm up before you play.
  • Join a musical sports team: an orchestra, quartet, or other performance group.
  • Train for a marathon (i.e. a recital or concert).


Have a more positive attitude.

  • Refrain from throwing your instrument when frustrated.
  • Believe in your ability to achieve your performance goals.
  • Repeat encouraging mantras. (“I can do this.” “Never say never.” ““Success is not obtained overnight.” ― Israelmore Ayivor)


Make strides in your career.


Do well in school.

  • Take private lessons (if you don’t already).
  • Do your homework (i.e. practice).
  • Keep a practice journal.
  • Make sure you have the right school supplies (i.e. accessories).


Do something you’ve never done before.

  • Play a new piece.
  • Play with new people.
  • Practice outdoors.
  • Compose music.
  • Listen to new artists.
  • Try a new instrument.
  • Practice new techniques.


Get organized.

  • Prepare and decorate a comfortable practice space.
  • Keep your practice room, case, and music collection uncluttered.


Reduce stress.

  • Don’t take practice too seriously.
  • Take breaks.
  • Play more ballads.
  • Get back and shoulder massage to loosen your playing muscles.
  • Set reasonable goals.
  • Don’t expect too much of yourself.
  • Keep your love for music alive.


Improve time management.

  • Set aside time to practice.
  • Breakup practice time dedicated to specific pieces and exercises.
  • Be realistic with your schedule.
  • Keep a planner and mark your calendar with rehearsal times and events.


Read more books.

  • Expand your sheet music library.
  • Learn about composers.
  • Study music history.
  • Learn how to expand your creativity. (You might try The Artist’s Way).


Do more community service.

  • Perform at nursing homes and hospitals.
  • Do “show-and-tell” performances at preschools and elementary schools.
  • Support musical organizations that need funding.
  • Organize a concert to support a charity.

Find love.

  • Develop an intimate relationship with your instrument.
  • Get obsessed with a composer.
  • Ask someone out on a date to an orchestra concert.
Photo by Josh James
Music is good for the heart! (Photo by Josh James)


Need reminders to keep your goals? Print out this list and hang in your practice space. Best of luck as you strive to improve your musicianship!

Note: Don’t overwhelm yourself with unrealistic expectations. Keep in mind the value of patience, persistence, endurance, and a commitment to never give up on your dreams. Don’t be afraid to reevaluate and recommit to your artistic goals throughout the year. As Richelle E. Goodrich says in her book, Smile Anyway,


Do it again.

Play it again.

Sing it again.

Read it again.

Write it again.

Sketch it again.

Rehearse it again.

Run it again.

Try it again.

Because again is practice, and practice is improvement, and improvement only leads to perfection.”


Happy New Year from all of us at Kennedy Violins!

Becoming a Musical Entrepreneur


Wayne Dyer Doer QuoteThere have been points in my life when I’ve been the new kid in the musical town. “Hey, yeah, I play the bass. Yup. Call me.” It seems like it can take months or even years to find your niche in a music community, so one of the first things I’ve done in the past is network. (See our post, “How to Find Gigs: Musical Networking.”)

To start, it’s helpful look up all the local classical music organizations you can find online: symphonies, chamber orchestras, pit/opera orchestras, community music schools, violin shops, etc. Most have websites with contact emails and phone numbers and you can just go from there.

But in the process of looking for a musical group with which to play, I don’t know if I ever considered this [brilliant, perhaps?] idea entrepreneurial musicians use all the time, which is to START YOUR OWN GROUP.

What has me reflecting on this concept is recently watching some friends of mine come together to produce and perform their own musical (“The Taffetas”) to raise funds for a charity organization called Feed My Starving Children. Then I got an email from a violist wanting to organize a small chamber group to perform Christmas music.

I think most of my life I’ve been the passive musician waiting for someone to contact me about performing. I’m not sure if I’ve ever been the active musician creating the group with which to play. What a novel idea!

So if you’re sitting around with your instrument and all the talent you’ve developed thinking that opportunities to perform or gig for moolah are nowhere to be found, have you ever thought to create your own opportunity to perform? Have you ever thought to reach out to other musicians and create your own

  • Band
  • Private teaching studio
  • Recording studio
  • Quartet
  • Musical theater production
  • Bluegrass group
  • Performing club
  • Monthly house concert series
  • Orchestra
  • Community music school
  • Music playgroup for children
  • Nursing home performing troupe
  • Music store (Take the example of Kennedy Violins founder, Joel Kennedy. What was once a simple vision has become an inspiring and influential resource for classical musicians.)

Maybe we should all take a break from practicing and actually PERFORM, right? Who knows what could happen if you become the one contacting musicians instead of standing by waiting to be contacted. Great things, I imagine.