What grand, finicky things are New Year’s Resolutions! We love to make them, because they give us something to strive for, something to achieve, and some way to make ourselves better. And yet, they are notoriously difficult to keep.
What makes a good NYR, and how might that apply to our musical selves?
Generally, a good NYR is one that is not too easy to accomplish, nor should it be too difficult. With the first, there’s no incentive to complete it, and with the second, any incentive to finish is overshadowed by the time or resources commitment it would take to do so. Finding that ‘baby bear’ sweet spot of ‘challenging but doable’ is essential in creating a standout NYR.
Next, a NYR should be fun. It should be a journey worth taking. Cleaning the garage or offering to feed the neighbor’s iguana when they head out of town are probably not the best NYRs. They should be things we’re looking forward to doing, not just having done.
NYRs should also make a qualitative difference in lifestyle. They should improve us, make us better.
How can we incorporate music into a NYR? The good news is that there are a lot of options to fit a wide variety of skills, experiences, and time commitments. An experienced musician or professional might make it their goal to learn an extremely difficult piece of music (which could easily take the better part of a year). An amateur or student musician could make the same kind of goal, but would probably do well to remember that the goal should be attainable, and fun.
Yet we shouldn’t stop here. What about non-musicians? Can they have musical NYRs? Of course! How about picking up an instrument from childhood, or even learning a new instrument altogether? How about choosing a composer, finding a biography and reading it while listening to a soundtrack of their most famous compositions? Or going to see an opera (despite the oft-lingering childhood ideas about operas being stuffy and silly, they are usually not only beautiful and interesting, but also funny and engaging)? How about musical theatre? I suggested to a cook in an Italian restaurant that he go see Sweeney Todd, the Stephen Sondheim musical. He looked at me suspiciously, and said he wasn’t into that whole ‘Sound of Music scene’. I told him he needed to go, and he would be pleasantly surprised. Boy, was he ever.
The great thing about music is that there are so many ways to engage, from three minutes a day (one Beatles song a day for a year?) to as many hours a day as you’d like (learning to play the piano? Accordion? Harp?), that there is virtually no excuse for not making 2014 the year of the Musical New Year’s Resolution!Want help attaining your musical NYR? Check out these helpful musical educators!