William Fitzpatrick - violin expert

Goal setting as a violinist

Learn how to surpass the "quality line"

In this video, Prof. Fitzpatrick teaches you a method to improve your playing quality by using the concept of "goal setting."

Released on February 6, 2019

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

So let's talk about setting goals. You see, when I was 22, I decided to set a series of three or five-year goals. These goals were centered around the number of concerts I expected myself to be doing after this period. So I thought at 25 I should be doing 20 concerts a year, and at 30 I should be doing around 50 and having the beginning of an international career. Around 35, I thought the international career should be accomplished and that I had a steady venue of concerts equaling, say, around 80 concerts per year. Those three-year goals were intermediary. Well, to my surprise, when I turned 30 I was doing exactly what I said I would be doing, and this was in large part because I had set those goals.

So let's look a little deeper at this goal thing. The definition of goal-setting is the process of identifying something which you want to accomplish and establishing measurable time frames. You see, time goals are the ones we refer to as short-term, mid-term, or long-term. So let's have a look at these particular kinds of goals, maybe try to figure out how to set them, how to implement them. Short-term goals are the ones that last, in my opinion, say, between four days to two weeks. Short-term goals look at the characteristics of your playing, you know, what you're doing, how you're doing it, and develop strategies for improving it, improving small things. You put in place short-term solutions to address, again, those small things or specific problems, as these are the problems that can be addressed immediately. An example of this kind of goal-setting could be the shifts and the arpeggio in the first movement of Lalo's "Symphonie espagnole." Where are the shifts? Now that I know what those shifts are, I can figure out short-term ways to make it happen. For example, I could do... I'd say I could do that for a specific amount of time per day. What am I doing? That's where I need to go. Now, let's go there. And I'm going to practice this to try to understand how to do it in the short term.

To organize these short-term goals the use of a recap sheet could be very advantageous. Here, let me show you one that I have made. Now, on this recap sheet, I have measures. By measures I mean what little thing that you're working on. I don't know, I'm into Lalo today. But for example, that shift. Next, we have the reason that we're doing it. Well, it was the shift. One to two. How am I going to do it? Next, we have the number of times we're going to be doing that per day. Finally, we have a place to mark each time we do it. Marking is really important, because it takes time to put the pencil there and do it. This gives you time to think. So on that left column, you'll see one, two, three, and recap. One, let's say, this part of measure 2. Two, this part of measure 4. Three, this part of measure 6. And then the recap, 1 through 7. That's how it works, my idea for this recap sheet.

Or using a metronome sheet could be very helpful. I have one of those too. Now, the metronome sheet, it goes from 40, mine at least, it goes from 40 to 250. Go to 300, you could start at 20, whatever your metronome allows you to, whatever you think is important. The idea is that you choose a goal, let's say the goal is 120. You start at 40 and you go incrementally until you get to 120. Let's say, the first day you get to 92, cool. The next day, you're going to start again at 40 and you're going to go to 92 and try to push it further. Okay. After that, you might want to start at 50 and see if you can push it further, because there's no reason to go back all the way to 40. And you keep this until you get to your goal of 120. Now, Ms. DeLay said to me, "If you want to get to 120 or you want to get to 100% of your goal, better do 110%, 120%." So if 120 is your goal, you might want to go to 130, you might want to go to 140, just to push it, to be sure.

Now, let's look at medium-term goals, which I think are two weeks, say, to three months. Medium-term goals apply a more permanent solution to short-term problems. For example, training your right-hand elbow to move before changing strings would be a problem that could be addressed in a mid-term kind of way. Take, for example, this A-tuned "Dominus 37 No. 3." Elbow first, hand later. I'm going to work on this, that's more of mid-term issue, something we could take that amount of time to work on.

Now, long-term goals, say the ones that are four months to a year, these are the goals that you use to solve problems permanently. You want to reach overall specific targets. For example, the changing of the placement of your left-hand finger on the string. Say you've grown up this way, now you want to put it this way, the use of Yost-like material would be very useful. You remember, you would want to do this a specific amount of time per day, say eight minutes, just for your fourth finger. Well, my memory is not the greatest. In fact, sometimes I can bend reality to suit my mood. So because of this, I can not emphasize enough the importance of writing things down for remembering what one has to do from day to day. Goal-setting is a valuable tool once it's implemented properly and with purpose. By building goal-setting into your practicing, you will be able to better identify what you expect from yourself. Here, think about this. Ms. DeLay once explained goals to me in this way, she said that the goal, my goal, was to get above this line. By this, she explained that the line, that line, was there and above that line were Perlman, Midori, Hilary Hahn, Shlomo Mintz. She looked at me and said, "You know, you are here. Now, what's your goal? Your goal is not to be as good as Perlman, or Hahn, or Midori, or Mintz. You goal is to get above the line."
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Mary * VSM MEMBER * on February 27, 2019 @5:11 am PST
Thank you for your very useful videos. Could VSM make the list of your etudes available for a single purchase?
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