Setting Goals in the Music Classroom

The Importance of Setting Goals in the Classroom

Goal-setting activities for the beginning of a new term, semester or year, is a great way to have students focus on their learning.

What activities do you have planned for that very important first lesson of the year/semester/term?

Yes, I know we all have to go through procedures and expectations. I call this “the housekeeping,” and I try not to make this too long and boring. Some of the ways I have covered this in the past are:

  1. Have the expectations/rules displayed in the classroom on posters and talk to them.
  2. Have a discussion which leads the students to create the class rules themselves. This way they have greater ownership of them.
  3. Create a ‘class expectations contract’ from the discussion with the students. Print off a copy for each student, have them sign and date it and place it in the front of their workbooks

The activities you choose to do will ultimately depend on the class you have i.e. age group, general music class, orchestra/band class or a chorus/vocals class etc.

Whatever else you choose to do; I believe it is important to include a goal-setting activity in the first 1-2 lessons.

The Importance of Setting Goals in the Classroom

Setting goals is an important component of students’ motivation, self-regulation, and achievement in the classroom.

Goals give students a path to follow.

Allowing students to set their own goals can greatly improve how motivated they are to learn. Too often, we set goals for our students without carefully considering what it is they want to achieve. Allowing them to set their own goals, gives them something that they are personally invested in to concentrate on and work towards. The goals have personal meaning to them.

Here are four things students learn from setting their own goals in the classroom:

  1. Hard work – Most students have little impetus to work towards the goals that others set for them. When they get to choose their own destinations, however, and plan out their own journeys, they are far more likely to put in greater effort to achieve their goals.
  1. Self-motivation – As students continue to learn and grow, being able to motivate themselves will be a major asset. Practising goal-setting now can help them learn how to achieve this self-motivation.
  1. Greater self-satisfaction – It feels good to achieve a goal, especially if it is a goal that you’ve set for yourself and you’ve worked really hard for. Once they learn how it feels to achieve a goal, they are much more likely to strive for that feeling again.
  2. More self-confidence – They haven’t just proved to you that they can reach their goals, they’ve proved it to themselves. They are starting to learn what they are capable of controlling their own destiny, i.e. if they set a goal and plan for it, it is achievable. This taste of achievement will help even the most timid student build self-confidence.

How I do this in my classroom………..

  1. Begin the lesson with a brief discussion about goals in order to give students some ideas that will act as a springboard for them to establish their own goals.

Project the following three questions onto the board to get the discussion started:

  1. Name two goals?
  2. List 2-3 steps you will need to take to achieve them?
  3. What are some examples of goals you might have for music class this year?


Keep the discussion snappy – don’t let it drag on!


  1. At an appropriate point in the discussion, change the direction to the fact that we don’t always achieve the goals we set for ourselves and ask why they think this might be.

Project image #2:  A goal without a plan is a wish!

So – how do we plan our goals?

  1. Project image #3 and discuss SMART goals

S = Specific. Be specific. Describe WHAT it is you want to achieve, WHERE you will achieve it, WHY you have this goal etc.


M = Measurable. The goal must be able to be measured i.e. HOW many time, HOW long, HOW often etc.


A = Achievable. The goals must be realistic and achievable if you stick to the plan.


R = Relevant. Does the goal fit with your needs i.e. a goal that will help you?


T = Timely. Give your goal a definite time period to achieve. You can do this by setting a definite day/date i.e. by the last day of term I will…..


4. The final step is to issue students’ with the Goal Setting sheet. Students can either complete this in class or take it home and complete it for the next lesson.

Having the students write down their goal/s and how they plan to achieve them, takes the goal/s out of the students head and makes them REAL!

Placed the completed page in the front of their class workbook.

If you would like a copy of the 'Setting Goals' images and class worksheets I use, you can grab your FREE copy by CLICKING HERE!

Sign up to receive the monthly MTR newsletter and gain exclusive access to the

FREE Resource Library for music teachers!


50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.