S1E1: Setting Goals for Guaranteed Growth and Learning

Why repertoire selection is important

We discuss:

  • How repertoire forms the basis of the teaching and learning that goes on in our rehearsals
  • How repertoire communicates what we value as educators
  • How this may be our musicians' only exposure to this genre of music

Setting Musical Goals

  • The importance of planning a year ahead
  • The impact of setting long, medium and short term goals
  • Where is your ensemble now? What skills do they currently have?
  • Where do you want them to be in 12 months?
  • What skills do they currently have?
  • What skills & knowledge do they need to build to progress to the next ensemble or their next destination (college, community, music advocate/appreciator)

Where are they at now? Making A Skills Inventory

Download the Yearly Skill Development Planner Template and and fill it out for your ensemble!

How to inventory the incoming skills and abilities of the ensemble across 6 areas:

  1. Musical - technical skills (keys, dynamics, rhythms etc), theoretical knowledge
  2. Ensemble - internal pulse, intonation, balance, blend
  3. Listening - balance, blend, knowing how and where to listen
  4. Human - communication within ensemble, constructive feedback
  5. Behavioural - attentional control, not playing/speaking over others, concert etiquette, presentation skills
  6. Life Skills & Knowledge - attitude, perseverance, confidence, performance under pressure

Where do you want to go? Setting Long to Short Term Goals

  • Set long term goals for your ensembles for the end of the year
  • Plot backwards from one year in the future to now
  • Scaffold skill development from Point A to Point B

Creating Your Performance Calendar

Download the Performance Calendar Template

  • Add Performance details - date, venue, context, audience, music needed
  • Add in rehearsal schedule - how many rehearsals for each performance, beware overlap between performances, public holidays, time between performances, special events
  • Progress Accelerators - rehearsal camps, extended rehearsals, tours, contests, honor bands, workshops, guest clinicians
  • Progress Decelerators - academic exams/testing/assessment, public holidays, snow days, emergencies, illness periods eg. winter, holiday periods, breaks between rehearsals
  • Add in musical goals - allow buffer room, be ready to perform at least one rehearsal earlier than you think you should, have non-performance elements ready at least 2 rehearsals before the performance

Benefits of this process:

  • No surprises!
  • Always being prepared for each performance (both you and the ensemble!)
  • Build in contingencies for common issues
  • Monitor progress throughout the year - keep track of where you are
  • Know at a glance where you are at any point in the year


  1. Download the Yearly Skill Development Planner Template and fill it out for your ensemble/s
  2. Download the Performance Calendar Template and fill it out for your ensemble/s

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S2E4: Plan, Reflect Adapt - How to Make Progress in Rehearsal

How can we set ourselves up to listen better in rehearsals? What can be planned in advance, and when do we need to adapt our plans? What tools can we use to make our rehearsals more efficient? What does good feedback for players look like, and how can we deliver it in a sensitive way? We tackle all these questions and more as we explore the nitty gritty of middle rehearsals.


S2E3: First rehearsals - trust, expectations and listening like crazy

It's the all-important first rehearsal! What is needed from both conductors and players in the first rehearsal? How does stress play a role? How do we navigate the dynamics of conducting professional versus educational orchestras? How can understanding attention help us set more reasonable expectations for ourselves, and the musicians?


S2E2: From paper to performance - score study, imagination & listening like crazy

How do you effectively prepare and study a score before rehearsals? How do you create your own vision for the piece? Should you listen to recordings? What about MIDIs? How do you prepare for a world premiere where no recording exists? We tackle all the curly questions to help you boost your score preparation.