Learn how to use a SWOT analysis for musicians – a powerful tool to strategize every musician’s career, practice routine, and self-development.
Have you ever been advised to focus mainly on the aspects of playing the instrument that you struggle with the most? It makes sense. If you could only fix these problems you would become a well-rounded musician… That only sounds good in theory. In most cases, people don’t like practicing a skill that comes with tremendous difficulty. If you would want to focus only on your weaknesses, playing an instrument could become the most hated chore. On the other hand, however, if you never face the struggle, you would not improve any difficult skills. As is usually the case, you need a balance between these two concepts.
The theory is that it is best to have a challenge that does not exceed a person’s abilities but allows them to learn something new. Setting the bar very high in daily practice routine is as demotivating as not having any challenge. Easier said than done. I am sure more than once you caught up fantasizing about how to learn a piece in 2 weeks. Probably even more often, due to lack of a plan or boredom, you have practiced compositions that you have already perfected. If we have learned something so far, it is that the human brain, although it tries very hard, is not always your ally. Here is no exception. However, if you give it a chance and approach it strategically, it will pay you back.
What is SWOT Analysis for Musicians?
Today I would like to introduce you to a SWOT technique and how you can use it as a musician. It is commonly used in organizations to choose the best development strategy. The purpose of this method is to see new opportunities and use your assets while minimizing the risk of failure. SWOT analysis stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It’s an incredibly simple method and shouldn’t take much of your time. Your task is to answer a few questions from 4 categories. After completing these tasks, you can proceed to analyzing your individual situation and establishing a development strategy. Use it as an introduction to organizing your practice routine. Prepare a piece of paper and a pan and let’s get started!
This is not the time to be shy. Writing down your strengths may seem like bragging. The truth is that each of us has a unique set of traits and skills, and without knowing yourself you can often overlook or underestimate them. For the purposes of this exercise, I would like you to answer a few questions. If you really feel stuck, ask someone close to you to answer them. People often possess skills that others find impossible to achieve. The opinions of your loved ones may help you spot them.
1. What are your skills that you can easily perform and other musicians struggle with them? Don’t limit yourself to purely musical skills. Great communication may not help you improve your technique, but it’s a great tool for networking.
2. What do you do best? What makes you feel competent and accomplished?
3. What are other musicians or audiences praising? What are your strengths according to them?
4. What comes to you with incredible ease? Is there anything that takes little practice and you’re still doing it great?
Summarise your observations and list a few strengths. Focus on those that make you special in an environment you are in.
You have an interesting challenge ahead of you – listing your weaknesses. Try to look at it from two perspectives: yours and those around you. Collect feedback from others and if you feel that something repeats often, make a note of it. Don’t forget to answer a few questions:
1. Which part of your practice routine do you most often avoid doing? What skill is your greatest weakness in playing your instrument? Remember when you feel the least confident and unmotivated to practice.
2. What are your weaknesses according to others? What constructive criticism do you get most often?
3. What are your negative practice habits?
4. What do you struggle the most with while performing on stage?
Write down all your weaknesses on a piece of paper.
- Do you have a network of people that can help you to improve?
- Can you change your strengths and weaknesses into opportunities?
- Does your set of qualities predispose you to a certain career path, or learning new skills?
- What is popular in the music industry? What are the trends? How can you take advantage of them?
- What are the events you can join? Are there any masterclasses, seminars, auditions, online concerts or workshops, books, etc. you can learn from?
- Are there any new musical gadgets, technological achievements that can help you in perfecting your musical skills?
As you answer these questions, focus on what will allow you to grow as a musician. It all depends on your goal. If your main focus is practicing itself, then answer the questions with that in mind. It doesn’t hurt if you look at these questions more broadly and think about your whole career. Maybe you find some new ideas for promoting your music or networking.
1. What are your biggest obstacles while practicing or developing your career?
2. Do any of your weaknesses can turn into threats? Do your strengths hold you back?
3. Are there changes in your field or you changed something that could threaten your success?
4. Do you have any competition that threatens you?
This last step is crucial. Try to spend more time on it and face your greatest obstacles. Only then you are able to fully grow as a musician.
At this point, you just need to analyze the data from your SWOT analysis for Musicians. If you noticed your biggest strength is networking, try to use it more often. You might think that such skills have nothing to do with music and I could not disagree more. These are the skills that are decisive in the development of a musical career. However, when you find that certain traits are holding you back, now is the best time to face them. Suppose you have a problem with the organization of work. There are several strategies you can use: read a book about it, or our other post, sign up for an online course. You will always find a solution, you just need to know where to look for it.
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