Lesson 5: Self-Assessment As A Way To Improve

Featuring: Leo Blanco, Professor at Berklee College of Music

In the last lesson of this series, students will learn about self-assessment, how to modify their goals, and how to find their own voice in music by describing the benefits of recording themselves, identifying their musical influences and long-term goals.


This lesson is built upon the content of Video 5. Specific instructions are provided on how to work with students in class. Assessments for each lesson map directly to each lesson’s stated outcomes.


  • Describe the benefits of recording yourself
  • Assess your playing by listening to a recording of yourself
  • Identify your musical influences and long-term musical goals


Instructional Activity Ideas:

Exposition of Material: 5-7 minutes (including the video)

1. Teacher provides a very brief introduction (3 minutes) on the lesson topic, listening back to recordings of yourself playing and identifying specific areas for improvement.

2. Teacher shows video.

Identifying Key Concepts and Terms: 10 minutes 

3. After the video, provide the students with a handout PULSE Dreams, Interests and Goals Activity that helps them find out what their dreams, interests, and goals in music are. Go over each of the sections out loud in class.

4. Show the video a second time. This time, students watch the video and take notes on their handout.

5. Teacher provides a transcript of the video and gives students 5-7 minutes to complete the handout, or discusses each question on the handout and students can write down the answers during discussion.

6. Students submit the handout/assessment.

(Note: It is ok that students had help with this; it’s still an assessment. Depending on teaching style, teacher may not choose to give out the transcript or discuss answers til students have completed the form.)

Activity/Assessment: 10 minutes

  • Record yourself playing, and then listen back. Jot down everything that comes to mind as you listen, both general and specific.
  • Now, write down specific notes about what you want to improve in your playing.
    • Write a list of specific exercises or other things you can practice in order to improve those areas you identified as in need of improvement.
    • Share your list with your teacher to confirm that your proposed solutions will put you on the right track
    • Remember: If you don't know what to do to improve the problems you are hearing, share the recording with your teacher for their input.

Lesson Closing

  • Submit the "PULSE Dreams, Interests and Goals Activity"
  • Submit activity/assessment material from directed activity in this lesson 

PULSE Resources: Extended Learning

Request a PULSE Demo Account

Practice Room: This area of the PULSE site offers a variety of instrument-specific resources including exercises, interactive practice tools, and instructional videos featuring Berklee faculty. Using the Practice Journal, students define and assess practice goals with the aid of their teacher.

Study Room: This area of PULSE includes curriculum resources devoted to contemporary musicianship and theory centering around the PULSE music library. Ten units of study, broken down into three levels, that focus on different musical concepts that are supported by a variety of materials like books, games, videos, exercises, interactive tools, and assessments.

Students will learn how to write music education/career goals, research the careers of a professional in the music industry and present their research, demonstrate knowledge of appropriate professional dress, conduct, and speech, and will identify peers and adults who will be mentors/partners/collaborators in the students' musical development.

Students will learn how to write an artist statement, bio, resumé, cover letter, and will identify branding and marketing strategies to promote their talents and abilities.

Students will learn how to prepare and present a portfolio or promotional package, write a business plan, and apply knowledge of branding and marketing strategies.