How to Create Your Own 12-Week Plan for Piping Success -

Start the Year Off Right: How to Create Your Own 12-Week Plan for Piping Success

by Jori Chisholm, Founder of
Last Updated: February 7, 2024

Are you feeling stuck in your musical journey, playing the same tunes without progress? In this video, I’m introducing a game-changing 12-week plan. This isn’t just about learning new tunes; it’s a comprehensive guide for effective practice, goal setting, and personal development.

My plan is tailored to help you establish a clear path, focus your sessions, and move steadily towards your goals. It’s designed for pipers at all levels, ensuring that everyone can enjoy and progress in their musical pursuit.

Watch the video and scroll down to read the full video script.

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Video Transcript:

Have you ever felt stuck in your musical journey, not seeing the progress you were hoping for? Do you find yourself struggling to balance daily life and your passion for music, unsure of how to effectively focus your practice sessions? Are you frustrated with playing the same tunes and exercises over and over again without noticeable improvement? Or maybe you’re just overwhelmed by the daunting list of techniques and skills you need to master your instrument.

I’m Jori Chisholm, world champion bagpiper and founder of Today, I’m excited to tell you about my new free guide called “Starting the Year Off Right: How to Create Your Own 12-Week Plan for Piping Success.” This program isn’t just about learning new tunes; it’s a comprehensive approach to practice, setting goals, and personal development.

This plan is tailored to help you establish a clear path with increased focus to help you stay on track and move towards your goals. It provides you with the tools to craft a plan that suits your goals and skill level, guiding you to set realistic objectives, maintain steady progress, and help you enjoy every moment of your musical pursuit.

So, if you’re ready to kickstart your musical journey and take your playing to the next level, stay with me. You’re going to love this video. Welcome to, where you’ll find the inspiration and knowledge to fulfill your piping dreams.

The concept of the 12-Week Plan is centered around creating a personalized program tailored to your unique musical goals and aspirations. It’s not about following a set curriculum; it’s about crafting a journey that resonates with your needs and ambitions. Whether your aim is to master new tunes, refine your music, and learn new tunes, your technique, or prepare for performances, this plan will give you a blueprint for success.

Throughout the 12 weeks, you’ll engage in a mix of structured learning, goal setting, self-reflection, and practical application. That’s the practice part. The plan guides you in setting specific, achievable goals and provides the tools and strategies to help you reach them. It’s structured to help you stay focused and motivated, ensuring that you make consistent progress each week.

Whether you’re relatively new to the world of playing a musical instrument or have been playing for years, this plan can work for you. The key requirement is a passion for playing and a commitment to personal growth. Research has demonstrated the significant benefits of structured goal setting, especially in the context of learning a complex set of skills like playing a musical instrument like the bagpipes. Achieving set goals is known to enhance self-efficacy, which is crucial for mastering challenging tasks. Setting specific and challenging goals leads to higher performance.

This approach is particularly effective in breaking down the learning process of something complex like the bagpipes into manageable objectives. Engaging in a challenging activity like learning a musical instrument promotes personal growth and resilience. This is central to developing a growth mindset where challenges are viewed as opportunities for learning and self-improvement. Researchers have also shown us that having clear, achievable goals is vital for feeling engaged and sustaining your effort over time.

Goal setting, combined with regular reflection on your goals to see how you’re doing, has also been linked to increased life satisfaction, which demonstrates that when you align your daily practice routine with your long-term aspiration, it leads not only to greater musical progress, but an overall feeling of fulfillment and satisfaction.

Here are five reasons you will love this 12-week plan:

  1. It’s Simple and Effective: It’s straightforward yet powerful and brings structure to your practice. It’s designed to enhance your overall musical skills and satisfaction, focusing on what truly matters: your progress and your enjoyment.
  2. It’s Rooted in Psychology: This plan is built on proven psychological principles. It includes effective practice routines and goal-setting strategies. It helps you break down your larger goals into manageable tasks, fosters progress, and a positive mindset.
  3. This is Suitable for Everybody: Whether you’re a casual player and not super jazzed about setting goals, this plan is designed to bring organization and joy to your daily practice. It’s structured to make noticeable progress and reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed.
  4. You Will See Quick, Noticeable Improvement: In just 12 weeks, you will see significant progress. This is going to help you achieve rapid improvement and give you that sense of accomplishment and increased motivation.
  5. It’s Achievable and Motivating: This plan is manageable and keeps you motivated and on track. 12 weeks is an ideal timeframe to witness substantial progress without being overwhelmed by the aspect of super long-term planning.

Now, let’s look at an overview of how the 12-week plan works. Before you get started, you’ll take a moment to make a commitment. This step is about promising yourself to fully engage in this new learning experience, to help you explore your musical capabilities and celebrate every moment of discovery. You’ll get started by writing out a commitment. 

This step is about promising yourself to fully engage in this new learning experience, to help you explore your musical capabilities and celebrate every moment of discovery. You’ll get started by writing out a commitment declaration. Take your time and be thoughtful. This is an important step. You’re probably feeling highly motivated right now, but it’s likely that you won’t always feel this excited about this plan. So, write out why completing this plan is important to you. Choose a reward for yourself that you will earn when you complete the plan. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, but make it something fun or special that you’ll look forward to achieving. Choose a consequence for yourself if you don’t complete the plan. This is important too. Many of us are more motivated by losing something than by gaining something. Remember, this commitment is about motivating yourself, holding yourself accountable, and keeping your goals clear and focused. It’s about setting up the rewards and understanding the consequences if you don’t follow through. Most importantly, it’s about establishing a daily routine that will guide you towards your goals.

Next, let’s talk about obstacles. It’s important to identify challenges you might face and how you plan to overcome them. Think about three potential obstacles that could stop you from completing your plan. For each obstacle, write down two actions you can take to ensure success. This isn’t just about foreseeing challenges; it’s about being prepared to face them head-on.

Lastly, accountability is crucial. Whether it’s choosing an accountability partner, using a daily checklist, or setting calendar reminders, find out what works best for you. These are not just reminders but tools that will help you maintain discipline and consistency throughout your 12-week journey.

By making a commitment and preparing for obstacles, you’re setting yourself up for success. It’s not just about learning to play a musical instrument; you’re embarking on a journey of personal growth and increased fulfillment. Your 12-week plan will journey through three distinct yet interconnected phases: Planning, Action, and Reflection. Each phase plays a vital role in your overall progress and development.

First, let’s look at the planning phase. This is the foundational stage where you set the groundwork for your 12-week journey. You will define clear, achievable goals and create a structured plan that outlines what you aim to accomplish each week. This phase is crucial for establishing a clear direction and preparing yourself both mentally and practically for the journey ahead.

Phase two is the action phase. In this phase, you shift from planning to doing. This is where you put your plans and goals into motion. You’ll engage in daily and weekly activities as outlined in your plan, focusing on consistent practice, skill development, and adhering to the structure you’ve set up. The action phase is all about implementation and experiencing the hands-on aspect of your journey.

Finally, we have the reflection phase. This third and final phase is about looking back at your journey, analyzing your progress, and learning from your experiences. You’ll look at whether you met your goals, what worked well, what challenges you faced, and how you overcame them. This phase is critical for personal growth as it allows you to gain insights, celebrate your achievements, and plan for future growth in your piping skills. Each phase is integral to the learning process, creating a comprehensive cycle of growth and improvement. The planning phase sets the stage, the action phase sees you applying and practicing, and the reflection phase offers insights and lessons for your continual growth in your musical journey.

In the planning phase, this is all about setting the stage for your success over the next 12 weeks. So here are seven steps that you’ll take:

  1. Identify Your Goals: Think about what you want to achieve. Is it mastering specific tunes, improving certain technical skills, or preparing for competitions or performances? Write everything down. This step is about dreaming big and setting clear targets for your practice, providing focus and motivation.
  2. Assess Your Current Skills: Take a good look at where you currently stand. Are there areas where you excel, or aspects of your playing that really need more work? Consider recording your playing (video or audio) to critically evaluate your performance. It’s important to be honest here, as understanding your starting point is crucial for setting realistic goals.
  3. Brainstorming and Goal Setting: Now, unleash your creativity and think about everything you want to achieve in your journey. This means technical aspects like fingerwork and timing, artistic elements such as expression and style. This brainstorming phase broadens your perspective and helps you identify what truly matters to you.
  4. Calendar Analysis and Event Planning: Now, look at your calendar for the upcoming year. Mark down any key dates related to your music, like competitions or performances. If you don’t have any calendar events, set your own milestones. This planning stage helps you structure your practice schedule and ensures that you’re preparing adequately for any upcoming dates.
  5. From your brainstorming list, pick one main goal and several sub-goals for the 12-week period. These goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Well-defined goals give you direction and help you track your progress.
  6. Now for each week, we need to have a specific theme or focus, derived from your goals. Balance your weekly themes to cover different aspects, ensuring a well-rounded approach to your practice. This method of breaking down larger goals into weekly focus areas makes your objectives more manageable and keeps you on a clear path.
  7. Finally, gather all of your materials together, such as sheet music, recordings, and tools like tuners and metronomes. Organize your materials for easy access during your practice sessions. Having everything ready minimizes disruptions and ensures you have everything you need for an effective practice session.

By following these steps, you’ll create a solid and thoughtful foundation for your 12-week plan. This structured approach sets you up for a successful, organized, and rewarding journey.

Now you’re fully prepared and organized to embark on Phase 2, the action phase. This is where all of your planning comes to life. It’s your time to shine, to put your plans into action, and witness your growth and progress in real time. Each week of the 12-week journey is designed with a specific focus, helping you manage your goals, reflect on your progress, and stay committed to your personal musical journey. Each week presents a new focus, aligning closely with your goals, helping you keep your practice fresh and engaging.

Here’s what it looks like:

  • Weeks 1-3: All about setting clear goals and getting your practice plan put into action. These first few weeks are about building momentum and making any necessary adjustments based on your early experiences.
  • Weeks 4-6: As you progress, you’ll focus on evaluating your steady progress, reinforcing your commitment, and reinvigorating your motivation. This period is crucial for maintaining consistency and adapting your approach to overcome any challenges.
  • Weeks 7-9: Geared towards staying on course, assessing your progress in detail, and fine-tuning your goals. Here, slight changes in approach help keep things interesting and ensure you remain engaged and motivated.
  • Weeks 10-12: All about reflecting on your journey and celebrating your achievements.

Throughout the 12-week plan, your feelings of motivation will naturally fluctuate. To address this, the plan is designed with variations in themes and approaches from week to week. This helps maintain a sense of novelty and engagement and ensures that you stay on track without feeling stagnant. For example, one week might focus more on technical skills while another might focus more on musical expression or performance preparation. These shifts in focus not only cater to different aspects of your musical skills but also help you stay inspired and motivated throughout your journey.

Phase 3 is the reflection phase. You’ve made it! Hopefully, it’s been a remarkable journey, and now it’s time to look back, assess, and plan for the future. This final phase is all about reflection. You’ll recognize the challenges you faced. This isn’t just about measuring how far you’ve come in terms of your playing skills. It’s also about understanding your personal growth throughout this journey.

Start by asking yourself some key questions. Did you achieve the goals you set at the beginning? What worked well for you and what didn’t? How did your approach to practice change over time? Were there any surprises, moments that were more challenging or rewarding than you expected? Reflecting on these questions will give you valuable insights into your learning style, your strengths, and areas where you can continue to grow.

It’s also a time to celebrate your achievements, no matter how big or small. Every step you’ve taken in this journey is a testament to your dedication and passion for playing music. During this reflection phase, it’s important to think about the future. What are your next steps? How can you apply the lessons learned in this experience and continue growing and enjoying your musical journey?

Maybe you’ll set new goals, explore different types of music, or even start preparing for new performances or competitions. As you wrap up this reflective exercise, it’s essential to recognize that this is the end of a 12-week plan, but it’s just the start of your next adventure. The insights you’ve gained are now the fuel for your future endeavors with playing music.

Remember, personal growth intertwines deeply with happiness and passion. Finding joy in playing music is a key ingredient for success. It’s about moving forward, regardless of the pace, and constantly striving to fulfill your potential. When faced with challenges, the true strength is in your persistence to keep going. These principles guide you not just to achieve your goals but to do so with fulfillment, engagement, and passion.

A wise person once said, “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” This journey is as much about your personal development as it is about musical accomplishment.

So congratulations on embarking and completing a 12-week journey. It’s a huge achievement. Take a moment to congratulate yourself. Reflect on your dedication, the effort you put in, and the perseverance you’ve shown. Recognizing your hard work and progress is as important as the practice itself. So take a moment, take a breath, and enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done.

When you’re ready, think about starting this journey again, continuing it, and exploring new paths in your musical adventure. Each learning cycle brings a deeper understanding and greater mastery.

Finally, I want to thank you for joining me on this remarkable musical journey. You’ve done the work, and you deserve the credit for all the progress you’ve made. I’m excited to hear how it worked for you. Your feedback and experiences are invaluable to me. Please feel free to reach out and share your story at or email me at [email protected].

If you’re passionate about reaching your piping goals and seeking access to all the resources you need to support and elevate your skills, the Inner Circle is exactly what you need. It’s more than just a learning platform; it’s a community dedicated to helping you achieve new heights in your piping journey.

In the Inner Circle, I host regular live group classes on Zoom where we talk about key piping topics that are crucial for your development. These sessions are recorded, giving you the flexibility to watch them at your own pace, whenever and wherever you choose. Your membership gives you exclusive access to my huge collection of lessons, videos, and tunes, with hundreds of hours of content. This library is a treasure trove of information and has stuff for all levels of piping. Additionally, you’ll receive personal support from me to help you reach your goals.

Whether you’re just beginning your piping journey or looking to take your skills to the next level, the Inner Circle is designed to provide you with all of the tools and support you need. It’s a place where you can find inspiration, guidance, and a community of fellow pipers all striving for excellence.

If you’re ready to take your piping to the next level, visit to learn more about the Inner Circle and turn your piping dreams into reality.

And download my free guide called “How to Get the Most Out of Your Practice,” the link is in the description below.

Thanks for watching, and remember to subscribe to the YouTube channel and click the little bell so you don’t miss out on any of my new videos. For more videos, lessons, and free guides, head on over to There, you can watch and download more resources that I put together for pipers just like you.

Thanks, and happy piping.

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How to Get the Most Out of Your Practice

These tips are based on my 30+ years of experience as a piper and teacher to pipers of all ages and ability levels from around the world.

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These tips are based on my 30+ years of experience as a piper and teacher to pipers of all ages and ability levels from around the world.