Inquiry based learning is often driven by a long-term "practical" goal. Typical goals in music learning are often a bit vague, for example:
Vague long-term music-learning goals
- I want to know more about music.
- I want to play an instrument better.
- I want to be a better composer.
In inquiry, it is much more useful to have very specific learning goals that are stated in terms of being able to do something that you cannot do now. This helps to keep you on track and measure your progress over the course of a series of inquiries. For example:
Specific long-term inquiry goals
- I want to be able to understand what "well tempered" means.
- I want to be able to play my favorite tunes by ear.
- I want to be able to include counterpoint in my compositions.
The long-term goal should be something that would genuinely please you. For example, "I want to be able to play all the scales on my instrument" is almost certainly a goal that comes from your teacher's interests, not yours. However, if you find in your investigations that one reason you cannot play your favorite tunes by ear is that you don't know your fingerings well enough, you may decide that studying scales is an inquiry step that would get you closer to your goal.
Once you have a long-term inquiry goal in mind, you can start looking for the first inquiry question that will start you in the right direction. For example, if your long-term goal is to understand what is meant by "well-tempered," you might decide to begin by studying one of the terms used to discuss it. Ideally each inquiry will lead naturally to a new inquiry that will bring you even closer to your long-term goal. However, if your goal is very ambitious or very distant from your present state, you may find yourself getting sidetracked by new interests or backtracking to pick up other necessary knowledge. You can either choose to change your long-term goal or stick with it, but you cannot rush the process any more than a five-year-old can rush the process of becoming fifteen years old. Either way you should feel you are growing as a musician, and you should be enjoying the learning process. If there is no progress or enjoyment, take the "reflect" step of each inquiry as an opportunity to try to figure out where the problems are and what changes might help.
Once you have a long-term inquiry goal in mind, you can start looking for the first inquiry question that will start you in that direction. For example, if your long-term goal is to understand what is meant by "well-tempered," you might decide to begin by studying one of the terms used to discuss it. This might lead to an interesting investigation, or you might have to follow up on difficult terminology a few more times before you find explanations that you are capable of investigating right now. If you cannot seem to find an entry point into a subject area, consider doing the Types of Knowledge inquiry to find out more about the Inquiry into Music: Course Home and resources you do have that can serve as a starting point.