February 2022 SMART Goal Project

straplock and pickups

Maryam’s SMART Goal


Role: Guitar

Intention (SMART Goal)

My session 4 smart goal for School of Rock was to learn to play the introduction to the System of a Down song ATWA by March 7th. Throughout the duration of this project, progress was measured in audio files. Whether or not the smart goal was successfully reached is determined by how accurately the introduction is played in relation to the given speed and correct finger placement. As of the beginning of this project my skills were limited to a few simple riffs and 2 chords. Choosing this song was intentional. It was selected because it is slow, short, and simple in comparison to other songs I would be interested in learning. Picking a realistic goal also made staying motivated easier because the project was less intimidating. It also helped that I enjoy the music created by the band, and have been interested in learning guitar for a while. I set this particular goal now because it is realistic considering my current amount of experience. Taking a course relevant to my goal also allows me to incorporate doing so into my schedule.


Leader(s) in the Field / Exemplary Work(s)

Frank Iero, Daron Malakian, and Tony Perry are a few of the guitarists I take inspiration from. Daron Malakian in particular has inspired me due to his particular artistic style. He began playing guitar in his teen years, playing in several bands and amounting great success through music while in the band System of a Down. Frank Iero similarly began playing guitar in his teen years before developing his image. Later joining the band My Chemical Romance and venturing off into other successful bands. The history of Tony Perry’s guitar career begins in his early childhood under his grandfather’s instruction. His career as a guitarist has continued to develop alongside his role in the band Pierce the Veil which has also specifically inspired me.

Tony Perry (live)-


Daron Malakian (live)-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LLQxi3Y2exI (ATWA live)


Frank Iero (live)-


Training Source(s)

Sources used to achieve this goal were the “Gustavo Vega Covers” video entitled Como Tocar: A.T.W.A – System Of A Down (Tab Tutorial), in combination with System of a Down’s official audio of ATWA.

The original rendition of ATWA was used for reference.

The segment relevant to my Smart Goal project spans from 0:00-0:12. This section repeats itself through 0:00-0:45.

Areas of tension in my practice schedules were often between points 0:10-0:12, and 0:12-0:15. These segments had shifts that took time to adjust to, and or finger placements that broke the general pattern. I was also initially confused by the fact that the entirety of the song (0:00-2:56) is played in Drop C.

SMART Goal Schedule

My Smart Goal schedule was very intuitive. Practices would average a minimum of 15 minutes and a maximum of 3 hours for every other day of the week. The focus for each practice and the time spent practicing would fluctuate. The first session being February 25, primarily focused on accuracy. February 27th and March 1st focused on accuracy in relation to speed. While March 3rd and March 4th were spent enhancing the clarity.


SMART Goal Starting Point Evidence

SMART Goal Ending Point Evidence


21st Century Skills

Ways of Thinking (Creativity, Innovation, Critical Thinking, Problem Solving)

While developing my skills for this project and teaching myself to play guitar, critical thinking, and deductive reasoning proved important in isolating the issues in my performance. This meant adjusting the pressure applied to the strings to reduce scraping, or changing my hand posture to shift more efficiently.

Ways of Working (Communication & Collaboration)

Being new to School of Rock there were several points of confusion for me during the execution of this project. Pushing myself to ask for help has always been difficult for me, and reaching out for assistance and advice in the areas of confusion (technological) was intimidating. However, when necessary, I ask others in the class for guidance.

Tools for Working (Info & Media Literacy)

Though it didn’t prove to be very difficult, I had a brief struggle with reading the tabs and translating them to the guitar. My greatest point of struggle has been uploading audio files, images, and timestamps. These are things I chose to seek video/tutorial help for.

Ways of Living in the World (Life & Career)

This project allowed me to exercise my inquisitive nature through the small research opportunities, and moments of problem-solving. Setting a goal, organizing factors to reach that goal, and overcoming difficulties are skills necessary for life. Actively practicing these things is important to continue to grow and develop as a person.

Self-Evaluation of Final Version

Initially, I struggled with managing my time, finger placement, and strumming/string scraping. Since working on this project, I have been able to capture partial progress in these areas. In comparing the first and last recordings of my practice sessions for this song, there are clear improvements in timing. Alongside this, there is also much more clarity and much more confidence which benefit my performance.

What I Learned and Problems I Solved

Issues during my attempts to learn the introduction were finger misplacement, scraping the strings, and maintaining proper speed. Improvements to these things can be heard in the recorded files. Most of the necessary adjustments were made by prioritizing finger accuracy above all else. Later, transitioning to speed alterations. Even as this project concludes I am trying to play with more clarity and reduce the number of string scrapes. This project has helped me grow as a creative person because it has allowed me to expand my abilities. Learning to improve my techniques on the guitar has the potential to create more creative opportunities and ways of expression which would prove valuable to me considering some of my artistic goals.



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