How do I Keep up With all my Repertoire?
Updated: May 27, 2020
My name is Manuel Diewald and I am a Sydney based guitar teacher in West Pennant Hills who is in his final year at the University of New South Wales studying music with a stream in Pedagogy.
As a University student, I have had to adapt to learning a large number of pieces for each semester/term which at times felt overwhelming. This included solo and ensemble pieces. I have come across many ways of keeping my repertoire organised in a way that lets me track the progression of each piece. This helps me to understand at a quick glance where to focus most of my attention to. This is not just for when you are learning new pieces, rather, when you are also keeping pieces fresh after learning them for some months. Here are some strategies I have come across and use to help me when I start feeling overwhelmed with pieces.
Keeping a list.
Keeping a list of all your pieces can be helpful as it allows you to keep track and revert back to if you are losing track of your progression. A way to help make this strategy more effective is by using a tracking system that allows you to see which pieces need more focus than others. For example, you could use a percentage bar and use increments of 25% to indicate how far along you are coming. Another alternative could be to use colour codings such as red (needs a lot of work) yellow (good progress but needs touching up) and green (ready to perform). You could also add more colours if needed. This visual strategy is easy to understand at a quick glance, saving time on organising your practice.
Playing Through your Program.
Playing through your existing pieces as a program can help shape the way you present your pieces at your next performance. How often you do this will depend on how often you perform. You could do this every week, every fortnight, it really depends on your preference as you don't want to play the program so often you get bored with it. Keeping it fresh while learning new ways you want to play it will be up to your judgment. I recommend trying not to go through the motions when doing this, rather, think about what you want to express through your playing. You may find that you are constantly tweaking the way you play a piece as you grow with it. This may mean that you want to keep working in particular sections which means you add it into your practice routine again.
I hope this has helped you organise yourself a little better as I can still feel overwhelmed with pieces. Having a method to organising it can be very useful whether you use these pones or not as there are plenty out there. I recommend trying these or at least looking for other ones that may work for you. The best thing to do is just give some a try and see how you go. The key is to be persistent with them and trust the method. One quick thing to mention is not to fall into the trap of leaving the easier pieces to the very end as it is easy to think since they're easy they won't need as much work. What can happen is you work on the difficult pieces a lot that when an exam or performance comes along, its the easy ones that didn't go to plan.
If you have not read my blog about practice strategies, that may also be helpful for you to incorporate with this method.