A very crucial moment in the development of an instrumentalist or singer is the selection of their next musical piece. As a teacher, knowing what repertoire to give students in order to aid their development is incredibly important in furthering their progress. So what is the best piece to add to your repertoire? How do you know?
It is best to progress methodically while learning and mastering an instrument. It is a good idea to select a piece that will not take an inordinate amount of time to learn, as it could hinder progress. When a student progresses to an advanced level in their playing, musical selections can take weeks or even months to master. On an elementary level however, you will not want to spend more than a couple of weeks on a particular piece before it’s learned. Of course the student may live with the piece longer refining it further as they tackle additional repertoire.
Some teachers might give their students a piece that takes nearly half a year to learn. In that same amount of time another teacher could give their student a dozen different pieces to learn which can each be mastered much more quickly. By the time the one student masters his only piece; the other student will have mastered twelve and may be on a more advanced level than the other student and will have a much larger repertoire!
Another important aspect of becoming a musician is having a repertoire of music to play. You wouldn’t want to know only 2 or 3 pieces of music. So, it’s better to learn many different pieces. If you take a progressive approach to learning music you will always be expanding your repertoire and your level of playing will gradually improve over time. It also offers the benefit of covering a wider range of composers and styles of composition.
One challenge with a progressive approach to repertoire is that one size doesn’t fit all! There is no guide to tell you what piece to pick next for everyone and there are plenty of occasions where students desperately want to learn a piece above their skill level. If they decide to tackle a such a piece, they will need to dramatically increase their level of practice; they will need to dedicate more time and energy then they ever have before into learning the piece. I have had students rise to the occasion and achieve their goal and become a higher level musician in the process. However, it is a rare student who is capable of this kind of quantum leap of development.
For the most part, gradual progression is the best practice for becoming a better musician and mastering your instrument. It seems that some teachers will want to glorify their own image based on what their students are studying and force them to progress too rapidly rather than letting them develop refinement in their playing. It is much more important to master your music than simply being able to get through pieces.
Thanks for reading. Robert@LivingPianos.com (949) 244-3729