When deciding how to specifically go about creating and maintaining a repertoire as a student or teacher, I gave this some thought and played a little game with myself. I wrote down a word that came to mind and then thought of a correlating word, phrase, or concept.

What I came up with was:

Attitude – slow
Selection – passion
Method – consistency/daily
Variation – capo/multiple instruments – 6 string, 12 string, nylon string
Timing – metronome/multiple settings
Menu – 2-4/3-5
Maintenance – remember

As a student of music and a teacher, I recalled my earliest days of playing and realized that I had used all of these methods over the years and still do to this day. When teaching myself a tune or sharing one with a student, I still navigate through the piece using these methods – fortunately with a great deal of success.

To summarize what the heck I’m talking about above, I’ll try to put it into a more meaningful form by saying simply that my attitude when tackling a new piece is a positive one, enthusiastic about learning a new piece for my repertoire and an absolute willingness to start fresh, dig deep and examine every detail. I will also only pick a tune that I feel like working on because it is a piece of music that excites me. On occasion I might work with a selection recommended by my teacher, if there is a purpose behind it, such as learning about a new rhythm or fingering.

My method of practice is to not let the tune drift. By going after it many times a day, without a break in days, allows for a momentum to build. During this time in order to keep the tune from getting stale, I might attempt it on different instruments or with a capo in multiple positions on the neck. I will also secure my timing by playing to a metronome, often only a few measures or a phrase at a time, at various settings ranging from slow to almost performance speed, but not quite.

My menu of pieces to work with simultaneously over a period of time includes a minimum of a two and usually no more than four or five. This keeps a fresh batch in my musical collection. Last, but not least of course, is the clincher. I have heard so many times from players that they no longer know how to play pieces they once had under their belt. I work to keep up with my tunes, especially since I spent so much time on them. Just like a book collector, I always want them on a nice shelf in my head’s musical library, ready to be played again and enjoyed.


Originally posted 2010-11-17 21:04:09.