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#561696 - 02/23/08 07:43 PM Building a repetoire
hopinmad Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/07
Posts: 1001
Loc: Eryri/Manchester
I don't have much of a repetoire. I keep thinking (am I just convincing myself?) that's it's more important to play what I play now really, really well mastering all the notes so my technique can gain maximum improvement from the piece, and therefore I end up spending lots of time on some pieces, maybe even an exceding amount. As time goes on, however, I am aware that the time is getting less (yes!) but still it seems a bit exceeding.
I suppose what I'm trying to ask is: how or rather when did you start to get a repetoire of say, tens of pieces, and how long did it take you? Am I right in thoroughly learning my pieces now rather than learn more pieces but not know them so well??? I just want some reassurance I think.
Anyway, thanks in advance!
_________________________
Patience's the best teacher, and time the best critic. - F.F.Chopin

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#561697 - 02/23/08 08:13 PM Re: Building a repetoire
bukopaudan Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/03/06
Posts: 506
Loc: USA
You are right, I think. By ten pieces, do you mean ten advanced pieces? Or ten pieces in general? I know quite a few pieces now, and I think it probably took me two years, though I can't really remember and I'm positive it took me more than that. Be careful with the time issue--you don't want to overextend your welcome, so to speak. Keep a piece until it is as good as you can possibly make it and then move. This way you don't get bored and you don't hate yourself and the way you play your piece. That happened to me--it's not a good feeling!

I just moved teachers a couple months ago and already have around two to three pieces under my belt and am working on a couple more. Don't worry about looking at your repertoire--Quality not Quantity! That's the goal with piano--it's not what you can play, it's how you can play it and the story that you relay when you play. It's the story you tell, not how many stories you can tell. The [impossible] goal is perfection, so repertoire is important, but not the task at hand.

Keep with it! What are you playing right now? If you're worried about exceeding your time, then talk to your teacher about it. I'm sure that she/he may have the same worry. But as for repertoire, if you're really worried--take a piece from each era: Baroque, Romantic, Classical, Impressionist. That's four right there. Add in a popular "moonlighting" song like Billy Joel, Elton John the Beatles, that's five. Pick one or two pieces that you'd really love to play, that's seven. So see? The repertoire grows as you grow!
_________________________
"Music can name the unnameable and communicate the unknowable." -Leonard Bernstein

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#561698 - 02/24/08 12:30 AM Re: Building a repetoire
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7767
Ummm, vocis nova, that was "tens", not "ten".

hopinmad, why not try to divide your time, with a little more set aside for acquiring new things, if you are are concerned about it? I'd say people are pretty diverse in this regard, with some people more inclined toward having fewer pieces, but getting them highly refined, whereas others tend towards a broader range. There is no right or wrong; it's just the sort of person you are (but whatever sort one is, it's always a good idea to push a little in the other direction, just in the interest of becoming as well-rounded as possible). Concert artists vary wildly in how much repertoire they have.

An answer to "how long it takes" is not really feasible, because there are far too many variables. It's quite individual, I think. For example, it might take me eighteen months to learn a new Beethoven sonata, but it might take you a third of that.

But here's a suggestion from Rudolf Ganz - make it a habit to simply learn a single line of new music each day. That's not too hard and shouldn't take a huge amount of time, but by the end of a year, you will have acquired a nice chunk of repertoire. If a line is too much, just try doing a single measure, just to get in the habit of constantly adding new music to what you already know.

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#561699 - 02/24/08 07:54 AM Re: Building a repetoire
hopinmad Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/07
Posts: 1001
Loc: Eryri/Manchester
Vocis nova, yes I meant ten advanced pieces.

"The [impossible] goal is perfection, so repertoire is important, but not the task at hand." Here you meant "not AS IMPORTANT as the task in hand" right?

I have in my repetoire now Brahms' op.79 (2), Rachmaninoff's op.23 #5 (3), Chopin's G minor ballade (4), Liszt's Liebestraume (5), Chopin's F minor nocturne (6), one of Shostakovich's prelude and fugues in A major (isn't it terrible that I don't remember exactly?!) (7), and hopefully will have 3 etudes (Chopin) within the next month or less. So arguably ten.
The problem is I keep returning to them after a time only to find that I can play them with better technique, and so work at them again to make the most of that, even though in reality they were very good to start with. I can't help but look at that happening forever if you know what I mean!

Wr, I was well aware of the variables in the question; I think I was looking for general ideas, arising probably from personal experiences. Maybe knowing how much advanced pieces you were playing at once when you were younger, or now, depending obviously on your age!
_________________________
Patience's the best teacher, and time the best critic. - F.F.Chopin

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#561700 - 02/24/08 07:57 AM Re: Building a repetoire
eFatz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/18/07
Posts: 78
Loc: Singapore
to hopinmad, i would suggest that you learn some "german classic" repertoire, like a haydn, mozart, beethoven or schubert sonata. Perhaps the Schubert little A major sonata (Op 120) would be nice. Somehow your program looks too strongly onto the romantic and 20th century...

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#561701 - 02/24/08 09:32 AM Re: Building a repetoire
Innominato Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/05/08
Posts: 802
Loc: London
Hopinmad, in my book 10 pieces are a fully acceptable repertoire; an excellent one if you excel in their execution.

Some other people might have many more, but it takes all sorts and if you enjoy the process of coming back to make your pieces better and better (which is highly commendable) I cannot really see a problem.

The only issue that I would see is that your attention to the pieces you play makes it particularly important that you think long and hard about what pieces you want to have in your repertoire, so that you are sure you only spend time on what you really, really love.

Or you can see it this way: if you are in a position to play your pieces on the piano until you are fed up with playing piano for the day, you either have no pleasure in playing piano or you already have a good repertoire.

If I were you, I would not even try to abandon the habit of concentrating on a limited number of pieces (what a wonderful pianist does this make of one!): I would just pay attention that I only keep in the repertoire the pieces I like the most, and that I try to, if possible, slowly and carefully extend that repertoire.

I think you are, pianistically speaking, already in a very nice place, and more power to you...
_________________________
"The man that hath no music in himself / Nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds / Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils." (W.Shakespeare)

Kemble Conservatoire 335025 Walnut Satin

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#561702 - 02/24/08 09:40 AM Re: Building a repetoire
LiszThalberg Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/13/06
Posts: 3288
As Hough said, "Only pieces that are close to your heart, the ones where you feel you have something special to say about to others, you have a good start".

I'm working on building a rep right now.... and it's definatly hard work. I'm starting small with a variety of composers and hopefully I'll focus on just a few when I get a little more mature.

Matt

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#561703 - 02/24/08 12:37 PM Re: Building a repetoire
hopinmad Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/07
Posts: 1001
Loc: Eryri/Manchester
Well this certainly makes me feel better; thanks.
And you are right I need an earlier piece. Maybe after "finishing" the etudes I will focus on a Mozart sonata, perhaps the one in A major (the one ending with the 'rondo alla turca') or the one in C major (starting with an 'allegro' but not the K545 one). Either would be quite contratsting to the rest of my repetoire so it will be nice.

Like I say all I was looking for was for me to be reassured that coming back and back to my pieces was in fact OK to do. And I suppose as I get better then obviously I won't take initially as long to leanr the notes in the first place of new pieces.

Thanks very much!
_________________________
Patience's the best teacher, and time the best critic. - F.F.Chopin

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#561704 - 02/24/08 12:47 PM Re: Building a repetoire
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 17836
Loc: Victoria, BC
 Quote:
Originally posted by hopinmad:
Like I say all I was looking for was for me to be reassured that coming back and back to my pieces was in fact OK to do.
Thanks very much! [/b]
I think you need to analyze what you do when you keep "coming back and back" to your pieces and this may help you decide for yourself whether it is a good thing. If you are spending a great deal of time simply playing through them to keep them in your fingers and in your mind, then you are probably not using your time wisely. If, on the other hand, you are constantly finding some new detail to polish up and refine, then returning to formerly "completed" pieces is a good thing to do because it would appear that the pieces were not mastered in the first place.

One's concept of a piece changes over time, and those pieces that one wants to keep in one's repertoire should be revisited from an interpretive point of view. Often they benefit in this respect from being left for some time, rather than hanging on to them doggedly. Again, however, revisiting pieces has to be a thoughtful, conscientious process with a real purpose in mind. Decide what that purpose is and then you should be able to determine whether constantly returning to pieces is a good thing for you to do.

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190

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#561705 - 02/24/08 06:42 PM Re: Building a repetoire
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7767
 Quote:
Originally posted by hopinmad:
Vocis nova, yes I meant ten advanced pieces.

<...>

Wr, I was well aware of the variables in the question; I think I was looking for general ideas, arising probably from personal experiences. Maybe knowing how much advanced pieces you were playing at once when you were younger, or now, depending obviously on your age! [/b]
Well, ok, there's a big difference between "ten" and the "tens" you wrote.

Here's an idea for how to approach your question: how much material do you need to put together a whole solo recital? I think that is a viable organizing concept, for not only how much material should be a goal, but also what choices of material. And don't forget a few encore pieces!

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#561706 - 02/25/08 11:22 AM Re: Building a repetoire
hopinmad Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/07
Posts: 1001
Loc: Eryri/Manchester
Ten as ten and tens as maybe thirty? How to leaen a piece three times as fast as I do now!

BruceD, of course I am not returning to them and simply playing through them, I only find details to polish. A piece can be good enough for performance whilst still needing polishing (for my standard not competitors and alike). Don't get the idea that they're no learnt or that I'm skipping through passages or anything, just, well simply to better my technique on them, and get the articulationas refined as possible maybe. As my technique improves, I discover I can relax my hands, have more control over my outer fingers, get an even more intense pianissimo, that sort of thing.
I do have an already good grasp of them.
_________________________
Patience's the best teacher, and time the best critic. - F.F.Chopin

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#561707 - 02/26/08 11:27 PM Re: Building a repetoire
Luke Cage Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/07/08
Posts: 27
Loc: Queens
This was a great post with excellent feed back. Me myself i am just finishing up my first piece, i see that i can work much harder and on other pieces. Thanks

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#561708 - 02/27/08 02:05 AM Re: Building a repetoire
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7767
 Quote:
Originally posted by hopinmad:
Ten as ten and tens as maybe thirty? How to leaen a piece three times as fast as I do now!

[/b]
You know, it's funny how a task expands or shrinks to fill the time alloted to it.

I more or less quit really learning pieces many years ago (but am trying to get more serious again, in part because I'm inspired by people here). But anyway, back in my late teens and early twenties, it was amazing what I could learn if I was pushed hard enough. One time when in college I was asked to learn the score for an entire Menotti chamber opera in one day because the pianist they'd been using flaked out the day before the scheduled performance (it was being done with just the piano, not an orchestra). We had one rehearsal, and then gave the performance. And somehow, it happened.

And in an intense chamber music summer school I attended, over the course of roughly two months I learned and performed publicly the c minor Faure quartet, the Hindemith 4-hand sonata, the Brahms g minor quartet, the Mozart E flat quartet, the Shostakovich quintet, the Shosty Trio no. 2, and Schubert's Trout quintet (seems like the Archduke was in there too, but I can't remember for sure - it was almost 40 years ago). I think a couple of those had a movement missing, but usually we did the whole work. And that was on top of formal sight-reading sessions where I remember plowing through yet more major works like Brahms trios and the Ravel trio (BTW, it was during sight-reading the Ravel I came to understand that chamber music is totally unfair to the pianist, who always has MUCH more to do than anyone else). I'd never seen the score to any of these things before, and hadn't heard most of them, either, so they were totally new to me. But somehow, the performances got done.

This didn't happen to me (thank goodness), but I've read about teachers who expected advanced students to learn a new Chopin etude or a WTC P&F or Beethoven sonata movement for each of their weekly lessons. I'm sure those weren't ready for performance, but I think they were probably expected to be well on the way.

The point isn't that anyone should make themselves crazy trying to acquire repertoire at that rate (especially if they are no longer so young), but that it is usually possible to do a lot more than one thinks, when there is a clear goal, and there a set and non-negotiable amount of time within which it must be reached.

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#561709 - 03/07/08 04:55 PM Re: Building a repetoire
ChopinChamp Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/28/08
Posts: 113
I use to do what you do. Perfect a peice. But I think you gain ALOT more technique by learning a peice, and learning another as you work on that first peice. Just make sure you can play through the piece pretty good by memory before you work on the new piece. Sometimes Ill learn a piece, have trouble with it, then start a new peice. By the time Ive learned a new piece I can go back to the old one and play it much better. Just work on what you want for your repetoire, but also make sure that you pick pieces that work on technique areas your lacking that can improve your skill.
_________________________
Currently Working:
Brahms: Intermezzo Op.119 no.3 in C

Currently Polishing:
Chopin Fantasie-Impromptu Op. 66

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#561710 - 03/07/08 07:25 PM Re: Building a repetoire
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 17836
Loc: Victoria, BC
ChopinChamp:

"piece" or "peice"

Peace, brother!
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190

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#561711 - 03/07/08 07:36 PM Re: Building a repetoire
hopinmad Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/07
Posts: 1001
Loc: Eryri/Manchester
Ha ha ha
_________________________
Patience's the best teacher, and time the best critic. - F.F.Chopin

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#561712 - 03/07/08 07:39 PM Re: Building a repetoire
bukopaudan Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/03/06
Posts: 506
Loc: USA
Ten pieces...hmm...Then I definitely think you should take one of each:

Bach
Chopin
Debussy
Mendelssohn
Haydn
Mozart
Beethoven
Griffes
Liszt
Brahms

Pick a couple of composers, research and find songs you really like, then just try to work on those ten pieces a couple of months and then move on to the next set. My teacher constantly "cycles" my classical music repertoire along with a wide array of technical/practical exercises.
_________________________
"Music can name the unnameable and communicate the unknowable." -Leonard Bernstein

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#561713 - 03/10/08 02:42 PM Re: Building a repetoire
ChopinChamp Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/28/08
Posts: 113
I cant spell for ****. I always forget the I before E except after C rule..
_________________________
Currently Working:
Brahms: Intermezzo Op.119 no.3 in C

Currently Polishing:
Chopin Fantasie-Impromptu Op. 66

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#561714 - 03/10/08 05:02 PM Re: Building a repetoire
Gabe Racz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/03/07
Posts: 119
Loc: Denver, Colorado, USA
Yeah, it's a weird rule.
_________________________
Schimmel 190E EP 103330

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