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Topic: How do you keep something in your repotoire?  (Read 3878 times)

Offline Clare

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How do you keep something in your repotoire?
on: March 09, 2004, 09:42:25 AM
I know this is a really super basic question, but I need to know.
I've only just recently finished a bunch of good pieces I'd like to keep as stuff I can pull out at any time or play at concerts, but how do you keep these pieces fresh and polished?
Do you leave them alone until you know you will need them, say, in a month's time and then practice them again in the same way you used to for a while? Or do you keep them going somehow by playing them every week?
How long does it take for a piece you know like the back of your hand to get rusty, and how long does it take to get it back to the gem it once was?

Offline bernhard

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Re: How do you keep something in your repotoire?
Reply #1 on: March 10, 2004, 03:15:30 AM
Here are some options:

1.      Perform your repertory at every opportunity. Not only official performances. This means that you have to be organised. List your full repertory. Now create a number of programs with these pieces. If you have only 5 pieces in your repertory, that is it. But if you have one hundred, you may have to create 20 programs to cover them all. Now go and play for everyone: friends, family, charity, and of course official performances. Make sure you start with program no. 1 and only play it again once you played program no. 20 (assuming you have 20 programs). This will not only allow you to cover all your repertory on a regular basis, as it will give the impression that you have a huge repertory, since no one ever hear the same piece twice, unless they attended your last 20 performances. As you perform these pieces be on the lookout for the ones that may need some polishing, and polish them as needed.

2.      This is a great learning strategy. It applies only to pieces you have just learned. After you learned your piece, drop it for a couple of months. If you forget it even better. Now go back to it, and learn it again from scratch. Pretend it is a complete new piece. There is a huge temptation to cut corners, since you already know the piece. Donít. Really relearn it as if it was the first time ever. The learning will be faster, but you may notice that certain passages are actually as difficult as the first time around. Concentrate on these passages. Once you have relearnt the piece, drop it again for a couple of months. Then relearn it again. By the third or fourth time you do this, you will not be able to forget it anymore. It will be yours forever. And if you paid attention to the passages that are problematic, by the third or fourth time they will be as easy as the rest. The problem with this strategy is psychological: No one wants to do it. But it is definitely worth it.

3.      Make a rota of your repertory pieces so that you work through them intensively every couple of months (or weeks). Dino Lipatti used this approach. He knew exactly what he would practise or learn each month five years in advance. I personally donít like this approach very much, because as your repertory grows, it takes more and more time you could be learning new repertory.

4.      If you teach (this is my favourite) assign the pieces you want to polish to your students. This way as you teach you will be practising (during the lessons, not for the lessons). Which is one of the reasons I never have to practise scales: I practise them by teaching them.

5.      Finally, sometimes it is good to drop a piece much played for a couple of years. When you go back to it, you may see if with very different eyes. And sometimes it is just good to drop a piece (I donít think I will ever play the Fantasy Impromptu ever again Ė or Fur Elise he he ;D).

Best wishes,
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline anda

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Re: How do you keep something in your repotoire?
Reply #2 on: March 10, 2004, 10:44:30 AM
that's a very good question - i've always had this problem, especially with difficult works (for example, i don't see myself able to re-learn kreisleriana, and i'm sorry to see i'll never perform it again...  :(

recently i've built this very good habit of "just playing" - especially in the evenings, when i'm tired after a full day - just play old stuff, sometims in tempo, sometimes at half tempo, with the score in front of me. it works partially - it won't work for keeping 5-6 concertos in hand, but between some limits it works.

as for very large works - concerts, big sonatas and stuff, just take care that your concerts and recitals are scheduled so that you have 2-4 weeks (or the amount of time you need) to re-learn them.

re-learning is one of the most stupid feeling for me - for the first couple of days i have this feeling like i've never played this before, but after 2-3 days of playing the work with the score in front of me, the fingers start remembering what they used to do, and once you got your fingers working for you instead of against you, it's a piece of cake.

Offline scriabinsmyman

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Re: How do you keep something in your repotoire?
Reply #3 on: March 16, 2004, 03:38:07 PM
Well, I have a fairly large repertoire...my practice usually consists of the pieces I'm playing for my next concert or competition.  however, i at least practice the pieces in my repertoire about once a month...i keep them in good enough shape so that I may have them concert or competition-ready within 2 weeks' notice...I find that when I don't practice a piece for a while, then go back to it, I'm refreshed.  I have new ideas and new approaches.
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