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How long did it take you to build a decent rep?
#1895002 05/10/12 07:57 PM
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So, my piano technique and musical knowledge has finally come to a place over the last six months that I can begin playing much of the core rep at the piano. Now I'm in the frustratingly slow process of building that rep. Obviously I know it'll take awhile, and I'm fine being patient. I'm not looking for advice on HOW to build rep, I'm simply wondering how long it took you guys to do so. My teacher told me this semester, "John, you can play anything you want. You just can't play it all at once."

So, I'm just curious, how long did it take you guys to build a decent sized repertoire? By decent sized, I mean being able to put on maybe 4 different, full recitals. So that's probably a few sonata's, a few P&F's, some more fun concert pieces like nocturnes or ballade's, some showy stuff, you know. I'd love to someday have the ability to put on a few different, well thought out and planned, recitals.


Piano/Composition major.

Proud owner of a beautiful Yamaha C7.

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Re: How long did it take you to build a decent rep?
TrueMusic #1895067 05/10/12 10:48 PM
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Originally Posted by TrueMusic
"John, you can play anything you want. You just can't play it all at once."


This really obvious yet true advice. I can't tell you how much I've stressed myself out having my mind on several pieces at once. Just focus yourself on one piece. Your rep will build so much faster and less stressful that way.

As for repertoire - I don't know.. I've always learned things and then never played them again. I'd say I've learned maybe 30 pieces in 3 years but I currently have about 10 "on hand" to perform at any given moment.

Re: How long did it take you to build a decent rep?
TrueMusic #1895078 05/10/12 11:17 PM
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I'll contribute here with an example. When I was an ambitious student some years ago, I attempted to tackle the Dante Sonata of Liszt. Unsuccessful. I plateaued after learning the first 5 pages or so, and the effort died a slow death - maybe 2 months it lingered, on and off, until my teacher put me out of my misery.

Last week, I started it afresh without having looked at it in the interim. I dedicated my mornings to it and timed my practice, as is now my habit. Turns out, what years ago wouldn't yield for love or money now took me a total of 20 hours to learn and memorize, start to finish.

This put the question of repertoire for me in sharp relief. The Dante Sonata had been a bitter memory of my student days, positively hellish, forgive the pun, but this week it was a real pleasure.

So, have patience, but also have cheer because as you mature as a musician you'll notice an exponential growth in your capacity to assimilate a score.

Re: How long did it take you to build a decent rep?
TrueMusic #1895317 05/11/12 11:21 AM
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Here's my advice:

1) Be patient. Don't expect everything to come at once. Work hard and play what you love. The more experience, the quicker and easier it will be for you to learn a piece of music.

2) Revisit your old pieces that you want to keep in repertoire to keep them fresh. I keep a list of my repertoire by my piano, and when I practice, I warm up with an old piece and finish with a different old piece just to keep it fresh. Sometimes I go through old pieces staccato or super slow just to keep me thinking about them and to keep them fresh sounding. Playing old repertoire in your head before you go to sleep at night is nice too.

3) Don't get so bogged down in maintaining old pieces to perfect standard that it impedes the progress of learning new pieces. You can surprise yourself by how much you remember. For example, I went through and played Beethoven's Pathetique (a work I had to master in a few weeks for a deadline and haven't touched in 2-3 years since) a few days ago and found it was all mostly in my fingers. Sure there were some "rugged" spots but with maybe a week's intensive work, I could bring it back up to performance level.

Good luck!


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