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How to Find and Choose Repertoire

So you’ve finally hit the point in my musical career where you’re not just allowed or encouraged, but expected to bring your own ideas for new repertoire to the table. It’s intimidating, since before about 98% of what you’ve performed has always been at the suggestion of one of your teachers. You don’t really have many immediately apparent resources for finding new rep. What are you supposed to even do??

I’m in this exact same place right now, my friend. It’s nerve-wracking, but I promise you can figure this out!

Think about what you actually like to perform. HINT: DO NOT CHOOSE REPERTOIRE YOU HATE PLAYING. To avoid this, think about what you have fun with. If you dislike Bach, then don’t choose a Bach cantata! If you love Berlioz, go and look into pieces he composed!

Think about what you like to listen to. You’re going to be listening to new repertoire a lot. Another hint: IF YOU DON’T LIKE THE PIECE, DON’T CHOOSE IT. I’ve been listening to a lot of folk-song inspired pieces recently, so that’s what I’m going to be looking into.

Go to Youtube. Look up your favorite artist, or your favorite piece for your instrument, and play one of their videos. Then look through the recommended videos bar! There’s going to be similar pieces there, that you can page through and listen to. Something might stand out.

Go to IMSLPFind your favorite composer, and go through the list of works they wrote. If something catches your eye, listen to it. You can find hidden gems this way.

Page through books of sheet music. If you’re like me, you have stacks and stacks of sheet music books of whose origin you’re not really sure. Go through those books and actually look at the pieces they contain. If you’re not familiar with it, go listen to it! It may not be great, or it may be amazing.

Visit your local music store. The people who work at music stores are super knowledgeable about a lot of repertoire, in my experience. If you want recommendations for books, or even particular pieces, visiting your local music store and asking for help is going to help a lot.

Ask your peers. Hey, you know other people that play your instrument, right? Go ask them! They’re also playing repertoire. They know different rep. Go ask them for suggestions. You’re going to hear about the cool little pieces that their teachers told them about.

Ask you teacher. There’s nothing like actually asking your teacher, the person you have trusted to give you most of your previous rep, for ideas. Now, at this point, you probably should ask for specific pieces, because that means you haven’t moved on from just having music assigned to you. However, they can at least give you a direction in which to start off.

You’re going to find some great pieces. You just need to actually put in the effort to find them. I believe in you!

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