“Repertoire is what your ensemble is going to learn musically, so selection is critical” – @thomasjwest
Music educators from a variety of locations discussed standards for choosing repertoire in the #MusEdChat held on April 26, 2010. The participants began the chat by discussing some general things to look for when considering a particular piece. @thomasjwest suggested,” Things to consider: style, tempo, meter, technique required, amount of polyphony.”
The participants shifted to discussing where to find repertoire. Many teachers stated that the Teaching Music through Performance series. Other participants suggested that they find suitable repertoire through using the SmartMusic (@smartmusic) library. @pisanojm recommended going through scores offered by Volkwein’s. He also recommended listening to great bands play particular scores on Naxos Music Library (@NaxosMusicLib) . Another venue for music is J.W. Pepper (@jwpepper).
Methods of Choosing
Many educators shared how they pick out suitable repertoire for their ensembles. Many agreed that one must know the skill level of the group they are choosing music for, as well as how much time they will have to rehearse. Teachers also stressed the importance of picking music that the students, audience, and director will like. @brandtschneider suggested, ” I try to sing in 3 languages, 3 tempos, 3 keys: 3 groupings per concert.” Overall, music educators felt the need for variety in each concert. Many teachers also suggested finding music in a variety of keys. Some suggested the introduction of a new key be paired with the teaching of that scale to ensure students know all of their scales. A couple of choral teachers stressed consideration of range when picking music for choral groups. Solos were another aspect involved in choosing repertoire. Most teachers shared that if they had an exemplary student, they would try to incorporate a solo for them to showcase their achievement. Some even stated that this is effective in motivating other students as well.
Many participants discussed using literature that is popular with the students in their ensembles. @thomasjwest devised the “Fluff Ratio” Theory to deal with this. This theory discusses the amount of “fluff”, or pieces students like to play that don’t involve very much musicality, one should include in their repertoire. For elementary aged students, he suggests a higher fluff ratio – for one deep demanding work, give them four fluff pieces. Then by the time the students get to the high school level, the ratio is inverted, with one fluff piece for every four demanding pieces. While discussing popular music, chat participants also weighed the pros and cons of having students choose literature. While most agree that the teacher has the last say, many music educators sang the praises of letting students choose some repertoire. This process helps students to take ownership of the piece they chose to play. @clb1015 stated, “I let the students choose their pop tune “I’m Yours” and they are harder on themselves than I am!” Teachers seem to generally agree on some red flags, though; the students sound bad playing the piece or are not learning anything, and if the teacher doesn’t like the piece.
If you don’t currently participate in the weekly #MusEdChat, please consider joining us! #MusEdChat happens every Monday night at 8:00 PM EST. The chat for this week (May 31st), however will be cancelled in order to observe Memorial Day. But we will be back at it on Monday, June 7th! If you are new to Twitter, @pisanojm has a great list of people to follow who tweet about Music Education at Mustech.net! These are great people to have in your PLN!