Robert Estrin - piano expert

How to Build a Meaningful Music Repertoire

Tips to choose your own music repertoire

In this video, Robert gives you practical tips to start building your own music repertoire.

Released on April 6, 2016

Post a Comment   |   Video problems? Contact Us!
DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Hi, this is Robert Estrin with and The question today is how to build an interesting and meaningful repertoire. This is such an important subject, and it applies to all instruments. Well, let's break it down.

Think about this. When you first started studying, I could tell you, so many students at the early levels, you give them a new book and they're all excited. And after a while, you start progressing to other books. And then of course, they get like a Sonatina album or something of that nature. And then at some point, the students are always shocked that you're not teaching everything in the book in order. Why is that? Well, you get to a point where you want to have some variety in your repertoire, rather than just systematically going through page after page after page, as you might do in a beginning method.

So how do you approach such a thing as building a repertoire? Well, there are many things involved. Certainly, the early stages of study, it's extremely important for it to be progressive, gradually progressive, and to cover a diverse range of styles. So if you've studied a Bach minuet, it'd be nice to do a little Mozart allegro, and then maybe a little early piece of Schumann, so that you get a taste of different flavors and develop a sense for different styles. This same thing applies as you get deeper into your studies.

In fact, there are changes of variety that must occur in order for you to progress at the fastest possible rate. So one aspect is yes, you want to study different stylistic periods. Something from the baroque, something from the romantic, something from the classical era.

Also, there are some pieces that maybe you could knock out fairly quickly. Maybe you can learn a Chopin nocturne and it might only take you a couple of weeks to learn. But then maybe you'll hit a Liszt Hungarian rhapsody that could take you months to master. It's important to have different pieces that will take different lengths of time. Because, if you only have pieces that will take you months to learn, it can bog you down and hold back your progress. But if you never tackle difficult, longer works, or very, very tough Etudes that might take you a great deal of time, how will you ever approach them?

Sometimes you want to study a piece. Not because you're going to be performing it soon. But because you're building your technique for something that, down the line, when you restudy it, you'll get it to performance level but it can build your technique, just to spend some time with it each day.

So, build your repertoire by studying pieces that have nice contrast with one another. Because for example, if you sit down to practice and let's say you're learning a Bach fugue. That is extremely taxing to memorize. And you could become mentally exhausted in short order if that's the only piece you're studying.

Add to that a Mozart sonata or perhaps a Chopin mazurka, and you got a little flavor of this, a little flavor of that, it's almost like using different parts of the brain. More than that, you might find that you have more of an affinity with one style or another, so you can nurture the things that you're good at and develop the things that you have less abilities at.

So to wrap up once again. Have variety of stylistic periods, have variety of length, and have variety of difficulty in the works you study to keep your practice interesting for you so you're motivated. And so you can grow with the short-term pieces that you can learn quickly, as well as the pieces you spend some time with that eventually you want to have in your repertoire.

Thanks so much for joining me. Robert Estrin here at and Keep the questions coming in for future videos. Thanks so much for joining me.
Post a comment, question or special request:
You may: Login  or  
Otherwise, fill the form below to post your comment:
Add your name below:

Add your email below: (to receive replies, will not be displayed or shared)

For verification purposes, please enter the word MUSIC in the field below

Comments, Questions, Requests:

Connie Veldkamp * VSM MEMBER * on August 29, 2018 @10:12 am PST
My variety includes Elvis and The Beatles!
I always enjoy your videos!
Robert Estrin - host, on August 30, 2018 @3:18 pm PST
There is great music in a wide range of styles. I am always more interested in what meaning or content a piece of music offers rather than the specific style.
craig-hanley on June 15, 2016 @8:19 am PST
As a follow up what about how to keep a repertoire - maintain it over years.
Robert - host, on June 15, 2016 @11:27 am PST
The most important thing is to play your pieces on a regular basis. Not only that, but revisit the score playing slowly to check for accuracy.

You will find that pieces you have relearned a number of times become a solid part of your repertoire.
Eli on April 6, 2016 @5:03 am PST
Great video.
Questions? Problems? Contact Us.