Teaching the Individual, Part 3: Choosing Good Repertoire

This week we are discussing ways that we can maintain standards of excellence in our studios, while at the same time adapting our teaching styles to help each individual student succeed.

Choose appropriate repertoire that is fun for the student.

Let’s face it, any student, even the most motivated, will hate lessons if they hate their pieces. They won’t practice, they will dread coming to lessons, and they won’t progress. The trick is to pick pieces that are fun and enjoyable for them, challenging enough to boost their confidence and improve their skills, yet not so challenging that they get frustrated.
The best way to do this is to become familiar with a lot of repertoire yourself! Listen to lots of repertoire. Pick up a book and play through it, noting which pieces are fun, what types of techniques and musical concepts they teach, and what level of student they would be appropriate for. I often like to give a student a CD to listen to which includes a few possible pieces to learn. This way, you have some say over the pieces and can pick some that are at a good difficulty level for them, but the student gets the final say.
(Choosing repertoire is so important, and is partly why I started the Weekend Repertoire feature here on The Teaching Studio!)
How do you go about choosing good repertoire for your students?
Jennifer Boster

One Response to “Teaching the Individual, Part 3: Choosing Good Repertoire

  • I completely agree with this! Piano should be fun & enjoyable and playing pieces you dislike over and over and over is definitely not that. I often involve the student in choosing their songs by playing excerpts from a couple of pieces I think they would enjoy & then let them choose. I usually have them do an ear training or rhythm activity during this process (like clapping castanets on the accents, expanding their arms on the crescendoes, identifying the form or major/minor sections, etc.)
    And if they come back making some progress after a week of practicing a song that they discover they really don't like, I offer them a few more choices with similar skills to master.