Choosing Repertoire: Dos and Don’ts
This week’s blog is a good one: choosing repertoire. There’s a lot of factors that go into choosing repertoire. Here’s just a few of the things I do and don’t do when choosing repertoire.
DO – Consult your voice teacher
This is step number one! My voice teacher has a lot of ideas on what appropriate repertoire is for my voice and so do I. Between the two of us, we start a dialogue about what would be good and bad. My teacher keeps me on the right path as someone with experience in the profession I’m working to enter, and I can ask questions and work with her on finding the best music!
DON’T – Try to sing things you’re not ready for
Again, it’s imperative to have a discussion with your teacher about what is age appropriate. Competitions, auditions, and voice teachers generally aren’t happy to hear a young singer attempting big, Wagnerian-esk singing. At the same time, it’s important to find repertoire that isn’t too safe. A challenging, age-appropriate piece is better than finding something you aren’t ready for. Talk to someone who will give you honest advice.
DO – Find something that lies comfortably in your voice
When you’ve found a piece you like, get the music and start looking at the text and at recordings. You don’t want to copy another successful artist, but hearing several of your favorite singers can give you a good idea of tempi and stylistic choices. Sing through passages and see if it’s a good fit. Ask yourself lots of questions: What is this about? Is the text something I can relate to? Do I enjoy this type of music? What can I do to make this piece work for me? Where will my strengths be? Where will I have to do lots of practice? Once again, consulting a teacher is a great next step!
DON’T – Rush into learning a piece
Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to repertoire. Keep a careful eye for bad habits and inaccuracies. It may take a long time to learn but it’s much better than having to unlearn a learned mistake. Accuracy and attention to text are very important. Rushing into a piece will make for a glossed-over translation, sloppy rhythms, incorrect pitches. It’s better to take your time and do it right once!
When in doubt, trust your team of teachers and coaches. Sing repertoire and get many opinions that you can take your leave. A variety of opinions and lots of time will make for the best performance of the best work for your voice!