Occasionally I will browse the forums on ChoralNet looking for interesting discussion. A question in a recent forum caught my attention as one that is likely very applicable to many of our members: How do you organize your repertoire? How do you keep track of pieces you have recently performed? Click the link in the previous sentence to read the responses to that question on the forum.
Along with this question comes that of the repertoire itself. How do you find new repertoire to program in your concerts and rehearse with singers? Both the Choral Journal and ChorTeach offer helpful resources.
The new ChorTeach index has a category for repertoire that specifically details the articles that are available on this topic. Such articles include: “A Thematic Approach to Planning Choral Programs” by Shereé Stoppel; “Finding Repertoire: Confessions of a Recovering Choral Kleptomaniac” by David Giessow; “Repertoire Search Strategies” by James D. Niblock; and “What Do You Program?” by Daniel Monek.
In a previous ChoralNet blog, I shared about the three-part Choral Journal article “Notes for Success: Advice for the First-Year Choral Teacher” that was printed last year. That first blog discussed the question: How Do You Best Establish a Grading Strategy? In the September 2015 issue, the question of how to find repertoire was addressed by four choral conductors. Some of their suggestions are below:
“ACDA has an incredible amount of resources to help you select music for your choirs. Reach out to your divisional and national R&R chair regarding your needs. Additionally, make sure of state contest lists such as the Texas Prescribed Music List. These lists have been governed by committees and the literature has been deemed valuable by experienced conductors.” – Jennifer Alarcon
“Find a music store that carries a lot of sheet music in its library and look through songs. Before each year, I go into JW Pepper’s store in Minneapolis and pour through the songs in their library…some of which I might never have found by searching specifically online.” – Seth Boyd
“The book Shaping Sound Musicians (O’Toole, 2003) lists nine criteria to gauge whether a composition has artistic merit: uniqueness, form, design, unpredictability, depth, consistency, orchestration/voicing, text, and transcendence. Goetze, Broeker, and Boshkoff (2009) offer six criteria for examining potential repertoire for younger choirs: text, singability, form, part-writing techniques, accompaniment, and pedagogical implications. Use these categories or create your own, but thoroughly examine all aspects of any piece you consider programming.” – Philip Silvey
You can read the complete answers by viewing the online e reader or downloading the PDF here. (Note: You must be logged into the acda.org site as a member in order to access the Choral Journal online.)
Now I bring these questions to you: How do you find repertoire? What factors do you keep in mind when deciding what pieces to perform? How do you organize your repertoire? Leave your thoughts and comments below!