When is the last time you scrambled to find repertoire for an upcoming audition or competition? There is so much rep out there that the thought of wading blindly into the abyss sounds overwhelming at best, and downright frustrating at worst. (Am I alone here?) First you have to find rep that fits the requirements. Then you have to make sure you like it. Then you have to make sure it’s a good fit for your voice.
When I’m in a bind to find new repertoire, it seems like a waste of time to start from ground zero. We’re talking HOURS of YouTube-ing and score perusal here. Wouldn’t it be awesome to be able to consult a short list that contains nothing but pieces that are perfect for you?
Enter the Repertoire Ideas List.
Unlike a traditional repertoire list used to keep track works you have done (and if you don’t keep one of those, you’d best start doing so right away!), your repertoire ideas list is where you write down any and every piece you hear that interests you. Listen to a cool new aria in your Opera Lit class? Write it down. Attend a recital and fall in love with a new song cycle? Put it on the list. Did a competition adjudicator recommend a certain piece for you? …I think you see where I’m going with this.
Don’t be afraid to track pieces that interest you from every genre. In addition to solo arias and art songs, throw in categories for ensembles, music theater, cabaret, even pop songs. I happen to keep one corner of my rep idea list devoted to songs that would be perfect for karaoke, but you know, you do you.
Your rep idea list doesn’t have to be fancy. For the longest time I just scribbled on a piece of notebook paper I stuck in the front of my voice binder. Nowadays I’m a fan of using Evernote. Try using the notes app on your phone or keeping a small notebook with you at all times. The point is for your list to be easily accessible so you can immediately jot down the names of these pieces when they cross your path.
In your spare time, go through the pieces you’ve listed and remove anything that doesn’t fit your voice, though feel free to keep a “for later” category if you think you might approach that rep in a few years. For the pieces that do fit, make notes. What is the piece about? What is the tempo? Does it involve more than one singer and pianist? Anything that can help you quickly rule it out if you need to make a quick decision. Trust me, rushing to meet an application deadline is not the time to have to listen through ALL of your rep to figure out what will work best for the situation at hand.
Your repertoire ideas list can come in handy even if you aren’t in a bind to find that perfect competition aria. When it comes time to plan a recital, you already have the makings of one! Periodically look over your list and see if you can find any commonalities that have the makings of a good recital. Arrange pieces in groupings for potential sets, then fill in the gaps with more research when needed. You will have a recital full of pieces you love, and will have saved some time to boot.
Not a bad result for scribbling notes on a piece of paper, no?
Find The Organized Singer’s Repertoire Ideas Sheet here, or make your own!