February 18, 2023 by Klaus Crow
You’ve been a guitar player for several years. You’ve got some skills in your pocket. And then comes that moment (it always does), at home, at someone else’s place, in a guitar shop, at a party, or some place where a guitar is spotted and someone knows you can play, and the inevitable question pops up: “Hey can you play something for us?”.
A lot of guitar players will scratch their heads and say “Uhh, No I don’t think so.” or “Well, maybe another time” because they don’t know what to play and their obviously not prepared.
Deep inside, they’re disappointed, they missed an opportunity and wished they could’ve come up with something cool to play with conviction and confidence. Wow, that would’ve been awesome!
Well for those who can relate to this. It’s time to change this. Let’s get ready and prepared. This is going to be a fun and exciting journey.
Building a repertoire does not only come in handy when you’re in the company of people who love to hear you play. The benefits are manifold.
Let’s dive in!
- Building and practicing a repertoire let’s you develop the skill of playing songs by heart. This will give you a great amount of confidence.
- You’ll learn to enjoy playing (and singing) songs even more than playing from sheet music. Once you’ve memorized a song, you feel more free and liberated playing that song. It gives you more space to feel the song, understanding the lyrics, picturing the story and translating that in your own musical way.
- You’ll learn how to perform in front of an audience. How cool is that!
- You’re working on your dream goal and it will become more clearer along the way where and how you will see yourself as a musician.
- You’ll be ready and prepared for anyone at any time in any place. This will give you the feeling of an accomplished musician.
- You are learning and developing the skills and disciplines of performing on stage and how to play gigs.
- You’ll become more conscious of how songs are written.
- You’ll learn to play better, sing better and perform better.
- You’ll learn a skill that could earn you a nice passive income or a full time income.
- You’ll have a great hobby with unlimited growth potential.
Okay, now let’s take a look how to accomplish this goal in small and easy steps.
HOW TO BUILD AND PRACTICE A REPERTOIRE:
Write down your all time favorite song or a song you really love to play (that is within your reach of guitar skills).
Start learning, practicing and memorizing your favorite song until you’ve nailed it. Don’t be tempted to learn multiple songs at once. Start with one song and make sure you can play that song inside out.
If you think you got it down, play it in front of your partner or a good friend. When you think you can play a song for a 100 percent and you have to perform it for the first time in front of a live audience, you will lose part of your focus, due to distractions, so you will lose at least 20 percent of that 100 percent. So make sure you master your song for 120 percent. Feel good about it!
Create a repertoire list of 12 songs
Now you’ve learned, practiced and played your first song, you’re going to create a list of 12 songs. Let’s say you want to play a set of 45 minutes, then 12 songs is a good indication.
There are three ways to create this list.
– Create a list of songs YOU love
– Create a list of songs your audience love
– Create a list that combines both.
It all depends on your goal and the type of music you want to play.
One by one
Work your way through the list one song at a time. Make sure you can play each song good enough before moving on to the next one. This is where it all boils down to. Make sure your songs are fun and enjoyable enough to practice and play forever and ever.
After a while, this has to become something you love to do without having to motivate yourself. Just like a professional runner. You’ll become addictive to the feeling that comes from the activity.
Memorizing songs, building a repertoire and cultivating the skill of performing takes time and regular practice. The best way is to practice your songs daily. Just play at least one or two songs from your repertoire each day.
Solid preparation gives you confidence. Knowing what to do from A to Z, will eliminate all the “What if” scenarios. So by preparing some small talk in between the songs, you’ll avoid any awkward silences. Write down some info or anecdote about the song or artist and memorize it. Practice the small talk before you start practicing and playing the song.
Observe your heros
Observe and study musicians and artists you admire. Watch concerts on Youtube and see how they perform in front of an audience. Observe how they play, sing, move, talk, behave, smile (or don’t), interact, perform and set up a playlist.
Think deliberately how you can improve your song each day. If there are songs on your repertoire that you don’t feel good about playing or singing, then remove them from your list and replace them for another great song. Practice and polish your repertoire until you feel absolutely comfortable and confident.
We all lead busy lives, and no matter how much we love to practice and create awesome daily habits, we get distracted by the amount of things that are one our plate. So create a reminder to make sure you practice your one or two daily songs. Coach.me is a great app for your smartphone to create and pursue daily habits.
Your first gig
It’s time to prepare for your first (small) gig. It doesn’t matter for how many people. You could start with your own family or a few friends. Tell them you are going to play a small gig at “x” place, “x” date and “x” time. Invite them and ask if they would like to join the party.
Now why on earth would you want to do this? This is a great way to hold you accountable, make sure you’ll go through with it and accomplish your goal. Once you’ve done this, you’re hooked.
After the party
People will likely applaud at your first gig. Enjoy it in anyway you can. You’ve earned it!
The day after your first gig, ask a few people if they really liked the show. Listen carefully and learn from their sincere advice. Don’t worry, not all advice is always true and objective. But be open to learn how people receive your music and look at your performance.
Get back to the drawing board
The constructive criticism and recommendations are valuable and can be a great help to improve your repertoire and performance to a higher standard. This is the way to become a better musician and performer. Be grateful.
Get back to practicing after a great experience and work your way up to your second (and even better) gig.
Enjoy the ride!
Do you have any tips for building a repertoire? Please share them in the comments. I appreciate it!