Choosing repertoire for students can be a difficult task. It requires a careful balance of music that is motivating, challenging, and educational—a tall order!
I have found the best mix for my students is to imagine a pyramid with three levels. From the bottom to the top, there are:
- Short term goal pieces: these pieces can be completed in two to three weeks and are usually just beyond sight-reading level. These are the pieces that maintain a student’s reading skills, build their confidence, and keep them motivated. I assign more of these pieces than the other two levels.
- Mid-term goal pieces: these pieces can be completed in one to two months. They could be longer pieces, or pieces at a level above the short term goal pieces. Mid-term goals could also include memorizing and polishing an easier piece, or doing a short composition project. These mid-term goals help to make sure a student is always being challenged.
- Long term goal pieces: these pieces can take three months or more to complete. I try to limit students to no more than 3-4 long term goal pieces a year. These could include piano festival or recital selections, multi-movement works, or more ambitious composition projects (such as notating and recording a longer composition). These long term goal pieces provide a student with a sense of accomplishment.
Because we are working on a large amount of repertoire, I can choose music to suit the tastes and needs of each student at any given time. We can work on pieces that reinforce different aspects of technique and artistry, pieces by a composer that particularly interests a student, or pieces that are easy confidence-boosters. In other words, we aren’t tied down to the same set of repertoire for an extended period.
What kind of goals do you set for your students? Please share in the comments!