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Why is it so hard to build a repertoire?

Tom

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Thanks again, everyone, good responses to my original post. Since then of course I tried to address this with the "21 week challenge" which has worked quite well in methodically adding additional tunes slowly over time. Just a few more weeks to go. Then, consolidation by identifying and working out those tunes that can't be played well enough in public, and replacing those that didn't quite work out.

I'm pretty much convinced that at my age and late start I won't be able to memorize endless amounts (ie 3 - 4 hours) of music and will have to bring music to the gigs to maintain variety. So, to increase the length of repertoire it will either come down to learning to read at playing speed and/or slowly adding repertoire I can play on occasion from the sheet music.

As far as playing with emotion, you're spot on (as they say over there). I believe I do achieve this with tunes that I know very well, and definitely try to do. I like to make changes to the tunes, but keep my improve within bounds. The tricks to extend the tunes work well, thanks.

Thanks and good luck to everyone out there, keep on keeping on!
 

losthobos

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I dipped out of the 21 weeks thingy as realised its easier to increase the repetoire by learning intros, outros, vamps, and chordal step ups/downs till they are 2nd nature... Then extend any of tje material you already have by improvising a couple of times round in the middle just applying walks ups / downs between chord changes and vamps on a constant chord... I'm a way from mastery for sure but at least I've conceptualised direction....
 

Tom

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Good way to go, Terry, and good ideas for extending songs. Problem is playing the same place every month/week and not wanting to play always the same tunes....
 

jozz

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hah yeah

on average days the audience of any age group will come up with the same requests!

there is no need to learn hundreds of tunes
 

Valski

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hah yeah

on average days the audience of any age group will come up with the same requests!

there is no need to learn hundreds of tunes
Yes I agree. When my friends and I started playing weddings and other paid gigs our mentor gave us about 30 adult contemporary songs to learn because that was good for a little over two hours. We asked what we need to do for the rest of the gig and we were told to just start over because no one in the audience will remember what you played anyway. Slowly we built up a bigger repertoire, but people want to hear the songs that they know.

These days when playing for a crowd I get requests for the same songs over and over again. If everyone is singing, dancing and having a great time you've achieved your goal. Simple catchy songs that are happy are highly effective. No one has attended the event to hear me because I am the best musician ever, they're there to have fun with friends. Remember that reality and you will be less stressed and happier with yourself.
 

Longshore

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In the folk world the opposite holds - it is considered unprofessional to use music or words in performance! Even amongst amateurs it is frowned upon.
This is my experience too Little John.
Playing from memory is probably easier as most (session) folk tunes are relatively straightforward and easier to play. Especially compared to many other types of music.
No less pleasing for that though.
 

Ffingers

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I'm a bit late to this discussion, but the best advice towards becoming a polyglot is to take one language at a time, learning it thoroughly before starting on the next.
That way fluency becomes sub-conscious.
Maybe that's the best way to embed music in your memory too.
 

Tom

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Yes I agree. When my friends and I started playing weddings and other paid gigs our mentor gave us about 30 adult contemporary songs to learn because that was good for a little over two hours. We asked what we need to do for the rest of the gig and we were told to just start over because no one in the audience will remember what you played anyway. Slowly we built up a bigger repertoire, but people want to hear the songs that they know.

These days when playing for a crowd I get requests for the same songs over and over again. If everyone is singing, dancing and having a great time you've achieved your goal. Simple catchy songs that are happy are highly effective. No one has attended the event to hear me because I am the best musician ever, they're there to have fun with friends. Remember that reality and you will be less stressed and happier with yourself.
I'd be very curious to know the 30 songs, as well as the ones your being requested. Unfortunately for me my upcoming Christmas party event has been canceled due to covid. My idea of playing 3 or 4 times a month has been thourally shattered. I think I will learn a new language instead.
 

Tom

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I'm a bit late to this discussion, but the best advice towards becoming a polyglot is to take one language at a time, learning it thoroughly before starting on the next.
That way fluency becomes sub-conscious.
Maybe that's the best way to embed music in your memory too.
I learned Italian this way but not to fluency which I don't think will happen because I don't know if I will ever go back to Italy, even for the academy course. ☹☹☹ I think I will learn Spanish as a third language in 2022. More Spanish (Mexican, Central American) people in my state are buying accordions (mostly Corona 2?) than English speaking according to current wisdom. But I don't talk to them yet and I would like to.
 

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I spoke Spanish pretty well back in 2008-2010. I was playing Baby Bass with a salsa group. There were 12 guys in the band, and about 6 of them only spoke Spanish. It got to the point where I was able to talk on the phone about upcoming rehearsals or talk through the form of the tunes. I would see them every weekend and talk on the phone quite a bit to organize everything. I've even 'tricked' some people in the audience with my accent and use of slang. I haven't spoken it much since then. Now, I could probably get by on a vacation to a Spanish speaking country, but I would sound like a tourist.

I'm not great at memorizing tunes. But, I usually have better luck with tunes that I enjoy listening to.
 

Valski

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I'd be very curious to know the 30 songs, as well as the ones your being requested. Unfortunately for me my upcoming Christmas party event has been canceled due to covid. My idea of playing 3 or 4 times a month has been thourally shattered. I think I will learn a new language instead.
Hi Tom,
You're asking me to reach far back into the dark corners of memory, but the songs were what was considered adult contemporary music in the 60's and 70's. La Paloma Spanish Eyes, Red Sails in the Sunset, Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White , Please Release Me, Marina, Isle of Capri, Wonderland by Night etc...
I haven't kept the original list of songs because I was given a number of pages of music to copy by hand and this was in the early 1970's so I can't say specifically. These days it depends on the crowd that I am playing for and they all have their particular favorites suchas; Never on a Sunday, Blue Moon, I'm in the Mood for Love, Knock Three Times, Paper Roses, Proud Mary, Rose Garden, Snowbird, Spanish Harlem, Three Coins in a Fountain, Zorba the Greek. Over the years I've purchased various song books and each one of them has a few songs that were popular which helps me expand and sometimes rebuild my repertoire so it's an ongoing process.
I also have a Polish background and have quite a few of these songs in various genres, like folk, show tunes popular songs and other things. So over time the play lists get bigger. Now I try to set up play lists for different gigs and occasions.
 

Tom

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Hi Tom,
You're asking me to reach far back into the dark corners of memory, but the songs were what was considered adult contemporary music in the 60's and 70's. La Paloma Spanish Eyes, Red Sails in the Sunset, Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White , Please Release Me, Marina, Isle of Capri, Wonderland by Night etc...
I haven't kept the original list of songs because I was given a number of pages of music to copy by hand and this was in the early 1970's so I can't say specifically. These days it depends on the crowd that I am playing for and they all have their particular favorites suchas; Never on a Sunday, Blue Moon, I'm in the Mood for Love, Knock Three Times, Paper Roses, Proud Mary, Rose Garden, Snowbird, Spanish Harlem, Three Coins in a Fountain, Zorba the Greek. Over the years I've purchased various song books and each one of them has a few songs that were popular which helps me expand and sometimes rebuild my repertoire so it's an ongoing process.
I also have a Polish background and have quite a few of these songs in various genres, like folk, show tunes popular songs and other things. So over time the play lists get bigger. Now I try to set up play lists for different gigs and occasions.
Thanks Valski!
 

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