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Maintaining a Repertoire - how to do it?

Posted By: Diane Hurst

Maintaining a Repertoire - how to do it? - 03/04/12 10:27 PM

This is a question for me as a very new performing songwriter. As I keep making more songs I'm starting to feel the time crunch of not having time to practice the entire repertoire. How do other singer-songwriters do this? How to practice enough to maintain a repertoire (i.e. not forget how to play/sing certain songs) but also be working on writing new songs?
Posted By: Colin Ward

Re: Maintaining a Repertoire - how to do it? - 03/04/12 10:51 PM

Not an easy task! Bands like the Rolling Stones who have 50 years of history develop the songlists for a tour and just rehearse the songs they plan to play on that tour (plus a few extras no doubt).

At the risk of stating the obvious, typically the task gets easier as the number of gigs increases. If you play two or three nights per week, the songs are much easier to remember than if you play once every two months.

I use a three ring notebook with a page for each song with lyrics and chords typed in. I am in two bands plus play solo so I deal with 150 plus songs and can't remember squat. For the acoustic duo with over 100 songs, the book is arranged as the sets will be played so we can just turn the page for the next song.

The trop rock band is easier for me because I don't sing lead much so I don't have many lyrics to remember.

I am trying to use a Kindle to display the lyrics instead of a book but it is hard to make them large enough to be readable. I considered a tablet computer which would be much easier to organize but many of my gigs are outdoors and you can't see the screen.

Good luck finding your own method.
Posted By: Mike Dunbar

Re: Maintaining a Repertoire - how to do it? - 03/04/12 11:18 PM

Diane,

I'd recommend focusing more on strength of songs than amount. I remember making long lists of songs I knew, then running over them to find there were some songs I did'nt know as well as I thought I did. Finally I started focusing on the songs I liked, felt comfortable singing, and got good audience response. I kept practicing those and would add a few here and there until the list grew. Once I had about a dozen songs that really worked for me, I found I was asked to perform more often. I still remember the day when I reached 30 songs that I could perform well, songs that the audience responded to. That meant I could do a whole night. And it wasn't long after that I started getting booked to do whole nights by myself.

In art, quality trumps quantity.

I hope that helps, good luck and blessings.

Mike

Posted By: Jackie444

Re: Maintaining a Repertoire - how to do it? - 03/05/12 02:26 AM

Hi I am very new at lyric writing and I have written ten songs. I wanted to know if anyone could review my lyrics and tell me if they are good/bad and if I am on the right track. Where could I find someone to review what I am doing? Thanks so much. Also my songs are country.
Posted By: Ray E. Strode

Re: Maintaining a Repertoire - how to do it? - 03/05/12 07:54 PM

You can post lyrics on any three of the lyric boards for critique's. Just drag ahe page down to where you see the lyric forums.
Posted By: Kolstad

Re: Maintaining a Repertoire - how to do it? - 03/05/12 08:59 PM

Originally Posted by Colin Ward
I use a three ring notebook with a page for each song with lyrics and chords typed in.


Great idea for organizing, Colin. I can't remember squat either. I'm going to pick that up. My office is a complete mess!
Posted By: Kevin Emmrich

Re: Maintaining a Repertoire - how to do it? - 03/06/12 02:42 AM

If you are new at performing, you are most likely doing open mics and three songs max -- learn three really well, working your way up to 10 songs. 10 songs that you know how to perform is a great number. After that you can add more as you can. If you start performing a lot, you won't have to worry about writing too many new ones, because you will be too dang busy (ha, ha).
Posted By: Nigel Quin

Re: Maintaining a Repertoire - how to do it? - 03/06/12 12:14 PM

Hi Diane

It’s a good question. I have 2 lists of songs, 1 for my solo stuff and 1 for my band. If you have a particular gig coming up, practice the songs you will play and maybe a couple of back-ups. With regards to the rest of your repertoire, you will find that once you have learnt a song properly and played it live a few times it will easily come back to you and probably only needs an occasional run through to keep it up to scratch.

As you continue to learn and write new songs may come to the fore and some of your 'least best' or older songs may be retired or put on a ‘B’ list. Also you may have some ‘special occasion’ songs, Christmas, birthdays etc, which will need the dust blowing off on a more infrequent basis.

Maybe we should write to Sir Paul and ask him how he does it wink

Cheers

Nige smile
Posted By: Diane Hurst

Re: Maintaining a Repertoire - how to do it? - 03/08/12 04:32 AM

Thanks so much for the info and ideas! I like the idea of concentrating on a set of up to 10 songs at first; that is doable.
Posted By: Kolstad

Re: Maintaining a Repertoire - how to do it? - 03/08/12 10:06 PM

Originally Posted by Kevin Emmrich
If you are new at performing, you are most likely doing open mics and three songs max -- learn three really well, working your way up to 10 songs. 10 songs that you know how to perform is a great number. After that you can add more as you can. If you start performing a lot, you won't have to worry about writing too many new ones, because you will be too dang busy (ha, ha).


I can't even remember one. I can remember changes and melodies, but lyrics beats me. I'm going for some mnemonic techniques..

10 songs!! WTF :-)
Posted By: Pat Hardy

Re: Maintaining a Repertoire - how to do it? - 12/13/12 09:28 AM

Here's how I do it, and I even joke about it on stage.
My memory is so bad that I can't even remember my own songs,
so I put words/chord sheets on a stand in front of me, big type,
in case I forget something, and it also serves me like the
security blanket does to Linus, the character in Peanuts smile

And...no one seems to mind.

Pat Hardy Lockwood
Posted By: MidniteBob

Re: Maintaining a Repertoire - how to do it? - 12/15/12 07:28 PM

Since Pat went ahead and resurrected this older thread, I'll chime in.

For some reason, I have an almost infallible ability to remember lyrics. As a very limited musician/vocalist, I choose to very seldom play a song with more than 3 or 4 chords in, and rarely stray from the key of "G"...Which means that all I really have to do is remember "G comes before C, except in the chorus, where C usually leads, and a D will eventually make an appearance, and don't forget the capo."

Midnite
Posted By: Jim Colyer

Re: Maintaining a Repertoire - how to do it? - 12/16/12 01:14 AM

I try to play my best songs every day, just to keep things going.
Posted By: Sue Rarick

Re: Maintaining a Repertoire - how to do it? - 12/31/12 05:09 PM

I always use a music stand, mainly to hold my coffee, water, and harmonicas. But I also have a small notebook like colin with lyric/chord sheets in the order I'll be playing them.

I have played 'like a rolling stone' at least 800 times live and at one gig I actually forgot the chord progression. That's when I started making sure EVERY song had it's own page. If there is a way to have a brain fart, it will happen.
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