Teaching students music repertoire

June 8, 2007

The amount of music an educated musician these days “should” know has become rather staggering. That being said, it is shocking how little music literature young music students know these days. It is far more likely that they will know Danny Elfman, James Horner or John Williams film scores before they know a Beethoven, Mozart, or Brahms symphony or a string quartet. Besides classical repertoire, there is a huge music theater repertoire that they should know, jazz and popular music of previous eras are also essential for an educated musician.

Music educators need to come up with innovative ways of getting students to learn this enormous amount of music on their own, out of their own desire to learn more. Cramming it down their throat like so much castor oil is not the way to do it. It needs to come from their desire to learn more. I love it when a student comes to me asking for literature to get to know. I always agree to “write a prescription” for them with the instruction “if you fall in love with a composer’s music, go out and find more of their music, and then read a biography about them.”

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