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What Shall I Play?

BY J. EDWIN HOLDER.

What shall I include in my repertoire? What shall I play? What style? What movements? What kind of music shall I include in my repertoire, that when I am asked I can play agreeable music? are questions that confront each and every amateur musician.

Shall I go to extremes? as some persons advise; for instance, play nothing but “Classical Music” and even go as far as some extremists (Musical Cranks would be a better name), play nothing except what is written by Beethoven, or others may choose Mozart, others Händel, or any other writer’s music that was written during the classical period: Or shall I go to the other extreme and play nothing but popular music (by popular music I do not mean trash). Or shall I take a position midway between classical and popular music and select the best from that field.

To a close observer of human nature it is obvious that the taste in music varies considerably in different people. For instance, take a social gathering; some of the persons present will go in raptures over a well-rendered classical piece, for example one of Mendelssohn’s “Songs without words:” They will call it grand, divine, heavenly, or delightful, while others will say it is a mere jumble of notes, that it sounds harsh to their ears, seeming nothing but discords to them, no music in it whatever; but give them a waltz, or something graceful, airy, light, and they will be pleased and say that is the kind of music for them. But oh my, what do the lovers of classical music do? Why they turn up their noses at such music and call it trash, nothing but trash.

The reason the lover of popular music does not take kindly to “The Classical Music” is that he has not cultivated his ear to take in the beauties of that style music. He is unable to follow the melody through innumerable chords, runs, etc., so you see very readily why they do not appreciate it. But on the other hand, the lovers of classical music need not turn up their noses at some of our popular music and call it trashy. For some of our modern composers, composers of the present day, are writing elegant compositions, containing beautiful melodies, and they just suit the taste of those persons who do not like classical music, because they can follow the melody easier, and, therefore, I say to an “Amateur” include in your repertoire “Classical Music,” “Popular Music,” and music that is between classical and popular music. Then you will be able to please the extremists as well as the conservatives.

In classical music include the best, the very best, and most pleasing styles, some of Mendelssohn’s “Songs without Words,” being delightful. Also of Beethoven’s compositions and of other great masters’ works.

In popular music include beautiful waltzes, marches, salon pieces, etc. Taking the best of the modern composers’ compositions.

In classical music buy your copies of reliable publishers, as Presser, Ditson & Co., and a number of other publishers who publish classical music, edited and annotated by eminent pianists and musicians, explaining how difficult passages should be played, giving the proper pedal marks, accentuation, fortes, pianissimos, etc., etc. In fact, in all cases do not buy anything but well-printed and reliable music, even if the price is higher; you can rest assured that your copies will be as accurate as can be obtained.

Last of all, let every amateur musician endeavor to memorize his whole repertoire, so that when called upon to play he will be prepared to play anywhere and at any time.

Some may think that this memorizing music is a difficult matter, but let him try, and he will see that it can be done, and that by practice he will be able to imagine the most difficult music before him, with all its marks, crescendos, diminuendos, pedal marks, etc., etc., just as if the copy was placed before him.

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