Van Cliburn
in Moscow, 1958
Corrected year

Once you have performed a piece, keeping it on the back burner (as opposed to in the basement) is relatively easy! By following an organized plan, you can expand your repertoire and have many more choices when putting programs together.
To accomplish this, you will need a notebook or calendar dedicated only to tracking rep maintenance.

Here’s how it works. After performing a program, put it on the shelf for a month. Note the date a month later on your calendar. Then, on that date “perform” it w/o stopping. Note any mistakes, correct them (fingering, memory slip), and put the music on the shelf again.

Write down the next date to take out the program.

This is for maintenance only, so practicing this music is not important right now.

When another month passes, repeat the same procedure.

After 2 or 3 months, you will be able to notice whether the mistakes are in the same place each time or in different spots. The best scenario is for them to be in different spots. Nothing to worry about.

If the mistakes are in the same place time after time, that indicates you have learned something inaccurately or not well enough. So you’ll need to take the passage out of context and relearn it.

To develop a large repertoire, different programs can be assigned to different days. You can also break up the program into sets, groups, or halves to spread your maintenance work over more days. This approach is valuable if you want to save time on a maintenance day to practice current rep, too.

When programming a piece from the maintenance list, all you’ll need to do is put it into your regular practice schedule somewhere near the concert. Maybe a month before? Two weeks? That depends on what works for you.

The beauty of this plan is that you will still know the music! You can avoid completely relearning something you played 3 years ago.

It bothers me to see fingerings in a piece I’ve performed but no longer remember. I’ve tried the maintenance idea, and can say it works! And the total effort it takes is not that great.

Today I practiced 2 Bach preludes & fugues, playing individual parts & harmonic structure in order to listen better. Besides, it was hot! I also practiced spots that needed attention in all 3 Messiaen preludes I’m playing in NY.

Happy maintenance!