Building your Repetoire

Building your Repetoire

Ideas taken from
Think Small

Start with small tunes. 2 parted marches, strathspeys, reels, jigs.

There is a very long list of these 2 parted tunes. And putting them together into medleys needs just a tiny bit of creativity.

The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association provides not only a list of 2 part tunes, but also the sheet music for a large number of Marches. They do this to standardize what tunes competitors in the lower grades play. Check them out!

Expand your tune library

Get in the habit of purchasing music books. You don’t have to buy a whole bunch all at once. But set a goal to buy a book every year. The breadth of the tunes in each collection is large. Soon, you will have an expansive collection.

Then set out to learn tunes out of your new books.

Alteratively, there are now a number of online music sources that pay royalties to the composers.

Study the tune books

Go through the books, either humming or playing the first part of each tune. Before long, tunes will start to click with you. Once they do, then try the entire tune once. At that point you can decide if the tune is a keeper to be learned or not.

Doing this frequently, your sight reading will greatly improve.

This will also have another benefit long term; I do this to decide if I am going to learn a tune. If I can’t “hear” the tune in my head as I read through it I won’t be able to play it without a lot of work.

Listen to the details of the tunes

As you go through your collections, you will start to hear tunes that have similar structures in terms of the key, the phrasing, and timing. Tunes that are similar generally sound good together in a set.

In the Scot’s Guard volumes they frequently list tunes that are played together.


Start mixing and matching the tunes you have started playing. Work through the difficult sections. You will start to learn what tunes you like, which you don’t, and which ones sound nice together.

If you compete, as you progress through the grades you will need to play medleys of tunes of differing types. This helps break up a long medley of marches that all sound similar.