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In the folk song Dog and Cat, there’s a line that goes, “Bought me a coat, bought me a hat, they don’t fit do not mind that.” Well, I do mind that, and I have a freshly decluttered closet to prove it; thanks in part to Marie Kondo’s contagious excitement for discovering what “sparks joy”. I’m done settling for “regular” sized shirts and pants on my six foot frame.

It was in this mindset that I question how I would declutter my music repertoire. What do I love and want to keep? What should I discard, and what should replace it? So, I came up with a more detailed list of questions that would help me during my decluttering spree.

Whether you enjoy decluttering like me or can’t wait for the trend to pass, I hope this list proves helpful to you.

  • Does this spark joy in my students? If not joy, then does it evoke a strong emotion and/or make a powerful connection to their daily lives?
  • Do you enjoy this piece? Will you be able to portray honest enthusiasm when teaching it?
  • Do your repertoire choices reflect the lives and experiences of your students?
  • What pieces do you dread teaching? Why? Is there an alternative that would better serve both you and your students?
  • Are there pieces that you avoid teaching because you think you don’t have the knowledge necessary to teach them? If so, what actionable steps might you take to change that?
  • Do you feel confident about the choices you’ve made? If not, why?
  • Do you know the history of each piece and the meaning behind the lyrics?
  • Can an important life lesson be taught using this piece?
  • Can you use this piece to teach empathy?

I wish I could go back to my first year of teaching and hand myself this list of questions. I’m certain there were pieces I used then, that I wouldn’t choose to write about today. And I know of several pieces I didn’t know then, that I’d be thrilled to include now.

I’m not in the classroom anymore, but I take my job as a content creator seriously. I’m privileged to be able to share my ideas, and in going forward, I plan to keep this list of questions close at hand.