Milton Keynes Piano Lessons

Active Repertoire Challenge 2020

What can you play?

This is a question which for too many pianists leads to such answers as:

  • I’m working on Allegro, but it’s not yet ready to play;
  • I finished learning Andante last month, but I’ve forgotten it now;
  • I don’t have my music books with me, so …

What a pity!

The reality is that too many of us can’t sit down at the piano without notice, without notation, and without embarrassment, and simply play something!

Shallow Learning

One of the main reasons for this is the phenomenon of shallow learning, which can result from:

  • poor foundations, leading to weakness in one or more of the key areas of musical learning.
  • an emphasis on quantity rather than quality (how many pieces can be learnt, rather than how well they can be played);
  • an approach that is driven by jumping from one exam grade to the next, without effective consolidation, and at the cost of a rich and varied curriculum;
  • compartmentalised learning, or a lack of a holistic, connected musical understanding;

I have received feedback from players all over the world identifying with this phenomenon, and recognising that they (or their pupils) couldn’t just sit down and play for others without prior warning.

And so I started the Active Repertoire project here, through which I have been challenging players to develop an Active Repertoire of three pieces they have deeply learnt and can truly play.

You can read more about Active Repertoire here, including loads of advice for players and teachers:

A Fresh Challenge

At the start of this new year, I am now issuing a fresh challenge, and a new Active Repertoire Sheet for 2020 to freely download. 

pdf-logo  Active Repertoire Challenge 2020 Sheet

This can be used alongside, or instead of, the seasonal Active Repertoire challenges which are also available:

If you are new to the idea of Active Repertoire – welcome aboard! This is an exciting concept which will hopefully help you to change your piano playing and teaching for the better!

The Active Repertoire Sheets issue a challenge to reconsider and refresh the selection of three Active Repertoire pieces every quarter – while also deeply learning up to four new pieces each quarter as potential replacements.

Remember – encouraging deeper learning means much more than simply reading and playing through lots of music, ticking off dozens of new pieces each year, or jumping through assessment hoops.

Deeper learning involves fully engaging with, living with, interpreting, internalising and memorising music.

Crucially, deeper learning must engage all three treasures of musical learning: musical essence, technique and understanding.

If you have any questions, or would like to share your experiences developing an Active Repertoire, please leave a comment below!

And GOOD LUCK with the 2020 Active Repertoire Challenge!

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Published by

Andrew Eales

Andrew Eales is a pianist, writer and teacher based in Milton Keynes UK, where he runs Keyquest Music - his successful independent music education business, private teaching practice and creative outlet.

6 thoughts on “Active Repertoire Challenge 2020”

  1. I managed to complete my winter repertoire challenge and am taking a year out to
    Work on technique and relearn how to practise with my teacher who I have until August but he’s going to RAM postgraduate in September ,
    anyway what I can play
    Set of four lyric pieces Grieg
    Arietta , butterfly , nortunno and wedding day
    Mozart sonata b flat k333
    Elena Cobb lavender haze
    Melanie Spanswicks seahorse dreams
    The nutcracker suite
    Ouverture, sugar plum fairy , Russian dance
    Working with building up new diploma pieces gradually as well as repertoire maintenance which repertoire challenges prove extremely useful for

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi. I love this, but I wonder if you would recommend this for all abilities? I’d like to share it with all my students from beginners to Grade 8±

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Dear Mr Andrew Eales,

    Hello! I recently came across a YouTube video entitled “The Piano Cloud Live 2013 – Spotlight on Andrew Eales”, which I enjoyed very much. Your composition entitled “Departures” is very moving. I wonder whether you have published a post featuring this piece.

    Another YouTube video featuring your music is entitled “Andrew Eales – Looking Back, Looking Forward”. After listening to the piece, I have created a playlist containing some of your music on my YouTube channel called “K-W SoundEagle”. I have also become a follower of your blog here.

    A lot has happened to me in recent years. Then, I lost my mother late last year after being her full-time carer for many years, and am still mourning her passing. You can read about my musical journey with my late mother in the multimedia eulogy/memoir/biography published in a post entitled “Khai & Khim: For Always and Beyond Goodbye”.

    I have since found the time and resolve to resurrect some of my piano compositions. One of them is called “The Last Rag”, recently published at

    The said post contains both the recordings and the music scores, plus the accompanying poem. Please enjoy!

    Happy April to you and your family!


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