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Active Repertoire: Getting Started Guide

It’s time to play with confidence!

First of all, grab your FREE download.
You are welcome to print off as many copies as you wish for yourself and any pupils you have.

Start Easy and Develop Gradually!

Select the three pieces which can be your initial Active Repertoire. These need to be pieces you can play well today – and if you don’t have three, then your initial project is to address that by learning or revising pieces which you really love, and will enjoy playing.

If you are working towards a grade exam, performance or competition, chances are that the three pieces you select to be your Active Repertoire will be those that you are preparing with that goal. Otherwise, simply choose the pieces which you most enjoy playing.

While the annual Active Repertoire Challenge will fit naturally alongside exam preparation, I have found that having an Active Repertoire can be even more helpful for those not following the exam route. Either way, the challenge provides a focus for perfecting a few pieces for performance, rather than simply skim-reading lots of pieces, but not learning any of them really well.

Write the titles of your three pieces on the sheet and commit to:

  1. Play them regularly – if possible, daily.
    For most players this should only take a few minutes.
  2. See if you can memorise them over time.
    Unless you have a specific performance deadline, let the memorisation process be as natural and unforced as possible.
  3. Play your Active Repertoire pieces to others –
    whenever you get the chance, and preferably informally at first.

Developing your Active Repertoire

Over the coming months, as you learn new pieces, you will want to refresh your Active Repertoire rather than continuing to play the same three pieces. The Active Repertoire sheet includes sections for each season/quarter.

Through the year, reflect on your progress and update your choice of Active Repertoire pieces. Try to include something you have learnt during the previous season/quarter.

Spaces are also provided for listing the pieces that you aspire to play. These should be varied and include sufficient challenge, so that you continue to stretch yourself as a player and make meaningful progress as a pianist.

Browse the full Pianodao Music Library for ideas of new repertoire that is suitable for your level.

Through the Year

Here are the steps you can continue to take as the months go by:

  1. Update your list of Active Repertoire pieces in the spaces provided.
  2. Remember to keep a list of pieces which you aspire to play too, and discuss their suitability with your teacher or mentor.
  3. Not every piece learnt should be added, only those that you particularly love.

Active Repertoire Project founder and Pianodao owner Andrew Eales offers expert advice, a flexible range of online and in-person support, and a constructive feedback service to help you develop your playing:

Having Active Repertoire enables us to develop a better balance between working at the piano and actually playing the piano.

Always keep at least three pieces of Active Repertoire that you can play without notice, without notation, and without embarrassment.

Some Tips for Teachers

Encouraging your students to develop their Active Repertoire may lead to some radical changes in your own teaching patterns, and in their learning.

I have found that pupils who develop an Active Repertoire:

  • Become more positive, engaged learners
  • Are able to better recognise and enjoy their progress
  • Are more confident in lessons
  • Are more willing performers
  • Learn to balance working at the piano and actually playing
  • And are more like to stick with their piano journey

In order to ensure that your students make the most of developing their Active Repertoire:

  • Print off copies of the Active Repertoire Sheet for all your students, and carefully explain how to use them
  • The player should choose their own Active Repertoire pieces
  • Ask pupils to bring their Active Repertoire Sheet to every lesson; as time permits, pick a piece from the list for them to play at the start of the lesson
  • Encourage students to explore the Pianodao Music Library to discover new music to add to their “Aspiration List”

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