Imagine if you only brushed one or two teeth at a time. And once you deemed those two teeth were clean, you then moved on to a different set of two. Once those two were shiny you headed to a different set of two teeth. Can you imagine what the original set of two teeth would look like once you came back to them many weeks later? Not a pretty sight.
A similar sort of decay happens with our piano students and their completed repertoire. If we’re not continually “brushing” all of our piano pieces we risk losing them to Piano Piece Decay. But how can our piano students possibly find the time or the motivation to pay attention to every piece they have completed all of the time? How can we prevent all of the hard work and effort our students put into completing their repertoire from…well…rotting away?
6 Ways to Keep Old Piano Repertoire Polished and Playable
1. Keep Track
One of the best ways to keep your piano students aware of their old repertoire is to keep track of their completed repertoire in a meaningful way. Create a special page for their piano binder and keep a running and numbered list of every (meaningful) piece they have completed – not just in one year, but year-to-year. Some teachers call this the “Anytime Anywhere” list which I really like. This really helps with piano piece decay as no repertoire is ever considered to be “done”.
note: Having a numbered list will be useful for many of the following activities:
2. Pop Piece Quiz!
Remember those in school? You never knew when they’d happen, so you’d study and prepare everything you’d covered in class just in case. Having a studio-wide Pop Piece Quiz at random intervals throughout each month with some sort of incentive attached (a trophy for Pop Piece King or Queen of the Month perhaps?) is a fun way to keep your kiddos playing their old repertoire at home.
Make this more fun than a yucky old pop quiz by letting them pop a balloon you’ve previously stuffed with a random number. Match the number that falls from the balloon to their numbered list of completed pieces and that’s the piece they must play for you. If they get through it successfully they have completed the “pop” quiz.
This is a fun game your piano kids can play at home with their mom or dad. With just a single die they can have a lot of fun reviewing just “bits” of their old piano repertoire. Mom or Dad rolls the die two or three times and adds up the numbers. Match the number that results to the number on their completed repertoire list. Roll the die again (once or twice). This is the measure number your student needs to play.
4. Juke Box Masterclass
Invite a group of piano kids to a masterclass at your studio where you use fun ways to generate numbers (roll a die, blindfolded card pick-up, the birth date of the person to your right etc.) The numbers you create then translate to the numbered piece the next student up needs to perform from their completed list of repertoire! By holding these bi-monthly sessions, your piano kids are sure to practice their old repertoire in preparation!
5. Phone-a-Friend Friday
Send each of your piano kids home with a numbered card and a randomly-chosen phone number of a peer in your studio. Every Friday your piano kids call the phone number and play the numbered piece (from their completed repertoire list) for their piano peer over the phone. Together they create a super secret password to tell you at their next lesson to prove that the task was completed.
6. Theor-ize Them
A great way to keep old pieces feeling fresh is to use completed repertoire for teaching theory. Forget those old note spellers, and instead delve into the pieces your piano kids already know. Every single piece holds opportunities for discussions on intervals, key signatures, time signatures, rhythm, Italian terms etc. etc. Keep those old pieces relevant by using them in a different way and deepen your piano students’ understanding and appreciation for these pieces in the process They’ll memorize them faster and they’ll truly internalize them better if they get the “math” behind their music… and there’s no better way to prevent piano piece decay than by truly understanding what it is you are playing.
Take The Guesswork out of Teaching “Old Piano Piece Theory”
If you like the idea of using completed repertoire as a way of teaching theory, but you just don’t have the time to plan out these kinds of theory lessons then check out our newest resource “Pssst…Your Piano Teacher Thinks This is Theory”. Simply press print and you have access to 88 activities that enable you to use your students’ own repertoire as the basis for learning (and loving!) piano theory.