Time for practice: implications of undergraduate pianists' choices of repertoire

Katie Zhukov, Jane Ginsborg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


There is an on-going debate as to the skills needed for 21st century careers in classical music and how undergraduate students should learn them. Many graduate pianists report being under-prepared for the music profession, lacking sight-reading skills in particular. While research-evidenced pedagogy for improving sight-reading skills has been developed, little is known regarding what impact enhancing this skill could have on undergraduate educational experience. The present study aimed to evaluate the effect of sight-reading training on undergraduate pianists' choices of repertoire for practice. Two groups of 12 participants were recruited from three institutions in the UK and Australia. One group undertook the sight-reading training programme for 10 weeks. Both groups listed the solo, concerto, chamber and accompanying repertoire they practised. The mean lengths of time participants spent practising each kind of repertoire were calculated. There were significant effects of institution and therefore country on practice time but no effects of the sight-reading training. Nevertheless, the findings suggest that interventions should be designed to develop pianists' practical skills, including sight-reading, and the long-term effects of such interventions on quality of deliberate practice, particularly on the types of repertoire that are likely to be most valuable for pianists in the early stages of their career, should be evaluated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)274-285
Number of pages12
JournalBritish Journal of Music Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • classical piano
  • Higher education
  • Keywords:
  • sight-reading
  • skills for careers

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